Hiromichi Ochiai, the wackily-creative designer behind FACETASM, is no stranger when it comes to getting fashion folks to lose their minds over his perpetually electrifying designs. Akin to a dizzying downtown art exhibition, Ochiai’s rule-breaking collections, always featuring styling that is straight-up bananas (in a good way!), aren’t the easiest to wrap one’s brain around. Since launching FACETASM in 2007 in Tokyo, where it swiftly nabbed a cult following, Ochiai’s managed to consistently deliver magnetic and surreal collections. Things really started to blast off once he took his eclectic collections to Paris and Milan fashion weeks. And, in 2016, the Bunka Fashion College graduate — alumni include Kenzō Takada, Junya Watanabe and Yohji Yamamoto, by the way — was nominated for the prestigious LVMH Prize, resulting in FACETASM becoming one of the hottest brands on the international scene. The buzz remains, for the lack of a better word, unconventional brand, whose name refers to facets, by the way. (Yep, the correct pronunciation is actually FASS-e-TA-zum!) There’s many layers and many moods to the conceptual styles. Sometimes there are hints of pop culture and punk. Gloom and joy. Complete chaos. Lightness and darkness. Wildly maximalist numbers. Vodka-drenched-dance-floor-ready duds. We can’t even begin to imagine Ochiai’s mood boards. It’s all happening with FACETASM. Which is why it’s super surprising that Ochiai’s inspirations and themes for collections are often quite simple and universal: A few seasons ago, the theme was “love,” and he titled his Fall 2018 collection “Emotion.” Like a great work of art, FACETASM provides the feels, that’s for sure.
Just last week in Hong Kong at CENTRESTAGE, Asia’s premier fashion event, Ochiai presented his Spring/Summer 2019 collection, where a diverse bunch of models pumped down the catwalk in lunatic looks whilst glittering confetti poured from the rafters. It was goosebumps-inducing kinds of sublime. But the perma-unpredictable designer’s unlikely inspiration, “Together,” had us scratching our heads. Thankfully, through an interpreter, Ochiai filled us in about the magical madness that is FACETASM.
COOLS: Tell us a little about yourself and your background. Where does your interest in fashion come from?
HO: I was born and raised in Tokyo, and I was interested in fashion when I was a teenager. I wanted to start in my twenties, so I went to college, graduated and joined a textile company for the experience. I started Facetasm when I was 29.
COOLS: For whom do you design your collections? What kind of people wear Facetasm?
HO: I do not have a particular person. I want everyone to enjoy Facetasm. People that are enjoying fashion are wearing Facetasm.
COOLS: Can you tell us more about your creative process and philosophy behind your brand?
HO: The creative process is different every season. I always aim to have a strong creation of the collection and to be original.
COOLS: Did you have a mood or story in mind for your spring/summer 2019 collection?
HO: The theme is “together.” I asked myself: What is the point in classifying the world by the old codes? Why do we divide the world and impose conventional rules for the sake of convenience? I really don’t know. I often find beauty between two extremes. I always embrace different feelings that are never compatible.
The world always has some contradictions, complexity, and irrationality. There’s no point in trying to give an explicit and intricate meaning to the ambiguity. My work fits in between lines and beyond conventional rules. For this collection, I put together anything I like with no codes, no rules, no reasons.
COOLS: Where is your “happy place” in Tokyo?
HO: The time with my two-year-old kid.
COOLS: Do you have anyone in fashion that you look up to?
HO: I admire Jun Takahashi from Undercover.
COOLS: You often refreshingly cast a diverse group of models. What is your casting process like for your shows? What do you look for in your models?
HO: I only use models that I like. I do not focus on the “beauty.” I like models that have their own style, and who enjoy the clothes.
COOLS: How did you select the music for this show? Do you listen to music when creating your designs?
HO: Mr. Hirata, the shop manager of the record shop CITY COUNTRY CITY in Shimo-kitazawa, does all the music for our shows. We select the songs by having several meetings. I listen to music when creating my collection — I listened to a lot of Superorganism when I was creating “together,” the SS19 collection.
COOLS: Do any other forms of art inspire your work?
HO: I get inspired from a lot things in my life. Lots of inspirations come in and go out, so I never concentrate on a particular subject.
COOLS: What kind of advice would you like to give to young designers?
HO: To believe in your own creativity. We need to keep on believing in our own creativity to have a good future.
COOLS: If you didn’t work in fashion, what would you be doing instead?
HO: I don’t know. I never thought about it.