a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Isamu Katayama – Artesanal Life / イサム・カタヤマ=アルチザナルライフ

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A documercial on clothing “designer” Isamu Katayama, Isamu Katayama – Artesanal Life, wears a certain hipster style that becomes dated even as the film unspools. Following Katayama san through his workshops, exhibitions, jittery talking head shots, and endless scenes of him and his posse walking through urban settings like a modern day Wild Bunch, the total effect is like watching MTV outtakes to a bad soundtrack. It’s one thing to have something like this as background noise on the TV, but plunking down 1,500 yen to watch wallpaper is only for diehard fashion victims.  One endless scene highlights Katayama cutting a deal with an Italian fashion retailer. Putting the same subjects in business suits would be just as interesting, – which is not very much. As to the garb that Katayama markets, it’s the usual distressed leather, branded t-shirts, baroque boots and low-slung jeans of “outlaw” culture. It had some meaning – about 40 years ago. Now it’s merely recycling the same old stuff for a piece of market share.


Originally published in EL Magazine, August 2009

Written by Nicholas Vroman

August 1, 2009 at 12:42 am

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