• In praise of ambiguity 12.02.2020

    When Kurogouchi saw an orange tree covered in a bird net in Odawara, the memory of sleeping in a mosquito net - or kaya suddenly came back to her. In a trip to Arita, Saga, from the previous year, she was offered a chance to sleep in an antique indigo-die mosquito net hanged from the ceiling. The world outside was blurred, seemingly more beautiful and gentler.

    These two memories became a piece of knitwear. As if the nets blurs borders between inside and outside, the knitwear, her take on the experience applied to two different knittings in a single garment invites you to see what normally stays invisible inside.

    Layering tulle and knit, due to the nature of difference in intensity, requires a meticulous method. With the factories in Nagano and Niigata, Kurogouchi tested applying two different techniques; Inlay and Jacquard which first resulted in many unexpected cut threads and holes. But in order to materialise the feeling of being inside of kaya, helped her distinguish the existence of inside and outside, it would have to be a knitwear delicate as thin as skin.

    Eventually, it was the weavers' experiences, knowledge and imagination that made the knit possible, fully materialising Kurogouchi's vision. When worn, the skin you could see through behind the woven net highlights the beauty of the garment as well as herself.

  • A Study in Green 05.02.2020

    Spring came with a rush of green, reminding Kurogouchi, who was previously preoccupied by silkworms and wrapping papers, that “I myself am wrapped by my surroundings.”

    It was during this time, she visited Kakeroma-jima, in Amami Okinawa where the traditional mochi (rice cake) is served with shell ginger leaves wrapping. This was the most primitive “wrapping” she could experience. The moment, she bit into a piece of mochi, as if the rich nature of Amami surrounding Kurogouchi penetrated into her body.

    Back in Tokyo, she found herself gazing vacantly at greens in the garden through a glass window, pondering “Do I look like I am wrapped in the building from plants?”.

    This self-discourse was reflected onto the jacket and dress with the prints of plants that she culled and sketched in Amami. Kurogouchi attempted to peel away filters that exist in our daily life, such as windows, curtains and frosted glasses, and there appears obscure appearances of plants. She wanted to project the process onto a textile. A weaver in Kiryu helped her develop a sheet of textile that juxtaposes different elements of transparent, gloss and matte by weaving silk and nylon. Tactile interaction was achieved as a result; the textile brims both sensitive organdy feel and tangible touch similar to a swelling of leaves. By tucking and twisting a generous amount of textiles, Kurogouchi wanted to give the dress experience that mimics being wrapped in a cocoon.

  • The Art of Wrapping 29.01.2020

    There is a photo from the 1972 book, “Tsutsumu” by Hideyuki Oka, that caught Maiko Kurogouchi's eyes. It was a close up shot of Rakugan, a type of traditional Japanese sweet, twist-wrapped in a white washi paper. That simple twist gave the piece of sweets a strong posture which stirred her desire to design equally elegant dress using a refreshing summery fabric with just the right amount of excellent tension and stiffness. She specially developed woven Jacquard textile for the shirts which looks plain on first glance, but has subtle floral embroideries.

    The book also allowed Kurogouchi to revisit her childhood memories. She recalled her heart beat with delight she felt every time she opened a small box of sweets tidily filled with even smaller candies. She pictured an imaginary wrapping paper. In order to print small water-coloured flowers onto dully gloss Habutae silk woven in Komatsu, she chose to introduce a particular ink-jet that has a higher penetration rate. Working closely with a factory in Kyoto to find the right colour that speaks to both old memory and current sentiment, Kurogouchi finally reached the deep colour which seeped through the backside of the silk as if settling invisible memories on the skin permanently, quietly.

    The vest paired with a silk dress incorporates the image of wrapping ribbons with the piping on the edges, as if the two garments cover the body gently just like thin paper that wraps around fragile sweets.

  • Prologue:Embrace 21.01.2020

    It was a series of serendipitous occurrences that led Maiko Kurogouchi to the theme for Spring/Summer 2020, Embrace.

    The first step was an idea she had for a while, to grow silkworms in their atelier in an attempt to have deeper understanding of the silk; the material that has high importance for Mame Kurogouchi. Through this experience, Kurogouchi witnessed the transformation process of silkworms morph into cocoons by gradually blowing fibres around them which made her fancy how silkworms see the world through the thin white spherical wall. A life being embraced - that’s how the concept took shape.

    Another hint came through a book she picked up. “Tsutsumu” by Hideyuki Oka, published in 1972, was a catalogue of traditional Japanese packaging and wrapping ingrained with deeply rooted Japanese spiritual philosophy. There was a phrase that left quite an impression in Kurogouchi's mind; “Art of wrapping is to wrap your heart.”

    Inspired by these two findings, she turned attention to her surroundings and found many “wrapping” in different form and concept. From a net wrapped around an Orange tree she saw in Odawara, to discarded flowers in semi-transparent garbage bag, or tissue papers wrapping sweets a friend brought, our daily life was full of beautiful wrapped objects. In some ways, she herself was even wrapped by her surroundings.

    The idea of wrapping came as a way of carrying or gifting objects and was never the purpose. But wrapping protects contents, gives extra value and appeal, and provokes imagination. By turning “wrapped” inspirations from sceneries and objects into garments, Kurogouchi expressed her take on “The art of wrapping”

    THE STORY by Mame Kurogouchi invites you to revisit her journey and walks you through the process of the collection building as well as stories behind production and craftsmanship.