So you almost have less creative freedom there?
Yeah, it is quite limited. So I don’t shoot for Japanese magazines very often. I shoot for more magazines in Europe, and then I go back to Japan to do the “unique” story which is quite fun because I’ll be able to pick a Japanese artist I want to work with. That is my opportunity to show their work in a magazine, so I quite like to do that, at least for one story each season.
Where do your references come from? What influences you the most in your work?
I think definitely from people. I love people just expressing themselves, so London is just the perfect place for that. I walk through Dalston and I just see amazing people.
“There are so many stylists and there are so many fashion stories in a magazine. I feel like if I start doing what someone else is doing then there is just no point.” – Ai Kamoshita
Is that where your favourite people-watching spot is?
I think so, yes. Where the market is- it’s amazing. Especially the older generations. I always find it interesting to see older people dressing differently.
Going back to references and influences, as an aesthetic-based medium, how do you approach your styling in a meaningful and substance-based way?
I get a character in my head, and somehow, that character always has to be real. I have to place them in a situation, and that’s how I interpret the garments into a style. It’s always important that I portray my point of view. There are so many stylists and there are so many fashion stories in a magazine. I feel like if I start doing what someone else is doing then there is just no point.
What is your thought process when styling?
There’s no right or wrong. People have different tastes, different points of view or different perspectives, but I choose combinations of pieces because I like the texture, the colour, the shape, or I feel excited to do for that moments. What we represents are hugely influenced by what’s happening currently and happened in the past as well. So for me it’s important that you need to be aware of the current and past as well. It’s exciting to do as a stylist because you have so much access to so many different things from current and archive, kind of like an alchemist.
“An iconic image needs to be eye-catching. It also needs to have a message to portray.” – Ai Kamoshita
It’s chemistry in a way.
What do you think makes a good fashion image?
It’s something that needs to be eye-catching and iconic. It also needs to have a message to portray.
What does iconic mean to you?
It has to stick in your head.
“I cast a lot of different body shapes, genders and ethnicities and the reason is definitely not that I am trying to be inclusive or tick in the boxes of any sort.” – Ai Kamoshita
What’s the most important value a stylist should have today?
I have been given a big platform to say something meaningful and to have a message. The reason I do what I do right now is because of what people did for me in the past. For example, Panos (Yiapanis), I was so excited to see his work and his job, and I would dream about doing the same. So encouraging people to pursue styling is a very important value for me.
What is your message?
To encourage people to follow their intuition and make something they truly believe. I cast a lot of different body shapes, genders and ethnicities and the reason is definitely not that I am trying to be inclusive or tick in the boxes of any sort. I am truly fascinated by confident attitudes and inspired by their authentic unique styles from these people since the beginning of my career. And I work with a lot of Asian artists. I love to represent my home. I would love to encourage people in Japan as well because it definitely wasn’t easy for me to reach where I am right now so it’s important to show them what’s possible in the creative field.
“I think a lot of people have this idea of styling as a glamorous job, but you need to be highly organised.” – Ai Kamoshita
What is the hardest part of being a stylist?
It’s a lot of admin. I think a lot of people have this idea of styling as a glamorous job, but you need to be highly organised. There’s also lots of research. You have so many brands to contact, I could call in thirty to forty brands just for one shoot. You must have good organisational skills to manage that in your brain.
Was there a project you think shifted your career?
There was this one story that was actually for 1 Granary with Michaela Stark shot by Carlijn Jacobs. It was a very important part of my work as I was able to showcase Michaela’s body in a way that was never seen before. I loved that project.
“As an aspiring stylist you should express yourself fully and then you can build your taste as a stylist. I also think the best way to learn is by assisting.”
And what has been your most emotional project?
Definitely one I did recently in Japan. It was an archive story for More or Less Magazine. I picked loads of brands I used to obsess over back in the day. I just wanted to showcase those unique designers that are not so popular in Europe. It was an opportunity for me to show their amazing work. I was talking to lots of designers and I felt quite connected in a deeper way than I’d experienced before. Also, the team I worked with, photographers, hair and makeup etc. were all my friends and they got really excited about what I wanted to do which felt really special for me. It’s a rare opportunity to work with a fully Asian team in Japan.
Bringing out these designer’s archives that have been almost forgotten and pushed away felt very nostalgic for me. I felt like I was going back to when I was 13 or 14, a time when I got so excited by these designers, so to be able to shoot their archives was amazing.
Lastly, do you have any advice for someone like myself, who wants to follow a career in styling?
Don’t be scared or feel like you have to create a certain style. The most important thing is that you establish your taste, your point of view. In the early days you’re free, don’t think about what is right or wrong. You should express yourself fully and then you can build your taste as a stylist. I also think the best way to learn is by assisting.