Detective Note

Vol.017 – Fashion and Light , or maybe Women and Light.


Interviewer: Ai Sohara

Theme:Fashion and Light , or maybe Women and Light

Sohara: Today, I thought we could take a walk and visit Laforet Harajuku.

Mende:Did you come shopping here when you were younger?

Sohara:Oh ya!! I am a Tokyo native, so I have shopped here since jr. high. As women continue to develop their position in society, I think it is really important to dress up and look trendy. So of course, lighting is also very important when selecting items.

Women have beautiful curves, so soft light looks good


Mende:So, have you ever bought something just because the lighting is good? Or something like that?

Sohara: I think window shopping is the basis for many women shoppers. Take for instance today, we are just walking along and looking a various shops we come across. So, yes, the first impression, as shoppers passes by a shop, is very important.

Mende:Yes, it is important to entice shoppers inside. As we walked around, I never realized the variety of shops in Laforet. There are boutiques with pendant lights or studio-like lighting, even shops using glareless fixtures, I never would have guessed! The characteristics of each shop design seem to be transposed in the lighting. I suppose to differentiate themselves from the other shops.

Sohara:I don`t think the younger generation has noticed, but I really feel that lighting effects create a sense of elation while shopping. However, I think the most important area is lighting in a fitting room. Customers do not go directly to the register with merchandise, but like to try it on in a fitting room. In a fitting room the mirror and lighting is very important. The final decision is up to the lighting so I think it is very important.

Mende: I see. There are many examples of bad lighting. But, when I shop I don’t really look in the mirrors.

Sohara: The ladies do!! I think lighting is very important for the ladies.

Mende:Generally speaking, I think women like lighting more than men. I think they are into the details. From experience, when a couple visits a lighting fixture showroom, the women are overwhelmingly more interested then the men, who say almost nothing. I think it is interesting how men could be assertive about things, but from the past we have always worn black or gray suits. You don’t see many men wearing suits in a variety of colors. Men just don’t seem to have freedom fashion-wise, like women. The culture is that men shouldn’t dress flashy, but the same culture suggests women should beautify and decorate themselves.

Sohara:Yes. What kind of light do you think is best to beautifully show women?

Mende:Generally speaking I think women are beautiful, but there is lighting to beautifully show men and women.

Sohara:At a fashion show, the form of a man is muscular with contours, so I think sharp light is more flattering, while women have beautiful curves more suited to softer lighting.

Mende:Full , broad sort of lighting is more flattering to women. Designers often make the mistake of mounting downlights in a power room. I think the women standing before these mirrors are at a loss, because under their nose a shadow has formed resembling a dark beard.

Sohara:Indirect lighting is the best!! Or maybe hollywood lighting, like you seen in backstage dressing rooms.

Mende:That seems a little bright, but vertical plane brightness is a better way to go.

Sohara: It’s all about lifting up the ego. One just feels better if the person you are looking at in the mirror is beautifully lit. I think, I, along with most women, are sensual beings. Instead of a simple downlight, sitting before a mirror with lights shining on you and your eyes twinkling like a character in a comic book is a more beautiful way to go. I think the expression on one’s face and uplifting feeling is very different depending on the lighting. An actress needs to feel like they are beautiful and get excited before going on stage. I think this is the main purpose of the lighting. Women are pulled left and right by their feelings, so as working professionals, fashion and makeup are very important. Not because we are going to show somebody, but just make ourselves feel better. However, if somebody was to tell a women she looked nice, she might feel even better!

Mende: I think women have a very health perspective. You want to show your beauty and you work hard to beautify yourself.

Sohara: I also think flattering light is different for Japanese women and foreign women. Facial features, hair color, and eye color are all different.

Mende:Of course. If you look at actress headshots, a soft gradation of light is better for asian actresses with flatter facial features, while shaper light is better for western actresses with taller facial features.

Sohara:I think it is the same with architecture. A gradation of light is better for Japanese architecture and sharp light with contrast is better for European architecture. Similar to women, right?

Mende: It might be.

Sohara: A clean gradation of light could really express Japanese women`s features beautifully with the shadows simply fading into the black hair. It is a pretty picture.

Mende:The light and shadow of a flickering candle flame combined with strong interior features is often seen in European paintings. However, placing one sheet of washi, or Japanese paper, between the light source and a Japanese women creates a more captivating picture.

Sohara: I’m glad that I could talk with you about women and lighting. Everyday, our designs are based on architectural lighting, but I don’t want to forget my perspective as a women when designing. Let the women shine!