Winter flowers in Japan

While winter might be the season of snow, skiing and cozying up under kotatsu (Japanese heated table with blanket), here at kay me we’re hard at work preparing for the next year ahead and enjoying the beautiful nature that surrounds us in Japan.

Cherry blossom is emblematic of spring, but don’t forget that winter has its own share of beautiful blooms and pretty petals too!

Today, kay me stylists pick their favorite winter flowers and provide a selection matching dresses for a subtle taste of the beauty of Japan…

Camellia (tsubaki)

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With stunning petals in shades of red and pink, camellia flowers bring a much-needed burst of color to the winter landscape.

Our Tsubaki dresses are of course the perfect match! With a pretty camellia print in both red and blue, pair these dresses with simple but striking accessories for special occasions. For even more color, explore our solid color jersey dresses in rich reds and pinks.

Ginkgo (icho)

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One of our favorite signs of late autumn, the brilliant gold of gingko leaves creates a living carpet of leaves across the city as we say farewell to fall.

Capture the glow of gingko with our dresses in yellow floral prints, and wear with contrasting knitwear to stay warm all season long. Our silk dress in warm gold creates a stunning impression, and our patented washable silk means there’s no need to worry about dry-cleaning and more time to enjoy your special events.

Maple trees (momiji)

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The last signs of the gorgeous autumn foliage are still with us, and something that we look forward to every year.

Bring the warmth and color of maple leaves into you wardrobe with our charming Rice Shower series in red and green, as well as our solid color jersey dresses in suitably leaf-like orange. kay me stylists suggest pairing these dresses with with knits and outerwear in black and beige tones for an extra fall feeling even in the middle of winter.

Plum blossom (ume)

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The early cousin of cherry blossom, plum blossom’s gentle rounded petals let us know that spring is near and sure to grace us again soon.

For a true taste of traditional Japanese style, our 100% pure silk jersey Hana Asagi dress with shell-like bust design brings to mind delicate flowers against a cool winter sky. For a nod to the lovely variations of colors that plum blossom can be found in, take a look at our range of pink and purple dresses, from dark to light, and pair with matching kay me select stoles for a look that effortlessly channels the soft yet stark contrasts of plum blossom.

For more original florals and more, explore our print collectionsand don’t forget, kay me offers free global shipping as standard!

Inspired by nature

There’s no need to look too far when searching for inspiration – there’s beauty and life all around us here at our Tokyo atelier!

From market stalls to parks to urban geometry, just looking out of the window is sure to generate new ideas for prints, patterns and color combinations.

Working closely with our London-based award-winning print designers and local and international fabric suppliers, kay me loves to share our world with you…

Water and waves

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One of the cultural elements of Japan, water is a wonderful source of inspiration for us.

Capture the essence of water and sunlight with our dramatic Aquarium long dress in stretch chiffon – light and airy, our dress with long maxi skirt sways as you walk, perfectly complementing the striking print design of this fabulous dress.

Our polka dot dresses are an annual favorite, with our charming light blue polka dot Marilyn dress bringing to mind April showers and fresh spring days, while our Marine Stripe dress showcases the power of the ocean with random stripes like crashing waves.

All three dresses featured here are our Marilyn pattern design, featuring a crossover bust, ribbon-like gathered waist detail, flared skirt and handy pockets.

Flower power

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Choosing from our gorgeous selection of florals was no easy matter, but here’s just three of our favorites especially for the early autumn season.

Keep an eye out for new versions of our lovely Primitive Art Venus dress coming later in the year, with our first use of this unique print capturing the vibrancy of nature. Our Tsubaki gather dress is inspired by traditional Japanese patterns, with the red roses contrasting beautifully with the green and black background.

Another favorite rose print, our Navy Rose, like Tsubaki, is made from insulated fleece-lined jersey designed to keep you warm and toasty to matter the weather, perfect for outside events and winter parties.

Juicy fruits

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Get ready for mouth-watering style with our selection of fruity prints and colors…

First in line is out wonderful Crayon Berry gather dress, one of the heroines of our late summer/early autumn collection. With a riot of flowers and berries hand-drawn in a crayon-like texture, this dress is sure to have you planning your next smoothie hit.

Our fresh Lemon print dress has also been a popular choice here in Japan, with the striking mix of bright colors and black and white making color coordination a breeze – this dress looks great with a variety of neutrals including navy, beige and gray.

Our glamorous Venus dress is the perfect match for our new rich grape jersey – simple change up your accessories for an instant day-to-night look.

