Sunday, November 9, 2014

Modern Kimono

Modern Kimono

Traditional Japanese clothing is most associated with the wearing of “Kosode”, a geometrical t-shaped garment comprised of two rectangular fabrics draped over the shoulders with seams at the back and each side.  Today, we know this garment as “Kimono”..  Kimono is a relatively modern term for this centuries old garment worn by both men and women.  In the late 1800s there was great western influence in Asia and with the defeat of the Russians in 1904 (Russo-Japanese War) Japan became recognized as a civilized non-European power and western clothing (white shirts, suits and ties) were adopted by Japanese business men.  Simultaneously, western women adopted the beautiful silken robes, kosode.  It was at this time that the traditional garment was renamed “kimono”

The traditional kimono began to blend contemporary elements of color and design in the Meiji (1868-1912). This evolution progressed to include modern fabric production, synthetic colors and art designs that included current events. 

In September, as part of the Textile Society of America’s biennial symposium, I visited LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and viewed a very impressive exhibition, Kimono for a Modern Age.  Curated by Sharon Takeda, the exhibition featured over 30 modern garments from the LACMA collection.  The modern kimonos were visually startling with vibrant colors and a variety of patterning techniques.  There was also the use of modern synthetic fabrics and contemporary themes such as space exploration and abstract art.

These photos illustrate the wide range of modern influences upon a most traditional garment.

This child's garment featured ice breakers and penguins.

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