The Pâte à chou Backstory

Right around the time of 45R’s founding, a certain French picture book was published in Japanese.
The book’s title translated to Patachou Captures a Star, and it quickly became one of Yasumi-san’s favorite works.
Now that story’s inquisitive, mischievous hero has inspired the name of a new collection from 45R,
to be unveiled on September 8: Pâte à chou.
Pâte à chou is a limited-edition, one-year-only collection
made up solely of 45R designer Yasumi Inoue’s favorite things.
How did Yasumi-san approach this project, and what did she put into it?
We spoke to her in her studio to learn more about the backstory to this special new collection.

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For Yasumi-san, Pâte à chou is a truly one-of-a-kind collection, never to be repeated.
Wherever possible, it features work done by hand rather than with sewing machine.
Yasumi-san intentionally shrugged off the standard limitations of monozukuri(manufacturing)
in order to put her heart and soul into designing exactly the kind of garments she loves best.

Time and Care on My Favorite Things

“This collection is filled with nothing but my favorite things. Instead of worrying about the rules that grown-ups are expected to abide by, I simply took the worldview I love and made it reality. One result of this is a lot of work done by hand. Seams that would usually be finished on machines are hand-sewn instead, and the fine details where threads end are covered with silk tape . . .
“I took time and care on these pieces. This is a one-year-only project, never to be repeated.
“Working like this takes a lot of power for me, too, but I decided that if it were a one-off, I would find a way. I poured my energy into it for the sake of our 45-Year Tale.”

“We have actually been brainstorming special 45-Year Tale projects for around two years now. This helped us come up with ideas like our indigo T-shirt sets and real vintage denim, but after a while I started wishing we could feature some feminine, gorgeous pieces as well. Pâte à chou began as a pitch I made to everyone else – I thought it would expand the possibilities for indigo even further.”

Ai indigo is 45R’s soul color.

For 45R, Ai indigo is the most important color, but not the only important one. Ecru and red are also meaningful to us. Ten years ago, when we unified multiple different brands to become the 45R of today, our brand sign (logo) was a simple “45R” in navy blue and red on an ecru background. The pieces in the Pâte à chou collection all use combinations of these three colors, reflecting this history.

Indigo, ecru, and madder

“We narrowed Pâte à chou down to a few select colors. A stylist I like once told me that 45R uses the most wonderful reds. Along with those, we chose ecru and indigo, to create variations in three colors. I have always loved the red, white, and navy bluetricolor, and ancient linen excavated from the Silk Road used yarn that was either plain ecru or dyed with Ai indigo or madder. Perhaps an appreciation for those three colors is a permanent part of our DNA.”

The Challenge of Nai Monozukuri

“The spirit of nai monozukuri-making things that do not yet exist, but should-is the starting point for everything 45R does. For Pâte à chou, we are challenging ourselves to greater heights of artisanship. We make regular use of hand-spun Indian khadi, but we have never made T-shirts from it before. The yarn is thin and fragile, which makes knitting Tenjiku very, very difficult, but fact that you cannot find it anywhere else makes the result invaluable. Or take the lace-from a productivity perspective, commercializing handmade lace is a challenge in this day and age, but for Pâte à chou we knitted and sewed everything by hand, stitch by stitch, just like people used to.”

Another interesting fact: all the boots used for Pâte à chou’s styling are from the same manufacturer.

The Vendée Globe is famous for being the most grueling round-the-world yacht race of all. Most sailors who attempt it do so wearing boots by Dubarry of Ireland. Made from a combination of natural leather and Gore-Tex, these are true outdoor boots, perfectly waterproof but moisture-permeable. At every 45R store where Pâte à chou is sold, boots from Dubarry will be on the shelves as well.

Elegant Dresses and Work Boots

“When I was speaking with other staff members [about coordinates], somebody asked ‘What kind of footwear would work?’ I answered right away: ‘Long boots’! Dubarry is an Irish bootmaker with a long history, who make boots that you can wear whether you’re away at sea or strolling in the country. This combination of elegant dresses and work boots is a key theme for Pâte à chou’s styling.”

The looks Yasumi-san invents are both creative and universal. At times she hits upon combinations that truly break the mold, and yet each outfit has a clear, unified theme when viewed as a whole. One innovation for Pâte à chou is the use of detachable collars as headgear.

A Cute “Mini-Bride” Look

“The point of the detachable collars is to combine them with ‘harder’ items, like sweat shirts or T-shirts, or accessorize them with work pants below. Augmenting a dress with a detachable collar can create an effect that is too feminine, so I styled it around the head instead of around the neck, creating a kind of ‘mini-bride’ look.”

With our 45th anniversary approaching, we decided to engage in some soul-searching, examining the very framework of the company. The first thing we did was properly study the collection of folk costumes and workwear we have amassed from around the world over the years.

45R has always been vintage-inspired, and Pâte à chou is no exception. Our creative process begins from close consideration of old garments, learning how they feel and inspecting how they look. Many things have become more convenient since our founding, but 45R’s monozukuri remains as analog as ever.

Striving to Reproduce the Rustic Feel of Yesteryear

“45R loves old things above all. Clothes from the past have a marvelous feel to them, from the nuances of their colors to the unevenness of their material. The mainstream today has pursued productivity for so long that it seems mainly to make products of uniform quality, which are beautiful but contain no impurities.
“As for 45R, we might use the finest materials, but we strive to reproduce the simple, rustic feel of the garments of yesteryear. From the average modern perspective, it might seem that we are fighting against the times. But it is no easy task to create an environment where such work is possible. Only 45R, which has followed this philosophy of monozukuri for 45 years, can manage it.”

Continued in our next interview!
Next time, we speak more with Yasumi-san about her favorite things and her personal roots,
learning more of the story behind Pâte à chou.
The article will be released on August 4 – look forward to it!

45R photo book<四十五有>
45RPM Studio Co., Ltd.
April 5, 2022

The limited-edition collection Pâte à chou will debut in September 2022.
Actual products may vary in details.

Pâte à chou – “Ocean” line, available locations outside of Japan,
New York
Hong Kong

Read Pâte à chou Roots and Brances
Explore more at Pâte à chou Instagram account