Author: Emily Meyer

indigo arts: a true love affair

tn_everyday-charm

In our travels, we fell in love with the subtle characteristics of Japanese culture.  We discovered exquisite vintage textiles in a quaint Kyoto gallery. We met a modest artisan who is revered for his heritage, knowledge and talent. And we became infatuated with small, independent design houses featuring clothes for a relaxed lifestyle.  This fall, we’ve created a collection of children’s clothes that expresses the grace and style of Japanese culture, especially the honored use of indigo dye.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved the raw beauty of indigo.  I’ve watched it age, growing richer in its blue hues, softening to the touch, but retaining its strength.  For me, indigo is an emotional inspiration because of its glorious, ancient origins, and how I’ve seen the Japanese render it today into a high quality, casual fashion.
In Kyoto, we visited the Aizenkobo Indigo Workshop where an artist revealed more to us about the dye than I ever knew.  In its natural form, indigo doesn’t burn.  It is rare to find such textural beauty and strength together.  In the 18th century, Japanese firefighters wore indigo-dyed garments because of its protective ability.  One of my favorite travel pictures is Laura Boes in the antique firefighter’s coat from the Edo period. 

Shibori is another traditional craft that is much like tie dye. Cotton fabrics are soaked up to 20 times, or even 40 times for silk, to achieve the deep blue-violet color.  Artists, then, painstakingly string-tie miniscule knots around pinches of the dyed fabric, creating a small-dotted circle shape. Thousands of these knots evolve into a sea of repeating geometric motifs that can cover the entire piece of cloth. 

Because of the arduous and expensive process, most of the world uses synthetic indigo.  However, a few Japanese artists and designers are keeping the craft alive in today’s culture.  We wanted to pay homage to this honored tradition in our boys and girls clothes.   

The Indigo Arts Collection includes great back-to-school and holiday essentials such as the Shibori Girl Dress and Top, Takayama Plaid Top and Dress  for girls and the Edo Firefighter Pullover for boys .  And we are bringing back our iconic Kimono Robe . When I see my son and other little citizens wearing it, I know that they have the softest, most quintessential piece of children’s outerwear for any time of year. 

I wish a wonderful fall season to everyone.  I look forward to your comments and hope that you will share the spirit of indigo with all who inspire you. 

-Emily

journey to brazil

When I thought about the inspiration destination for our Spring 2009 collection, I was still stimulated by the beauty of the Norwegian fjords (our Fall 2008 inspiration) … scenes of the dramatic mountain & beach landscape in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil elated me as a warm interpretation of similar voluminous silhouettes. With its innate colorful, celebratory culture I was thrilled to seek out treasures for translation.

My only previous exposure to Brazil were tales from my mother. She had spent 6 weeks traveling all over South America when I was 10 years old … and for the next few years I heard plenty of stories about her experiences and the sounds of native flute players from a 12’ vinyl.

Laura’s husband – “Matt the architect” – joined us to see Oscar Niemeyer’s famous buildings.

We visited Sao Paulo first – a metropolis, similar to New York. All 3 of us once lived and loved New York (and still do), so we were excited to get a glimpse of this urban jungle.

We visited modern art museums, walked the streets of the Jardin district, and discovered the Liberdade neighborhood during a Sunday flea market. There is a huge traditional Shinto tori gate and Japanese lanterns lining the main street.

Ginko Floral Dress and Waves Hooded Pullover

Brazil is a beautiful chaos of cultures.. with influences from Europe, Africa and the indigenous people of South America. Together they create the vibrant lifestyle that Brazil is famous for.

It was interesting to learn that the first Japanese immigrants arrived by ship in 1908 to work on Brazil’s coffee plantations. We combined the Japanese aesthetic with nautical notes, reflecting on the long voyage the immigrants traveled for a chance at a new way of life.

For girls: Kasato Stripe Top, and for boys: Heitai Sweater.

One evening we found the Shimo Sushi restaurant – the sushi quality fish is fantastic in Brazil. The walls are covered with incredible graphics using motifs often found in Japanese art. We were in awe – it inspired our printed French Terry pieces: Izumi Dress, Taiyou Hoodie for girls, and the Waves Hooded Pullover, Waves Long Shorts for boys.

In Rio, you can easily understand how essential it is for Brazilians to express themselves through music, dance and art – as much as eating and sleeping!!

This photo of the lawn and Sugarloaf Mountain is taken from the top of the Contemporary Art museum in Rio, one of the first buildings designed by Oscar Neimeyer in Rio, looking over Flamingo Bay. The Rio Dress was inspired by this beautiful place.

We stayed in a bed & breakfast run by an artsy Brazilian couple. Situated in the Santa Teresa neighborhood, the house overlooked a valley populated with aging colonial homes. We spent a few afternoons wandering along the cobblestone streets and took the trolley into the city.

The charming wrought iron work on these homes inspired girly flair for our Brasilia Crinkle Dress and Santa Teresa Dress:

You cannot miss the extraordinary sidewalks in Rio – they are famous. We used the tile design to create the Goncalo Sweater Polo.

Laura and Matt were captivated by the street art. We loved this one for color – inspiring our palette for the Spring Collection.

Other street art-inspired styling for our graphics – the Cavaco Polo for boys and the butterfly embroidery on our Zaba Stripe Halter Dress for girls.

Together, we spent a late afternoon on the Ipanema beach and watched the sun set … it was gorgeous.

To really take in the Niemeyer phenomenon, we flew to Brasilia, the capital city located in the driest region of this enormous country. What’s incredible is that this carefully planned city was built in 5 years under the direction of President Kubitcheck in the 1950’s … it was meant to symbolize the “city of the future.”

The most stunning structure of all is the Cathedral Metropolitana – a glorious thing made of concrete and glass, draped with abstract shapes of color. We interpreted the glass into a graphic print, and the shaped of the dress came from the structure. Our Catedral Dress is a perfect style for summer.

And no one can escape flora and fauna in Brazil … from the Botanical Jardin of Rio to the immense rainforest, tropical plants and flowers flavor the landscape of Brazil. The beautiful landscape inspired our summer Jardin Halter Dress and Jardin Crop Pant.

michelle obama’s quote in vogue

I love her attitude and perspective, and BTW, I loved her choice of designer for her Inauguration Day outfit – citron wool lace dress & coat by Isabelle Toledo. I’m so exited to watch how she evolves the role of the first lady and the perception of the White House.

So I was elated to read this today on style.com:

Just as Hillary Clinton took Chelsea along to Europe and Africa when she was off from school, Mrs. Obama anticipates traveling with her own daughters during school breaks. “I’ve been grateful that my girls have been able to see parts of the country that I’m just seeing at the age of 44,” she says. “It’s not only seeing Paris, London, and Rome. It’s also the remote places…exposing them to what we hope all kids will have: a feeling that they are citizens of the world.”
– Michelle Obama in Vogue, as reported by Andre Leon Talley

She so eloquently expresses what we want for every child wearing Tea. It’s so powerful to witness the creation of global awareness in the next generation.

The rest of the article: https://www.style.com/vogue/feature/2009_March_Michelle_Obama/?mbid=sn