Passementerie describes the elaborate trimmings used to decorate clothing and interior upholstery. They include ribbons, lace, tassels, braiding, gallons, fringing, cord, piping, pompoms and so on. It also describes the craft of making these trimmings. In 16th century France the guild of Passementier was established and it took seven years of apprenticeship before becoming a master craftsperson. The French passementiers supplied the elite royalty and aristocracy of Europe with lavish quantities of passementerie to decorate their extravagant fashions and luxurious homes.
Passementerie, Encyclopédie de Diderot et d'Alembert (1752-1772).
In 1954, Shoichi Watanabe began making artisanal ribbons inspired by the beauty of the Obi,the wide silk belt worn with a Kimono in Japan. He opened his first store in Tokyo in 1967 and 50 years later, the name Mokuba is recognised around the world, synonymous with the finest quality ribbons and trimmings. His daughter Keiko Watanabe has been the Artistic Director since 1985, and her creative sensibilities have ensured that the success and prestige of Mokuba continues.
Different Ways of Tying the Obi, Doctor J. Johnsson, before 1902
The Japanese sensibility for harmony permeates the Mokuba showrooms where the presentation has been designed with the customer in mind. The space is arranged so that customers may easily visualise combinations of tone, texture and colour. Each of their products are imbued with this sense of harmony, creating unity across their impressive selection of 55,000 designs. A Japanese appreciation of quality craftsmanship is infused in every length of ribbon or trimming as they are all made in Japan, with over 80% manufactured internally.
Mokuba opened their showroom in Paris with a flourish in 1990. Invitations were posted to members of the fashion industry for an exclusive event the day before the grand opening. Over 300 curious fashion designers, artistic directors, stylists and tailors arrived. At the door each guest was given a gift of a small ceramic scissors with the Mokuba logo and invited to cut away as much ribbon as they wanted! As they left, the guests were given a Mokuba Ribbon Package and today these packages have become the Mokuba calling card, they are sent to an exclusive list of over 2,600 customers each year.
If you would like to visit Mokuba you are welcome to join me on a guided tour of the haberdasheries of Paris. For more details please follow the link here.
Encyclopédie de Diderot
Musée des Art et Métiers