PFW: a new generation of Japanese designers in Paris

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Isabelle Crossley
today Mar 6, 2019
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At this season of PFW, two young Japanese brands, Mame Kurogouchi and Auralee, presented their designs on the runway. Both designers used Japanese textiles for their designs but were not tied down aesthetically by the fabrics and in fact used them to display their own world view, one which centres around mindful manufacturing. The two designers, winners of first and second place at the recent Tokyo Fashion Award, showcased fresh yet mature collections this season.

Memories and experiences woven together by Mame 

Mame Kurogouchi - Fall-Winter2019 - Womenswear - Paris

This season, Mame showed its second collection in Paris. Designer Maiko Kurogouchi continued her theme of creating a collection based on her own diary. She was also especially inspired this season by historical textiles from the 17th century during Japan’s Edo period and fragments of its traditional porcelain ware. With a deep blue colour palette, “Fragments” mixed East and West, dream and reality, and past and present, all whilst showing the designer’s personal experience and perspectives. 

In the collection, satin dresses with flowing silhouettes were tailored by kimono craftsmen and patchwork designs on an array of materials featured lace, checks, and embroidery. A grey and silver organdy dress with an orange ruffle and lace on the sleeve added a couture finish. Outerwear included a tweed bomber jacket with metallic threads and a mountain parka with a structured silhouette to complete the autumn/ winter wardrobe. Using textiles such as wool and cashmere to keep the garments from being heavy, the collection had a light feel to it. The collection was both modern and feminine and the modernity could be felt especially by the fact that the clothing was also designed to be everyday wear. 

Kurogouchi looked into the beauty of everyday life and was inspired by the blue of her favourite bath salts as well as oranges wrapped in cloth with antique pottery designs. Mixed and layered looks managed not to look “too much” and felt well-placed and the skill of Japan’s traditional craftsmanship was executed in a modern context.

Auralee’s stoic presentation 

Courtesy of Auralee

Auralee, designed by Ryota Iwai, presented its first ever show at PFW this season at the atelier of the Paris-based Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi. With Japanese-made materials at the fore, the collection’s clothing appeared as if they were sculptures made of cloth.

Iwai presented a collection of both men’s and womenswear that has a soft-neutral colour palette of white, beige, grey, and brown. The stoic collection featured checks at its only print and highlighted the garments’ precision pattern cutting and quality of their textiles. Basic items which were both relaxed and minimalist had clean silhouettes. Amongst them was a selection of outerwear that highlighted the use of fine textiles including a pink and pale green puffer jacket in smooth cotton, a checked city coat, and a trench-coat among other designs. 

Auralee was launched in spring/ summer 2015 and opened its first flagship store in Tokyo in 2017 but its recent collection was the first time the brand had put on a runway show for its designs. Starting with industry professionals, the brand has already garnered a sizeable following in Japan and the brand currently works with wholesalers in Canada, England, France, New Zealand, Taiwan, Korea, and Hong Kong. However, the designer Ryota Iwai has stated that the brand’s real international expansion is still to come.

For the show, the designer cast a range of models of various nationalities and sizes to show his vision that it is the personality that stands out. Iwai’s collection presented modern day basics that were created not only by fabric, but also the “essence” of wearing clothes itself. 

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