Collection 01: Kumadori

Inspiration for Collection 01


The inspiration comes from fun early memories of applying full makeup on my face and later being schooled by my parents against it. My parents could not understand how applying makeup was a part of my personality and why I could never give up. As I looked into the history of makeup I came across Kumadori and its story of resilience.

Kumadori is Aragoto style stage makeup worn by actors performing in the Kabuki Theatre, a heritage and luxurious theatre form which originated in  Japan. Kumadori gave Kabuki its unique stylisation and elaborate dramatic looks.

During the 1600s, Kabuki theaters were a place to see and to be seen as they featured the latest fashion trends and current events. Over 400 years, Kabuki went through numerous controversies and bans, yet it remained popular and the focus of urban lifestyles until modern times. It kept bouncing back!

It is Kumadori’s rich history, influence on fashion, and a different art form to represent persona and present time that inspired me for our first collection. The idea was to indulge in this incredible art form which is now a legacy and celebrate its strength despite almost being lost due to numerous bans Kabuki went through and yet stands strong.

19th Century

Uchikake Kimono for Kabuki

The Uchikake Trench is inspired by the silhouette of Uchikake, the outer layer of traditional Japanese Kimono worn by performers in Kabuki. The Trench Coat has a voice of its own, the pattern very clean and true to its kind. With a detachable cape, Uchikake Trench gives a bold statement and warmth due to its functionality.


Hachidaime Ichikawa Danjyuro Mimasu Kagekiyo Oshigami

The embroidered motif on the Kuma Wool Dress is inspired by the Oshiguma of Kabuki Actor Ichikawa Danjyuro the eighth’s (1823-1854) makeup. Believed to be from August 1849, this Oshiguma is the oldest one known to exist.

Oshiguma is an impression of the Kumadori on silk/cotton cloth made by pressing the piece of cloth pressed against an actor’s makeup post-Kabuki theatre in backstage. Oshiguma is a highly valued memento that is given to intensely please Kabuki fans.


Sasa Beni Paste

Heavily used in Kumadori, ‘Sasa Beni’ is one traditional Japanese cosmetic for coloring lips which has lasted over two centuries. Made from ‘Benibana’ (Safflower), The breathtaking magical iridescent green that transforms into beautiful red from the stroke of a wet brush against a porcelain bowl inspired us for The Sasa Beni Abstract Dress and Trail Gown. In Japanese, ‘Sasa’ means Bamboo and ‘Beni’ means Red

Sasa Beni was a popular trend set by Kabuki Actors who were considered as leaders of fashion between 1804-1829. In Kumadori, they would apply multiple coats of valuable Sasa Beni lip color on their bottom lip until the Beni turned a rich iridescent green upon drying

from Kabuki Kumadori Archives

Ota Masamitsu, Kabuki Makeups - Kuge-ara Kumadori

Masamitsu Ota, the master of the Shin Hanga movement along with Ichikawa Shinjuro III created ‘Kabuki Kumadori’ from the archives of Ichikawa Family, an album to preserve many kumadori designs in the past. The album ‘Kabuki Kumadori’ is now considered as an important document for kumadori designs in Japanese performing arts.

The unique attention capturing Eyebrows in “Kuge-arai no Kuma” taken from the same album inspires the Oshiroi Stroke dress. This distinct makeup is used to show the villains in the high court, “Kuge-aku” in Kabuki Theatre.

Figures of the Modern Stage, 1954

Ota Masamitsu, Matsumoto Kôshirô VIII as Matsuômaru

Ota Masamitsu was a Japanese artist and master of the Shin Hanga art movement, he is celebrated for his work revolving around creating prints of Kabuki Actors.

The strength and boldness of defined and raised eyebrow stoke in his print ‘Matsumoto Kôshirô VIII as Matsuômaru’, from the series ‘Figures of the Modern Stage, 1954’ inspired us to create iconic raised Twin panels in Ota Jumpsuit and Ota Gown.

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