Itu, Art Couture

Itu, you have a very eclectic and dynamic career: event producer, noted author, artist, stylist. What drives you?
I think that there are no limits to creative possibilities, and this is what pushes me to do new things. What seems fixed in the present could change at any moment and transform itself. This is my motivation.
The departure point for your project “art couture” is your personal taste for beautiful wardrobe items that you personalize. Can you tell us more?
It’s true that I like beautiful things and well-made clothing and suits, I think that it is a form of discipline. I appreciate forms that have existed for a long time, that figure into history.
The suit is an outfit for adults generally not worn by children. It is a grooming ritual with a logic, indicating respect on the part of the interlocutor. Personally, I do not like wearing overly casual clothing.
But the suit also possesses a strict culture with formal and precise rules. This codified aspect, while I can appreciate it, is maybe too conservative and dull. I want to create a new form of liberty using very typically formal materials and cuts, playing with their paradoxes.
You wear your own work; is it important to embody your own creations?
It is very important for me as we talk of “wearable art,” since it is what I am defending in the first place and I need to show myself as an example. The day that I stop wearing my work will be the end of my career! I have neither icon, nor model, nor muse. To create, I use the energies I feel around me that come from nature, buildings, people, etc.
Your creations are imprinted with energy and color, could we speak of an improvisational creative pulse in each piece, or do you put more preparation behind your creations?
I am able to improvise, just as I am able to reflect for a while before beginning a piece. I also take many notes, by hand, never by computer.
Creation is thinking and producing exclusively through my own self. I have an atelier and private showroom in Tokyo and an atelier in my Paris gallery. I travel constantly between France and Japan so I need a creative space in both places.
You work almost exclusively with noble materials, could you explain this choice and the materials’ origins?
I work with suits cut by Mr. Koba, the official tailor to the emperor of Japan. He uses a lot of fabric from England. I started making my suits with Mr. Koba in 2009. I am a very faithful client. It is he who advised me to wear suits, and this was a real opening into the world: it changed the way that people saw me.
His works are extremely fine and precise, and because of this I decided to work exclusively with suits. I orders cuts, materials and colors that I enjoy and Mr. Koba produces the clothing. He’s a big philosopher (from a family of them!) and he immediately appreciated and understood my idea of art couture. He supported me a lot in the realization of my works.
How do you choose the brands with whom you work (Louis Vuitton, Céline, Chanel, Globe trotter, Mazarin, etc.)?
I only choose objects and accessories that work with my philosophy: they become the raw materials for my canvases.
Could you explain the term “art couture”? Is it the fact of producing unique pieces and showing in galleries that brings you into the realm of the artist and confers this status?
The term “art couture” comes from the fact that my work is wearable. But I am not a designer, I am an artist. I completely require the production of unique pieces alone, it is part of my philosophy. I think that art couture represents one of the futures of art, an art that is worn, that is seen in the street.
Do you have an academic background or do you position yourself amidst contemporary artistic codes and styles? 
I never joined a school of art or design, I let myself be guided by the different energies that I felt. My work is not destined for a runway. So, I don’t talk about fashion. I want my work to live in its own rhythm, in real life, and not in an aseptic runway show where everybody walks in straight lines. Moreover, I don’t see myself producing my clothing in series. I only work according to the principle of the unique piece sold within a gallery.
What does working in Paris bring to you?
I feel an energy in Paris and that’s why I decided to move here. I have so much respect for French traditions, notably in fabrication. I think that the simple fact of being in Paris unconsciously influences many of my creations.
Photo Credits: James Alexander Coote