Karl Lagerfeld and KIMONO

During the NY fashion week, there was a Fashion Night Out 2010 held at NYC on September 10th. Anna Wintour(Some people say, “The Devil wears Prada” was based on her.), the popular editor of VOGUE, hit on the idea and the event was started last year in the world.

I wore Kimono and went to this event with Hiroko who is helping my job. First we went to Barney’s NY. We met Mr. Masaya Kuroki. He is a fashion designer, the brand name is “Kitsune” at 6th floor. At the 7th floor we saw event which was held for Alexander Wang. Everyone was exiting with DJ music. There were too many people and unfortunately I could not see Alexander Wang.

We moved around the midtown. Madison Street was crowded. Mannequins were not dolls. They are all models.

We saw Danna Karan. She was a gorgeous woman.

The best thing at the event was I could meet and talk with fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld! I met him at FENDI which is located at 53rd Street and Fifth Avenue.

He joined FENDI, CHANEL and Chole. He is based in Paris and Milano so I am really lucky to meet him at NY. When we approached him with Kimono, he recognized us and beckon to us so we could take picture with him. He looks nice and thoughtful. I wonder if he is interested in Kimono.


Yukata made by traditional dying technique “NAGAITA”.

I heard that there was a firework at Sumida River the other day. I am from Tokyo and it is familiar firework for me. When I was a child, I saw firework from my parent friend’s house. Adults had drinking party at second floor and children enjoyed firework from the 1st floor roof. It was good time for me but now I think it is really dangerous to sit on the roof.
We can imagine Yukata when we think about Firework. And when it comes with Yukata we can imagine NAGAITA. NAGAITA is one of the dying techniques. Long time ago, NAGAITA remind people Yukata.

This year, I made Yukata from old NAGAITA fabric. You may see the Yukata from the picture. When we see this Yukata, you may notice both sides of the fabric dyed. This shows that the fabric dyed with traditional dying technique “NAGAITA”.

Traditional Tokyo style (some people call “Edo style”.), NAGAITA-CHUGATA has fine pattern and it is beautiful like KOMON. So people likened it to KOMON-CHUGATA. You may see how fine pattern it is from the picture.
The book which I read about NAGAITA indigo dyeing says NAGAITA indigo dyeing has 4 steps.

“KATAZUKE” Put the white fabric on the NAGAITA. Then put the pattern paper and starch preservative-glue. They do this work both side of the fabric. Both sides patterns must fit exactly.

“SHITAZOME” To dye the fabric beautifully, brush on beans juice to the fabric.
“AIZOME” After rinsing fabric in AIBIN(Indigo bottle), they do KAZEKIRI. “KAZE” means “wind” and “KIRI” means like “sail in”.
“MIZUMOTO” Wash the fabric with water and dry it at drying space. They do final KAZEKIRI.
The third step “AIZOME” needs proficient skills. If KAZEKIRI is less then successful, they cannot dye the fabric evenly. The book introduces indigo dyeing craftsman Kinichiro Noguchi’s words.
“In the eyes of dyeing craftsman, it is difficult to dye texture evenly whether it has fine pattern or not. Because it is easy to find out uneven texture, even if it is really small.”
It is important to show the texture beautifully if you want to show pattern beautifully. It reminds me of Rikyu Sen’s poem,
“If you are thinking to use right hand, you must notice that your heart is to your left side.”
I think the people who master something have common sense. They are saying that you may see the essence not from the main point but from the point where we do not pay attention. It is not simple but we should think about it.

“Indigo is breathing”
I came up against this words many times.
I learned “Indigo is breathing” from Mr. Noguchi’s work and begin to realize how to deal with indigo dyeing Yukata.
Mr.Noguchi says, “I recommend not to wear Indigo dying Yukata first year.” The reason for this is to avoid color staining.
“People in the old time knew about this so they bought their next year Yukata this year.”
The real indigo dyeing is considered “The more we wear the more tasteful it become. The more we wash the more beautiful it become.”
I thought this year I finally find the Yukata which I can enjoy it for a long time.

“Buying Yukata for the next year.” I thought it is munificence in these hectic days.
The other day, Ms.Amano who runs a Yukata wholesaler “SANKATSU”, visited NY. I had a tea with her. We spend short time but it was really good time for me. “SANKATSU” take over NAGAITA-CYUGATA living national treasure Kotaro Shimizu.
You may see the details of SANKATSU at following site.


Speech at Rotary club of Wall street New York

I made a speech at “Rotary club of Wall street New York” on June 16th. One hundred fifty years ago, on June 16th, the first Japanese delegation members came to US. Michael Bloomberg the mayor of New York celebrate June 16th as a Japan day and Empire state building illuminated with the Japan national flag color, red and white.

I was honor to make a speech about kimono on such a memorable day.

Few weeks after the speech, I received plaque from Rotary club. It was contained in gold box with a letter.

On the speech day, they prepared not only vine and cheese also sushi and Japanese beer. The room was small and some of the people have to stand. I was thankful that so many people came to listen to my speech.

The speech included kimono history, transition, today’s kimono, problems of today’s kimono business, future subject, the reason why I would like to disseminate Kimono to the world from NY. I prepared 45 slides for this speech.

In the process of preparing the draft of the speech I strongly felt that kimono should disseminate to the world. But at the same time I thought there are many problems.

It was hard for me to make 30 minutes speech but when I received applause and some questions, I was happy to know some of them became interested in kimono and understood my thoughts and magnificence of kimono.
To bequeath kimono to the next generation, I think we should envelop the whole world. We cannot solve this problem alone but first someone should do something.

Many people who are active in the United States are member of the Rotary club. They have various backgrounds. One of the members is Japanese (She arrange the speech for me.) and she wrote to me “I did not know that Kimono has a such a long history. I was fully impressed and felt I would like to know more about Kimono.”

I do not think we can receive the feedback immediately. But I think this speech made a big step for me.
The response from the audience, I feel strongly that kimono has unlimited potential as a fashion in the world.