Atelier aka Underwear: New Original Series on Netflix

Have you ever looked at a Victoria’s Secret catalog?

Me? I’d love to but haven’t had the opportunity. And for those of you who might be intrigued and would love to wear those kinds of unmentionables, I’ve got a brand new TV series for you.

The folks over at Netflix have partnered up with Fuji TV from Japan and a new Netflix Original Series has just been released. The title of the series is called Atelier, which is a French word for workshop or studio, especially when it is used by an artist, artisan, or designer.

The Atelier of this series is an upmarket lingerie boutique called Emotion in Ginza, Tokyo. Their products are bras and panties sets of the haute couture variety – meaning custom-made, handmade, and very, very expensive.

They don’t know what the term prêt-à-porter (pronounced pret-a-por-tay and rhymes with holiday, or replay, or area way) means at this boutique. Actually it means RTW or ready to wear, or OTR aka Off The Rack. These term do not apply to Emotion.

The alternate title for this series is Underwear, a word more likely to be immediately understood than Atelier.

The series is about a young woman called Mayuko Tokito (dressed in the striped jacket and black skirt above), played by the gorgeous Mirei Kiritani, and she’s in fact just out of college where she studied textiles and fabrics (no fashion studies for her). She’s something of a country bumpkin, also known as a hick from the sticks. On her first day on the job, she shows up in standard Tokyo office lady wear, a gray suit, a white blouse, and flat shoes. It won’t take her colleagues very long to jump all over her (albeit gently) for her lack of fashion style.

In fact there’s nothing wrong with her clothes which would go over just fine in the corridors and cubicles of corporations. But here, at Emotion, she’s an eye sore. Initially, she’s asked to make coffee, do the dusting, keep the display counters sparkling, and organize the records, stock, and supply room. And as Mayuko learns about the bra business, we are drawn deeper into shop itself. The front room, meaning just off the street, is a show room.

Behind the double doors is the actual atelier where the designers and business side works, and then there’s a second set of double doors.

This is where the owner and founder of the business, the chief designer, and CEO works. She’s called Mayumi Nanjo. When the staff talks about her, she’s called The Boss, and when they address her, the Japanese word for Corporate President is used – shachou. She’s played by Mao Daichi. While she may be a bit of a tough boss, a la Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada, she is in fact not nearly as severe or feared.

That's Mao on the left, and Anna on the right

That’s Mao on the left, and Anna on the right

Her look is apparently based on the long time doyenne of Vogue Magazine, Anna Wintour. And doesn’t the above picture tell that story.

Within the first few moments after Mayuko meets the shachou, Nanjo tells her that she’s tacky. Which is a pretty good indication that Mayuko will not only have to learn the ropes of this business quickly, she’ll also have to work extra-hard to get on the good side of her boss.

What lies ahead (there’s 13 episodes), is a coming of age story, as well as a Cinderella story lacking only a prince-charming. It is a story that mixes industrial espionage, corporate maneuvering, theft of intellectual property, jealousy between designers who some day may want to create their own brands and labels ( we can almost call that overriding ambition) along with insights about creativity, ageing, motivation, evolving as a creator, and determination – yet while all of this is happening we continue to learn about all the players – from the shachou down to the lowly summer intern.

We watch and learn about how creators and designers deal with the creative process. There’s the tug of romances, children, and the stories behind the events. As Shachou Nanjo says, stories are not just about beginnings, they are also about the pasts and they are unforgettable.

It is easy to hear and think about that and then see how it is incorporated in to both the business of the Emotion Lingerie, and the personal choices that all women make. What they are saying is that it is not just the exterior clothing that makes the woman, but is also that which a woman wears closest to her skin.

While beauty is not quantifiable, it is certainly subjective and a part of the way each and every woman thinks. And why shouldn’t all women feel good about themselves? At Emotion, the thought is that the beauty of the garments that are not on public display are really just as important as the clothes that are publicly viewed.

Hence we have no surprise when we hear: Every Woman has a story. Express yours through Emotion lingerie.

I’m through nine episodes and I have to admit to being hooked if not quite enthralled. The series is beautifully shot, and while the younger characters seem a tad too exuberant at times, the older characters seem realistic and worthy of our empathy and interest. Watch for the Runway Show in episode 8. That’s right, a lingerie show and you’re invited.

Speaking of which, I am going to suggest that this series is easy to watch and absorb, and has a certain feel good element to each of the episodes that I’ve seen. So I am happy to recommend it. All of the episodes are currently available on the Netflix streaming service. So you have the option of spacing them out or binge-watching depending on your own schedules. Please note, the language spoken is Japanese and the offered subtitles are English, German, French, and Spanish.


36 thoughts on “Atelier aka Underwear: New Original Series on Netflix

    • I couldn’t find anything either —

      From the lyrics –

      It’s complicated
      When you’re far from home…
      You get frustrated
      When every time you feel life’s abated
      Amd every time you feel afraid

      There’s something you should know
      When there’s no place left to go….

      It’s all about you
      It’s all about you
      It’s all about you
      It’s all about you

      If only you could see what I see…
      It’s all about you

      I tried searching for It’s All About You and that didn’t yield anything.
      Nor did the opening lines —

      The answer maybe in the Japanese characters, but I don’t read Japanese. We’ll need a Japanese reader to help out.

      One thing is certain, it is a very catchy and energetic tune.

      • Hi I also want Season 2…casting, story line, and the twists of every episode is awesome. Finally a tv series that digs the mind and emotions of an artist!!! This makes me do better in my craft. Thank you for all the people who have done and believe in it.

