Cozily sitting in Tokkaido Shinkansen, the high-speed train between Tokyo and Osaka, I don’t feel like talking but when the train stops in Nagoya, my stomach is aching. As it is approaching Kyoto, my anxiety is increasing. This exhibition is the very first one for me. In Kyoto, Sugata Gallry is located close to Nijo Castle and Ninomaru Palace, an area mainly built with 2 floors wooden houses. Unfortunately I have no time to wander along the small streets and courtyards of this historical area famous with its Kimono shops as the 2 next days will be so busy with settling the exhibition imagined together with Mrs Araki, the gallery director and her artistic director, Mr Imamura. At the entrance, on the window, one can read : “Sugata Gallery is a place where people can be themselves”. Mr Imamura has been hanging a gigantic black and white picture of my studio on the main bottom wall as well as stretching threads between the beams of the ceiling…quite an acrobatic performance!! My anxiety is vanishing with action… while hanging and displaying the 80 pieces and accessories of the winter collection. Mei, a young student in Fine Arts is helping me.
It all started in Okinawa in the beginning of 2017, when Mrs Yoshino Taira, president of Plaza House (my main customer in Japan) met Mrs Shigeo Araki, the Gallery Sugata director. She also is a multi-talented designer who already knew my brand through Plaza House and had bought some garments. From this meeting was born the idea of a possible exhibition of Catherine Andre collections in her gallery in Kyoto. This opportunity made me so happy and honored that I immediately said “Yes”!
In the following months, Mr Imamura when to see the winter collection in my showroom in Osaka. But the project was fully confirmed when I finally met Mrs Araki in January 2018.She looked both very elegant and extravagant, dressed in a quite unique style with very long and dark hair and sparkling eyes. She was supposed to be over 60 but looked 20 years less! Mr Imamura joined us and then we started imagining the scenography for the exhibition scheduled in November 2018.
As he enters the gallery, the visitor is welcome by a black kimono accessorized with my Talisman stole and a mannequin dressed with Datcha caraco and Michka skirt from my Russian Winter collection: the black kimono reminds of the origin of the gallery as a kimono shop and is also echoing to the tradition of Japanese kimonos (as Mrs Araki said).
Inside, in front of the bottom wall covered with a gigantic picture of my studio, each garment is like floating, put on a hanger tied with a nylon thread from the ceiling. Mrs Araki completed some outfits with skirts cut in stiff raw cotton fabric. The sheerness of the fabric is adding more life, lightness and movement to the garments looking like unique pieces!
I have always had this idea of showing my collection like still life pieces to make them entering into a kind of new dimension far from their first use and to play with them…
Knit accessories are trapped in a net made with threads stretched on wooden frames, outfits are slightly floating in the space, and Zen garden is freshly mopped. The opening party is being prepared under the protection of the outstanding black kimono. Another student in Fine Arts is displaying artistic and colorful delicacies on a glass table covered with autumn leaves for the guests who will discreetly arrive to discover the newly displayed collection .
Photos Catherine André