Fäfä is the curious name of a fantastic Japanese girl’s and women’s wear line created in 2009 by Helen Miyaoka – available internationally and on view this year at CPH Kids, Copenhagen.
The label takes its name from the designer’s childhood teddy bear, a personified object-as-analogy for Miyaoka’s own earliest sartorial experiences.
And so Fäfä’s story goes: the little bear loved mommy but hated the clothes mommy dressed her in, owing to one preternaturally developed sense of style.
The solution? Miyaoka’s quasi-couture take on girl’s clothing, which deftly merges formal tradition with indulgent fantasy to arrive at ultra girly, one-of-a-kind treasury wear.
Inspired by the heroines of fairy tales as well as some surprisingly sophisticated sketches by her young daughter, Fafa is an example of the extremes of creativity to which adults will aspire, in celebration of childhood imagination.
Kid_In spoke with Helen about her line, and about the impact of child-aesthetics on her adult career.
What kind of child were you?
Grumpy and picky!
How did your aka The Fairy come about?
I started making my own clothes when I moved to London. Children would stop me and ask, “where did you buy your clothes; they’re pretty!” The funniest was when a girl stopped me saying, “Mom, that’s a fairy!” Neighborhood children began calling me Fairy, and some kids in Japan do too. I still get swarmed when I take my daughter to ballet class…maybe they sense I’m still a child.
You’re a graduate of prestigious design school Central St. Martins – why children’s designs?
My designs and color schemes were always childlike, have always appealed to children. Still, if I never met all those children who appreciated my clothes maybe I’d never have begun designing for them. They pushed me into a child’s world!
What was missing in the market that your line fulfills?
Lots of brands are made from a grown-up’s vision but I wanted to offer clothes that kids would like to wear and would chose by themselves.
What does the term treasury wear mean?
I want children to keep Fäfä clothes, just as I kept my precious toys and books – passing them onto generations. My daughter also wears my old clothes and reads my old fairytale books, and I want her child to do the same.
What do European exhibitions (Playtime Paris and CPH Kids Copenhagen) mean for you?
My first exhibition in Europe was Playtime, Paris in 2010, and people there gave me the, you’re crazy look. CPH Kids in August 2011 in Copenhagen was the opposite. The Scandinavians truly appreciated my work. I realized Fafa is viewed uniquely and differently worldwide. And this is good.
Can you discuss your daughter as inspiration?
Her drawings inspire me a lot, they have an imaginative story and detail that often resembles my work – we inspire each other, really.
What are some other inspirations?
Always my childhood, and those funny dolls and books my father brought back from business abroad….
What is the relevance of childhood imagination to later personality?
Imaginative children just think differently. This independence of thought builds self-esteem and confidence, so they become more tolerant and open-minded adults.
To view more of FÄFÄ ‘s collection: http://www.fa-fa.co.uk