Naoko Takeuchi and Sailor Moon: high fashion inspirations
Sailor Moon is not just a fictional character, but a whole universe of stories that still makes different generations dream today. A timeless work, whose popularity is recognized all over the world. Over the years merchandise, artbooks, and musicals have been produced, demonstrating the great interest that this phenomenon continues to create.
Behind the global success of Sailor Moon is Naoko Takeuchi, whose life offers many food for thought to deepen and better understand why this manga is still so much considered.
Born in Kōfu in 1967, Naoko Takeuchi showed a great passion for manga from an early age, starting to draw stories in high school whose characters bore the names of her family. Pursuing her interest in space, she also enrolled in the astronomy club of the school - fundamental parenthesis for the stylistic and historical characterization of Sailor Moon.
Takeuchi's father, worried about her daughter's failure as an artist, urged her to continue her studies in the chemical field: she then graduated from the prestigious Keio private university in Pharmacy while, hand in hand with her studies, she served as a miko at the temple Shiba Daijingu, located near the university - inspiration for the characterization of Sailor Mars.
At nineteen she started working as a mangaka at Kodansha, winning an award with Love Call. After publishing the manga Maria, Takeuchi began to think about a new story with fighting girls from outer space. She mentioned it to her editor, Fumio Osano, who suggested that she dress the protagonist in a sailor uniform. From this concept Codename: Sailor V came to life. Toei Animation was immediately interested in the transposition of this product into anime, so Tekeuchi added four other protagonists to the story.
In 1991 Nakayoshi magazine (also from Kodansha) released Sailor Moon in series and it was an incredible success. Takeuchi worked on Sailor Moon from 1991 to 1997, publishing 52 chapters in 18 volumes, following which three animated films, videogames and a huge amount of gadgets were made. She also founded her own studio-agency named "Princess Naoko Planning".
Arriving at the conclusion of Sailor Moon, Naoko Takeuchi worked on the manga PQ Angels which was never completed: Kodansha lost part of the manuscript, so the author decided to switch to Shueisha.
In 1998 she appeared at San Diego Comic-Con, published her first artbook and in 1999 she married Yoshihiro Togashi, author of Hunter x Hunter.
In 2003 the live action Bishōjo senshi Sailor Moon was made and, in the same year, she blocked all the rights of Sailor Moon on a worldwide scale: the official reasons have never been clarified, it is thought that this decision was made due to the numerous censorship of the anime or, more likely, for copyright reasons with Toei Animation and Bandai.
In 2009 she finally decided to unlock the rights and in 2012 was announced a new anime version of Sailor Moon and a reissue of the manga with new covers and the addition of color pages.
On October 20, 2016 a new celebratory book for the 20th anniversary was published containing photos of the author (who now lives in Tokyo with her husband and two children), photos of the merchandise produced over the years and interviews with people who have worked closely with Takeuchi. The cover of this last official guidebook was made by the author on the occasion of her anniversary.
Naoko Takeuchi's creative genius has also been recognized with many awards.
Her tables, often stylized and sketched, are in stark contrast to the highly detailed and well-kept artbooks that today represent an archive of enormous value for fans.
The beauty and charm of Sailor Moon lies not only in the originality of the elaboration of a fantastic story, where past and present interpenetrate in a captivating way, but also and above all in the research work that Takeuchi has carried out over the years. In fact, there are many references to which the author refers especially in the field of luxury.
Among Takeuchi's interests sprouted precious gems, antiques and racing cars: the author was known to own a Porsche and a Ferrari F512, the same one driven by Haruka in the series.
Takeuchi's greatest passion was high fashion, especially French.
In reality, there were many Japanese of medium-high social extraction who looked with interest at European fashion of the late 80s and early 90s, characterized by the glitz of French haute couture, the triumph of Italian pret-à-porter and with an American casual style: many Japanese magazines (first of all JJ) proposed looks that mixed high fashion accessories with American-style casual clothing. Bags and accessories by Chanel and Louis Vuitton were presented with comfortable outfits typical of Ralph Lauren, outlining the so-called Shibukai or "Shibuya casual" - "French casual".
Chanel by Karl Lagerfeld was an immense source of inspiration for Takeuchi.
