We’re in the midst of another season of Project Runway, one of my favorite reality competitions, even though I hate Josh
C. M. to an absolutely unreasonable degree. So I thought I might take a look into the annals of fashion shôjo for today’s license request. (Note: We’re also into a new season of Top Chef: Just Desserts, but I’ve already requested a bunch of pastry manga, so I thought I’d branch out.) As is my way, I looked around for the oldest example I could find.
This led me to Tomoko Naka’s Fashion Fade, which debuted in Shogakukan’s Sho-Comi in 1977. Now, going by my history with the aforementioned rag-off, I’m not naturally inclined to like designers with stupid names (Suede, for example), but I also intensely dislike some designers with perfectly everyday monikers (like Gretchen). So perhaps I shouldn’t judge the heroine of this series too quickly, even though her name is, in fact, “Fade.”
Fade, it seems, grew up in Africa but ended up moving to France to live with her uncle. (Given that this is shôjo of a certain vintage, just about anything could have led to this development. My money is on a car accident that took place while rushing an important serum to a remote village, but my secret heart hopes a pride of lions were involved.) Fade and her uncle don’t hit it off. (Perhaps he prejudges her based on her name.) But she manages by becoming involved in the fashion industry, making friends, and building a career.
It ran for eight volumes originally and was subsequently republished in four thicker volumes. I honestly don’t know if it’s any good, as Naka seems to still be relatively off the radar of English-language readers. She doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page, even though she’s worked steadily since the 1970s. She hasn’t even been published in French. But the covers are pretty in a “Who would ever wear that?” way, aren’t they? The covers have sort of an Erté vibe to them.