Yumi Katsura, one of Japan's most well-known and prolific designers, who celebrated her 50th anniversary as a professional designer during Viet Nam International Fashion Week, said that she was committed to do everything to continue on her career path – at the age of 84.
Why did you choose to become a bridal fashion designer?
When I was only three years old, I had a dream similar to a fairytale, and I saw a girl who looked like Cinderella. I loved the beauty of her and her style of dress. Later, I chose my nickname – "a little girl forever". The little girl in the dream inspired me very much in designing clothes. I loved making anything related to bridal fashion.
My friends often told me that I was lucky to have the dream, saying it was a gift from the gods for me. Initially, I have never thought of earning profits from this business.
With my creativity, I want to give the woman who is getting married the most gorgeous and graceful appearance in the world. I just want people to be happy. I want to treat the bride as my own sister, and I want to make her the happiest girl in the world. That's why I have been involved in bridal fashion for so long.
I often say that my love of fashion is only for people, the customers. There is a big difference between an artist and a designer. Designers should make products that people can use or wear and artists can make anything.
You are a bridal fashion designer. What is the best wedding that you've ever seen?
My wedding, of course. I got married when I was 42 years old. My husband was 53. It was my first marriage. My husband told me that we should have met 20 years before that so I could have had a baby.
What do you think about fashion in Viet Nam?
Actually, I attended a fashion show here 20 years ago. I had the same feeling that I had 20 years ago in Japan. I felt so sorry when I saw that few Vietnamese girls were wearing the Vietnamese traditional dress ao dai. The situation is the same in Japan, where many girls do not wear kimonos.
I'm sorry there is no bridal fashion association in Viet Nam. If so, I could speak about my intentions for the bridal dress business. In Viet Nam, the bride and groom have changed to Western wedding dress. I would like to encourage people to keep the tradition of wearing Viet Nam's national dress.
For your show during Fashion Week, was it easy to choose Vietnamese models for your designs?
It was very difficult. Vietnamese models are short. The acting is not so good, especially the bride and grooms, who should appear happier. They are shy. All of them work very hard, but certain things could be enhanced.
What did you think about the shows of Vietnamese designers?
In some of the collections, the designers showed their enthusiasm. I liked that. Seeing designs of the Vietnamese fashion designers, I felt that some of the collections needed further development, including the materials and techniques. I feel that Vietnamese designers are eager to grow, be successful and be better designers.
Do you plan to open a business in Viet Nam?
I hope to develop new business here in Viet Nam as long as I have a local partner. Actually, I have retail shops in Tokyo, Osaka and Paris. In order to do that, I will have a show to introduce my collection to a Vietnamese partner. At the moment, unfortunately, I don't have any local partner.
There is similarity in culture between Japan and Viet Nam. I think there is potential for my bridal fashion in Viet Nam. I'm very confident about Viet Nam's market since the country has many young people and a growing economy. — VNS