Isehan Honten – Heel-less shoes dyed with Japanese Beni dye added to collection at Victoria and Albert Museum
Iridescent heel-less shoes, created by modern artist Noritaka Tatehana using Beni (red Japanese dye made from safflowers) byIsehan Honten, were added to the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in the United Kingdom, as an artifact worthy of preserving for future generations. The Victoria and Albert Museum (hereafter “V&A”), one of the world’s most renowned museums, boasts a wide-ranging collection, with a total of over 2.3 million artifacts. Of these, approximately 48,000 are Japanese artifacts – mainly ukiyo-e (Japanese woodblock prints), paintings, and photographs from the Edo Period to the Meiji Period. As such, the museum is also known for its deep understanding of Japanese art and crafts.
A special exhibit, entitled “Beguiling Beni: Safflower Red in Japanese Fashion,” has been set up within the V&A permanent exhibition as a result of this artifact being added to the collection. The iridescent heel-less shoes, dyed with Beni, were first displayed to the public in the “Edo Tokyo Resync Exhibition” (hosted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in 2021), an online exhibition organized by the Edo Tokyo Kirari Project, and in which the Isehan Honten participated. In creating this piece, Tatehana combined the techniques used in traditional craftwork with modern art, in order to convey a new kind of value.
In addition to these works by Tatehana, the special exhibit also features artifacts in the V&A collection that have been dyed with Beni and ukiyo-e prints depicting makeup application, as well as a komachi-beni (traditional Japanese lipstick made from safflowers)*, donated to V&A by Isetan Honten for this occasion, and displayed to the public for a limited time. Displayed in a special exhibit in the “Toshiba Gallery,” Room 45 of the permanent exhibition, until March 31 (Sun.), 2024.
*Lipstick made using techniques that have been passed down since 1825, when Isetan Honten was founded. Handcrafted by artisans using only safflower petals.
Exhibition Name: Special Exhibit
“Beguiling Beni: Safflower Red in Japanese Fashion”
Exhibit Period: June 2 (Thurs.), 2022 – March 31 (Sun.), 2024 *Open year-round
Hours: 10:00 A.M. – 5:45 P.M. *Until 10:00 P.M. on Fridays
Venue: Room 45, Victoria and Albert Museum
■ Isetan Honten – Official Website