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  • 8. Craft for Modern Life 25.09.2020

    Back in Kurogouchi’s hometown Nagano, people use shoulder baskets when harvesting vegetables or wild plants. As a child, it was a natural sight to see farming tools, and as she grew, she realised the beauty in its fusion of practicability and form. It was then that Kurogouchi thought of designing a backpack or small handbag, an accessory necessary in the modern lives of women, incorporating the farming tool spirit. Baskets created with bamboo or rattan are woven with one throughout the whole process. Have this crafting process in mind, Kurogouchi decided to use linen shoelace to create the similar woven look. To learn the idea, Kurogouchi visited a Mizuhiki* factory, also a traditional craft of Nagano prefecture, which shares the same concept of weaving. Unaffected by the changing times, traditional techniques pasted onto generation after generation, fusing this technique to create sublimation items of the daily lives of women is one of Maiko Kurogouchi’s missions. Based on the experience felt of being ‘embraced’ in Iceland, this collection’s design started on the imagination of creating a basket human. Reminiscing the fact that embracing clothes brings comfort to us humans, to Maiko Kurogouchi.

    *Mizuhiki - a decorative Japanese cord made from twisted paper

  • 7. Knitting 18.09.2020

    For Mame Kurogouchi, knit wears are an important piece of garment every season. This season, the task was how to express the baskets solidity and mesh onto knits. For example, during research, Kurogouchi gained inspiration from the ‘Bamboo Flower Basket’, a bamboo basket that covers the vase. She wanted to show reddish brown ropes stretched on faint mohair. For this, she drifted away from conventional methods like the cable knit, which looks like the knitted fabric is crossed over. Instead, wanting to replicate the flower basket as close as possible, new techniques were challenged, by actually cross knitting or doubling on the knit on the puff sleeves. In addition, for knit wear representing several baskets, numerous images of baskets were shared to factories. While expressing several styles of weaves and gauges into one knit, a fringe was woven with beads. Working closely with skilled knitters, the knits for this season were created.

  • 6. Layer of Time 11.09.2020

    In the vast landscape of Iceland where Kurogouchi was thrown into, there alive were countless fluff like grass shimmering with dew. The desire to express the spectacular color before her eyes into fabric, she took home each grass as pressed grass, and handed it over to the factory. She used brown wool as the grounds of Iceland for warp and off-white silk as fluff for woof, weaving together to create one fabric. To express the duvet cushion texture that protected her, she implemented the shaggy process of scratch and brush on the surface. The fabric was reflected into long coats or short jackets. A first glance, what seems to be off-white, in reality has a faint brown on the other side, recreating the experience of being covered by the grass fields. Silk wool being delicate from the start, transforming it into raised silk wool, will lose its firmness over time. Embraced by the coat, the wearer to grow old together.

  • 5. Back to Basic 04.09.2020

    From before, Kurogouchi frequently used domestic Triacetate fiber, created in Fukui prefecture, to design dresses. A fabric rich with luster, with a soft beautiful texture, still holding able to create an aesthetic silhouette. This season, with the intention of going back to the basics, Kurogouchi created 2 dresses, a top, and bottoms that were wrinkle-free. What she imagined was a day in life, where a woman going from work to a formal occasion. A piece of garment that could add excitement to her daily life. Cuffs of lace created in a factory up in Kiryu, Gunma prefecture, added the flamboyance needed. A refined technique, first adding embroidery onto water soluble paper, then dissolving the paper by the hands of the master, molding cuffs into the motif of baskets.