The beauty of Japan

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Our bingata prints are authentic designs from traditional Okinawan crafts – read the story of how bingata is made here – and feature 22 colors exactingly printed using our patented techniques that keep our artwork sharper for longer.

Choose from pretty pink Nadeshiko, blue-on-blue Amairo, and blue and white Ai. The wide variety of subtle colors ensures easy coordination with a wide range of matching and contrasting kay me items, including our stretchy suits and Japan-made knitwear.

 

Discover the beauty of Ryukyu-bingata

Have you seen our gorgeous new Ryukyu-bingata inspired print dresses yet?

Certainly one of our most popular designs this summer, our charming prints are inspired by authentic patterns from Japan’s southernmost Okinawa islands.

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Join us as we take a look at the history and techniques behind our new dresses…

The story of Ryukyu-bingata begins over 500 years ago, with techniques adapted from around Asia, thanks to the geographic location of the Ryukyu (now Okinawa) islands and trade between nations.

Ryukyu-bingata designs are famous for their beautiful rich colors and shading, as well as the natural imagery, inspired by the flora and fauna of the islands.

To create unique colors, many natural materials including shells, plants and even arsenic and sulphur were used, with complex designs involving almost 20 colors – in fact, our bingata design actually uses 22 colors, thanks to modern printing technology!

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Colorful designs were exclusively worn by members of the royal family, with citizens limited to simple indigo patterns.

Our beautiful Ryukyu-bingata dresses are available in three color ways:

なでしこ Nadeshiko (pink)

Ai  (indigo)

あまいろ Amairo (sky blue)

 

The traditional Ryukyu-bingata process involves ten intricate steps:

  1. Stencil cutting – designs are cut with a fine blade into mulberry paper, coated with persimmon for hardness
  2. Stencil resist painting – paste, made from boiled rice, rice bran and water, is applied to the stencil
  3. Freehand resist painting – for large designs, rice paste is painted by hand onto the cloth
  4. Painting – painting starts from light to dark colors, and can vary from monotone to colorful designs in beautiful natural tones
  5. Re-painting – for extra vibrancy, the painting process is repeated
  6. Details – around the edge of the patterns is defined to create extra detail
  7. Background resist – if the background requires painting, rice paste is added to the previously painted areas
  8. Background painting – the entire background of the design is painted
  9. Color setting – the fabric is steamed to set the colors
  10. Washing – finally, the fabric is washed and dried and ready for use

For large designs such as kimono, it can take three people several days to paint and prepare bingata cloth, and accordingly Ryukyu-bingata kimono are a stunning luxury item. Modern uses for bingata include home wear and casual clothing.

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(Nadeshiko gather dress, Ai gather dress, Amairo cache-coeur dress)

Our Ryukyu-bingata dresses utilize the best of modern Japanese technology and craftsmanship to unite traditional techniques and designs with the needs of modern women around the world.

Not only are our dresses a gorgeous example of authentic Japanese design, but they’re also fully machine washable, drip dry and crease-resistant too, making for an elegant and easy way to capture the beauty of Japan.

Discover more from our Ryukyu collection, and our Contemporary Kimono designs.

Celebrating the colors of Japan – spring and summer

As April turns to May, we’re approaching summer again – and looking forward to sunshine and  summery styles!

Today we’re taking a look at some beautiful spring and summer colors to put an extra bounce in your step this season whatever the weather…

Pinksakura (cherry blossom), a light touch of prink brings to mind the delicate and short-lived petals

Purplelavender, now becoming something of a tourist attraction, Hokkaido’s lavender fields are truly impressive

Blueseaside, it’s finally time to head to the beach and explore Japan’s dramatic coastline

Greennew leaves, whether mountain climbing or strolling through the local park enjoy signs of new life

Yellowsun and sunflowers, there’s nothing more cheery than pretty yellow shades, guaranteed to bring a smile

In the office

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(Mustard frill dress, Pale blue bow tie dressLavender frill dress, Lovely Pink bowtie blouse, Black switch skirt)

Bring a touch of sunshine to your office outfit with our pretty frill docking dresses that look just like a skirt and blouse, but with all the fuss-free convenience of a one-piece dress. Our sunny mustard yellow is surprisingly easy to wear, and looks fantastic with a matching kay me jacket for instant suit style.

Stay cool and fresh in our pale blue bow tie dress that looks just as good at the desk as at a restaurant table – simply change up your accessories for a quick day-to-night look.

If you’re looking for a fresh way to wear florals at work, then our Lovely Pink chiffon blouse is a great choice, made from our light and airy stretch chiffon, with stunning floral print that pairs well with a wide variety of matching and contrasting colors.

