Painted in white: an interview with Minori

Japanese fashion has been at the forefront of design and reinvention of style for the past few decades. The unique and magical world of Shironuri art, which literally translates as ‘painted in white’, has been making an impact in both the Japanese art and fashion worlds, and more recently to the international scene.

Donning thick white make up that removes all the features of her face, allowing a blank canvas to create on how she chooses, the art model, designer and fashionista known as Minori has completely reinvented the style. With extravagant and precise make-up, she creates a living visual that exists in that moment alone.

Adding a vintage twist to her clothing and inspired by nature, Minori has taken an avant- garde approach to her art. Her own designs of layers upon layers of lace and all things floaty and magical, she has developed a style that has garnered her tens of thousands of fans across the globe.

Minori first became involved in shironuri art in 2009. After appearing on the popular fashion site in the Harajuku area of Tokyo, her style and art became a hit online. With over 82k followers on Instagram and over 1 millions views on Tokyo Fashions Youtube channel featuring her shironuri make-up turtiorial, her powder white make up style has captured the imaginations of many.

Minori has showcased her art both in Japan and internationally, with some of her original costumes and photos are in a collection at the Honolulu Musieum of Art. She has been featured in Vogue magazine and BBC news, and appeared on ‘Joanna Lumely’s Japan’ (ITV) and ‘Chealsea Handler’ (Netflix).

What started out as fashion for Minori, shironuri has become a way of life for her.

Minori joined Beyond Senpai to talk about the magical world of being painted in white.

Beyond Senpai: Welcome to Beyond Senpai. Could you please introduce yourself?

Beyond Senpaiへようこそ。まず自己紹介していただけますか?

Minori: Nice to meet you! I am Minori, a shironiru artist! I usually work with photography in harmony with nature and the universe, as well as my accessory brand Luxmira.


BS: Please describe the shironuri style.


M: Shiro nuri is simply make-up that paints the face white. I think there are many different styles, depending on the combination of shironuri and something extra. For example, shironuri and decora fashion, or shiro nuri and cyber fashion, or shironuri and Lolita fashion etc. The combinations are endless, I think that’s the great thing about shironuri. My style is shiro nuri combined with nature and the universe. I match the clothes I make with images of various things such including architecture.



BS: Why are you attracted to this style? And what was the first design you made?


M: I want to be “one harmonious energy body”. For this reason, I attach the utmost importance to the harmony between the clothes and the face.  By painting the face, shironuri obscures all the facial features, allowing you to freely build a new face at your own will. This leads to harmony with clothing, which in turn connects with the location of the shoot allowing it to become an even greater energy.

Mostly everyones attention is drawn to the shironuri face. In my mind, shironuri is “a part of a harmonious and beautiful energy body”. Originally, I wore a combination off shiro nuri and gothic fashion as a fashion statement, but it was the work Hydrangea that inspired me to make my own clothes.






BS: What is the process for designing new fashions? And do you have a favourite design that you have created?


M: When making a photographic work, I decide on theme beforehand. For example, when I made a piece on the theme of rocks, I looked at what types of rocks were made of and looked for fabrics and materials.  I make quick sketches of the finished product, but the design often changes as it is being made.

When I make clothes with no particular theme, I can create the designs freely. There is a wonderful cloth wholesale district in Japan called “Nippori”, where you can buy cloth for the unbeatable price of 100 yen per metre. Of course, they also sell expensive fabrics, but I put the fabrics I buy there on my trousseau, look at them and think, ‘Would this fabric look cute in this shape?’ I make them as if I were having a conversation with the fabric. In this case, the clothes may be themed or named after they are made.

My favourite designs are ‘Dark Matter’, made when I went to visit the Paris Collection in France, and ‘Umbrella’, made from discarded plastic umbrellas, and ‘Minori meets the world in Thailand’, based on the theme of Thai folk costumes.





お気に入りは、フランスで開催されたパリコレに遊びに行った時に作った「ダークマター」、と廃棄されたビニール傘で作った「アンブレラ」、タイの民族衣装をテーマにした「minori meets the world in Thailand 」です。

Dark Matter
Dark Matter

BS: Tell us about the inspiration from art and nature?


M: Most of my inspiration comes from nature, I love the patterns on the water surfaces, the veins on leaves and the textures on the surface of trees. The photographic series ‘The Nature and Language of Flowers’ incorporated such patterns and elements into the design of the clothes and make-up.

I also like architecture, which may come as a surprise.



BS: Who are the fashion designers that inspire you? And who would you like to collaborate with?


M: I was more influenced by manga and anime than fashion designers, I love Cardcaptor Sakura and Sailor Moon. I especially love Cardcaptor Sakura because the clothes are so cute.

Fashion designers I like are Alexander McQueen, Thierry Mugler, Guo Pei, the Russian ballet company Ballets Russes. If I could, I would like to collaborate with the V&A Museum.




Minori meets the world in Thailand

BS: Do you have any advice for those who wish to create the shironuri fashion?


M: I think shironuri is make-up with a lot of possibilities, so I want people to have fun combining it with different fashions and creating art!


BS: Please tell us about the Harajuku fashion scene. And what other fashions do you enjoy?


M: I don’t consider myself to be what is called Harajuku fashion, but I have had more opportunities to have snapshots taken in Harajuku and for everyone to get to know me.

In that sense, I think it is a town with many opportunities, and I think the people who are in Harajuku now are also enjoying their own style and looking for new fashion genres.

I don’t particularly wear anything other than my own style, but I do enjoy watching others!





BS: What are the reactions of people to the shironuri style?


M: These days, due to the wearing of masks there is not so much of a reaction. Occasionally some are surprised, but the people in Tokyo are not surprised to see people like myself. (some people even try to sneak a photograph or film it lol). Perhaps they consider it rude to react.

But the funniest reactions so far have been “Final Fantasy!!!!” and being worshipped by an old lady with her hands in the air.



BS: Tell us about your upcoming exhibition.


M: I will be exhibiting at Kinokuniya in Austin, Texas, USA, on 7 July! The 7th is scheduled to start at about 5.30pm. I will be there that day!



BS: How do you like to spend your free time?


M: I enjoy making accessories and sketching in my favourite coffee shop.


BS: What is your favourite memory wearing the shironuri style?


M: When I was in Sweden, I was walking through the streets and a boy of about five years old called, ‘Mum! I found a fairy!’ and pointed to me! It was so lovely, it made me very happy! Then there was the time on the streets of Germany when an old lady approached me and said, “People like you are like angels descending from heaven! That’s what they say! I always remember her saying that to me. In Japan, they don’t really talk to me in the street that way, so I am really happy to have these meetings abroad where people talk to me more.




BS: And finally, what are your hopes and dreams for the future?


M: This year will be my 12th year as a shironuri artist and I am still looking forward to creating more. My dream is to create a work that will go down in history, but first I would like to design a costume and photo exhibition somewhere abroad, so please come and see me then. Thank you for the interview!


Minori meets the world in Thailand

Beyond Senpai thanks Minori for joining us in this interview.

Special thanks to Hideki Narita for his translation skills, and to Rosy Baltussen for her fashion experience input.

To support Minori

Interview by: JustPanda
Edited by: JustPanda
Translated by: Hideki Narita

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