Kimono: A Modern History
Terry Satsuki Milhaupt
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
What is the kimono? Everyday garment? Art object? Symbol of Japan? As this book shows, the kimono has served all of these roles, its meaning changing across time and with the perspective of the wearer or viewer.
Kimono: A Modern History begins by exposing the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century foundations of the modern kimono fashion industry. It explores the crossover between ‘art’ and ‘fashion’ in this period at the hands of famous Japanese painters who worked with clothing pattern books and painted directly onto garments. With Japan’s exposure to Western fashion in the nineteenth century, and Westerners’ exposure to Japanese modes of dress and design, the kimono took on new associations and came to symbolize an exotic culture and an alluring female form. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the kimono industry was sustained through government support. The line between fashion and art became blurred as kimonos produced by famous designers were collected for their beauty and displayed in museums, rather than being worn as clothing. Today, the kimono has once again taken on new dimensions, as the Internet and social media proliferate images of the kimono as a versatile garment to be integrated into a range of individual styles.
Kimono: A Modern History, the inspiration for a major exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York,not only tells the story of a distinctive garment’s ever-changing functions and image, but provides a novel perspective on Japan’s modernization and encounter with the West.
Katsukawa Shunshō and Kitao Shigemasa, a clerk from the Echigoya kimono shop (later to become the Mitsukoshi department store in the early twentieth century) visits two women in their home (illus. 31). he is about to present a bolt of crepe-silk 49 kimono (chirimen), and has already spread a single-sheet illustration or drawing of a kosode design on the floor in front of the customer. here the illustration serves the quite practical function of helping the customer visualize the finished
industry, there was a shift towards the production of standard types of kimonos for the general populace, rather than one-of-a-kind garments for elite clientele in Kyoto and Edo. e pattern books conveyed information to the customer about prevailing fashion trends, from which the customer could choose a favourite pattern. e excerpt quoted above from the ‘Collection of Ten ousand Women’ suggests that one potential drawback of ordering directly from a pattern book was the risk that a garment
substitutes, stimulating the development of Japan’s independent sericulture industry. By the mid-eighteenth century, the nishijin area of Kyoto, the established centre of the silk-weaving industry, relinquished some of its dominance to regional areas such as gifu, hachiōji, Isezaki, Kiryū, nagahama and tango.22 Japan’s import-substitute strategy for Chinese raw and woven silk over the course of the seventeenth century proved prescient. Some of these regional areas – in particular, hachiōji near
controlled by the latest fashions, brought attention to mitsukoshi.55 Recognizing the invaluable branding opportunities these publications aﬀorded, the eponymous Mitsukoshi magazine made its debut in 1911 and, with the exception of an interruption caused by the 1923 earthquake, was issued monthly until 1933.56 Other department stores followed mitsukoshi’s lead. Shirokiya launched ‘household guidance’ (Katei no shirube), ‘Trends’ (Ryūkō) and ‘Shirokiya Times’ (Shirokiya taimusu); Takashimaya
many labouring within workshops or under the direction of a producer (shikkaiya) responsible for coordinating the various stages of a kimono’s production or the wholesaler (ton’ya) – became recognizable as individual designers in their own right. Some even established followings among a select clientele. For example, a kimono with a design of Mount Fuji rising above two pine trees bears the seal and signature ‘Totsugen’ (illus. 123). Tanaka Totsugen (1767–1823) was an artist active during the