IN CONVERSATION WITH Katherine-Mary Pichulik
Q: Your new Fall Winter 2017 collection launched in April celebrates the ephemeral and uncertain, yet is routed in beautiful and sacred age-old oriental principles and practices of ikebana, Waba Sabi and the mermaid Ama pearl divers. What is your relationship to the uncertain?
A: I think the art of a designer or a creative - which we actually all are - is to get still enough to sense and hear the stories that need to be told. We are responsible to take the ephemeral and guide them into manifestation. These Japanese mindful practices encourage stillness and observation that support the truest and clearest manifestation.
Q: In a world where there are so many quick fix solutions filled with aphorisms about living, creativity and spirituality, there’s equally a deep-rooted desire in the other direction, illustrated by the uptake of Leonard Cohen’s profound lyrics from Anthem:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There’s a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
Your inspirations and process seems to resonate with this?
A: Yes, this completely resonates for me not only as a creative but also with the brand. We handcraft all our products and in line with this, we select small producers for anything we outsource. We are a slow fashion brand that understands the importance of taking time. And with handcrafted pieces, there is no such thing as perfect, each has a fingerprint of the maker, so each is unique and idiosyncratic. This relates to wabi sabi, as we are celebrating the handprint handmade and individual quality of making.
Q: Women again are celebrated as an ongoing theme in all your collections. This time you talk about your great-grandmother Leonora; a photograph of hers that you found captioned Woman, and the matrilineal group of Ama women that deep sea dive for treasures. Elaborate.
A: Well I come from a strong lineage of women - so it was the environment and culture that I was brought up in. I also understand the importance of strong feminine role models as mothers do hold the tent pegs of a society as they nurture, discipline and raise the children. So I guess I am fascinated by women's self development and personal growth as that facilitates conscious children and a mindful society.
Q: You are a great admirer and follower of Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings. This passage she shares seems to talk to you: “One doesn’t arrive - in words or in art - by necessarily knowing where one is going,” the artist Ann Hamilton wrote …in her magnificent meditation on the generative power of not-knowing. “In every work of art something appears that does not previously exist, and so, by default, you work from what you know to what you don’t know.” Your comments?
A: I guess the passage illustrates so well the process in the emergence of the Fall Winter 17 Collection. It began with a photograph of my great grandmother’s that triggered an inquiry into Japanese culture. From there I was intuitively led into wabi sabi and ikebana that both aesthetically and conceptually informed the design of the collection. I began with an image and journeyed through the unknown into a collection.