The upcoming book “Have I Met You Before? London Street Style From Fashion Week 2001-2018” provides a history of how onlookers have dressed over the past two decades through the lens of the London-based Japanese photographer Kumi Saito, who died in December 2020 of cancer.
Published by Parsnips Archive, the book is edited by Saito’s longtime friend and fashion journalist Mina Wakatski, who also runs London’s famous Japanese-style French patisserie Lanka on Finchley Road.
Published Nov. 23, the book features more than 200 images from 111 fashion editors, buyers, models, bloggers and influencers, including Susie Lau, Sarah Harris, Rebecca Lowthorpe, Alexa Chung, Edie Campbell and Cara Delevingne, along with commentary. journalists with whom Saito worked during this period.
The book was named after the most common phrase Saito heard from audience members when she captured them outside of the show grounds. This served as an effective icebreaker for her and her subjects.
Wakatski said she spearheaded this project because Saito had been one of her best friends and collaborators for over 25 years.
“She left a huge archive, but her husband said, ‘I don’t have anything to show her work to others. I want a photo book.’ Thus, the journalists, graphic designers and coordinators who accompanied her came together to produce a series of her photo archive books. This book is the first. Because she wanted to organize a street style photo exhibition from London Fashion Week under this title,” she explained.
Considered the guardian of all British fashion brands wishing to appear in Japanese media before the digital age, Wakatski has spent the last 30 years covering shows and she remembers almost every one of them vividly.
“So when I sorted through the tens of thousands of photos this time around, the shows that took place at the venue came alive with the people who appeared there. This book is a record of memories not only for Saito, but also for the journalists she partnered with as well as the fashion professionals who appear in the book, and even people who watched the shows at the time,” she said.
“I think it’s like a scrapbook for comrades who have been involved with London Fashion Week for the past 20 years – an LFW community record,” Wakatski added.
Born in Yamagata, a city in northern Japan, Saito studied photography at Kuwasawa Design School in Tokyo while working as an assistant for Minsei Tominaga and Studio Ebis. She moved to London in 1994 and began contributing to Japanese magazines, fashion brands, department stores and a wide range of media.