At a party

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(Pink dot gather dressFresh lime daily dress, Nuance blue lace dress, Dramatic Yellow ruffle dress)

Spring and summer parties, no matter the occasion, certainly call for a bright splash of color! Our floral prints in green and yellow capture the energy of the season, while our pink polka dot dress is a popular choice here in Tokyo. Our stunning lace dress in blue (also available in classic navy) is naturally fully machine washable, and combines sheer sleeves with an opaque body for maximum elegance.

If you’re in the mood to tone down your outfit a little, kay me stylists suggest pairing our colorful dress with white knitwear such as our cardigans with pockets and bijou buttons, for a refreshing and subtle style.

On the move

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(Lavender soft hoodie, Petit Navy long skirtDramatic Yellow long skirtPink beige flight riders jacket)

Whether you’re out and about for a stroll or taking a longer trip to somewhere wonderfully sunny, kay me’s specially designed travel wear is made just for you. Our long skirts in Dramatic Yellow and Petit Navy floral prints provide the perfect coverage while still allowing freedom of movement, with pockets and a wide and super stretchy waistband for extra support.

Top off your look with our soft hoodie in Lavender floral print, and our new sporty riders jacket in soft pink with stretchy rib detailing.

For even more colorful options, try filtering our clothing categories by color to find your perfect shade!

Romantic White Day outfits

Did you know that Japan has its own answer to Valentine’s Day?

Started in 1978 and now celebrated around Asia, White Day is the opposite to Valentine’s Day, when women in Japan give chocolate to the boys and men in their lives, the following month on March 14th those lucky guys who have received chocolate in February are now expected to return the favor. Typical White Day gifts include white-colored chocolate and sweets such as marshmallows, and even jewellery and small luxury items.

This White Day, we’ve put together some of our favorite ways to wear white – and don’t forget that as kay me is fully machine washable you’ll have nothing to worry about!

Knitwear

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(White knit long skirt, White rib dress, White bijou cardigan, White bijou top)

Soft, luxuriously thick and machine washable, kay me knitwear is woven specially in Japan, and designed to keep you warm and comfortable all day long.

Our stunning range now includes cardigans and knitwear embellished with Swarovski crystals, as well as dresses and our super stretchy long skirt that’s a great choice for travel. Pair our knitwear with simple accessories and jersey dresses in contrasting colors for a bold look, or wear together for a complete outfit.

Suits

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(White ruffle cuff jacket, Lace peplum jacket, White ruffle jacket, White chiffon top)

If you’re in the office on White Day, why not make a subtle nod to the day with our selection of hand-tailored suits in pure white.

Choose from our feminine suit styles featuring ruffled cuffs and collars, layered lace peplum, and pure white layered chiffon top that can be worn with a variety of skirts and trousers. Change up your style by simply pairing a white jacket with one of our original print jersey dresses, and for an effortlessly cohesive look make sure that one of the tones present in the print matching your white jacket.

Accessories

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(White tote bag, Plum i-lace gradation scarf, Pure white silk-wool lace scarf)

Put the finishing touches on your outfit with our original bags and stoles! Our tote bag is the perfect size to fit all your essential items (and much more!), and this pure white finish is also available as a two-way business bag (worn as a backpack or carried in hand) and our popular PC bag with special laptop section and plenty of useful pockets.

Handmade in India, our beautiful stoles can be found in many flattering colors, including our pure white stole with hand-cut lace decoration and I-lace design in plum with individually-dyed lace detailing.

For more outfit inspiration, try filtering our categories by color or shopping by occasion!

Summer national holidays in Japan 2018

This week on the kay me blog, we’re taking a look at the national holidays that are celebrated during the summer season.

All year long, national holidays are celebrated throughout the country, and naturally summer is no exception. Here at the kay me atelier in Tokyo, we’ve pinned down our favourite summer holidays with styles and colours to match! Keep scrolling for vacation inspiration…

July 16th – 海の日 – Marine Day

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(Blue-grey Marilyn, Light blue goldfish, Ice blue stripe cotton)

A day to celebrate the beauty of the sea and its bountiful ocean life. Near Tokyo, the historical Kamakura area is popular with tourists and locals alike, and did you know that Chiba, best known as Tokyo’s adjoining suburb, is now a surfing hotspot?

Capture the freshness of sea breezes with cool blues and whites, featuring hidden goldfish and marine stripes.

Don’t forget to add one of our luxurious handmade scarves in matching tones to protect from UV rays, as well as add an extra style element to your outfit.

