A seed planted in the earth, gently unfurling. What colour is the spring? How does memory feel?
‘Walking between my temporary studio and the museum, I thought about what makes the identity of the brand. As my mind wandered, my eyes roamed. One day, realisation struck: Raindrops on the grass. Petals fallen in a river. Sunshine playing through icicles. Flowers dotting a field. Seeing this scenery around me, I was struck by the speed of life, remembering the landscape near my grandparents’ home. As snapshots of past and present superimposed in my mind, I realised that my work was all around me. Like a seed, Mame Kurogouchi – “mame” means bean in Japanese – had grown from this rich soil to become an entire world, nourrished by this beauty everlasting and every morning renewed.’
When the time came to start her Spring Summer 2022 collection, the designer Maiko Kurogouchi was going through the Mame Kurogouchi archive, to prepare for the “10 Mame Kurogouchi” exhibition at the Nagano Prefectural Art Museum retracing the first decade of her label. When she returned to the studio, she started to paint not what she had seen but spring blossoms, their tender shapes perceptible under a wash of white paint. This became the basis for the collection, as she worked with ateliers to create textiles that would transcribe this.
This patient love and innovation based upon the wisdom of craft is also an idea that has blossomed over the first decade of Mame Kurogouchi.
First, a complex jacquard in which the floral motif is overlaid with silky threads that gently blur the blooms. Then an iridescent ombré dyed silk jacquard with slit yarn threads, like a hazy impression of flowers shimmering in the high noon. Using the idea of Itajime Shibori, previously used in Fall 2021, master craftspeople have pioneered a novel technique, by folding fabric with wooden sticks and patiently pouring dye onto the fabric, block by block. As colours collide and mingle, a natural and sensitive gradation is born. Linen, a material she remembered in the haze of memory, becomes a whisper that renders outlines with softness and beauty. Elsewhere, it’s minute beads, patiently threaded into crochet trims and knitwear that express the idea of glittering treasures and ephemeral raindrops.
The palette is an exploration of what colour the spring is, not in literal terms, but in the impression that remains in the mind through time: the tender pink of cherry blossoms turning the streets near-white, the contrast of a petal floating away in obsidian canal waters, the lilac gradient of sunset so delicate it is near-invisible yet boldly felt.
Shapes praised the female form, which Maiko Kurogouchi has been doing since Courbe, curve in French, the very first brand she launched, before Mame. One item bridges the brand's first decade and the coming one: a jacket with an intricate juxtaposition of circles that create cutout effects. Nodding to one of her earliest designs, it makes its appearance here in a conversation between the Maiko of then and who she has grown into.
Distilled across the collection, it becomes striking circular details that are as technically demanding as they are playful for the wearer. A neckline, sloping gently backwards, reveals the nape of the neck – a traditionally sensual gesture that roots her work even further, into the tradition of her homeland, where the rectangles of a kimono come to dialogue with the curves of the human form.
Continuing this idea of curves, the Spring Summer 2022 accessories of Mame Kurogouchi bring the delight of the unexpected to these serene silhouettes. An architectural sandal curves around the foot, secured but appearing to float. Crystal jewellery shines, like so many indistinct flowers reflecting sunlight on their petals through a whisper of fog. Crochet bags appear with beads subtly woven into them, echoing the dew of Nagano’s countryside but also the exquisite knitwear found in the collection.
Movie & Lookbook
featuring “Fog Sculpture #47610－Dynamic Earth Series Ⅰ－” by Fujiko Nakaya
- Location: Nagano Prefectural Art Museum
The Spring Summer 2022 lookbook and video have been captured in the courtyard of the museum where “10 Mame Kurogouchi” the 10th year anniversary exhibition was held (June 19th - Aug 15th, 2021).
- Casting: Spirit of the land
Maiko Kurogouchi found herself confronted to a reality very much of our time: Japan’s continued border closures mean that the model selection was limited to Japanese residents. But rather than a constraint, the thought struck her. At a moment where she is turning her eyes inwards on her identity, the all- Asian cast – along with herself – were a self-portrait of the brand as much as the clothes were. Sprit arises from the fog.
- Set: Fog Sculpture
Kurogouchi’s inspiration echoes to Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya’s artificially produced fog which claims both a temporal and spatial structure with endless change of form. With “Fog Sculpture #47610－Dynamic Earth Series Ⅰ－” as a backdrop, the lookbook and video inviting viewers to dig deep into their memories, images tantalisingly out of reach. Less a memory fading than the hazy vision of a future yet to appear: the next chapter of Mame Kurogouchi.