From 1991 to 2003, it was called MR High Fashion (hereinafter called MR) and later an integration led to a renewal calling it, High Fashion. The role as chief editor for both was successively held by Toshiko Taguchi, who has earnestly continued to capture fashion from all around the world. We had a chance to visit her after about a year.

“When relationships get too close, it becomes difficult to stay neutral.” So, strictly through interviews only, Taguchi uncovered the creativity and personality of numerous rare designers in the magazines. As a chief editor during those times, she will reflect on her experiences for episodes to be archived and shared as a new project that will be featured regularly on OR NOT. It will be oral history shared from personal experiences, rather than something scooped up from the ocean of information on the internet.

“In this issue…”, she says while suddenly reaching for an issue of MR from the bookshelf. It was the 20th anniversary issue (December 2001) with the main feature being 50 domestic/international designers taking a Polaroid photo and answering an interview directly via fax. Flipping through the pages, names of designers representing fashion could be seen in alphabetical order. Her flipping the pages ended on page 74.

The left page of the two-page spread features Hedi’s Polaroid picture - a peaceful portrait of a young gentlemen standing in a classical room with the light reflecting through the big window on the high ceiling. The right page is filled with words - the 25 questions answered by Hedi Slimane, creative director of Dior Homme at the time. They were indeed very MR type of questions which can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. Tracing her fingers over the words - “It’s not a big deal but…”, “Perhaps”, “Surely…”. The answers were written so politely, as if it were a Japanese dialogue, showing the loyal personality of Hedi. Then her finger stopped, and she told me “Read these lines”.

“Q. What is your impression of MR High Fashion?” Hedi answered this very straightforward question about the magazine by commenting, “I think it was the first magazine to support Saint Laurent’s changes, even during the skeptical times.”

“While keeping in mind the allotted number of pages, the collection feature in MR was approximately 30 carefully selected brands within all of Paris Fashion Week brands. One page was divided vertically into five sections, with four images in each column. Major brands would have four to five columns and only one column was the most we could allot to debut collections by newcomers. But when I saw the photo negatives of the Hedi show, an immediate decision to expand it to one page was confirmed - we wanted to introduce as many images as possible to our readers. This was a rare situation for MR.” This was referring to the Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Homme 1998-1999 Autumn/Winter collection directed by Hedi which was the brands first show after three collections.

When asked about the reason for expansion, “In short, we were on the same wavelength. His ‘frequency’ was exactly what I was looking for, for the magazine,” she explained. “To give an example, it was obvious how Hedi recreated the neutral blue or pink with much respect to the iconic color palette (primary colors of blue, red, and royal blue, fuchsia pink) set by Monsieur Yves Saint Laurent. Digging deep down and increasing all aspects of a Maison is what evolves clothing. I empathized and was impressed with the ‘depth’ to Hedi’s approach of Saint Laurent’s rootage and sincerity.”

“This was 20 years ago so the details are vague but…”, she starts off the next conversation about visiting a home in Saint-Germain-des-Prés owned by Mika Mizutani, a stylist who lived in Paris and an advisor to Hedi at the time. This was a conversation they had when parting after finishing their meeting and as Ms. Mizutani was heading to her meeting with Hedi.

“Ms. Mizutani mentioned, ‘Within the debut show items, Hedi is worried about why the spencer jacket was the only thing that had poor reaction’. That’s when I told her, ‘Please tell Hedi, take another look at MR’s collection issue. I didn’t choose any images of the spencer jacket for the items page. The reason is because the cardigan jacket, smoking, no sleeve knit, and all the items were recreated by Hedi but only the spencer jacket looked like an untouched Yves Saint Laurent legacy. It looked like it didn’t have any of Hedi’s soul in it.’ After entrusting her with my message, I remember Ms. Mizutani saying ‘Hedi will be really pleased to hear that’”.

This is part of an episode, before Taguchi ever met Hedi Slimane in person.

Toshiko Taguchi

Born in 1949. Chief editor of MR High Fashion and High Fashion, now a freelance editor.