Nature Nurture

commuun_portraitRegardless of the decade, the word "commune" inevitably conjures references to solar-powered homes, whole foods, and the family bed. Or you might recall the Paris Commune of 1871, when a group of workers revolted against the French government. Though more abstract, bits of both can be found in the new women's label Commuun, a notable label created by two Japanese designers in Paris.
Eschewing chemical-based fabrics for Japanese organic cotton and Italian linen, designers Kaito Hori and Iku Furudate believe that "environmental issues can not be ignored when considering the future of fashion and society as a whole." Each collection is inspired by natural landscape and "the balance and tension in nature." While the pieces are fastidiously crafted and ecologically sound, they also breathe a rebellious and bold spirit through color and cut.
Both Hori and Ikurudate developed their appreciation for fashion while growing up in Japan. Hori was drawn to vintage and the reinvention possibilities with old clothes, portending to his future work with eco-friendly fabrics. After studying at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology and the Arnhem Academy of the Arts in the Netherlands, he eventually came to Paris to work as a commercial assistant at Balenciaga.
Ikurudate had formal design training at Tokyo's prestigious Bunka Fashion College (which also produced fashion heavyweights Yohji Yamamoto and Kenzo Takada), as well as studying at London's Central St. Martins. "When I was little, I used to play with clothes and I was interested in how flat pieces of fabric became three dimensional objects." After meeting at a picnic in Paris, the two decided to collaborate, employing a design philosophy of "a minimalist approach to structure and use of natural fabrics to achieve something classical but new and functional, too."
The fall 2007 collection was inspired by photographs of the sea, importing colors from the ocean like stark blues and haunting blacks, which in turn are grounded by uncluttered silhouettes. The designers also play with volume in delicate ways. There are ethereal tops floating above skin-tight miniskirts, weightless dresses with undulating layers; graphic blouses anchored by slim pants, and phosphorus colors offset with dark pieces.
The collection is intended for a woman who is "strong and still pure in ways," says Furudate. Do not expect the earth mother archetype. With the pair's understated sensuality and confidence, Commuun can easily spearhead the movement for sustainable clothing that's still enduringly chic.
For information about Commuun and availability, go to
Collection images: Art Direction by Francesca Grassi; Photography by Lukas Wassermann.
Green and avant-garde come together at Commuun.

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