Wednesday, January 25, 2017

La vie des toiles - Yumi Katsura SS17 Couture

La vie des toiles
Yumi Katsura SS17 Couture
(photos: associated press)
In my mind, she’s certainly a brave and independent woman – Yumi Katsura, born in Tokyo in 1932, is one of the leading Japanese fashion explorers of modern times. She has been in the fashion industry for more than 50 years, arguably one of the most famous and influential designers in Japan, and a pioneer of Western culture, revisited the wearing of the kimono by including a modern zest and using original fabrics. She has managed to combine ancient Japanese traditions and art with the techniques and know-how of Parisian couture. She modernizes the wearing of the kimono by Japanese women, going outside the traditional codes of use.

I am perhaps most familiar with her bridal couture designs. It always brings me a fairytale journey, a perfect wedding scenario, and happily ever after. Her latest creation, for the spring and summer ’17 collection, truly reveals her obsession with kimono. The masterpiece is the blank page that she reinvents through the seasons to go beyond the “kiru” and the “mono”, literally the thing that one wears on oneself – Japanese traditional clothing finds other meanings for the woman who wears it. Katsura performs her “sampling”, re-defines and re-shapes rectangles of folded and sewn fabrics, but never cut them.


The style of Katsura signs its difference by a set of unique sleeves grafted on to her proposals for clothing. This deliberately stretched sleeve is a tribute to young women, named Furisode. As a protective cover, the left side closes on to the right side. Originally, it made it possible to hide the tanto, but the only weapon Katsura needs is seduction. Her woman, in the spotlight, declares herself strong, free and modern in tune with the times, culture and nature.

The Ito Jakuchu prints are all over - Inspired by Japanese nature and more graphic designs like cherry blossoms, pine trees bending in a melancholy breeze, bamboo that does not bend, pop floral designs. Calligraphy is transposed to the textile fibre, and down to the skin by trompe-l’oeil embroidery. From needle and thread, evening dress tells a magical story and become living pictures. A swallow escaping from its nest announces the arrival of spring. The delicate balance of Katsura is to build a bridge between the East and the West.

As for technique, Yumi Katsura re-encodes the form of the wide belt tied in the back, called an “obi”. Yuzen, an ancient dyeing technique of silk used for making traditional kimonos, is transposed to an evening dress with breathing, swelling skirt. Another gold sheath dress with the stunning train uses the same technique, with embroidery and a peacock feather evoking the quetzal, the bird of fire. The necklines are not too low and the transparencies are restrained, to keep a chic and stylish status. The color range is an impressionistic palette made up of a glass of water, a blue wash, a water lily pink, a red kiss, and a liquid gold. Turbans and head coverings, the eyes of mannequins hidden behind acid-colored glasses are an iconic tribute to Katsura herself.
xx Do the things you are passionate about; Learn from ones who inspire you; Strive to become an expert at what you do xx
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