Japan's revitalised Fashion Weekin 2005 was marked by a celebration of two of Japan's most remarkable and venerated textile designers, Reiko Sudo of Nuno and Makiko Minagawa of the Miyake Design Studio and Haat. In an economic climate in which few of Japan's younger fashion designers seemed prepared to make the investment of time and commitment needed to work with Japanese artisans and craftspeople, the exhibition of textiles, shown alongside the Tokyo fashion collections, was a bid to revive interest in Japanese textile production. The third exhibitor was a welcome indication that such efforts may not be in vain. The accolade of sharing the exhibition with these doyens of contemporary textile design was given to one of the new generation of Japanese designers Akiro Minagawa. Born in 1967 Akiro Minagawa graduated from the famous Bunka Fashion College then worked as a pattern cutter, before setting up his own business, the fashion label minä in 1995. In the past ten years the label (renamed minä perhonen in 2003 which means 'I, butterfly' in the original Finnish) has become popular with the young Japanese consumers, who respectfully refer to the designer, English style, as 'Mr Minagawa' - perhaps in contra-distinction to Miyake's Makiko Minagawa who is no relation. Minagawa's collections are built on the principles of durable design, the clothes do not change radically with each season but evolve, with fabrics re-used and elements re-worked perhaps in a different scale. To show his collections Minagawa invites buyers to touch and feel the clothes, engaging with their charm - the mina perhonen shop in Tokyo has a deliberately warm, happy and relaxed feel, facilitating interaction; the direct opposite of some more intimidating designer stores. Quirky hand-drawn printed and embroidered fabrics are applied to simply cut dresses, separates and accessories, and also to furniture. This cross-over between fashion and interiors, familiar in European design, is relatively new to the Japanese market. Minagawa was introduced to Danish furniture manufacturer Fritz 􏰀􏰀


In the nature of things(1942), French poet Francis Ponge lyrically describes a crate, a candle, and a washing machine. Not once, though, does he depict a scrub brush or a broom, and this is unfortunate. Such a simple household tool should have been of the utmost interest to this poet of the ordinary. The brush is in fact exactly the sort of object Ponge treats in his book: those things we see so much we no longer really see at all. Who doesn't know what a brush is? The commonness of its use leads us to believe that there is little to say about it, that there’s nothing to it. Like all such objects, the brush has been unjustly condemned to silence. With just a little probing, however, one might succeed in awakening this talkative witness of our history.

Brush by Daniel Rozensztoch and Shiri Slavin, Pointed Leaf Press, is available from the Selvedge Bookshop at the special price of £11.25 plus p&p, (rrp £14.95) visit





Animal-shaped lint or clothes brushes made of varnished wood, from England and France, dating from the 1950s and 1960s



A family of thin artists’ brushes for drawing fine lines. Includes one very long fishtail brush with white silk bristles for painting stripes.




Everett Kennedy Corbis,Jeanette Appleton

Last autumn marked the tenth year of a personal cultural sojourn with Japan. After a decade, the things that tend to surprise and intrigue first time visitors have less impact, but the visual and sensual delights experienced in daily life continue to inspire and fascinate even a seasoned traveler. The first thing one is asked about the country is why? What do you like about it? The only reply that comes close is the tangible sense of diversity in both physical and social geography, something that might contradict some popular preconceptions. But, from the greater cosmopolitan cities to distant mountain villages, the juxtaposition of traditional and modern, of colour and texture, of the wonderfully accidental or perfectly arranged, is as rich as the warmth of people who manifest this culture. Travelling in Japan for any purpose is remarkably easy, even with no command of the language. Everything runs like clockwork, is safe and comfortable. With some forward planning and geographical focus it is possible to take in a digestible range of experiences that will suitably satisfy cultural hunger and a special appetite for textiles. A gentle focus will enable a far richer experience and a combined tour of Tokyo and the ancient capital of Kyoto, at least as bases, is the best way of ensuring a satisfying cultural feast. Tokyo rises up from its eastern port peninsular in dramatic and awe inspiring architectural gestures, grand designs side by side with vernacular corner stores, typically packed into beautifully particular post-coded streets. Open areas of park provide seasonal displays of blossom or leaves, and temples and shrines puncture the concrete jungle like boltholes of auspicious symbolism, equally at home with the neon spattered pachinko

