Fashion, Art, & Dance Celebrated In Tokyo Gamine’s Latest Collection

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Models and dancers wearing Tokyo Gamine
Models and dancers wearing Tokyo Gamine

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Tokyo Gamine’s Yuka Uehara isn’t your average fashion designer. The SF-based couturier is known for her unique, avant-grade, and gorgeous creations—dresses, jumpsuits, jackets, gowns—which are one-of-a-kind works of art. Another thing she’s quickly becoming known for? Her original fashion shows—which not only showcase her latest designs, but frequently feature choreographed dance, elaborate fairy tales, and moving story-telling.

A model walks the runway in Uehara's designs
A model walks the runway in Uehara’s designs

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Her latest collection, and largest to date, recently debuted at the Fashion Fights Arthritis annual luncheon. For the fundraising event, Uehara crafted a groundbreaking three-act program that was a ballet-runway fashion show. “The theme and concept for the first act performance is based on Zen,” Uehara told Haute Living by email. “The second act will be a runway show. The inspiration behind the third act performance is the characters from the Tales of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu.”

Mathilde Froustey and Yuka Uehara
Mathilde Froustey and Yuka Uehara

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

During the performance, Mathilde Froustey, principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet and one of Uehara’s muses, captivated the packed crowd at the Fairmont Hotel. She danced in red Doc Martins rather than pointe shoes; with her golden jumpsuit and winglike sleeves, Froustey was like an exotic bird magically flying out of Uehara’s imagination. Uehara’s other muse, Chantelle Pianetta, a dancer with Menlowe Ballet, danced an elegant duet in ballet shoes and a frock so sumptuous it could have been a delicious confection.

Jennifer Roberts and Claudia Chaverra in Tokyo Gamine
Naomi Banks and Isabella Martin in Tokyo Gamine

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

The clothing was quintessential Tokyo Gamine. Red and gold, frills and ruffles, layers of fabric piled on top of each other, luxe sporty fabrics, and whimsical patterns (handprinted onto the clothes by Uehara) were prominent focal points. “My favorite looks from the collection are the long-sleeve jumpsuit Mathilde wore and the multiple-textile collage neoprene hand-painted gown Chantelle wore in the last act,” Uehara says. “Neoprene gowns and jumpsuits are the Tokyo Gamine classic look! However, in each collection, they are interpreted differently.”

The fashion show
The fashion show

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Although she is a fashion designer, Uehara is an artist at heart. Her creative process is energetic and her presentation method more theatrical performance than traditional fashion show. “When I created Tokyo Gamine, I envisioned a different kind of fashion brand. Rather than following trends, I wanted to focus on people, their lives, and how they interact with their surroundings,” Uehara explains. “And naturally, because of my background in film, I was able to find a way through performance to embed this concept. As I evolve with my brand, I find new ways to express this concept visually.”

Naomi Banks and Isabella Martin in Tokyo Gamine
Jennifer Roberts and Claudia Chaverra in Tokyo Gamine

 

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

She kept audience members on the edge of their seats for the 20-minute show and many local fashion fans—ourselves included—can’t wait to see what Uehara does next. Until then, customers hoping to get a piece of Tokyo Gamine’s latest collection can make an appointment directly with the designer. Showroom visits are encouraged and she travels the Bay Area for fittings.

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