Print designer Manami Sakurai’s final BA collection, a series of playful, whimsical robes and dresses, was inspired by Yoko Ono and John Lennon – think “Where the Wild Things Are” meets Céline ‘furkenstocks’. The freelance designer talks to 1 Granary about her time at Saint Martins and how her clothes “make the world a little happier”.
Tell us about yourself. What did you do as a kid?

I was a tomboy, playing football with boys and [getting] dressed with my brother’s clothes. I never wanted to wear a skirt! I don’t remember when I started drawing. My dad used to love drawing and painting. So we often went camping with our sketchbook and did a lots of drawing in the forest.

2Your final collection was adorable. Does it reflect your character?
Thanks. I guess my collection reflect what I love: colourful, cheerful and relax[ed].
What was your inspiration?
My collection is [the] message of ‘ peace’ inspired by Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s ‘Bed-in’ installation. I aimed to make my own way of sending messages with my garments. Also I wanted to make garments which make people smile by both wearing them and looking at them. Most of my prints are inspired by the French children’s book called ”Tistou of the Green Thumbs” by Maurice Druon. It’s a beautiful story.
 It is a common opinion that fashion world is very tough, unlike your designs. Do you feel the pressure and competition?
I do feel lots of competition after start [to work] as a freelance designer. I am still in the process of finding my own way to live [in the] fashion world.
You can’t not smile when you look at your pieces. What helps you to stay positive?
My friends are very important to me. They support me, cheer me up and make me believe in what I do. Especially for my graduation collection, I had great people helping me a lot. I think I am very lucky.
Did you enjoy your time in CSM? Anything you regret not doing while you were studying?
Experiments! I wish I had done more and more experiments when I was student! I [would] love to be back in school to spend day and night in the print room again.
What three things that you’ve learnt in college were the most helpful to your career?
-Be yourself, find your style and develop it.
-Time schedule, don’t plan to do too much in a day!
-Help your friends.
What are you working on now?

I just finished embroidery design work for the Indian brand to launch a new line in UK. I work as a freelance print designer now selling my prints through agency and I am planing to sell some bags and purses with my prints on my website. Hopefully by spring they will be on!

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