August 11th – 山の日 – Mountain Day

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(Italian olive cotton, Pothos daily, Aurora wrap)

With Mt Fuji visible from many an office building and apartment in Tokyo, it’s no wonder that this world-famous natural feature is marked on the newly added Mountain Day. As well as Fuji, Mt. Takao, Mt. Mitake and the Oku-Tama countryside are just a train ride from central Tokyo.

Add a natural feel to your wardrobe with our botanical-inspired prints, and shades of green.

Our super stretchy fabrics are certainly comfortable enough for low-level hiking, but we’ve yet to put our dresses to the ultimate test…

September 17th – 敬老の日 – Respect the Aged Day

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(Wagasa cache-coeur, Peony grey wrap, Hana kurenai 100% silk)

Japan is know for having some very long-lived residents, with many previous world’s oldest citizens holding the crown. Indeed, the story of kay me begins with brand founder Junko Kemi’s grandmother’s kimono boutique in Osaka, and we celebrate our Japanese heritage every day with our authentic kimono-inspired prints and 100% silk dresses.

Discover the beauty of true Japanese design with our wagasa (Japanese umbrella) and pretty peony print dresses.

Our patented washable silk jersey is practical as well as pretty, using unique techniques developed here in Japan. Learn more about our silk production here.

September 23rd – 秋分の日 – Autumn Equinox

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(Beige pink leaf chiffon, Carrot orange wrap, Aka-michelle)

Brining us to the official end of summer, even when the hot temperatures regularly continue to mid-October, is the autumn equinox, this year falling on 23rd September.

Many people in Japan practice koromogae, the act of changing your wardrobe for the seasons by putting away spring and summer clothes such as light dresses and skirts and taking out autumn and winter items such as coats and heavier jackets.

As a nod to the change from summer to autumn, why not introduce rich warm colours again? Start with our glamorous leaf print long dress in chiffon…

The Beauty of Japanese Summer Flowers

We’re no strangers to a floral print or two here at kay me, and the stunning nature that surrounds us in Japan in every season is a constant source of inspiration for us, as well as for artists through the ages.

The hot and humid summer is a riot of colour if you know where to look: as well as the extensive countryside and large parks, balconies, side streets and even staircases in the Tokyo metropolis are home to flowers of all shapes and sizes.

Join us today as we look at a selection of summer flowers that can be found in Japan, and dresses that capture the essence of colourful floral beauty.

Hydrangeas – ajisai (Taisui Inuzuka)

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(Lila waist-gathered, Blue space, Utopia wrap, Blue one-shoulder)

Probably our favourite part of rainy reason, gorgeous hydrangeas in all shades of blue, as well as pinks, purples and even greens, can be found all over Tokyo during June.

Pick up on the variety of colours with our Lila and Utopia prints, or capture the elegance of shimmering petals in the rain with our one-shoulder shimmering blue dress.

Sunflowers – himawari (Sakai Hoitsu)

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(Limone flare, Flower dance wrap, Yellow dalmatian peplum, Spring yellow wrap)

Nothing brings a smile to our faces like a charming sunny sunflower!

Bring a little more sunshine into your life with our Limone and dalmatain peplum dresses, or bring out the contrast in our Flower dance and Spring yellow wrap dresses, both with hidden tab and button to ensure maximum comfort and skirt security.

Iris – ayame (Shoson Ohara)

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(Labyrinth 100% silk, Purple drape, Purple botanical waist-gathered, Lavender wrap)

Brining summer colour lakes and ponds across Japan, the deep purple iris flowers is complimented by their delicate petals.

These frills and folds are echoed in the pattern of our Purple drape and Purple botanical waist-gathered dresses, while our 100% silk Labyrinth dress calls to mind the opulence of royal palaces with ornamental gardens.

Rose – bara (Ohno Bakufu)

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(Pink cache-coeur, Toki michelle 100% silk, Burgundy flare silhouetteBlack rose 100% silk)

Romantic and alluring or cute and charming? Roses can be spotted in all manner of colours, and our favourites have to be classic reds and pinks.

Our Black rose dress in 100% silk is a natural choice to celebrate the classic beauty of roses, or choose the flowing A-line shapes of our cache-coeur and flare silhouette dresses, the latter with charming ribbon detail that looks like an origami rose.

Keep your eyes open for a new and very special rose coming soon…

The five elements of Japan

As in other eastern cultures, here in Japan the concept of the five elements  (五大) that make the world and everything in it underly much of traditional culture, from food to architecture.

Join us as we take a look at each of the elements in turn…

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土 Earth

– Representing soil and stone, earth gives us a literal connection not only to our bodies but also to the physical world.

Earth is stable and confident.

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水 Water

– Illustrating rives and lakes, water connects us to the flow of life and the growth of all things.

