Matsuda was one a group of trailblazing Japanese design talents (which also included Junko Koshino, Yukiko Hanai, Isao Kaneko, Takeo Kikuchi and Kansai Yamamoto) who, in 1974, formed Tokyo Designer Six - creating Tokyo's first official fashion week. He showed his collections on the international stage in New York and Paris in the Eighties and his label Nicole, still has a large presence in Japan.

Known for his soft, yet structured, architectural sense of clothing, Matsuda was a fashion forerunner whose unique, naturalistic and earthy color sense influenced many other designers who followed him.

Probably more than any other designer, Matsuda blazed a path in sunglasses with his Japanese sensibility and high tech pop aesthetic. His vintage shades remain cult collector items for connoisseurs of sunglasses.

Matsuda was born in Tokyo in 1934. An ambitious youth, he studied at Japan’s famed Bunka school of fashion where his fellow classmates included Kenzo Takada and Junko Koshino.

In the mid-eighties he was the architects’ fashion designer, admired for his sense of structured silhouette, suits memorable for their arty nuances and crisp white shirts with unique façade detailing.

Perhaps his lack of English hemmed him back, and his commitment to a particularly understated oeuvre prevented him from winning a larger audience among the mass public, but he will be remembered as a distinctive Eastern voice, who foretold the marriage of fashion and architecture, which is so prevalent today.

In 1964, Matsuda and Kenzo sailed from Japan to Europe to make their way to Paris, the great beacon of fashion. After some six months, Matsuda returned to Japan, with no money, while Kenzo stayed. Back in Japan he founded his own fashion company, Nicole Co. Ltd in 1967. Matsuda's aesthetic and cultural allegiance outside of Japan is not to Paris, but to England and America. His first company outside of Nicole Company in Japan was Matsuda USA which opened a Madison Avenue boutique in 1982. Matsuda has delved into the Anglo-American sportswear traditions as ardently as any designer, even as much as Ralph Lauren.

In the mid-1990s Matsuda sought to expand its brand throughout the U.S. and Europe, which included moving menswear designer Yukio Kobayashi, who had begun designing some womenswear, to the head all of the women's labels (Madame Nicole, Nicole Club, Nicole Sport and Zelda) in 1995. Matsuda himself also continued to design for women, but for the Asian markets.

The following year, on a trip to New York, Matsuda scouted locations for possible stores. Though the Nicole brands (Madame Nicole, Nicole Sport, Boutique Nicole and others) were available in Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys, as well as 500 stores in Asia and Europe, Matsuda hoped to bring his unique designs and growing licensed products to the U.S. in company-owned boutiques. Matsuda clients are ardently loyal, and his creations are profoundly progressive—the perfect combination for New York fashion and beyond.

Matsuda died May 17 2008, aged 74, in his hometown of Tokyo after a long illness.

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