Masaya Kushino had a rapt audience for his long awaited solo exhibition of his Queen themed collection to the public which opened last night at the Neutron Tokyo gallery. The designer’s breathtaking work has so far graced the feet of Lady Gaga as well as both Tatsuro Horikawa’s Julius Paris catwalks and Somarta Tokyo Fashion Week shows. In each stitch and embellishment there is a couture-level labour of love and in the progression of his overall forms you can’t help but think that, along with fellow Japanese designer Noritaka Tatehana, this man is ushering in a new generation of iconic shoe designers from Tokyo.
At the opening party general consensus seemed divided fairly equally over whether the shoes ought to be worn or displayed as art, but either way as long as they are admired I see no great shame in either fate. Join me for a look around the exhibition which runs to the 2nd of September (so don’t miss out):
These equestrian themed masterpieces which greeted you at the entrance are one of his now classic designs and remain one of his more wearable designs (all things are relative!), although the point of a Masaya Kushino shoe is and has has always been to draw attention away from the practicality of footwear and find the sensuality inherent in it.
Inside, and these boudoir themed beauties set a rather sensual scene.
In the next room was arguably the most technically ambition work and one that clearly was on the side of art despite the relatively simple design. The moon that you see hovering over the shoe is actually a hologram that rotated around the shoes courtesy of a 3D projector, a remarkable effect that I couldn’t have hoped to effectively catch on film, but trust me – it was breathtaking.
Each shoe is themed on an image of a queen, whether at war, as a symbol of nobility or representative of god on earth. It allowed for a nice amount of contrast, and if you visit the exhibition you can see photos of his imagined queens that are paired with each shoe.
Masaya Kushino was clearly in the mood to experiment with some viscerally textured exotic leathers – his use of pored ostrich being particularly strong.
Here polished stingray is mixed with Swarovski and craggy quartz.
Beautifully scaled crocodile is aligned perfectly to follow the shape of the shoe.
These carved wood shoes are filled with LEDs inside so that they light up like traditional lanterns if you so desire.
Finally there was a small selection of his leather work which you might recognise from his work with Julius and Jury Black amongst others. In case you are wondering, for Julius his horse and skull designs were simplified in the patterning and a suitable amount of military straps were added but overall it is largely the same design.
His fantastic skull bags that this time turned up in ostrich leather for the first time.
In terms of buying any of his work I would say his leather bags and shoes cost pretty much the same as if you were buying them from Rick Owens so let that be your price guide – high-end certainly, but for art such as this I think it is very fair indeed.
For more on Masaya Kushino you will want to go to his homepage here.