Running until June 6th is the exhibition Miroirs—Manga meets Chanel, Collaboration with Kaiu Shirai & Posuka Demizu, a unique presentation of the newly published manga Miroirs by illustrator Posuka Demizu and manga artist Kaiu Shirai. The storyline is inspired by Coco Chanel’s philosophy and zest for life.
Chanel’s boutique on Chuo Street, designed by the celebrated architect Peter Marino, was launched in 2004. This location utilizes advanced technology, with 700,000 LEDs embedded in steel mesh between layers of glass producing an impressive curtain wall system that converts the glass facade into an enormous display screen at night. On the fourth floor of this captivating work of architecture, we find the Chanel Nexus Hall. Containing the art gallery and concert hall, it hosts a varied range of exhibitions and musical performances encapsulating Gabrielle Chanel’s intuitive passion for art, music, and fashion.
Published last April, Miroirs (mirrors in French) is Demizu and Shirai’s first collaboration with a fashion brand. Demizu explained that the story concept intended to “possess the spirit of Gabrielle Chanel” by drawing inspirations from her strong ideals to reimagine or “repaint” the world with a sense of individuality and freedom of mind. Demizu was first known in 2008 for her illustrations in a mini-series for the manga monthly CoroCoro and for the series Mao Daze!! Oreca Battle, released in 2015. She has been active also with artworks for children’s magazines and video games. In August 2016, she collaborated with Shirai on the hugely successful series The Promised Neverland for Shonen Jump. Shirai debuted with the comic The Location of Ashley-Gate for Shonen Jump+ magazine in 2015. Apart from The Promised Neverland, he and Demizu also worked together for the first time on the sensational manga Poppy’s Wish.
The exhibition seems to swirl around mirrored walls, creating an experience like climbing the legendary spiral staircase in Chanel’s Paris apartment. Chanel once spoke of mirrors thusly: “The hardness of the mirror reflects my own hardness back to me: it’s a struggle between it and me – it expresses what is peculiar to myself.” Shirai dwelled on this mindset when assembling a plot that would reflect Chanel’s beliefs. He explained,“I discovered the multitude of beautiful mirrors that adorned Chanel’s rooms, such as those along the spiral staircase and in the living room. I decided to scatter aspects of what I saw in Gabrielle … that would make the format seem as if numerous mirrors were presenting her multifaceted aspects.”
Embodying the feeling of walking into Chanel’s apartment, the exhibition consists of three decorative rooms with doorways, each introducing the three chapters of the book: Sorcières (Witches), Menteuse (Liar), and Corneille Noir (Black Crow). The entrance wall of each room is a captivating collage of Chanel’s portraits, her personal quotations, and illustrations for the manga all hung in gilded, bronze, or silver frames depicting the era of Chanel’s height of success. The first room or chapter, Sorcières, is in red and tells of a girl, Coco, who is heavily engrossed in books and the joys of an imaginative life. She then meets a witch who completely changes her perspective of the world. Shirai wanted to “provide a window… that could draw out the girl’s emotions…and her ability to transcend time and space…with her imagination.”
One striking artwork shows the heroine on a balcony, surrounded by blue butterflies, gazing at the city panorama with the image of Tokyo Tower. The second room Menteuse, in white, shows the protagonist as carefree yet elusive. Sketches on the walls taken from the manga describe the character as being multifarious, but also real at the same time—a portrayal of Chanel’s uninhibited approach toward self-honesty. Images of the popular perfume CHANEL_N°5 are used as symbolic icons of fashion to emulate self-expression. Another beautiful illustration shows the girl amidst a jungle of skyscrapers, like being caught in a world of dreams. In the final chapter, Corneille Noir, the plot shifts to a young boy who suffers from an inferiority complex but gradually discovers freedom. The walls are black, capturing the boy’s dark soul, while also splashed with bright colors. Shirai was inspired by Chanel’s pursuit in liberating women during the 20th century to illuminate a parallelism with his own view of men’s liberation in the 21st century. Filled with storyboards and the deep thoughts and ideals of Chanel, the exhibition creates an experience like leafing through the pages of the actual manga and being transported back in time to the fashion designer’s influential life in France.