What is more of a luxury than bespoke? Something that cannot be reproduced again. Something that is a moment in time and space and then is gone. Such was the case when we stumbled upon a cache of Yuzen silks. Yuzen is an art form of dyeing and painting silks that is derived from Kyoto. Principally it is a way by which Japanese artisans use a rice based resist to use silk fabric as though it were a canvas. Adding in the use of stencils, artisans have an ability to shade and graduate colour which creates some of the most striking silk prints I have even seen and certainly this kind of silk cannot be found in the digitally printed and screen printed worlds of silk.
The system was developed by Yuzensai Miyazaki, a silk printer and dyer who perfected the system in the Edo period roughly 300 years ago in the Kaga district.
Initially these types of silks were used in kimonos for aristocrats and the rich but over time kimonos in elaborate silks became more ubiquitous. The base fabric is woven in Japan from Japanese sericulture, whilst the dyeing is done in multiple cities, however, the most famed city is Kyoto.
The silk is first rolled out so that the artist can draw the basic design onto the silk roll either by hand or by stencil. Once the silk is drawn, a second layer of rice paste resist (which is created by boiling rice until you derive a starch paste) is drawn over the top. This will create the lines where the dye does not penetrate and allows the brushing on of dye over the top. Once the dye has been painted on the silk is set by steaming it three times in chambers where the silk is hung on pegs. After the silk has set it is then washed in very cold spring or river waters which flow through the areas where the silk is processed.
All in all this is a very labour intensive process but the silks speak for themselves, literally jumping out at you and visually dazzling your senses.
We have merged these silks with our own woven jacquards, allowing you to have two bow ties in one and giving you a complementing silk to the chosen Yuzen. Because Yuzen is dyed on a standard 36cm roll and where these designs are elaborate and long, we have to set aside each silk to choose the exact placement and hope to harvest one to two bow ties from each piece of Yuzen.
Come and have a look. They are not cheap, but then, neither is good art. And as Oscar Wilde once said, "one should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art".