Model / Yuka Mannami
Imagine an azure sky, stars pouring forth, and warm translucent moonlight which quietly fills the wintry night sky.
When she came to the studio and I laid eyes on her, she was like a brightly shining moon.
After debuting in 2015, Yuka Mannami has received attention globally as a model. She was raised in an area surrounded by nature, and with her natural, innocent charm, and a strong heart as an expressionist she represents ARTIDA OUD’s theme of “Raw beauty = natural beauty”.
With a presence akin to a moon which shines down upon all, she said “Everyone I get to know seems to me to be sparkling.” Those words pour forth equally upon each individual who lives under the same sky.
ARTIDA OUD is currently developing a new jewelry design for Christmas 2020. The jewelry, based on the image of a peaceful starry night in winter, is similar to the warm droplets of light worn by Yuka Mannami, who says she wants to cherish the small things which bring us happiness.
We were able to have her speak to us cheerfully regarding beauty, her modeling, her love of nature, and vintage wear.
From a nurse to a model. Coming to Tokyo alone.
―――Ms. Mannami, you went from being a nurse to a model. What made you aim to become a model?
I worked as a nurse for a year in the operation room. At that time, while it’s only a small part, there is an instant where I can be a part of someone’s life. After hearing stories from all of the patients there, I decided that I wanted to try and live my life to the fullest while I have the chance. I had taken ballet and piano in the past, and I liked expression, but I can’t make music nor clothes. When I thought about what I could do, modeling came to mind, and that’s what led to my career change.
―――From then, you moved to Tokyo and looked for a modeling agency, right?
That’s right. But at that time, I didn’t even know exactly what a modeling agency was, or what a model does. By chance, a person at my current agency looked over some photos of me that my photographer acquaintance had taken, and reached out to me. By the way, Fujihara, who styled my hair for the shoot today, is actually a friend of mine from college who encouraged me by telling me “Come here to Tokyo, then.” When I didn’t have an agency or even a place to live, he was someone I could count on like a brother. Since things were the way they were, I was quite worried, but thankfully I became a model in 2015, moved to New York in 2017, and now 5 years have passed.
―――The moment you stood in front of the camera for today’s shoot, your expression changed and I felt like something switched on inside you. What kind of feelings do you face shooting with？
I’m thinking about what sort of moment the photographer wants to capture. I put my everything into playing my ideal part of the theme I catch from meetings or mood boards (a type of document which covers the concept and atmosphere of a shoot). As the shoot goes on and the cut kind of winds down, there’s also free time which I enjoy. I can work using my intuition and have fun with the photographer. If you ask about what I think during that time, sometimes I’m playing music inside my head. Today the photographer, Noel Takako, was playing Christmas music, so I became the characters which appear in the songs. Despite being a model, I’m actually quite shy and embarrassed, so I try to get inside of my own world.
―――Could you tell us a happy moment from all of the modeling you’ve done up until now?
There are a lot, really so many…But actually, being told “We want to work with you again” and getting called for another shoot makes me really happy. One of my seniors in modeling once told me, “You may get work at first because you belong to an agency, but whether or not that relationship continues depends on you.” It may be because I used to work as a nurse, but I always think to myself on the spot “I wonder what everyone here is looking for?” Why does everyone work to create an environment where us models can comfortably work? I try not to forget about that ‘Why’. The end result will be better if everyone’s happy, and I want to stay bright and energetic.
[constellation] virgo K10 diamond line necklace 29,700yen (with tax) / [palais] K18 oval emerald dewdrop necklace 110,000yen (with tax) / [philia] K10 akoya long strand with rose quartz necklace 198,000yen (with tax)
A love for nature and vintage wear. Surrounded by treasured objects.
――― I heard that being from Mie Prefecture, you enjoy nature. While living in the big city, how do you maintain your connection with nature?
I was raised in an area surrounded by mountains, rivers, and the ocean. The mountains in the area are full of iron. I used to go and find quartz crystals by the shore or in the mountains, or go swimming in rivers… Even now as an adult I still play around in the same way. In Mie Prefecture I would go fishing and play around in rivers, but my agency got on to me about getting sunburned and tanning (laughing).
When you’re living in the city, you don’t get the chance to do those kinds of things as much, but for example when I go out to parks I stand around on the soil or grass barefoot. The dirt feels really nice. I also often look down while walking, but I try to look up at the sky and feel the breeze while I walk around. Whenever there’s a meteor shower to be seen, I always head outside to see them.
―――I also heard that you like old clothes. What do you find appealing about older clothes?
I guess you could say that they make me feel their history, or that I’m moved by the fact they’ve been used lovingly up until now and kept in such good condition. I feel the love that people poured into them, and I also have a lot of clothes that are 10 or so years old which I’ve remade or repaired. I like being surrounded by things which I feel are important.The same goes for jewelry. Even here today I’m wearing jewelry that my grandmother used lovingly.
(right middle finger) [elafonisi] morganite white sapphire pave diamond open ring 29,700yen (with tax) / (right ring finger) [elafonisi] christmas limited spencer opal pave diamond ring 52,800yen (with tax) / [elafonisi] morganite pave diamond ring 27,500yen (with tax) / (right wrist) [philia] 3 rows of akoya pearl toggle bracelet 49,500yen (with tax) / (left index finger) [elafonisi] morganite square spinel pave diamond open ring 29,700yen (with tax) / (left middle finger) [selene] new moon circle pave diamond ring 17,600yen (with tax) / (left wrist) [I am donation] christmas limited pave star lutile quartz limited bracelet 5,500yen (with tax) / [I am donation] christmas limited pave star pyrite limited bracelet 5,500yen (with tax) / [I am donation] christmas limited pave star rainbow moonstone limited bracelet 5,500yen (with tax)
―――For today’s interview, we’re having you wear some Christmas jewelry. Please tell us some of your Christmas memories.
