A new book looks at the colourful life and work of Eley Kishimoto.

by | Aug 30, 2023 | EYE | 0 comments

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From left to right, Eley Kishimoto fall 2008, spring 2009, and fall 2009, captured by Kumi Saito. COURTESY OF ELEY KISHIMOTO/PARSNIPS ARCHIVE

Eley Kishimoto, a fashion brand founded by couple duo Mark Eley and Wakako Kishimoto, is the subject of the third book published by Parsnips Archive featuring images by the London-based Japanese photographer Kumi Saito, who passed away in December 2020 from cancer. Best known for being appointed the creative directors of Cacharel in 2007, Eley and Kishimoto met in 1989 while both interning in New York. They got married and launched Eley Kishimoto in 1992. Since then, they have created prints for other houses including Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan, Jil Sander and Marc Jacobs.

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“The Butterfly Brigade’s Nightmare,” Eley Kishimoto spring 2004 COURTESY OF ELEY KISHIMOTO/PARSNIPS ARCHIVE

The brand’s first line of clothes for women came out in 1996. From 2001 to 2010, they sometimes showed at London Fashion Week. It has also made a lot of things with its print designs on them, like wallpaper, glasses, and dishes.

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The book has pictures of catwalk shows and events, as well as close-ups of printed fabrics and photographs taken by Saito, who was Eley Kishimoto’s in-house photographer from 2001 until 2016, when the studio closed.

In an interview with OZIFOX , Kishimoto said, “Saito may have known our work better than anyone else.

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“She took pictures of everything we ever made, whether it was on a brightly lit catwalk or all over our workshop. I think you can see it all in the book.” She was a good friend, but when she had a camera in her hands, she worked harder than anyone else. “At the end of a long day of shooting for a look book, after the models had gone home, she would still be shooting stills of socks with the same enthusiasm she had for the first outfit in the morning,” she said.

Kishimoto said that the “staggering” number of old photos Saito left behind is “not only important as a record of her work as a photographer, but also priceless as a record of culture from a certain time period to be shared.”

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“I hope that people of all ages will enjoy this series of books and tell others about how great Saito is. “I am humbled that our work is seen as important enough to print,” said Kishimoto.

Wallflower print by Eley Kishimoto KUMI SAITO ARCHIVE / AISHAH SHAWAL- SANDERS

Eley, on the other hand, praised her “careful nature to record everything we did.

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“We knew that she would spend days editing the many shots she took to find the best ones. She fit in right away and grew up with us. She was like family. She wanted to take pictures of everything, even when we didn’t need to,” he said.

“The book is something that we value at this point in our careers,” they both said.

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“We haven’t put much thought into putting everything together and making our old work look good. Through Saito’s view, this book gets to the heart of what we were able to do after 30 years of hard work,” they said.

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Galaxy Bouquet print by Eley Kishimoto KUMI SAITO ARCHIVE / AISHAH SHAWAL- SANDERS

Saito was born in the city of Yamagata in northern Japan. He went to the Kuwasawa Design School in Tokyo to study photography while working as an assistant for Minsei Tominaga and Studio Ebis. In 1994, she came to London and started writing for Japanese magazines, fashion brands, department stores, and other media.

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The first book put together from Saito’s old papers was called “Have I Met You Before? “London Street Style From Fashion Week 2001-2018,” was released by Parsnips Archive and edited by Saito’s longtime friend and fashion journalist Mina Wakatski. Wakatski also runs the famous Japanese-style French pastry shop Lanka on Finchley Road in London.

Wakatski said that the result of putting together this book is “a rare book that shows the archive of one brand for over 30 years along with shots by one photographer. As a writer who has covered every show and most of the events in this book, I am thrilled to be able to put them all in one place.

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The studio of Eley Kishimoto KUMI SAITO ARCHIVE / AISHAH SHAWAL- SANDERS

Wakatski thinks that the picture of the Eley Kishimoto workshop is one of the best parts of this book.

“Kumi took these photos right before the store closed in 2016, not for magazines or the brand, but for herself,” Wakatski said.

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Before the official launch on September 15, there will be a panel talk at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum on September 7 about the book and the legacy of Saito and Eley Kishimoto.

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The cover of “Eley Kishimoto Patron Saints of Patterns” that features the brand’s signature flash pattern. COURTESY OF PARSNIPS ARCHIVE

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