Personal style, individually curated over time, is an extension of its wearer. Each handpicked garment reflects one’s culture, personality, and purpose. To lose these is lose a part of yourself.
Japan, 1865. Nineteen young men embarked to London on a mission: to bring the know-how of the modern world back home. They arrived by ship in secret, escaping the shogunate’s anti-emigration laws under penalty of death. Enrolled in the local university, these students looked nothing like they did months before. Gone was the chonmage hair knot to signify nobility. To further blend in, kimonos were traded for three-piece suits. From combed head to capped toe, these men from the Satsuma province tucked away their cultural relics like unwanted heirlooms.
“We imagined that in a foreign country, with both language and cultural barriers, these students would have wanted something that would remind them of home, without attracting undue attention,” explains Adrian Azodi, who was inspired by these students to design the latest Monsieur Fox collection, Quest of the Daimyo.
These pocket squares offer the multifaceted aspects of the revered way of the samurai. Colors were chosen by the prominence of the time period, as well as the seasonal palette of Japan’s autumn and winter. In the end, Monsieur Fox presents three distinct designs, each with a history steeped in the country’s proud tradition.
Before committing oneself to battle, a samurai would complete his armor with his custom-made warrior mask, the kabuto. At close range, the protective shell conceals the samurai’s face, while sharing his many identifying marks. Crests adorned throughout the mask represent several totems of courage: family, mythical beings, and personal symbols. The kabuto is surrounded by the cranes of longevity and good fortune as a peaceful complement to the mask’s intricate ferocity.
While the kabuto declares the warrior’s loyalties, the senba reveals his soul. It is not the sword, but the horse that a samurai feels the closest connection. Mounted archery is essential to any true samurai, showing mastery of skill and mutual trust. Senba and samurai are linked not only by armor, but by the virtues of stamina, endurance, and strength. A pair of senba stand sentinel, breasts poised for their master’s next command.
Answering the call to battle, the samurai reluctantly leaves behind his wife. While free from the ornament of combat, the tsuma must arm herself with the strength to lead the household. She serves as master and commander at the home front, tending to the many affairs of the estate and community. If necessary, her training would guide her steel upon the battlefield. A spring breeze lifts the scent of cherry blossoms, as the tsuma prays this wind also carries a sign of return.
150 years removed, Yoshinari Hatakeyama balances one foot aboard a merchant ship, the other upon solid Japanese soil. Over the next few months, the foreign culture he was advised to embrace will supplant the one he never thought to change. With so much to lose, why take the risk?
If it be for my country
I may now endure
This of all the countless journeys.