  1. I am interested in finding out about the designer of the clothes they wear. In Ep 11 the long-time assistant is wearing a cape w/a fur collar that is to die for!! LOL!!! I wish I could get a better look @ it to copy it! 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by and offering a comment. Yes this was an excellent show.

      But depending on one’s experience, maybe not so much of a surprise. The Japanese have for quite some time been delivering quality TV series that run for 10 weeks. Whereas the American broadcast networks seem to feel that they’d rather stretch a series out to 22 weeks – which means that the stories are bloated, or repetitive, or simply dragged out.

      The European model also favors the shorter series – many are often either six or eight episodes.

      I think, but I don’t know when – okay let’s call it a hope – that American Broadcast Network TV goes to a pair of separate 10-week series rather than one show for 22 weeks which usually include a long late fall hiatus.

      We’ll see.

    • I hope a second season is in the works. The Japanese TV industry mostly works with 10 episode series as the model. So if you considered that the actors may have already committed to other series – so while I do agree that a second season would be wonderful – iI’m thinking late Fall of 2016 at the earliest. If Fuji-TV makes the second season it will be because of the strong positive response on this side of the world and that fits perfectly within the Netflix business model.

      By the way, there’s nothing wrong with tearing up…

  2. Compared to what is offered on cable, Netfix rises to the top with thier original programming. Atelier was a beautiful, setene look into the luxury realm of designer lingerie. If Americans had made this, it would have been cheapened by the sex aspect of lingerie. Instead, the story was told in such a poetic fashion, which was only amplified by the gorgeous set of the shop and the subtle lighting. The Japanese language was hypnotic and I admit to even learning some phrases. I truly enjoyed Atelier and have hope for a second season, or more.

    • Thanks for the comment. I’d say that your words were very eloquent, and indeed serve as high praise.
      For the record, I posted the review of Atelier on Christmas Eve – that’s 4 weeks ago tonight – and that one review has already been viewed almost 7500 in less than a month.

      I’m hoping for a second season as well – but we will have to wait for quite some time before hearing about a second season. Most Japanese series are 10 weeks in length, so it is quite common for an actor or actress to do four series in a year. Which means delays in getting everyone available at the same time.

    • Hi thanks for the visit and the comment. In the first Episode, I think it was a small art gallery rather than a museum. That was around the 12 minute mark. A museum would not have a doorway exiting to the street directly from the exhibition.

      But at 29 minutes in they did visit a museum. I noted the dome, the massive colums, and I also took notice of the long staircase. That might be the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. I found a similar staircase at the Kyoto Metropolitan Art Museum. So I can not answer definitively.

  3. I binge watched this and was completely riveted. The fashion was so beautiful! The characters were fun and quirky to watch develop in each episode.

    • Glad you enjoyed the show Terry.
      I kind of binge-watched the show my self – I think it took me 4 days.
      Hoping that the producers can assemble the cast again for a 2nd season.


  4. I absolutely LOVED this show. I loved the episode when after her betrayal, Em returns to the shop and asks for forgiveness and it is granted with great grace. The story lines have depth and beauty. Am really hoping for Season 2!

    • Hi Alexa –

      That seems to be the prevailing sentiment – every one is calling for a season two. Most Japanese series run 10 weeks max, so I feel that the actors in Atelier may have booked other assignments. I am hoping for an early release in 2017, or maybe if we are fortunate, another release this December.

  5. A bit late but oh my gosh! Last month, I was home sick for a week with the shingles (grrrr). While home, I was floating around Netflix and came across this gem of a show! The actors, characters, sets, story lines, etc captured my eye. I loved it so much that I’m already watching it a second time haha!

    I had heard that before (that they only do 13-ish episodes for a show and that’s it) but I hope that, with the positive praise it has received over here in the US that a second season may be considered, especially since they can go in so many directions!

    • Hi Kim =

      Thanks for the comment.

      One of the reasons that I watch so many Japanese TV series is that they are always short – 10 eps is the norm, and a few are often 8 and some go to 12. This cuts down on the filler, and the repetitive or circular story lines.

      But this show, Atelier, was just a brilliant production. Glad you enjoyed it.

  6. Thanks for your thoughtful review! I love this series and was googling whether a second season was available, and that is when I came across your webpage. I had been stretching out the first several episodes but got caught up into what was happening so I watched three episodes in a row today! By any chance, have you come across any similar, high quality, Japanese shows? I would enjoy hearing your recommendations. Thank you heaps!

    • Angela –

      I’ve no idea about a second season. Japanese series are generally shorter than American TV series. 10 Episodes is much closer to the norm. So I’d expect that many of the actors and actresses are quite often signed on for two to three other series. So If there is a second season, it is quite likely it won’t appear until 2017.

      Like you I’d certain be eager to see what happens next.

      Thanks for stopping by to read the post and comment.

    • Hi Elisa –

      I’ve not heard anything about this being renewed so far. But Japanese series arr usually just 10 episodes long – so cast members may be booked for multiple other series – so getting everyone free at the same time might be difficult or is scheduled far into the future.

  7. I hope there will be soon a second season of this wonderful show. Seriously, this is high high quality
    we need show like this, and thanks to Netflix of course! Ok, maybe I’m done sleeping now, but it worth the price when it could be found show like this, “eaten” in two nights 🙂

  8. I literally re check my netflix daily to check for season 2… I don’t ever watch other language shows or movies but i am so beyond hooked id rather watch atelier than the new movies that have come out lol which is crazy! Please someone make a pettition i thinks lots of us would sign! Lets make them make a season2 lol :)!

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