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Bespoke children’s clothing meets the ancient art of Venetian glass bead work via a Japanese artist, in a UK debut at this year’s Winchester Fashion Week as well as featuring in the Venice’s Museum of Art.

Brevity’s new client, Hampshire-based children’s clothes designer Dawn Clarke, creates ethical, bespoke occasion wear – often upcycling vintage textiles or incorporating fabrics from other family-owned pieces – to hand make cherished items that become heirlooms to pass on.

Dawn is collaborating with Japanese artist Minako Shimongase to create their first ever collection of children’s wear embellished with intricate bead flowers and motifs.

Photos: Kate Izak

Minako is well known in Japan for her stunning bead flower sculptures made from tiny Japanese Toho beads. The art-form dates back to 15th Century Venice, when tiny glass beads were made to embellish altar cloths and upholstery for parade chariots. Minako’s art has been exhibited in museums and galleries in Japan and Italy and she runs the Glass Beads Flower Academy at six colleges across Japan.

Dawn said:

“Minako and I share an eye for exquisite detail and pour our passion into the intricacies of our work. Together, we’re creating an exciting collection of high quality, slow fashion children’s garments that will fuse art, design and ancient tradition that we hope audiences will love.”

Minako, who lives in Tokyo, said:

“I’m always looking for new inspiration and Dawn’s creations are masterpieces in their own right. They are elegant and sophisticated and the materials Dawn uses are delicate and refined. They are proving to be a perfect canvas for me to work with.”

The collection includes a 1950s-inspired full circular skirt made from upcycled layers of tulle and organza from a pre-loved wedding dress, which is adorned with glass bead flowers and petals hand-sewn by Minako. Catwalk-goers will also see two gender-neutral silk suits in bright colours comprising of waistcoats and formal, fitted trousers. The waistcoats are embellished with Minako’s artwork. One includes a stunning beadwork feature of flowers and leaves on the back. There will be eight outfits in total.

The creative pair and their young models will be supported by Southampton hairdresser La’Ora as well as florist Polly’s Garden, based in Wokingham, Berkshire, and Hampshire photographer Kate Izak.

Dawn will represent the pair on the day of the catwalk show in Winchester while Minako is due to return to Japan for an interview about their new collaboration for a national Japanese TV channel.

Dresses designed and made by Dawn and embellished by Minako will also be on display in Winchester City Museum (from April 20, 2020) and Venice’s Museum of Art (from April 16, 2020) as part of wider exhibitions of Minako’s work.