>> "Mame" (as in eda-mame) may well be the cutest nickname I've ever come across but Mame, the brand, conceived by Maiko Kurogouchi is anything but cute, nor does it have anything to do with beans. There are two prongs to mame, which I discovered when I was in Tokyo. One is her beautifully cut, stitched and sculpted plastic PVC line of accessories, which brought her to prominence in the Tokyo fashion scene. Her deft and specific approach towards this material might be something Kurogouchi inherited from her time working at Issey Miyake's design studio, after she graduated from Bunka Fashion College. She had to really coax factories in Japan to covnince them to produce her bags, which were brought about from her wanting to elevate this material. Embedded with lucite hardware and packed with cut-outs, stitching and complex layers, each bag is a marvel to look at. Who knew that precise articulate craft and that heady smell of inflatable plastic toys in a pool could combine together so well?
Her clothing line though is less fraught with jagged edges and high-octane transparency. These are clothes rooted in the little pleasures in life. One season flows from one to the next in serene wabi-sabi motion and Kurogouchi's idyllic upbringing in the lush countryside of Nagano in Japan informs much of it. This season in particular though, Kurogouchi thought of her grandmother and her craft-based habits - the way she presses flowers in books, her appreciation of certain ceramics and just the general modus operandi of her slow-paced life in the country. Each gesture is reflected in Kurogouchi's delectable smorgasbord of beautiful textiles. Yeah ok, every Japanese designer has that advantage of creating small runs of beautiful fabrics but here, it's fine and delicate embroidery, sweet broderie angalaise and crochet flowers on knitted collars that stand out and feel singular and personal to mame. When local designers, who've not yet ventured out into the murky waters of selling internationally, ask me whether I think buyers would be interested, you're often squirmingly obliged to give false words of encouragement. Not so with mame. There's a pretty and unexplored tale about rural Japan to tell here along with all its ancestral craft-driven pleasures. I've not been yet but I do now that I've copped a feel of mame's collection. That's down to Kurogouchi's magic beans.