Water is changeable and adaptable.

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火 Fire

– The element of energy and force, fire is connected to passion and movement.

Fire is motivated and intentional.

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風 Wind

– Symbolising freedom and expansion, wind is not only sky breezes but also our own breath.

Wind is open-minded and wise.

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空 Void/sky/heaven

– The most elusive of all the elements, void (also known as sky or heaven) is our connection to all things beyond our experiences.

Void is creative and inventive.

So, what can we learn from the five elements? Channelling the meanings and attributes can help us focus on what we want to achieve – if you need motivation, consider fiery colours to give you an extra boost, if you need to think outside the box then use light fabrics and colours to capture the feeling of air.

Confident, adaptable, intentional, wise and inventive… That sounds a lot like our vision for kay me!

Introducing… kay me’s yukata dresses

As we’re moving towards the summer season here in Japan, there’s no better way to celebrate the sunny days than with our beautiful new yukata-style dresses… with a special secret that’s hiding in plain sight.

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For those not familiar with yukata, think of it as a light and airy cousin to the formal silk kimono. Typically made from natural fibres and depicting bright seasonal prints and patterns, yukata have come back into fashion with many people from all generations choosing to wear these robes at casual summer events.

According to Yuko from the kay me atelier team, “Our theme is summer festivals, and there are always lots of summer events in Tokyo. Because I’m impatient, I wanted to be able to wear a yukata-style dress quickly without any struggles.”

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Enter our new yukata dresses, a great way to capture the freshness and elegance of Japanese yukata without having to worry about the complexities of traditional Japanese clothing. Rather than painstakingly tying and retying knots and bows, simply zip up and go!

With kay me founder and lead designer Junko Kemi’s family connection to traditional kimono and Japanese garments (her grandmother famously owned and ran a kimono boutique in Osaka), authentic Japanese prints are always popular both in Japan and overseas with our lovely customers around the world.

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As for our little secret… if you look closely, you might find a special goldfish hidden amongst the flowing brushstrokes…

Five Japanese Woman Artists from Different Disciplines

At the kay me atelier in Tokyo, we love being inspired by nature and the culture that surrounds us every day – and we’re not the only ones.

As a label founded by Junko Kemi specifically to meet the needs of busy and ambitious women globally, we also love to celebrate creative and inspiring women here in Japan.

Keep reading for a quick look at five artists working in styles and disciplines that have caught our eyes…

Yayoi Kusama

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Known worldwide for her installation and dot-infested paintings as well as performance, film and other areas, Kusama’s personal style is just as bright and bold as her unique artwork.

One of Japan’s most famous living woman artists, the newly opened museum in her honour in Tokyo is a must for dedicated fans.

Oi (Ei) Katsushika

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Although famous for being the daughter of legendary ukiyo-e printmaker Katsushika Hokusai (The Great Wave, Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji), Katsushika was a more than accomplished artist and well-regarded in her own right.

Working in the late 19th century, as well as helping her father, Katsushika created her own artwork including paintings and prints, although sadly none of the latter have survived.

Rinko Kawauchi

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Working in the medium of photography, Kawauchi’s style is sometimes characterised as abstract and serene, with an eye for simple subjects that elevate the every day into true art.

As well as regularly publishing photography books and exhibiting around the globe, Kawauchi is also a haiku poet.

Riyoko Ikeda

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With legions of fans around the world, manga comic artist Ikeda tackles timeless themes usually in hostorical settings including revolutionary France.

One of the artists that came to define shoujou girls manga for a generation and beyond, Ikeda’s dreamy art is here to stay.

Makiko Hattori

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Based in Gifu Japan, Hattori explores the ancient Japanese art of ceramics and aims to create new forms through her painstaking processes, rooted in but far beyond mingei, folk arts.

From decorative objects to functional vases, Hattori’s ceramics have been exhibited worldwide, and also she also peforms “sounds objects” with a music group.

Inspired by art:

Taking inspiration from the artists above, we’ve paired their artwork with kay me dresses to match!

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Naturally for Yayoi Kusama we had to choose polka dots, and to pay homage to Oi Katsushika our beautiful 100% silk Toki Michelle dress is an elegant and authentically Japanese choice.

Our Aurora wrap is a perfect match for this striking photograph by Rinko Kawauchi, and our silk Black Rose dress is a great nod to Riyoko Ikeda’s Rose of Versailles work, with the tactile fabric of our new pink shirtdress calling to mind the delicate textures and tones of Makiko Hattori’s ceramics.

For further reading and to discover more fantastic women artists from Japan, take a look at articles here and here