Those of you familiar with the last two collections of Mikio Sakabe will recognise Ai Madonna as the artist responsible for the brilliant anime inspired illustrations used on his latest work, and thanks to that her art has since been worn by Band Jyanaimon and Denpa-gumi as well half of the current crop of Tokyo street style icons. Her work is unusual in that it doesn’t place such a barrier as most artists who are inspired by otaku culture do between their art and manga illustration, as if to scream “this is real art – take it seriously”, but rather she is very literal at times, releases doujinshi and generally walks the line between the two. In doing so she highlights just how ridiculous the distinction is with a refreshing honest and authenticity that has won her the legion of fans she now enjoys.
The highlight of her latest exhibition was a party on Valentine’s day in collaboration with Neurowear at Parco Part 1’s hive of the underground – Pyarco. At which she had a smattering of her latest work (a lot had been pre-sold), a live drawing event and most strikingly of all attendees were equipped with a pair of cat ears by the aforementioned Neurowear that supposedly allow you to communicate as a cat would via your robotic ears.
Here you can see the ears on one guest, trust me they are quite disconcerting realistic in their movements as the ears twitch and move, and even more so when everyone (bar me) in the room is wearing a pair.
Ai Madonna’s style is really very recognizable and no doubt you will have seen her eyes staring back at you from t-shirts and tote bags if you live in the city, or on street fashion websites if you don’t.
Sapphic sexuality is obviously a big theme in her work, something that she wants to express more in fashion in time. For those in Japan you will know that this is a topic explored in various otaku subcultures, but bizarrely rarely touched upon in fashion – hopefully we will live to see that change.
You can buy the ears if you are so inclined – worth it just to freak out a real cat.
A delicious Pyarco cake produced by Okashi.
For more on this great artist you will want to go here and thanks to Mikio Sakabe using her illustrations on his incoming S/S 2013 collection, we will see much more of it in fashion very soon as well.