With her lip-syncing chops, comedic monologues and celebrity impersonations, Naomi Watanabe is Japan’s reigning queen of Instagram, racking up more followers than anyone else in her country.
Since going viral for her “Crazy in Love” cover, the superstar has parlayed her fame into acting (she’s set to play the role of Tracy Turnblad in the upcoming Hairspray musical) and fashion, founding her own fashion line called Punyus.
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Earlier this year, the “Japanese Beyoncé,” as Watanabe’s known, was announced as the new global ambassador for Kate Spade, where she brought her signature eccentric and playful style to the brand’s spring ads. The next act in that partnership unfolds today with the debut of a handbag capsule designed by Watanabe and Kate Spade Creative Director Nicola Glass.
“I think the recent trend of small bags is really cute, but I also wanted to show a range in this collection,” she tells PAPER of the launch, which consists of a large faux fur tote and camera bags in two sizes. “The medium Infinite style fits both an iPhone and all your credit cards and the large tote can carry all your makeup and a laptop, which I often have with me. I like that you can use all the styles separately or together.”
Though comedy and fashion seem like two different worlds, Watanabe feels like they can complement each other seamlessly. “When I do a comedy sketch, I think of fashion and looks first,” she says. “That’s how I start getting into a character, I always think about what they would be wearing.”
She continues, “Comedy and fashion definitely complement each other, but sometimes we don’t see it like that. I know in the past I’ve gotten some comments about being a comedian who is into fashion, since they are seen as opposites, but they both provide so much inspiration to me. Hopefully there’s more collaboration in the future.”
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As for the final product, she wanted the range to be true reflection of her personal style, which she describes as colorful and experimental. “I remember when I first came to New York, my friends were telling me how to dress in the New York style, so I bought things that would match that, but then I got lazy and just started wearing things I brought with me from Japan,” she says. “And then people actually stopped me on the street to ask me about my outfits! It’s more original to wear what you like, so I try not to be too conscious of what other people want me to wear and just wear what I like!
Check out the Naomi Watanabe x Kate Spade New York collection, below, and shop the range now on Kate Spade’s website.
Photos courtesy of Kate Spade