Shibori, Dyeing of the East

Respect: a pillar of this ancestral dyeing technique, whose first traces can be found in 8th century AD Japan.
The term comes from the Japanese “shiboru,” meaning twisted and pressed – at first glance, nothing particularly evocative of any form of respect. Nevertheless, Shibori is based on a single core principle: listen to the fabric. Take into account its intrinsic, immutable character in order to best transform it. The object is to honor it, to glorify it. The technique used is, therefore, a function of the specific fabric, conceived in harmony with it. The material dictates the conditions of the process. The fabric can afford such liberty, as there are more than fifty different techniques – a number that fluctuates, and that tends towards decline as certain ones disappear with the artisans who held tight to the secret of their process.
Shibori is a variation of resist dyeing, whose principle idea is to guard certain portions of a fabric from a primer that is applied. These “reserve” areas are created manually, meticulously, before the coloring stage, which can occur in various ways: knotting certain areas with silk thread, buckles, ligatures, seams, pleats, drapes, fabric wrapped around a bamboo reed or pressed between two blocks of wood… the material is treated in a three-dimensional space before revealing, when laid flat, a range of subtleties produced by the manipulation. After several steps, all entirely artisanal and performed according to a protocol so strict that it approaches ritual, the fabric displays in negative the imprint of what has been assigned to it. A unique decoration, depending as much on the technique chosen as on the hand that implemented it.
In Japan, Shibori constitutes an art form in and of itself. It has adorned the luxurious outfits of Samauri and the sumptuous kimonos of the Edo period. In silk, it has long been draped across the nobility of Kyoto, before being exported (notably in Arimatsu), to dress more modest populations in cotton and linen. More recently, designer Yohji Yamamoto has paid tribute to this Japanese expertise with enchanting, flowering patterns evocative of the technique on the dresses and kimonos of his collections.