“This collection is forensic in nature. I was looking through my great grandmother
and family matriarch Leonora’s trousseau and came across a photograph of a Japanese woman. On the back she had written ‘mother’. This led me to delve further into the aesthetic practices of Japan,” says Katherine Mary Pichulik of the inspiration that sparked her fall/winter 2017 collection.

The intricate designs echo the fine details of ikebana and the colours – a palette of pearl, brass and patinaed brass – evoke pearls nestling in oyster shells and kelp against wet black diving suits. She explains, “I looked to Japan’s Ama pearl divers, women who have been free-diving for over 2 000 years, holding their breath for minutes at a time and relying on no more than a rope tying them to a buoy. What fascinated me most, though, was the sense of community that existed among the women when the Ama was at their peak. Photographs exist from the 1930s that show them on the beach, covered in sand, happy and smiling. The risk, difficulty and hard work as well as the rewards, which included being afforded a certain status in a culture where women were not allowed to be independent of their fathers and husbands, bound them together.”

In addition, their bravery and intuition are the same two characteristics PICHULIK most values in women and many cultures, including the Japanese, associate the sea with women. Ama translates as “women of the sea”. The jewellery and collections, Pichulik says, is therefore designed for “graceful, idiosyncratic women who are connected to the ebb and flow of their inner tides”.

The materials selected for this season’s jewellery collection are inspired by the East too. There is wood, an elemental force in eastern healing and in ikebana. Bronze and brass, non-ferrous metals, that attain a patina over time, thus reflecting wabi-sabi, the Japanese concept that acknowledges that materials change with time and celebrates imperfection. Rope, the PICHULIK brand DNA, this time also signifies the rope that are the Ama divers’ lifelines. The FW17 fashion collection #Pichulikby Nadya by designer Nadya von
Stein uses the colours of Tibetan robes and works with hand-woven fabrics by Mungo that use the same shades of mustard, blue and red. Mungo’s prints and patterns express the label’s African lineage while working with an eastern aesthetic such as kimono-like sleeves and flowing lines. The collection includes Kimono’s, power dresses, trousers and PICHULIK’s take on a power suit, all made from hand-dyed hemp and Mungo’s natural fabrics.

The key silhouettes for the jewellery and clothing are oriental, asymmetric, simple shapes taking inspiration from the principles of ikebana that strive for balance without force, beauty through simplicity and reducing materials to their bare essence or jing.

The same principles, Pichulik says, apply to her fall/winter 2017 collection. “Like the Ama pearl divers, women have to dive deep into their subconscious to discover who we are before emerging with the pearl, so to speak. Throughout our lives, this is then patinaed by the tides
and made imperfect but beautiful”.

PICHULIK’s fall/winter fashion and jewellery will be available online and in store from 1 May 2017.

Designer Nadya von Stein on the clothing
Photographer : Alix-Rose Cowie