The upcoming book “Have I Met You Before? London Street Style From Fashion Week 2001-2018” provides a historical record of how showgoers dressed over the past two decades through the lens of the London-based Japanese photographer Kumi Saito, who passed away in December 2020 from cancer.
Published by Parsnips Archive, the book is edited by Saito’s longtime friend and fashion journalist Mina Wakatski, who also runs London’s famed Japanese-style French pastry shop Lanka on Finchley Road.
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Being published on Nov. 23, the book features more than 200 images of 111 fashion editors, buyers, models, bloggers and influencers, including Susie Lau, Sarah Harris, Rebecca Lowthorpe, Alexa Chung, Edie Campbell and Cara Delevingne, as well as comments from the journalists whom Saito worked with during that time.
The book was named after the most common sentence Saito heard from showgoers when she was capturing them outside of the show venues. It served as an effective icebreaker for her and her subjects.
Wakatski said she spearheaded this project because Saito was one of her best friends and collaborators for more than 25 years.
“She left a huge archive, but her husband said: ‘I have nothing to show her work to others. I want a photo book.’ So the journalists, graphic designers and coordinators who have worked with her got together to produce a series of her archival photo books. This book is the first one. Because she wanted to hold a photo exhibition of street style from London Fashion Week under this title,” she explained.
Regarded as a gatekeeper to all the British fashion brands wishing to be featured in the Japanese media before the digital era, Wakatski spent the past 30 years covering shows and she remembered almost every one of them vividly.
“So when I sorted through the tens of thousands of photos this time, the shows that were held at the venues came back to life together with the people who appeared there. This book is a record of memories not only for Saito, but also for the journalists whom she teamed up with as well as the fashion professionals who appear in the book, and even the people who watched the shows at the time,” she said.
“I think it’s like an album for comrades who have been involved with London Fashion Week for the last 20 years — a record of the LFW community,” Wakatski added.
Born in Yamagata, a city in northern Japan, Saito studied photography at Tokyo’s Kuwasawa Design School while working as an assistant for Minsei Tominaga and Studio Ebis. She moved to London in 1994 and began to contribute to Japanese magazines, fashion brands, department stores and a wide range of media.