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  • The curves - Through the eyes of a pattern maker 06.03.2022

    ‘Pattern making is like a puzzle’

    Understanding the design in dimensions, the different parts that bring together the garment, from collars, sleeves, to the body, each of these parts individually important in coming together are drawn, and cut out. Pieces are assembled, as if working on a gigantic puzzle, with endless possibilities.

    At the beginning of summer, full of green, Mame Kurogouchi’s head patterner spoke about the secret of making at the atelier.

    “The work of a patterner starts in providing depth to the design, by creating the necessary parts for actual wearing. Not only is it necessary to create the parts directly from the design, but to consider the actual feel when wearing the garment, adding details such as tuck, darts, pockets and belt loops. There are designers that provide the above details to the patterner, but for Mame Kurogouchi it is a collaboration with the patterners experience and inspiration in creating pieces not drawn, which can only be done through the understanding of Mame’s designs. The most important aspect of the patterners job.

    For example, let’s take a tomato. There are various tomatoes from mini-tomatoes to fruit tomatoes, and depending on the cuisine what suits the dish differs. You can say that the difference in ingredient directly influences the dish itself. Thsi can also be said about patterns. With the use of a different fabric, even with the same pattern used, a completely different garment is created, and therefore lies heavy importance and thought on the fabric used. If the design and fabric are not a good match, I would honestly let them know. That is how important fabric choice is to patterns.”

    This season was a new challenge, in rethinking one of the first dress designed for Mame from a pattern perspective.

    “Celebrating the brand's 10th anniversary, one of Mame’s most iconic dresse featuring its curved lines and circles was recreated. The hole detailed dress for this season is an update from the 2011 FW collection. The dress, complex in design, is a combination of an under dress and over dress connected at the front.

    When the dress first came out, each part included a collar, having to put the head through twice. This time, I improved the internal features by combining the collars together to reduce stress for the person when wearing it. Further, utilising the flexibility of triacetate fabric, a completely different approach was taken in creating patterns. Through inspiration, as if the fabrics created a puzzle ring, a pattern was created to overpass around the details of the hole. Using a technique not available 10 years ago, the iconic dress that embodies and fits perfectly with the body is created.”

    The iconic dress can be said as the brand's root, and In recreating this dress, the keyword was ‘Continuity’.

    “As Maiko Kurogouchi says, there is no straight line in the human body, at the extension are garments. As a result of the curved lines extending, the circle showing slight skin around the waist was created. Through the keyword of continuity, the circle was naturally created, paying attention to detail from its pattern. The circle, connected without interruption to its cape, its continuity as one line is where the beauty lies. “

    While every season the technique of the craftsman and inspirations are brought in, the brand’s core of ‘garments that bring the beauty of a woman’s body’ remains unshaken. In pattern making as well, it can only be done with the patterners attention to detail and willingness to learn, continuously creating silhouette of beauty.

    Photography: Yuichiro Noda/ Words & Edit: kontakt / Translation: Shimon Miyamoto

  • Melting into the fabric 05.27.2022

    Hazy spring colors and textures slowly mix together on fabric.

    This time, the visit was to an atelier in Kyoto, known for its dyeing process from generation to generation. Out of various techniques, the gradation dye was selected to express the spring scenery of flowers embraced by drops of fog taking in the sunrise, creating a magical sparkle.

    Gradation dyeing requires color paste, and this special dyeing technique can only be found domestically in this atelier. The spring colors that Maiko Kurogouchi saw are expressed by kneading together with ten different pastes to create the gradation, using combinations of pale colors such as light pink, wisteria, and green, a mixture not normally used. The final process of kneading the pastes remains a secret. In saying that, there is no textbook for how many times the pastes are to be kneaded or strength applied, as it can only be done from the craftsman’s experience and senses, indeed a technique that cannot be acquired easily.

    After the detailed adjustments to the kneaded colorful paste, it is then placed on the plate-maker, dyeing its colors fit to the fabric.

    The dyeing technique originally used for kimono, for this collection is applied onto glossy jacquard fabric made of silk and transparent nylon film thread. By leaving the film in fringe, it sparkles like the grass in morning fog, naturally adjusting its colors. After numerous tries, what was created is a changing and beautiful gradation one could not imagine. This unique film jacquard dye was a first for the craftsmen as well.

    The ten colors that preside over spring, spread over each other and blend, creating an ephemeral gradation, unimaginable of ten colors. From the work of the craftsmen’s detail combined with the hazy memory of its beauty, the fabric is sure to continue its story of te beautiful spring morning.

    Photography: Yuichiro Noda / Words & Edit: kontakt / Translation: Shimon Miyamoto

  • Weaving the summer breeze 05.20.2022

    As the summer wind embraces its coolness as it blows through the delicately woven threads. Once you step in, together with the comfort one is embraced in, the daily tenderness conveyed by the vague outlines makes the heart feel at ease.

