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see kiko mizuhara's i-D japan cover story

As i-D Japan issue two is released, we throw back to Kiko Mizuhara's cover story and interview from the first issue, shot by legendary photographer Nobuyoshi Araki.

by Kazumi Asamura Hayashi
13 October 2016, 12:50pm

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The moment she walks into the studio, the whole place comes alive. Her beauty and vivacious personality are as captivating as ever, but Mizuhara has recently developed an unreservedly confident presence as well — in a good way. With everything already set in place, photographer Nobuyoshi Araki gets down to shooting right away (after a warm hug).

Kiko Mizuhara, 25. A prolific model and actress, not a day goes by when she can't be seen on TV or on the cover of a magazine. But she pays no heed to the fickle opinions and gossip of society, with a fearlessness and an indefatigable drive that allow her to keep on going no matter what she's up against. Mizuhara is proud of her multinational background and identity, and having already conquered Japan, she told us that she now has her sights set on the rest of the Asian market.

Influencing a generation, and what she's received in return
I think you just have to look to see that there are a huge amount of talented young people out there today, in the generation between the ages of about 17 and 30. Thanks to social media, people in Japan can now learn about and meet people doing awesome things all around the world, whereas only a few years ago it felt like there was a kind of invisible barrier between Japan and the outside world. Young people today are really free in that regard. It's like there's this sort of energy going around right now, where young people everywhere want to create great things together — I'm glad I was born into such a great generation. I encounter loads of new things every day, and that gives me a lot of motivation. I really feel like there are getting to be more and more interesting people out there all the time, too… It's totally different today to when I started out as a model twelve years ago, you know? Japan was in its third wave of Gyaru fashion back then: girls were doing the whole ganguro thing, walking around Shibuya in kigurumi onesies, and Kumi Koda was one of the most popular singers around. Women really had a "strong" attitude back then. I feel like there was a period after that when girls were more quiet and understated for a while, but recently you see more women being strong in a different kind of way. It's like everyone's gotten sick of being conservative. You can really feel the excitement in the air right now, and I want to take part in that kind of movement, too. I really believe in the power of my generation.

New forms of communication
I've finally gotten better at English, so I'm putting a lot of effort into keeping in touch with the friends I've made through social media. The great thing about things like Instagram and Snapchat is that as well as just communicating with people, you can also share your tastes with them. Stuff disappears from Snapchat after 24 hours, so you can instantly share the stuff that's going on around you, right then and there. I love how you can find out what the people you're interested in are getting into, and what's influencing them. I'm kind of addicted.

On the frequency of Kiko's Instagram posts causing a stir
Yeah, it happens. But I just feel like nipple is nipple. So what? It's not a big deal. But when that kind of stuff happens it really drives home just how many people are looking at me and my posts. I myself haven't changed at all, but as I put more stuff out there, the people who are watching me are changing. And that means that way more people are criticizing me now. I've never once thought about trying to sell myself in a favorable light, and my stance on that hasn't changed. But lately, I've definitely been feeling that the more people watch me, the more this sort of thing is going to happen.

Making advances in Asia
I'm set to be in a few movies this year in China. I'm so happy it's finally been decided! I want to stay true to my roots as an Asian. It would be ideal if I could make the move from Japan to the rest of Asia, and then from Asia to the world: I was raised on Japanese, Korean, and American culture, which I think is pretty unusual, and I'd like to use the unique background that I was blessed with in my work.

How working in Asia has affected her
Asians outside of Japan are all super aggressive in how they approach things. I'd say China is number one in Asia in that regard. Koreans also tend to speak their minds, and they're very entertaining. They love to do new things but they're also good at imitating others, and they rise to any challenge with a lot of flexibility. They're very accepting, but I still think it's really important to understand those countries' cultures and take a respectful attitude towards them — it'd be really naïve to think that you could just go over to China and have work handed to you right away. I want to work over there so I'm trying to learn a lot about Chinese culture right now to show good will… and I'm seriously enjoying it! Since I've had more opportunities to go to other countries in Asia I've been able to look at Japan more objectively: I feel like we used to have so much originality as a country, but we're in a bit of a slump right now. If Asia could pull together and work as one we could do amazing things, and create some great entertainment too. But for political reasons, and because of our national rivalries, we're not getting along very well right now. That's something I'd hope that my generation could start to change. I want Asia to work together to make great stuff and share it with the world.

Hopes for ten years in the future
Let's see… I'll be 35. I'd like to make a kind of "union," where young artists and upcoming actresses, singers, and creators can get together to create new things. I hope I'll still be working as an actress then, but only in the kinds of things I really want to.

Advice for the next generation
Just keep doing the things you like, and nothing else. Don't think about the business side of things, because that'll come later.


Text Kazumi Asamura Hayashi
Photography Nobuyoshi Araki
Styling Erika Kurihara
Hair and makeup Katsuya Kamo
Hair and makeup assistance Yui Hayashi (Kamo Head)
Styling assistance Katsuyuki Naito and Ayano Santanda
Model Kiko Mizuhara at Asia Cross
Special Thanks Takayuki Mashiyama at Taka Ishii Gallery

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