Is couture, the French word for sewing, still couture if there is no needle or thread involved? Japanese designer Yuima Nakazato thinks so.

His spring 2019 couture collection was created via a new production system named Type-1, a combination of digital fabrication and artisanal techniques. Tiny buttons in either metal or plastic are used to assemble pieces of laser-cut fabric from preexisting garments, which can be customized at leisure.

This procedure is meant to both extend the lifetime of a garment and create clothing that has personal meaning. In the manner of the traditional Japanese kimono, made of simple rectangular units that can be rebuilt and worn across generations, Nakazato based his collection around eight different people who took a meaningful item and made it into a wearable piece of clothing. A widow transformed her husband’s paintings into delicate smock dresses, while a child’s plush toys and favorite teddies were turned into a bespoke garment. Different scraps of lace were fixed together in a patchwork creating a flowing Victorian dress, the Type-1 rivets drawing a dotted line along the seams.

“The collection started as an endeavor to extend the lifetime of each garment,” said the designer, who aims to develop a customization concept inviting customers to bring loved garments and fabrics into stores to give them a new life. “If we can wear our own experience, memories or the things we own, maybe we would like to keep the clothes longer.”

Exquisitely made bespoke designs that are made to be passed on from one generation to the next? Sounds like couture after all.

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