When I started thinking about what my idea could be for my fashion film, for some reason one of the first things that came to my mind was movie called “Memoirs of a Geisha” (2005). Not gonna lie, one of the best movies of all time in my opinion. Originally, Memoirs of a Geisha was a historical novel by American author Arthur Golden, published in 1997. The novel, told in first person perspective, tells the fictional story of a geisha working in Kyoto, Japan, before and after World War II. In 2005, film director Rob Marshall made a film version of the novel. It stars the Chinese actresses Zhang Ziyi as Sayuri, Gong Li as Hatsumomo, and Michelle Yeoh as Mameha; and Japanese actors Ken Watanabe as the Chairman, Suzuka Ohgo as Sayuri’s childhood incarnation Chiyo, and Youki Kudoh as the adult Pumpkin. Filming was primarily done in California, and in some locations in Kyoto, including Kiyomizu-dera and Fushimi Inari-taisha. It was nominated for and won numerous awards, including nominations for six Academy Awards, three of which – Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design – were won.
The movie itself is truly beautiful piece of work and I remember after the first time seeing it, it kinda stayed in my mind since then. In my opinion, this movie portrays women as pieces of art and worriers and that’s what my idea is for my fashion film. During one of my lessons, my tutors gave a task to the whole class room to describe briefly what out projects are going to be like in two sentences. Mine were: 1. Giving a second life to forgotten cultures and traditions. 2. Women as worriers and pieces of art. So long story short, my idea is to turn the “old” perception of geisha and turn it into something modern. Let’s call this project “Modern Geisha”.
How it connects to the theme Imperfect? Well, the art of being a true Geisha is a whole different universe. Behind the pretty picture, there is years and years of work and preparation. I remember there was a scene in the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha” where Sayuri (main character) had a task given to her, it was kind of a test that would prove that she has trained enough to become a Geisha and that she is ready. She had to walk down a street, choose a man and conquer him with a single glance. Now that’s what I call a power of woman. But behind this glance there was tears, blood and sweat all combined together, hard work and dedication, true wizardry. So at some point there was this race for perfection, because being a Geisha means being a moving and breathing piece of art, alive installation, being this idea of never stopping visual satisfaction. It’s all about being perfect. One of the hardest and oldest jobs in the world. If you have seen the movie or have read the book, even though this girl went through such transformation, from being a girl that at the age of nine lost her parents and was separated from her sister, didn’t have nothing, became quiet famous and successful Geisha, no matter what, inside, she always stayed this kid from poverty-stricken fishing village (place she was born at) and stayed true to herself, the only thing that happened was she fell in love. So I wanted to take this idea of Geisha and make a modern version of it. The Imperfect version. Imagine the rituals they had to go through when preparing to serve a client or a for a performance. Hair, make up, kimonos, say at least 3-4 hours of just “glamming up”. And now transform it into the modern day woman. We as well, have to go through some kind of rituals, like for example in the morning you wake up, take shower, do your hair, do your make up, dress up. There’s no particular way to do such things because people are different and have different preferences, but you can see where I’m coming from.
There is an inner Geisha sitting inside every woman. We are all pieces of art, unique and beautiful in our own ways and at some point we had to pay some kind of price for beauty that did involve pain. We spend a lot of our income on beauty products and sometimes there is no shame in admitting that we do all that for men (sorry feminists). Not in every case scenario but even I admit that at some point in my life I did do my make up certain way or dressed up a certain way just to catch attention of the guy I fancied. And there is nothing wrong with that. I wanted to show the tough side of being a woman, not in present time, but since the beginning of all times and until now. It’s hard being a woman but at the same time it’s a blessing. We are worries, we always been worries. From broken hearts and rejections, underestimation, periods, abortions, having to face aging and watch how men tend to choose “younger options”, diets, being a mom, being a house wife, being a wife, having to face the harsh world of beauty where at least one time in your life you will feel bad about your stretch marks, cellulite or your nose or boobs (we all been through that), the “wage gap”, the world when a woman is constantly expected to compete with another woman, “pink tax”, etc. When you’re a woman, there’s enormous pressure to perform well, because everything you do reflects on your gender. As the politician Clare Booth Luce once said, “If I fail, no one will say, ‘She doesn’t have what it takes.’ They will say, ‘Women don’t have what it takes.'” It’s a sad truth that as soon as women become associated in something, it automatically loses status in society’s eyes. You can see this in the workforce — when more women enter an occupation, it frequently loses respect — as well as female-dominated fandoms, which are largely looked down on in other corners of the Internet. To sum it up, it’s hard my friends, it’s hard. That’s why women are worries because no matter everything that is listed above we still manage to be happy, look good and basically, slay.
Same with Mulan. This Disney cartoon gives us a glimpse of what it was like being one of the “brides” or “geishas” in Japanese culture back in the time. It also portrayed women as worriers and protectors, which is unusual but honouring, that are just as strong as men, just maybe even more dedicated and cold hearted towards anyone who stands in their way, when there is something to do with their family.