「美女の正体」とは? 写真家・下村一喜インタビュー “Beauty is something any woman can achieve” - an interview with top photographer Kazuyoshi Shimomura

筆者が何気なく立ち寄った本屋でみつけた「美女の正体」という1冊。世界的に大活躍されている写真家下村一喜氏が、美女とは何かを深く探っている。フランスの「madame FIGARO」との契約から始まり、国内外問わず名だたる美女を撮影してきた下村氏の美女感や、美つくしさの概念が詳細に語られている。その中でも一番に見ていただきたいのは、長年のキャリアから導きだされ、図式化された美女のグラデーション。

Girls, you’ve gotta admit: we all want to feel our best, right? And in an Instagram-obsessed culture, it’s easy to put confidence down to looks. We buy the latest on-trend clothes, copy Kylie Jenner’s make-up and take too many selfies, but hey, that’s fine.
Of course, there’s more to self-love than pure vanity and aesthetics.
A few days ago I was out shopping when I came across a book called ‘Bijo no shotai’ (Beautiful women defined). It’s a photo novel by top Japanese photographer Kazuyoshi Shimomura - a man who’s career started with a residency at ‘Madame Figaro’ and has since made headlines all over the world. His portraits of beautiful women are some of the defining pieces of the century, many of which grace the pages of ‘Bijo no shotai’ along with a ‘beauty ranking’.


Most people would imagine a ‘beauty ranking’ as some kind of pyramid shaped structure with Beyonce at the top, but Shimomura thinks differently. His design is more donut shaped - fluid and unsettled like the Milky Way. He makes the point that every woman has the potential for true beauty inside of her, and that even if somebody may seem beautiful on the outside, they aren’t always happy on the inside.
‘Bijo no shotai’ provides a release from the everyday self-inflicted competition of beauty hierarchy. Shimomura wants girls to realise that it’s not just about looks, but it’s personality that makes a truly beautiful person. I sat down to chat with him about his thoughts on entire topic.

Q.美女のグラデーションに気づいたきかっけは何ですか?What was it that made you decide that beauty can’t be ranked in a hierarchy?


Being gender neutral myself, I have a very open-minded impartial view of both genders. I realised that many women believe they are being judged by their looks first and so tend to focus their priorities on that. In order to get through to them that they are worth more than just their appearance,I decided to do something taboo: classify women into genres and place them in a ranking.

Q.女性の磨き方、美女への近道はありますか?How can a woman become beautiful?


It’s all about deciding who you want to be and making that your goal. Once you reach the top of that mountain, you can soak up the scenery. Those experiences become confidence.Reaching the goal is the confidence.

Q.美女を目指すにあたって、東京で刺激になるスポットはありますか?Are there any particular inspiring beauty spots in Tokyo that you’d recommend?


There are plenty. I love the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum in Meguro. It’s full of Art Deco wonders of the world. I suggest focusing on René Lalique’s glass leaf door depicting a woman with outstretched wings, and also the perfume tower in the next room.

Q.多くのセレブリティを撮影してきた、下村氏の考える美女とは?As a photographer of many female celebrities, what would be your definition of beautiful woman?


A mature person. Many women believe that they lose beauty as they age, but I think the opposite.

Q.何故人は美しいものに惹かれると思いますか?Why are people charmed by beautiful things?


Surely because it suggests some sense of eternity? Human life is heading towards death as of this instant, but if we can leave some kind of snapshot of beauty - an artwork or photograph, we pass that concept of beauty on to the next generation. Beauty is everlasting - that’s why everybody wants to be.There,lies the fundamental admiration for beauty.


So the verdict is in. Achieve your goals, take pride in yourself and enjoy life - that’s what makes true beauty. It’s a well-forgotten reality that we sometimes need reminding of.


渡仏後、フランスの「madame FIGARO」誌と契約し、また日本人写真家として初めて伝説的カルチャー誌、イギリスの「THE FACE」の表紙を飾るなどヨーロッパで活躍。帰国後、国内外の広告や雑誌の表紙、世界的なセレブリティー、ビヨンセやテイラー・スウィスト、日本では浜崎あゆみ、AKB48や伝説的なモデル、山口小夜子などを撮影。蜷川実花監督作品の映画「ヘルタースケルター」に出演し、強烈なインパクトを残す。

Kazuyoshi Shimomura

Born in 1973. Whilst studying at Tama Art University, Shimomura began working as a photographer. He was a resident photographer for French magazine ‘Madame Figaro’ and has worked on a variety of other projects throughout Europe. He has photographed a wide range of celebrities, including Beyonce, Taylor Swift and many Japanese idol groups and musicians.
One of the best photographer among people.
An internationally acclaimed photographer as well as actor in various feature films, his catalogue of works is the pride of Japan.