Pastel Macaron was created by Yuka Takeda, a young Japanese designer who is currently living in the United States and gets her inspiration from French pastries!
PreteMoiParis got to interview the artist, and took the opportunity to find out more about the woman behind the frilly style and fantastic imagination.
PPM : Your clothing designs are inspired by pastries and edible things of the confectionery type. When did you get the idea for your brand, and when/where did you start it?
Yuka Takeda : First of all, my major course of study in college was biology; however, I found out that I like making things for my friends (especially pastries) and seeing their smiles. Then I thought about becoming pastry chef. I always like how pastries look and when I changed my major to fine arts, I always used pastry images for anything, such as drawings, collage, paintings, etc.
PPM : What made you want to change your major from biology o fine arts? Was there a specific event that made you change your focus?
Yuka Takeda : I like biology and math and science. This fact made me want to be a doctor because if I thought if I become a doctor, everybody would respect me more. But I realized that this is really a sad way to look at things. Just after transferring to a school in Chicago, I decided to study fashion design since I have a passion for fashion. Clothes can make people be happy and be positive, like pastries do. At first, I didn’t realize it, but after few semesters over, I realized that my inspiration is always from pastries, fruits, and flowers. Also the Japanese photographer, Mika Ninagawa http://www.ninamika.com/ gave me lots of influence and since I was little, I have always had an interest in art. I even did oil paintings when I was in high school
But I didn’t see myself as talented artist, and becoming an artist is a whole another world for me… in Japan, being an artist is very difficult, most of people don’t appreciate artists. I’m glad that I was in US when I decided to go down this path.
PPM : But you mentioned that you had wanted to become a pastry chef… when did that idea take hold, and did you ever take steps to move in that direction?
Yuka Takeda: I always saw pastries as a type of artistic medium and since it’s edible, it’s easier to make people smile! I was drawn to the cute pastries I would see in magazines and that made me think I wanted be a pastry chef and go to the pastry school in Paris but I didn’t know any French, so I went to Grenoble for 2 months to learn the language. After learning French, some typical Japanese guy said to me ‘why don’t you go work for a big company after graduation and then when you get married, you, of course will quit your job and raise children, and THEN, you can start a career as a pastry chef. The system of getting a job is really strict in Japan and has many rules so, that person really made me not want to be a pastry chef because he saw it as lower quality job.
Yuka Takeda : Yes, of course. French pastries are very popular in Japan and all cakes look cute or beautiful, like works of art. People are happy by looking at them, and I would like to make clothing that immediately makes people happy in that way, so there is definitely a strong influence of French pastries which I find very beautiful.
PPM : How much time have you spent in Paris, and in France?
Yuka Takeda : I lived with a host family in Grenoble for 2 months 2005, and I lived in Paris for 5 months in 2008.
PPM : What are your favorite French pastries? And what are your favorite places to find them?
Yuka Takeda : I like the design of any French pastry, but maybe as you can guess, my most favorite is the macaron! (smiles) Amazingly, Tokyo has lots of cute and unique macarons; however, I like “Pierre Hermé” in Paris the most, especially the “Ispahan” macaron which is made with rose petal, litchis and fresh raspberries, the macaron from heaven!
PPM : What are Pastel Macaron’s most recent accomplish- ments?
Yuka Takeda : The Ella Flagg Young Association Spring Fashion Show on April 10 at the Hilton in Oaklawn, IL. It was sponsored by the association to raise funds for scholarships. And I made a new collection for this show, and from that I feel my design is become more stable and defined. I mean I haven’t found my complete and defined style yet, but through this new collection, I felt I’m closer to that point. I showed my works along with other up and coming fashion designers like “Double Stitch”, a label that focuses on many crocheted items created by two sisters.
I also recently had a photo shoot in Japan with photographer, who is a SCAD film student Aaron Jenkin http://www.aaronjenkin.com/glamour who is very interested in Japanese culture and art.
PPM : Where do you hope to bring the brand within the next year?
Yuka Takeda : I was avoiding showing my works to Japanese people because I assumed, for Japanese, my designs would not be seen as unique or original; however, with the experience of the fashion exhibition in Chicago and the photo shoot in Japan, I feel much more prepared to show my work to the Japanese people. I also hope to remain in the US for the next year so I can promote my brand here, especially in the Chicago area.
PPM : How can people currently acquire Pastel Macaron items?
Yuka Takeda : That’s a good question! Currently, people who are interested in my works contact me directly and order.
Photos : first 4 : Robert Glatfelter; last 2 : Aaron Jenkin