Paul Smith’s post-2011 earthquake fashion show in Japan, in photos


A month-long photography exhibit – one of the many side events affiliated with the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo Spring 2014 collections – documented the first fashion show that occurred after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  At that time, with just days to go before the start of the Spring 2012 ready-to-wear shows, Fashion Week organizers chose to cancel all events.

However, one British fashion designer decided to visit Japan alone, without his staff and against the advice of colleagues who felt the country was too unsafe for him to travel to.  That designer, Paul Smith, showed his men’s and women’s Spring 2012 collections in the fall, with photographer Hiroyasu Masaki capturing his entire journey from the designer’s solitary idle time before the show began to the conclusion of his event.  More than two years later, the photo exhibit “Paul Show by Hiroyasu Masaki” (ポール・スミス ファッションショー写真展) launched in Tokyo with a companion book.  Smith’s and Masaki’s first-person excerpts looking back at that time follow:

Masaki on the opportunity to document Smith’s journey to Japan when everyone else was leaving: “l have had the privilege of working with Sir Paul Smith and fellow for a number of years and was given the honour of shooting the Paul Smith fashion show held in Japan on October 16th, 2011. Sir Paul came to Japan in early April after the Great East Japan Earthquake. His visit was widely covered by various media outlets and helped reassure people and spread a sense of calm. It was with much gratitude for that act of courage that I decided to compile this photo book to send to him. Afterwards, I was encouraged by him and his staff members to make it available to a wider audience.

“During my own visits to the Tohoku region, I came to understand through talking to the people that they do not want to be forgotten. What I can do is give form to the memory of their actions, and communicate this to the world. Two years have passed since the earthquake and although the devastated regions in Tohoku are still in a status of recovery, there are signs of a new beginning.  Indeed, the paper used for this collection was made at a paper mill in Ishinomaki-shi, Tohoku.”

Smith on why he decided to stage a runway show in Japan so soon after the earthquake and tsunami: “[I]t was just a matter of coming to give everybody a hug, basically.  Not a physical hug, but an emotional hug.”

The Paul Show by Hiroyasu Masaki runs at the Paul Smith SPACE GALLERY in Tokyo through Nov. 4.  For more information and to purchase Masaki’s book, go to

Yuan-Kwan Chan contributed to this report.

Video: Paul Smith by Hiroyasu Masaki – Tokyo Fashion Week Spring 2014
photos and video by Megan Lee / Meniscus Magazine

Photos: Paul Smith by Hiroyasu Masaki – Tokyo Fashion Week Spring 2014
all photos by Megan Lee / Meniscus Magazine