    The mosquito net is said to have been introduced in the Nara period from the Tang dynasty. At the time, created from cotton or silk, with colors unbleached. After in the Muromachi period, to let heat be released easily hemp was used, dyed light-green adding a cool and refreshing appearance.

    A tool created to spend the summers comfortably, over time with improvements in functionality, the emotional beauty of the net became familiar daily items.

    Starting with the dreamlike scenery Maiko Kurogouchi saw from the inside of the mosquito net, the fabric woven at a traditional mosquito net factory in Nara, is dyed into the traditional light green and light purple of flowers found early spring in Nagano. The eloquent dresses and tops made from the fabric hold both the strength required for embracing the body and intricate transparency unique to the mosquito net by the hands of the craftsman. As if seeing the world from the inside of the net, the garments permeates the skin beautifully, while bringing comfort as if one is gently embraced.

    Photography: Daisuke Nakashima / Words & Edit: kontakt /Translation: Shimon Miyamoto

  • To see the mountain 05.13.2022

    As snow melts, on the face of the mountain appears the image of ‘Shirokaki Uma’ or plow horse, an old man sowing seeds, a Buddhist priest in a stole, or a butterfly spreading its wings.

    Nagano is surrounded by complex landforms, here and there snow remains on the mountain surface. The mix of snow and face of rocks appearing creates ‘Yukigata’, shapes of lingering snow on a mountainside, which locals have enjoyed comparing these shapes to human figures or animals.

    Predecessors have used the appearance of shapes on mountains as a calendar, signalling the start of harvest and sowing fields. The ‘Yukigata’ has long been a seasonal feature in people’s lives, over the years becoming names of mountains, such as the image of a plow horse becoming Hakuba or a butterfly spreading its wings called Chogatake.

    Each in their own way, one ponders at the ‘Yukigata’ awaiting for the new season to come. When its shape is clearly visible, the long winter comes to an end, and spring is coming. Similar to the mountain surface, the knitwear created holds various faces. In its charm, what scenery does one see?

    Photography: Daisuke Nakashima / Words & Edit: kontakt / Translation: Shimon Miyamoto

  • Visiting Takayuki Kijima, Hat Designer 05.02.2022

    Photography and Movie : Yuichiro Noda / Words & Edit: kontak

  • Dawn of innovation 04.26.2022

    Arimatsu of Aichi Prefecture, renowned as the origin of tie-dye from 400 years ago. During the Edo period the area flourished, those traveling along the Tokaido road purchasing tie-dyed hand towels and yukata as souvenirs.

    The use of various tools such as needles, threads, and boards gives room to devise the strength, shade or the dye, painting various patterns. Combining simple tools and unique skills brings about the ‘Arimatsu Shibori’, with over 100 patterns.

    Early morning, thick fog spreads in front and in the distance, flowers create a pale scenery. To express the transient gradation, a thin wooden stick 2cm in diameter was used. Reinterpreting itajime, a technique used last season, this time instead of tightly tying the fabric, fabrics were gently sandwiched between the sticks. Pouring different colors of spring, created layers of fuzz.

    ‘Arimatsu Shibori’ is originally known for dyeing its patterns clearly. However, this time the unique skilled technique was applied to express the fuzzy beauty captured in nature’s scenery.

    As the Arimatsu Shibori craftsman says, ‘Design that makes use of techniques, technique that makes use of design.

    A design that purposely allows the dye to run, and new tools and techniques developed to make it happen. Only with the detailed knowledge of tradition and techniques, can this modern communication be created, a gradation pattern that symbolizes this collection.

    Photography & Movie: Yuichiro Noda / Words & Edit: kontakt /Translation: Shimon Miyamoto

  • Touch of Spring – Spring Summer 2022 04.18.2022

    Early spring, Nagano. The morning dew laid across the land, and in the distance faintly sensing life coloured in light pink to wisteria. Flowers, one after another, begin sprouting awaiting for snow to melt, and at this sight, one ponders, slowly but surely reminiscing the memory of spring.

    Trying to capture the outline, they disappear in a fluff. The vague spring scene melts slowly together with my memory, creating ‘My Spring’.

    The childhood memory spent in Nagano. The 10th anniversary of the establishment of the brand, facing nature and history gives the collection a new look. As the past and present gradually cross paths, ‘My Spring’ transforms into threads and fabric.

    The touch of spring air Maiko Kurogouchi felt in her hometown, signals the beginning of her journey ‘Land’ to her roots in search of spring palletes and textures.

    Photography: /Yuichiro Noda / Words & Edit: kontakt /Translation: Shimon Miyamoto