gambling parlours. Within this metropolis one can find almost anything and textile hunting will reveal treasures from Reiko Sudo's modern and sophisticated Nuno Corporation in modern Roppongi, to the cool and quiet corridors of the Japan Folk Crafts Museum in the southwest central suburbs, with its beautiful collections of kimono and utilitarian fabrics. There is a wealth of both contemporary and traditional fashion and textiles both Japanese and international, and while there are the usual fashion superbrands, domestic ranges differ interestingly from those Western, often representing interesting twists and variations on the equivalent European based collections, in their use of colour, material and shape. A centralised tour of the Harajuku and Aoyama areas of Tokyo is the best way to see a variety of great fashion stores and some stunning architecture. The former is the foremost hub of youth fashion culture where independant shops dot the streets and ambling shoppers model the latest trends or deliberate anti-trends. As the real manifestation of the popular high-street scout shoot magazine and namesake book, 'Fruits', the weekend and especially Sundays see the extreme end of these fashion statements from the genius to the bizarre, cute, provocative and macabre in original ensemble varying from nurse uniforms to baby doll. Omotesando, a broad avenue of a kilometre or so, is the glamorous flipside of Harajuku, with some of the most delectable flagship stores one can visit: Dior, Gucci, and Vuitton, and local heroes Yamamoto, Comme Des Garcons and Issey Miyake's APOC, HAAT, Pleats Please, and Issey. Japanese fashion display is on the whole, sublime, typically paired down


Recipe for my craft by Deirdre Nelson: Find a location, a text or a story. Study relevant people. Find a contemporary link. Develop an idea. Add a bit of humour. Study a traditional technique. Add some craftsmanship and hand skills. Fuse that with digital technology. And translate into something tangible. Which will be inclusive, engaging and encourage a smile. All sounds simple enough really...


Nels on's prac tice is, in r ealit y, f ar f rom simp le.

Narr ative , b oth colle cted an d cr eate d, a ppea rs

thro ugho ut. A s do es h umo ur a nd a cces sibili ty – not only targ eted athard ened textil eenth usias ts a nd g aller y go ers – bu t als o

the loca l c omm uniti esand scho olchild ren that play a su bsta ntial role inher r esea rch. Nelso n ha s a knac k for unea rthin g fol klore an d so cial histo rythat sh eds light on th e pl ace oftexti les in c omm uniti es l ong gone .Word play and doub le e nten dre a realso rife. The title of h er fir st so loexhi bitio n a t t heMuse umofEdin burg h, H untly Ho use ( 2002 )was e ntitle d “M y De ar Jo hn” and resp onde d to aserie soflette rsNels onfoun dwhile re sear chin g th e F ord Rank englass ar chiv e h eld atHunt lyHous e.The coin cide nce of ti tle also gave a n od to our con temporar y “D ear John ” let ters (as a ra ther heart less albei t ef ficie nt

tech niqu e for bre akin g up wit h a love d on e) a nd

incl uded , a mong st th e ha nd-w ritte n co rres pond ence

our cont emp orary co unter parts : e mbroi dere d e mail,

text mess ages and cell pho ne cl amp ed to ear.

Andy Stark

Nelson's site-specific installation at Brodsworth

Hall took as its starting point th e infestation of

insects and beetles, which wrec ked consider

able havoc on the home's or iginal textiles.

From this curious piece of history , Nelson con

structed a series of traditional stump work

embroidery insects, the attribu tes of each

linked to long deceased family members

and servants' personalities. Eac h embroi

dered creation was then pho tographed

and digitally manipulated to c reate a

length of digitally printed floor cloth as

well as a collaborative animation which

brought to life the former - wante d and

unwanted - inhabitants of the Ha ll.


01 Thimbleful, The Dangers of Knitting & Sewing 2005. 02 Medical Ring, embroidered silk and puncture repair tabsThe Dangers of Knitting & Sewing 2005. 03 Teabags, The Dangers of Knitting & Sewing 2005.




The Da ngers of Sew ing an d Knitt ing (2 005) epitomi zes the balan ce Nels on strik es betw een social history' s lost, and of ten qu ite tra gic, tales of textile product ion an d the h umour and relevan ce of retellin g and updatin g thes etales today. Throug hout t he ex hibition ,stereot ypes th at cast textile product ion in apassive light are un dercut and re placed with re minders of the true p rice wo men ha ve paid for the me agre su ms earn ed in th e textile trade.

Buff to a shine


01 Lengths of antique hemp sacking are washed and then unrolled in the garden to dry and bleach naturally 02 Cushions made from Hungarian grain sacks with original embroidered initials to ensure sacks were returned from the flour mills to their rightful owners. 03 Rich red was one of the most popular colours for Toile de Jouy. The scenes are like snapshots of pastoral life centuries ago. 04 Rolls of vintage ticking. 05 19th century housekeeper’s cupboard for storage of linen.






