print on print

Dans La Vie designer Rira Sugawara talks fashion, art and inspiration with Schön!

The clue is in the name of Dans La Vie’s current collection: ‘Moving Print Bodies’ fuses the relationship between print, movement and the body, pushing the boundaries of conventional beauty. Taking inspiration from Sugawara’s experience of print design and art history, the collection is a unique fusion of renaissance art and pop art. You can expect bold colours, serpent inspired print on print and strong silhouettes that blur the line between fantasy and reality.

You’re from Japan and worked in France after you graduated. Why have you chosen London in particular to show your collections?

One of the key elements of my collection is ‘clash beauty’: pushing the boundaries of conventional beauty. London enables me to push these boundaries, through publications such as Schön! Magazine.

You have travelled a lot. Where have you found to be the most inspirational?

I find inspiration in every city and every street I visit. Paris brought me fashion intelligence based on the philosophical spirit to be liberated through culture and diversity. In New York I experienced the exciting energy, and in Milan, an abundance of new techniques

How do you incorporate your Japanese background and Japanese culture into your designs?

In Japan there is the tradition of ‘Print on Print’. There are some amazing print cultures that have come out of Japan, such as Sotatsu, Jakuchu, Hokusai and Kabuki. The Japanese fashion culture blurs the boundaries of reality and fantasy.

Your current collection ‘Moving Print Bodies’ features a lot of bold prints and bright colours as well as strong silhouettes. What were the major inspirations behind these?

I wanted to express the relationship between print, skin, body, clothes and movement. I dared to mix traditional Japanese motif – for example, Fujin, God of Wind, Raijin, God of Thunder, Ryujin, God of Dragon – with checks.

You take a lot of inspiration from Renaissance art and pop art. What excites you about these particular movements?

I grew up around art and design so I became familiar with a lot of visual images in my childhood. At university I studied art history, discovering a variety of inspirational images from multiple art genres. When I began to create the visual image as a print designer I took great inspiration from Andy Warhol, who was a great inspiration to me throughout my childhood. The motif of ‘Madonna and Child’ was originally painted for the Church and has great spiritual beauty. By using them within my prints I feel it opens a door into another world.

Has your experience as a print designer influenced your other collections as much as ‘Moving Print Bodies’?

As Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion is not in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky…what is happening.” I use print to express how I feel about the world as it allows me to turn raw images into something more beautiful.

Did you have any fashion icons growing up?

When I was growing up Madonna was a huge inspiration to me, now I feel like there is no one that matches up to her. I want to create Madonna of nowadays.

‘Dans La Vie’ translates in English to ‘in life’. What was the reason behind the name?

When I set up my brand, I wanted to fill all aspects of life with my original prints and I feel that my collections portray real scenes from life, through my eyes. I want to make my reality pure to the universal realm of ‘beauty’.

What has been the biggest achievement of your career so far?

I think that my biggest achievement has been my ability to create the pieces I want, having complete creative control over my collections and showing at London Fashion Week.

What’s next for Dans La Vie? Have you got any exciting plans for 2013?

My Autumn/Winter 2013/14 collection, ‘Invisible Enemy, Threat Found’, is dark and meaningful, inspired from my experiences of cyber attacks. I feel that this is a collection that many people can relate to.

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Words / Alana Maytum
Follow her on Twitter @AlanaCher

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