Anime x Paris Fashion Week / Anrealage’s online collection opens up whole new world

Courtesy of Anrealage and Studio Chizu
A dress designed by Kunihiko Morinaga is worn by protagonist Belle in the film of the same name.

Japanese fashion brand Anrealage’s entry for Paris Fashion Week for Spring and Summer 2022, which incorporated aspects from Mamoru Hosoda’s latest animated film “Ryu to Sobakasu no Hime” (Belle) made the label a hot topic.

The work of founder Kunihiko Morinaga, much like the film, is also known to actively incorporate the latest technology.

During the show, digital fashion model avatars would appear and walk down a runway in the virtual space depicted in the film. Live models would then take the stage, appearing to have emerged from the screen, wearing the same ensembles.

Morinaga designed the garments, both digital and physical, with combinations of triangular patterns and an ability to change color in an instant when bathed in a flash of light.

The collaboration between Morinaga and Hosoda began when the filmmaker commissioned a dress design for Belle, the film’s eponymous heroine, from Morinaga.

“There’s more freedom when it comes to designing animated clothes rather than ordinary ones. I was even able to change their colors every second,” Morinaga said. “I worked with the idea that even though [the clothes] had no physical form, the fashion itself would be sure to leave an impression. It was a fresh and interesting experience for me.”

© masaya_tanaka
A dress with a triangular pattern is worn by both a live model, front, and a digital avatar.

Morinaga established Anrealage in 2003; the name being a combination of “a real,” to represent the ordinary, “unreal,” for the extraordinary, and “age,” to express an era.

As the name may suggest, Morinaga has been experimenting with the latest technology, which has yet to become a part of everyday life, and collaborating with people in various industries.

Clothing that includes resin materials that change color when exposed to ultraviolet light or clothing with colors and patterns that emerge when illuminated with a flashlight are just some of the fruits of his endeavors.

Although Anrealage has been taking part in Paris Fashion Week since 2014, some of the brand’s recent collections have been showcased online as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Digital presentations are completely different from live shows,” Morinaga said. “Where live shows are given for audiences with a limited number of people, digital shows allow everyone to view [the collections] objectively. [Digital shows] can become an opportunity to create new emotions and experiences.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Incorporating digital technology has become a notable topic in the fashion industry. The brand’s latest online collection has surpassed even Morinaga’s expectations, garnering more than 1 million views. He’s even received inquiries from entities such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

As a new project, the brand has sold the works based on the Belle collaboration as nonfungible tokens (NFTs). This refers to digital data authenticated by blockchain technology, which is known for its role in cryptocurrency systems, as being unique and non-interchangeable.

The NFT works, 11 in total, were bought by the NFT Naruto Museum in Naruto, Tokushima Prefecture, for ¥50 million.

“The lack of physical substance leads the digital world often to be viewed negatively. But its somewhat mysterious and extraordinary nature is precisely what makes plunging in a worthwhile endeavor,” Morinaga said.