The M Dash

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MM.LaFleur’s Design Philosophy: The Japanese Art of Wrapping

November 04, 2013

We all know MM.LaFleur dresses aren’t your average frocks. But why? Today, our brilliant designer Miyako Nakamura takes us into her design process. Be warned: things are about to get seriously cerebral.

The Art of Wrapping

After I met Sarah and began to think about the concept for MM.LaFleur, I came across this book on my shelf, How to Wrap 5 More Eggs, about traditional Japanese packaging.

Japanese wrapping has to do with the aesthetic philosophy that everything can and should be made beautiful. There’s an inherent value system: Every object, large or small, expensive or inexpensive, has value and the potential to be beautiful.

 The content is most important, but the packaging exists to make it shine.

 What does this have to do with dresses?

Then it hit me: MM.LaFleur should function as packaging for women. We create dresses to make women shine. When I started to design our first collection, I envisioned wrapping our women in high-quality materials, with carefully crafted folds and wraps to create form-flattering tension.

As I see it, every dress is a child of Art and Function. I put a lot of thought into how the body moves, adding notches and slits so that the dress is loose or tight in all the right places. This is what complements the body and shows off a woman’s posture.

3 Characteristics of Traditional Japanese Packaging:

  1. Natural Materials: High-quality, natural materials add freshness and organic elegance to a package.
  2. The Aesthetic Consciousness of Propriety: The act of packing an object became a ritual of purification, of distinguishing the contents of the package from similar objects that have not been purified.
  3. Handwork: Beautiful packaging can only be achieved by the human hand. It’s an action motivated by love and consideration for others.

And from this philosophy, MM.LaFleur’s thoughtfully designed dresses were born. See Miyako’s vision take shape here.


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Tory Hoen is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and brand strategist. She spent five years as the Creative Director of Brand at MM.LaFleur (where she founded The M Dash!) and has written for New York Magazine, Fortune, Bon Appétit, and Condé Nast Traveler. Read more of Tory's posts.


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