Coco Chanel's idea of femininity was enterprising and emancipated, elaborated in a series of dresses with a very strong social impact. This imagery was welcomed by Lagerfeld in the 1980s with intelligence, combining the legacy of Gabrielle Chanel with the rise in the world of work of women and their success with pop motifs typical of that period (bright color palette, use of vinyl and chains), the creation of the historic 2.55 bag in different sizes with the closure with the "cc" logo and the timeless romantic vein typical of Paris.
One of the plates depicting Sailor Pluto shows a 1993 Chanel by Karl Lagerfeld dress worn during the show by model Christy Turlington, then by Naomi Campbell for an editorial. In Almodòvar's film Los Abrazos Rotos (2009) it was Penelope Cruz who wore it, while Lily Rose Depp on a red carpet in 2019.
Gianni Versace, the greatest genius of Italian fashion, had risen to the Olympus of high fashion right at the turn of the 80s and 90s. His immense talent in the choice of colors and the research of fabrics and the history of ancient Greece were certainly a trait d'union with Takeuchi.
One of the most iconic dresses that perfectly represent the stylistic concept of the entire universe of Sailor Moon is the one worn by Princess Serenity, the Palladium Dress by Dior haute couture SS 1992 made by the "fashion architect" Gianfranco Ferrè. A silk dress conceived as a Greek column.
Among the inspirations for the creation of the dresses of the lunar princess there is also a reference to the Roman stylist Roberto Capucci of 1987.
Takeuchi also takes full hands from Thierry Mugler.
Throughout his career Mugler has conceptualized the idea of a new femininity, strong, bold and powerful, through the creation of super structured clothes taking inspiration from cinema, robots and fantasy, nature and insects, cars of the ' 70 and from history. His idea of a woman is extraordinary, powerful, superhuman and glacial, which dominates space and is extremely sensual and bewitching.
Mugler's clothes, eccentric and unique, were also impactful thanks to the photographs taken by one of the greatest masters of fashion photography: Helmut Newton.
One of the works that made Mugler also a research photographer was the publication of two photographic books made at the then Soviet Moscow Expositions (now the All-Russian Exhibition Center), inspired by Stalinist propaganda. A controversial theme that the designer also brought to the catwalk in FW 1986-87.
One of the works that made Mugler also a research photographer was the publication of two photographic books made at the then Soviet Moscow Expositions (now the All-Russian Exhibition Center), inspired by Stalinist propaganda.
A controversial theme that the designer also brought to the catwalk in FW 1986-87.
Among the antagonistic characters there is also a clear inspiration from the French neo-Baroque designer Christian Lacroix.
Yves Saint Laurent was another sacred monster of French fashion from which Takeuchi took inspiration.
YSL has rewritten the history of haute couture and pret-à-porter with its enormous capacity for foresight and irreverence. Closely tied to the world of art and literature, he was one of the most important stylists in the world.
Among his passions, Marrakesh stood out, where he went constantly from 1966 onwards. From 1980 he actually lived in the villa in the Jardin Majorelle together with his partner Pierre Bergé. The love for this African city led him to present a collection inspired by it in 1967. The exotic theme represented with unusual shapes, colors and materials will then characterize many YSL collections between the 80s and 90s.
At the same time, YSL was able to represent a disturbing and magnetic femininity, as evidenced by some of its boldest collections and perfumes.
At the same time, YSL was able to represent a disturbing and magnetic femininity, as evidenced by some of its more daring collections and perfumes.
It can be said that Naoko Takeuchi was inspired by the world of art in general to create tables, illustrations or more simply to "pose" her characters.
Among the many artists she referred to are: Alphonse Mucha, Gustav Klimt, Van Gogh, Hokusai, Mapplerthorpe.
A world, that of art, which is always renewed and which never ceases to amaze, creating new meanings over time. Naoko Takeuchi has shown excellent self-referential work with respect to photography, cinema and architecture (just think of the Greco-Roman setting of the lunar kingdom and the castle clearly inspired by the Taj Mahal). Likewise, hundreds of people around the world have been inspired by her work, and have dressed up as her characters by cosplaying.
Very interesting in this sense was the performance on ice of the athlete Evgenia Medvedeva on 10 November 2017 at the Isu Grand Prix of Figure Skating: dressed as Sailor Moon, the skater amazed everyone present with a performance dedicated to the Moon princess.
This tribute acquires a higher value since Takeuchi herself has always been passionate about ice skating: in 1990 she published the manga The cherry project, inspired by this discipline. But that's not all: the same transformations of the Sailor warriors and the movements they make during the attack with the scepters are all inspired by this sport.