Aya Kanai first found her creativity in fashion by mashing up finds from thrift stores. She began her career at Teen Vogue working as a fashion assistant and was later promoted to accessories editor. A stint at Nylon followed as their fashion director before she was recruited as Chief Fashion Director at Hearst Media to oversee all of the style content for Cosmopolitan, Women's Health, Seventeen, Good Housekeeping, Redbook and Woman's Day magazines. Aya lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.
FLANEUR: As a leading fashion director well known for your use of bold colors, what's your rule of thumb for making ambitious combinations work?
AYA KANAI: I don’t have a rule of thumb, I just have no fear. I love to try different looks and I enjoy the process of experimentation.
F: What does color mean to fashion? What does color mean to you?
AK: The simplest way to harness the power of color is to wear and live with it. Color and fashion should be a joyful part of one’s daily life.
F: You picked Flaneur beddings in three distinctively strong hues. What was on your mind?
AK: I have a one year old baby who LOVES bright colors. Because she is learning and everything is new to her, I chose bright primary colors.
F: Are there particular brands or style that have had an impact on how you choose apparels or decorate your space?
AK: My home is more of a DIY space. My husband designed and built all the shelving which is the main feature of the living room. I enjoy an open space without too much clutter.
F: What does "home" mean to you? Do you think fashion is still important when people are at home?
AK: Home is my time to unplug. On my busiest days I look forward to the coziness of our apartment. Style is important at home that said, I do have a young baby so these days there’s a lot more kids stuff!
F: What are the four things that are essential for your bedroom?
AK: Water by the bedside, I drink water as soon as I wake up, shearling slippers, cotton pajamas, and the stack of books I am working through.
Our customers are people who are casual, knowledgeable, with a taste for practical luxury. People who know that they want to surround themselves with sophisticated, healthy things. Easy, casual, conscious, spiritual in some way, but open to all. The person that does yoga either 5 times a week or once a year! Someone that knows what’s up, and knows what’s out there, and who has done their research.
F: What’s your typical day like?
AK: On a typical day I am either having meetings in the office planning shoots or I am on set or location doing photo shoots.
F: How do you stay creative and original? Where do you get the inspiration for so many different creative projects on a daily basis?
AK: I stay creative by always learning something new. Currently I am learning calligraphy. It has no impact on my current job but I have wanted to try it. I think it’s important to be a novice as often as possible.
F: We think of a Flaneur as a worldly bohemian who loves to travel for culture and inspiration. Can you recount a Flaneur-like experience you’ve had recently?
AK: Before I got pregnant with my daughter I went on a two week travel adventure to India with my dear friend Joyce Chang. We soaked up every bit of the beauty and it was easily the most colorful trip I have ever been on.
F: We know you're a fan of art and museum, can you share with us one artist you’ve discovered recently and a fascinating museum you’ve been to?
AK: Halima af Klint at The Guggenheim.
F: As a born and raised New Yorker who has Japanese family background and East Asian academic background, would you say any Japanese culture has influenced your creative work and your personal life?
AK: I was raised on avant garde design but I work in a far more commercial fashion world. I hope that I have been able to find a way to bring the best of both together.