Kyoko Shimada’s horsey line






Junko Shimada was one of the most profilic designers of the Japanese wave that became an integral part of the Parisian fashion scene in the 1980s. Shimada is still going strong and now her daughter, Kyoko walks in her footsteps while nurturing her love for horses with her new line, Lavallière.


By Camilla Alfthan 



Eventhough Kyoko Shimada Yamaji lives and works in Paris the horses were never too far away.


”I started riding in the Tuilleries gardens with the little ponies and then I began at Polo de Bagatelle. My teacher was always very elegant. He would say I couldn’t ride if I weren’t elegant, too. I was on my little Shetland pony and fascinated by the polo horses and the world around them. It was a very sporty, dynamic and masculine univers,” tells Kyoko in her ecclectic little showroom on rue Florentin in the heart of Paris next to Place de la Concorde. Rows of clothes are meticulously presented on the racks while a large crystal chandelier hangs down in front of the desk that she shares with her partner, Henry Thomas.




At 36, Kyoko is the only child of the Japanese fashion designer, Junko Shimada.

During eight years she was the creative director of her mother’s younger line, Junk, while she’s also designed for various other labels.

When she a few years ago picked up riding again she felt that something was missing.

”I felt like there was a gap and that I wanted to design the clothes that I wear in the saddle. A friend felt the same way, so she helped me get started with the jackets and the shirts.

Then I also wanted to make ready-to-wear and now I just showed my third collection. The Syndicat of haute couture invited us to show in sublime surroundings with other young designers and that sort of officialized us.”


Lavallière is the name of Kyoko’s horsey brand which is divided into two  – the classic line with the fitted jackets, stock collar shirts, belts and boots for a stylish ride.  And the fashion line that includes beads, lace and knitwear with mink weaved in. In her latest collection, embroidered horse shoes are strewn over a delicate lace top while her jodhpurs come in boldly printed silks. Sometimes, the equestrian influences are so subtle that you  need to be a rider to recognize them.


”I was always fascinated by the audacity of the women of the 18th century. They dressed up to go riding and the eccentricity that went into it was incredible. They would create new looks for themselves to go out on their horses. Today, people are so conventional – even the trendsetters. There are certain ways to be cool and that’s not how it should be,” she says with a shrug.




Lavallière is anything but conventional. A friend takes all the photographes, while another one designs the store and a third models the clothes. A friend of a friend made the caligraphy for the prints as well as the logo which is based on the French name for rider, cavalière.


“I was always fascinated by the audacity of the women of the 18th century. They dressed up to go riding and the eccentricity that went into it was incredible. “


”The American show jumper, MacKenzie Drazan wears our collection and her friends call us for clothes. Henry grew up hunting in England. His best friend is Philippa Holland who rides a lot of side saddle with Martha Sitwell; we were supposed to make a film with her. We are going to do something together,” says Kyoko of the British jewelry designer who is also the friend of her production director, Henry Thomas.


”The brand is completely homemade but only with people who are specialized in what they’re doing. Now that we have the savoir faire we can focus on our image,” says Kyoko who literally grew up in the business.




”I was always surrounded with fabrics and all the people who work in fashion. What really exited me was the preparations the day before the shows.

My mother taught me a lot. When I was five she made me practise on the catwalk. I now work with her in the creative direction with Henry and we’re gradually taking over her house.

For the same reason Lavalliere has been good for me as it is my own world and something I created myself, ” she tells.


Pale blue velvet and saw dust

Cool and casual in the stable and in the ring

Lavallière is the name of Kyoko Shimada's horsey fashion line


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