David Montgomery, C ourtesy ofVictoria Magazine

Elizabeth – ‘Call me Buff’ – Baer has the eye and the energy of her Welsh Williams-Ellis family (as in Clough Williams Ellis, the architect and begetter of Portmeirion) and the earthy empathy for textiles – and all things domestic – that came from marrying young and creating many homes for her large family on a small budget. It was the gift of a sewing machine and the sight of a pile of discarded curtains in a junk shop that made her realise she could make a pretty

house out of a gloomy sow's ear of a place. Today Buff is the doyenne of textile dealers in the West Country, with thousands of client names in the UK and US and a distinct style that makes the country houses – and decorators – that she has worked on a byword for relaxed elegance. She deals in and collects some of the most desirable linens and furnishings available; her choice often dictates country house decor for the season. Buff keeps her treasures in the vaults of the former banker's homewhere she now lives, a classical Georgian house of Bath stone. The landing, lit by a Venetian window, is where buyers see the latest trawls from

France laid out in the sun. Here linen curtains are hung as in a stage set, Victorian chairs are upholstered in rough sacking, old toiles are displayed with reverence – although fabrics based on these scenic 18th-century French cotton prints are widely available; authentic patterns are rare. ‘I've always lived above my station,’ jokes Buff, and it was the cost of furnishing windows with a ten or twelve foot drop that first drove Buff to reassess a stack of linen sheets. She grasped that linen hangs well, does not

require lining as its handweaving looks good in the light, and takes to the dye tub with ease. Another of her triumphs is the revival of old ticking, used to cover mattresses. Today beach houses and cottages are refreshed with a variety of wide stripes and narrow ticking, and authentic ticking – often faded and bit frayed – is treasured. Flea markets and old farm houses in rural France were the sources of these often buried treasures. Buff and her husband Derek still drive to France four or more times a year to

the textiles fairs and return with classic toiles de jouy and passementarie, bales of sheets and pillowslips in hemp and linen. ‘The chase is the thing’, says Mrs Ticking, a pet name the trade gave her. Back at home Mrs Ticking turns into The Washerwoman when her stuff is put through the unique Baer laundering process – a Whirlpool Heavy toploader, an Elnapress ironer, proper starch and lots of drying in the fresh air. Stains are bleached out in the sun. Frayed hems are sewn and if used for curtains edges are covered in narrow lengths of boutis (French quilts). Finally all the beautifully sorted and ironed stuff is laid out

on shelves or tucked into armoires, napkins tied up in red ribbons, labelled in Buff's handwriting. Scraps of ticking and wide stripes are cut and sewn by Buff into striking and useful bags and cushions. She has a Sonia Delaunay-type ability to create Cubist patterns from simple off cuts. It is the mixture of the visionary and the practical that makes her an iconic figure; her ability to translate both the finest French brocades and linens – with stitched coronets and monograms – and the stuff of every


INDULGEtextiles to buy, collect or simply admire 13 Tea for two?No! invite everyone and show off your prettiest party things

78 Object Something old, something new, something beautiful, something blue...

INDUSTRY from craft to commerce 15 Miscellany We’re feeling a little blue 16 Clean sweep Don’t brush off the beauty in everyday things

ANECDOTEtextiles that touch our lives 30 ShelvedArchives and the benefits of hindsight

42An eye for an eye The needle, a primitive but perfectly practical tool 51 New WaveCelebrate the return of the handkerchief

96 Sign and initial A short history of monograms

CONCEPTtextiles in fine art 44 Hard facts and humour Deirdre Nelson’s life lessons 48 Couched in no uncertain terms Tilleke Schwarz’s subversive stitches

54 Off the beaten track The Ricketts travelled together to learn the secrets of Indigo 60 Blue sky thinking The innovative approach of Hiroyuki Shindo

ATTIRE critical reporting of fashion trends 26 All grown up Mr Minagawa’s childish ways and adult cares

74 Getting shirty Margaret Howell’s strict quality control

COHABIT stunning interiors beautifully photographed 37 Restoration dramaThe life and designs of Felix Spicer 38 Buff To A Shine Legendary textile dealer Elizabeth Baer

GLOBALtravel destinations and ethnographic textiles 53 Blueprint Indigo in Germany

64 Treading Softly Tim Parry-Williams tours Japan 73 Well presented How to unwrap five centuries of tradition at the Horniman Museum

INFORMthe latest news, reviews and exhibition listings.

04 bias / contributors 07 news Trends and essential ideas 82read Batik, 75 Selected Masterpieces In Praise of the Needlewoman Embroidery from Afghanistan

Reading List 86international listings Exhibitions, fairs and events 88 view Yinka Shonibare Fine and Fashionable Depth of Field Batik Transitions Beauty and the Bead Balenciaga

93coming next The Upstart Issue: Bright sparks and new talent 95stockists 80subscription offers Cheerful egg cosies for new subscribers plus PoppyyTreffry tea cosies and tickets to the Country Living Spring Fair