Mitsuhiro Matsuda

Elizabeth Glendinning

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA086

Mitsuhiro (or Hiromitsu as he is often referred to) Matsuda was born in Tokyo in 1934, to a family who owned a company that made kimonos. Matsuda followed his initial studies at Waseda University, Tokyo, with a degree in fashion design at Bunka College of Fashion, graduating in 1961.

From 1961 to 1967, Matsuda designed ready-to-wear collections for the Sanai Company, Japan, during which he spent some time traveling. In 1964 he visited Paris with university peer and fellow designer Kenzo Takada, who decided to settle in the city and build his fashion label there. Matsuda launched his own brand in 1967. Although Matsuda showed in Paris in 1970, his base was Japan, where he launched Nicole Ltd. in 1971—which became one of the most prominent brands in Japan throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

In 1974 Matsuda became one of the founders of TD6 (Tokyo Designer Six), Tokyo, which was concerned with establishing Tokyo as a center for fashion creativity, and created Tokyo’s first official fashion week. That decade he also introduced divisions of the Nicole label: Monsieur Nicole (1974), Madame Nicole (1976), and Chambre de Nicole (1978).

While Matsuda’s romantic, often whimsical collections evoked a sense of history and explored his interest in travel and traditional textiles, there was also a practical and structural element to his designs borrowed from menswear, which reiterated the practical aesthetic of late twentieth-century clothing. The relationship between architecture and fashion would become prevalent in his subsequent fashion designs.

During the 1980s, Matsuda’s popularity grew with the formation of Matsuda USA (1981) and a store on Madison Avenue in New York, followed by a Hong Kong boutique and the labels Nicole Club (1982), Nicole Club for Men (1984), Séduction de Nicole (1986), and the launch of a cosmetics label (1987).

During the 1990s, Matsuda sought to expand his brand throughout Europe and the U.S., hiring Yukio Kobayashi as menswear designer (who subsequently became head of women’s wear in 1995). Matsuda continued to design for women, but for the Asian markets only.

Matsuda’s collections have often had a performative or visual art element to their presentation. His collection for fall 1992 paid homage to the jazz musician Miles Davies, who had died the previous year. His clothing has been favored by many creative people, who have an affiliation with his visual narrative and practicality of form. The highly crafted Matsuda Eyewear brand is popular with many personalities and has featured in lyrics by rapper Sean (P. Diddy) Combs and films such as Iron Man 3 (2013).

Matsuda died from liver cancer on 17 May 2008 in Japan, aged seventy-four; he was buried three days later before any announcement of his death.

Mitsuhiro Matsuda, Fall/Winter 1990 Photograph by Niall McInerney, Fashion Photography Archive

References and Further Reading

Find in Library Barnett Leisa. ““Mitshuiro Matsuda Remembered”.” Vogue , May 2008 .

Find in Library Clark Hazel. ““Exhibition Review: Japan Fashion Now”.” Fashion Theory 16, no. 3 (2012): 365–376 .

Find in Library Kawamura Yuniya. The Japanese Revolution in Paris Fashion . Oxford : Berg, 2004.

Find in Library Morris Bernadette. ““From Japan: New Faces, New Shapes”.” The New York Times , 14 December 1982. .