Released at the tail-end of May, at the end of a year unlike any other — True Colors Fashion: The Future is Now! — a fashion technology show directed by renowned artist Yoichi Ochiai hit the internet like a lightning bolt in a swimming pool.
The show, which mingles both show footage as well as more intimate talking-head clips with cast members, offers a look at one of the most unique and ambitious displays of inclusive, disabled-friendly fashion out there. Mashing together bright, fluorescent looks with a futuristic, alien-like set design, the show has foraged a new, vulnerable yet electrifying lens in which to view fashion.
“Our events are a reminder that the world is a diverse place, and that diversity makes the world a more dynamic and beautiful place in which to live. Our hope is that these events, presented through the lens of fashion – a well-loved form of expression – can help people to overcome their prejudices,” says Kao Kanamori, producer of The Future is Now! series.
True Colors works to engage the viewer in a conversation about what the future of fashion entails, with both the chosen aesthetic as well as the models involved, many of whom live with a disability.
The show “sets the stage for diverse people to express themselves with fashion that’s empowered with technology,” according to Ochiai.
Subvrt was lucky enough to be able to speak with some of the models involved in the show. Read ahead for our conversation, and check out the show on Youtube below:
A participating model and a DJ with ALS who plays music with his eyes.
When I first heard about you and the incredible work you do, I was amazed by your strength as much as your talent. What sort of relationship do you have to music now? How did your diagnosis affect or influence the way music makes you feel?
For me, music is one of the most important forms of communication that symbolizes who I am, before and after ALS. However, after I was diagnosed with ALS, I felt uncomfortable because more and more people judged me from the perspective of an ALS patient. That is why I will continue to communicate beyond the barriers of disability by transmitting my identity through my music and fashion creations.
With the progression of ALS, my physical freedom is being taken away every day. However, music still keeps me in a positive frame of mind, and I feel that it gives me more energy.
Where do you think the strength to push forward in the face of difficulty comes from? Not only with regards to yourself but as humans in general?
I believe that finding a dream that you really want to achieve is the driving force behind your progress. I believe that humanity will evolve not only by dreaming dreams that can be realized by one person, but also by having big dreams with many friends and continuing to take on the challenge of making the impossible possible. By overcoming as many difficulties as possible, I would like to offer a new lifestyle to my friends who are suffering from various limitations such as ALS.
A deaf model who has graced ad campaigns and fashion runways.
This show is incredible! It’s so vibrant and inspiring. What drew you to wanting to be involved with this particular project?
The reason I wanted to participate in this project was because I thought that showing my weaknesses would be my strength.
There are a lot of things that are difficult about having a hearing impairment, but participating in the project made me realize that I don’t have to hide my disability. This is a really big change for me. It has changed the way I view disability.
What have you learned about yourself as a result of taking part in this project? Did you have any sort of epiphanies about the way you interact with the world?
In the shooting studio, assuming that I might not be able to hear, there was always someone to compliment me; tapping me on the shoulder when calling me, making sure I could see their mouth movements, or using sign language or gestures.
I felt that if each of us could share our weaknesses with others and compliment each other, a more generous world would expand. I would like to send out more information about myself.
A participating model and visually impaired Paralympic climber.
The reversible coat you sported for the show is brilliant! Not only does it look fantastic but the idea behind it is so smart. What did you think of the outfit when you wore it?
The costumes were much softer and easier to move in than the impression one gets from keywords such as “double-layered fabric” and “cardboard”. The experience of stepping into the unknown territory of a fashion show, meeting people from diverse backgrounds, and walking on water that reminded me of an oasis, made me feel like an adventurer traveling the world.
What does the future of the fashion world, as one that is continuously moving towards acceptance and inclusivity, look like to you?
For me, fashion is a communication tool. I see fashion as a medium that connects people to people, thoughts to the world, where the clothes and things you wear can trigger dialogue with the people around you, or deliver the thoughts and messages of designers and brands to the world instead.
Interview by Jasmine Ledesma