  • 4. Blooming Print 28.08.2020

    The flowered silk series are prints of lattice patterns Kurogouchi drew with watercolor paint, combined with flowered motifs. She drew patterns in a way as baskets are woven, by taking hints off of the various baskets featured in Hideyuki Oka’s book ‘Tsutsumu (The Art of Wrapping)’. She took the basket like lattice patterned silk jacquard woven with gold, woven in Komatsu Ishikawa prefecture, and combined it with the lattice patterns drawn by hand to express it more three-dimensional. Using watercolor paint, Maiko Kurogouchi drew purple and brown lines as if they were woven, adjusting the strength of her brushstroke. In the gaps created by the lines, she scattered flower motifs as if one was viewing a flower through the window. However, printing a hand drawn picture on a thin fabric is extremely difficult, let alone on a jacquard using gold thread. At the end, the final version was recreated by a factory in Kyoto, accustomed to dying Silk Kimono, by using extremely sophisticated Ink Jet printing. A draw like a weave, in hope that this flower basket is worn, as if wrapping oneself.

  • 3. Glisten 21.08.2020

    When Kurogouchi decided she wanted to express the vast grass field of Iceland, shimmering with dew, into a garment design that she remembered a photo from Hideyuki Oka’s book ‘Tsutsumu (The Art of Wrapping)’. It was of a woven basket, and through the gaps of the weaves she could see a glimpse of transparent wrapping paper used for snacks. By creating fabric that fused fragments of civilization with natural materials, similar to the basket’s appearance on the page, Kurogouchi desired to create the scene of grass covered in morning dew. She called a factory in Ichinomiya Aichi prefecture, explaining the scenery with a page from her notebook on which the grass is pressed and taped. Using wool and mohair fabric, by weaving artificial clear film strings, she was able to recreate the glittering scenery of morning dew shimmering on dry grass. Also, she came a step closer to the soft grass field she encountered during her trip, by applying the process used to raise fabric on the surface. When creating fabric, you never know until you try, and it is moments like this that bring joy to craftsmanship.

  • 2. Wearable Basket 14.08.2020

    It was towards the start of the season’s creative process, when Kurogouchi found herself traveling through Iceland. As she traveled along throughout Iceland, before her eyes she encountered the vast landscape, absorbing and embracing nature.

    It reminded her she was born on this beautiful planet Earth - that she was alive. It was then that an accident occurred, and she was thrown out into the wild. Fortunately, the field of grass, soft like a duvet took her in, protecting her. The long grass was covered in dew shimmering, the strength of life dwelling within. She realized mother nature was protecting her, and it was then she decided to design the collection based on this experience. What Kurogouchi wanted to create, was an intricate woven piece that would embrace the body. She imagined, by weaving soft but firm strings together, she could create pieces similar to a basket with flower or plant motifs that people could wear.

    She came to a shoelace factory, asking them to create soft but firm original linen thread with gloss, that was then flattened by a sewing machine. She would then embroider this together, starting off with small samples. She wove strings together imagining how it would embrace the body, just as plants would be woven into baskets. To create the transformative design, she drew directly onto the toile. And finally, she created her own basket garments that changes its look depending on the item worn underneath, just like the inspiring primitive but flexible traditional baskets.

  • 1. Introduction – Embracing 07.08.2020

    In the midst of creating last season’s collection -Embrace- Maiko Kurogouchi began to shift focus that she, herself, was embraced by her surrounding environment. Her attention was subtly directed towards objects that were ‘embracing’ a variety of objects, from plastic bags, blue nets used to protect crops from crows, to souvenir wrappings. She soon came to realize that humans are embraced in their daily lives. At a visit to the Soba shop, a hand towel is given on a wooden tray, followed by a cup covered in bamboo basket. The basket itself, woven by bamboo, portraying a different kind of ‘embrace’.

    The book inspiring last season’s collection, ‘The Art of Wrapping’ by Hideyuki Oka, also had traditional baskets woven for different usages. There was beauty in the transformation for each basket, changing its form to wrap objects, finding a connection to a dress worn by a human body. Like a woven basket, the comfort and warmth when embracing oneself, was the starting point in designing this season’s collection.

    ‘The Story by Mame Kurogouchi’ will feature 7 behind the scene stories with photographs on the creation of 2020 AW Collection – Embracing.

    The Story by Mame Kurogouchi is written by Yumiko Sakuma and photography by Yuichiro Noda.