My grandfather was a schoolteacher, and every year when Christmas came around he’d tell me, “We’re going to have a party, so invite your friends.” We’d get a bit of spending money, buy presents, eat my grandfather’s home cooking, and exchange presents. It must have been up until I was in middle school, every year was so much fun. Even now, me and my friends decide on a budget of 3,000 or 5,000 yen and exchange presents. We pass around presents to the rhythm of some music (laughing).
―――Is there anything you want to make a reality moving forward?
In the future, I’d like to open a vintage clothing store. The location is in Gakugeidaigaku Mae, and I’m actually putting up some wallpaper now. It’s been my dream for a long time, so I’m really looking forward to it. The selection is focused around American and European style vintage dresses which I was wearing. Due to COVID-19, I came back to Japan in April and at the moment it’s difficult to return to America, so one by one I’ve been accomplishing a lot of the things I had wanted to do.
[philia] akoya pearl toggle choker 44,000yen (with tax) / [cord] big cable chain toggle silver choker 19,800yen (with tax) / [selene] new moon pave diamond necklace 33,000yen (with tax)
“Being oneself” is not for the sake of others, but for your own sake.
―――Our brand is based on the theme “raw beauty = not lavishly decorated, women’s beauty as is”. For you, what is “raw beauty = natural beauty” ?
I think the words “you’re fine just the way you are” are really beautiful, but I don’t think being so for the sake of society is good. I think being yourself isn’t for the sake of someone else, but for your own sake. Just like a gemstone can change in appearance based on the cut, I want to try and brush up on my own appearance from all sorts of approaches so that I can feel good about myself the way I am. Even if nobody else compliments me, I at least want to put forth the effort to accept myself, and accept myself as beautiful the way I am. I think that’s important.
―――Did it take you a while to accept yourself the way you are?
When you work as a model, you get jealous of people who have beautiful traits which you lack. But one day, I realized that I don’t need to worry about other people in order to appreciate myself. I don’t want to feel better about myself by thinking negatively about others. Just like I think “Wow she has such long and beautiful legs”, or “Blonde hair is so pretty”, there are people who think “You have beautiful black hair and great skin” about me. I’ve seen a lot of the world outside of just Japan, so it’s a way of thinking that just kind of came to be.
―――When you hear “beautiful the way you are”, is there anyone you think of?
Not anyone in particular, but I think that everyone I’ve gotten to know is beautiful. Once you get to know someone, their own unique beauty and appeal seems to shine. That may be because I’ve interacted with nature and experienced a wide variety of things throughout the world. It may seem obvious, but once you get to know someone, you start thinking “You are you, and I am me.”
―――We believe that “natural beauty” includes inner beauty. Are there any words, books, or movies which have helped shape who you are today?
Because of my work, I go back and forth between Japan and overseas, but sometimes during flights I get a bit depressed. When I get to feeling that way once, I thought to myself “You always rely on yourself.” It’s related to what I said before, “ Even if nobody else compliments me, I at least want to put forth the effort to accept myself.” If you rely on someone for something, you can feel a bit unsteady. No matter what happens, you can always rely on yourself, and you’re your greatest ally. By eating something delicious, or by buying jewelry etc., as a charm, you have the power to change how you feel!
Having a heart for feeling even the smallest happiness
ーーーIs there anything you’re particular about when choosing jewelry to wear?
I wear jewelry which my grandmother passed down to me, or pieces I liked when I came across them at a flea market My style for example would be a new pendant top matched with a vintage chain. I often hear people say they’re not fond of vintage items because the feelings etc., of the previous owner are still attached to them, but I feel like wearing older things actually lends me more power.
(left ear) [elafonisi] morganite & spinel & crystal single pierced earring 17,600yen (with tax)
―――Today you wore the ARTIDA OUD holiday collection, but how did you feel about it?
All of the stones are natural right? I’ve always been fond of minerals, and I especially like rutile quartz which features a lot of inclusions. ARTIDA OUD’s jewelry uses the most of each stone’s individual properties and the different expressions feel special to me.
But because it’s the holiday collection, I get excited just by looking at it. The piercing I put in my left ear and the Virgo constellation-shaped necklace were both cute. Just as the image of a starry winter night is put, they felt very mysterious.
―――Please give a message to all of the people out there working hard in various fields.
It’s something that I also try to do myself, but I’d like to tell everyone to live their life with a heart that allows them to feel all sorts of happiness. If you feel happy over even little things, each day will feel fun and full of sparkles. I hope everyone can live their life with a heart that allows them to find their own small happiness.
[jupiter] disque pave diamond open eternity ring 55,000yen (with tax)
Born August 23rd, 1991 in Mie Prefecture. Belongs to DONNA MODELS. Her fortes are ballet, piano, drawing, and collages. In 2015, she changed careers from a nurse in the OR to a model. Starting out appearing in brand collection fashion shows, she’s now active in magazines and ads. As a model in multiple global brand campaigns, she’s currently standing in the global spotlight.
2020 Christmas Collection
PHOTOGRAPHER／TAKAKO NOEL（L MANAGEMENT）
MAKE-UP／KIE KIYOHARA（beauty direction）
HAIR／KAZUKI FUJIWARA（Perle Management）
EDIT／MARIKO ARAKI, HANAKO FUJITA（RIDE MEDIA&DESIGN）
TEXT／HANAKO FUJITA（RIDE MEDIA&DESIGN）