Noritaka Tatehana is lauded as one of the most important shoe designers of our time. He mines Japan's vast cultural heritage to produce shoes that re-think the very notion of the 'high-heel'. Favoured by Lady Gaga and Daphne Guinness, his soaring heel-less shoes shift the wearer's balance forward onto the toes and are elaborately adorned using avant-garde techniques that have emerged out of a mastery of traditional Japanese crafts.
Tatehana draws particular inspiration from the 'Oiran', a group of visually alluring courtesans that were present in Japan's tea houses during the vibrant Edo and Meiji periods. For these figures, appearance was paramount. Their delicately embroidered kimono, elaborate make up, towering geta shoes and mother of pearl hair pins created a veil through which to seduce their clientele. Each piece of apparel was crafted with the finest and most intricate means and each accoutrement demanded the heights of artistry.
For Noritaka Tatehana's SHOWcabinet exhibition, the shoe designer showcased his proficiency in traditional Japanese crafts and demonstrated the ways in which he has incorporated them into the realms of contemporary high fashion. The display included shoes, garments, sculpture and painting that employ the arts of katazome, katakana and yuzen, in surprising and innovative ways. It also featured work by the artist Taisuke Mohri, whose photorealist portraits combine both eastern and western motifs, and embrace the hybrid sensibility of Tatehana's work.
Prior to the exhibition opening, Tatehana took up residence at SHOWstudio to create a new pair of heel-less shoes. He demonstrated the intimate making process of his signature design during a live online broadcast. The exhibition also marked the debut launch of Noritaka Tatehana's range of leather accessories.