Interview with Shoko Sei
Born in Osaka, Japan, 1983, Shoko Sei works as a stylist in a wide range of fields such as advertising,magazines, music videos, TV, and movies. She became a freelance artist in 2007, with a portfolio filled with original and creative works.
The next year, she was selected to be an assistant for Patricia Field,who was the stylist for “Sex and the City” and “The Devil Wears Prada” during her stay in Japan.
She has been described as “bold, yet sensitive and avant-garde”, and her eclectic and unique styling is receiving a great response not only within Japan, but all over the world. She is a talented stylist who cannot take her eyes off the future.
Shoko, it is a pleasure to be able to interview you. Long before I had the chance to talk to you I knew of and had been impressed by your work. Can you tell us a little about how you got started as a stylist? The fashion industry is a tough business to break into, what was your big break?
My first step was to promote myself with my portfolio.
When I was young, I felt strange about costumes that people wore on TV show or magazine and I wanted to change it.
And also, I was not blessed to own many clothes when I was young. So it’s totally a reaction, I think.
I made my portfolio and promoted myself to Fashion Stylist Association of Japan, magazine publishers, talent agencies, directors, photographers and so on as much as I could. It was the beginning.
Basically it’s always intuition.
I try to add to or subtract from the stylings that I make by intuition taking into consideration the project, time, budget, and person who I am styling. I do research for as long as time allows but for most of the projects I don’t have enough time so I have to directly go out to find stuff.
Japan is well know for the trends they set in fashion. Can you tell us how you keep up with trends?
I have never thought of the trends but I think I could read the trends just by walking on the street and watching people and clothes in show windows. With this job I have to see into the near future so I always consider a few months ahead.
You have done many jobs for magazines including Sweet, ViVi, CUTiE, EYESCREAM, ELLE MEN and advertising including Sony, Toyota, Cole Haan and many more. You are best known for your work in music videos. Can you tell us a little about your work in this AK48 Team K Video?
About the video of AKB48 team K, I was ordered to style like Takarazuka costume style which is always mannish and cool. (The Takarazuka Revue is a Japanese all-female musical theater troupe based in Takarazuka, Japan.)
Talking about the suits, I showed some fabrics to resemble handkerchiefs in their breast pockets which I made just before the shoot started. I think it was big success.
About Takarazuka costume, it was hard to set up with feathers in my own way and it was very confusing because I had to set the dancing position so that the costumes did not appear random because there were gold costumes, silver costumes and 4 different colors of feathers. I decided the dancing position in the last scene where the members appeared alternating. The costumes are gorgeous because of all the hard work on the set.
One of your more recent works is this Music Video for the E-Girls. What was your experience working on this project like?
There are 2 different stylings, pink costumes and “pattern on pattern” costumes. I had to take into consideration that the pink costumed had to look feminine and be easy to move in.
I decided to dye the white shirts to “the pink”, I think there are many different pinks, and used my intuition to base the color when I looked their faces.
Even though they are a team, I wanted show the personality of each member by the design of each individual pink shirt costume so I chose a design to match the face and the body of each.
I thought the “pattern on pattern” costumes should be more energetic and match the song. It took me 2 days to go out to shops in Harajuku where I like to find good stuff for the Music video.
I wanted to change the image of them so far. I want to let people know about them and also, I wanted people to be happy with the music video.
I love your work with celebrities such as Scandal and Billy Blanks . How hard to you find it is to work with celebrities on the set?
I really do not think about how hard it is. I’m always working happy as a stylist and proud of it.
What other accomplishments are you most proud of?
I’m very proud of my assistants and my friend who makes costumes for me. I think they are the greatest staff.
I’m always supported because It’s always difficult to make costumes come true from my brain. I really thank the people who help me out.
What do you think is the hardest part of your job?
Fighting against time and the budget.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The moment when a person smiles when they see the clothes I choose (style) and when a work I did is published.
You are a costume/clothing designer too. Can you show us some of your favorite pieces?
Have you ever thought of designing and starting your own label?
Yes, I have. I’m thinking of something about it when the time comes.
How do you see your career evolving in the near future?
I want to style as many people as possible. Not only in Japan, but also I want to work for music video or magazines in foreign countries. That’s my dream.
Where can we keep up to date with you and your work?
Please check my web site.