Junko Shimada’s Joyful and Timeless Fashion


WordsManon Baeza

Characterised by her spontaneity, good spirits, rigour, curiosity and humour, Junko Shimada (who insists that she’s 20 years old, in spite of her silvery hair) agreed to offer us a look inside her private life and colourful wardrobe. She is one of the figureheads of Japanese fashion, and proves that fashion can be both frivolous and engaged.

Junko Shimada spent her childhood in Japan before leaving her native land in the 1960s to go to study in Paris so she could fulfil her long-held dream: to work for Levi’s in the United States. However, caught up in the creative Parisian whirlwind, Junko fell in love with the French capital and began her career as a stylist at a trend agency 35 years ago. Then came a collaboration with Cacharel, followed by the creation of her own brand which would lead her to make far more frequent trips between France and Japan. ‘Now, I split my life and work between Paris and Tokyo’, the designer adds.

Junko Shimada is a delicious mix of lightness, nonchalant femininity and freedom who makes fluid, contemporary silhouettes which seek to reveal the female body by means of the garment.

‘I want to break the codes and cliches of fashion, for free women with a strong personality which is reflected in their appearance. My greatest wish for my brand is to manage to provoke emotions, like a first glance, a first kiss, a first love.’

Much more than just clothing, Junko Shimada also embodies subtle intelligence, combining the history of French fashion with Japanese culture in order to remove all of the differences between the two countries. Thanks to this authentic approach, the designer has created a wardrobe of quality pieces, enhanced by timeless cuts and bright, vibrant colours. It’s cheerful, durable fashion, free from superficiality.

‘Historically, a bit like in architecture where a structure is held up by posts in Japan and load-bearing walls in the west, we might be inclined to think that Japanese garments are flat and are held up by the body. Meanwhile, it might seem that western garments are more shaped in volume and therefore structure the body! But there are many counterexamples… and now fashion is global, everything is mixed and that creates new identities’, the stylist explains.

Last September, Junko Shimada presented her Spring/Summer 2020 collection which once again explored the theme of love. To achieve this, the designer dreamed up a modern Garden of Eden, created with the help of Cyprien Chabert, the artist who drew all of the lush nature present at the show. This carefully refined decor combined plants from all the continents. This latest collection also references the climate emergency and evokes, in a very poetic manner, a deeper environmental consciousness with a return to an original state of purity.

Over the past 35 years, Junko Shimada has never stopped exploring everything linked with the streets, travel, nature, or indeed her granddaughter, who is the apple of her eye. These themes are constantly being rethought but never become redundant, and instead continue to enhance the female body over the years. Her collections evolve according to her collaborations, from Gotshcko to Cyprien Chaber and Marcoville, always selected based on her affinities and ‘with no ulterior marketing motive’, she assures us. This inspiring energy is translated through her collections.