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FEBRUARY 8 – MAY 5, 2019

In the early 1980s, Japanese avant-garde designers took Paris by storm, disrupting the world of haute couture with their minimalist, deconstructed clothing. But this was not the first time that Japanese design principles had transformed international fashion. Instead, as Kimono Refashioned reveals, kimono — its materials, forms, techniques and decorative motifs — has inspired designers for more than 150 years.

 

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One of the earliest dresses in this exhibition is a bustle gown made in the 1870s in London and fashioned from a dismantled kimono. A 1920s Paul Poiret dress adopted the loose fit of the kimono for the modern woman. Recent designs by Tom Ford for Gucci and John Galliano attest to the perennial appeal of the signature kimono silhouette, while traditional Japanese decorative motifs have been reinterpreted by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen and Christian Louboutin.

Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons and Iris van Herpen are experimenting with shibori techniques and Yohji Yamamoto has rethought the obi. Issey Miyake gets at the conceptual heart of kimono in his “A Piece of Cloth” designs, which reinterpret its essential flatness.

Featuring over 35 garments from the Kyoto Costume Institute, Kimono Refashioned shows us that kimono continue to be a fertile source of ideas for contemporary designers, both in Japan and across the globe.

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EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHTS

Dress, approx. 1875, by Misses Turner Court Dress Makers. England; London. Bodice and overskirt: silk satin damask (rinzu) with silk and metallic-thread embroidery. Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute. © The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Richard Haughton.

Dress, approx. 1875, by Misses Turner Court Dress Makers. England; London. Bodice and overskirt: silk satin damask (rinzu) with silk and metallic-thread embroidery. Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute. © The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Richard Haughton.

Dress, approx. 1875, by Misses Turner Court Dress Makers. England; London. Bodice and overskirt: silk satin damask (rinzu) with silk and metallic-thread embroidery. Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute. © The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Richard Haughton.

Dress, approx. 1875, by Misses Turner Court Dress Makers. England; London. Bodice and overskirt: silk satin damask (rinzu) with silk and metallic-thread embroidery. Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute. © The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Richard Haughton.

This dress was fashioned in London from a dismantled kosode, a forerunner of the modern kimono named for its small sleeve opening. The bodice and overskirt are constructed from what had been a single kosode, and traces of the original stitching are still visible. In addition to retailoring Japanese robes into haute couture garments, European and American women wore authentic, unaltered Japanese kimono as indoor dressing gowns, prizing the gorgeous fabrics that combine multiple decorative techniques including weaving, dying and embroidery.

Dress, 1920–1930, by Paul Poiret (French, 1879–1944) for The House of Paul Poiret. Dress and belt: silk crepe, tie-dyed, with stenciling. Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute. © The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Masayuki Hayashi.

Dress, 1920–1930, by Paul Poiret (French, 1879–1944) for The House of Paul Poiret. Dress and belt: silk crepe, tie-dyed, with stenciling. Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute. © The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Masayuki Hayashi.

Dress, 1920–1930, by Paul Poiret (French, 1879–1944) for The House of Paul Poiret. Dress and belt: silk crepe, tie-dyed, with stenciling. Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute. © The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Masayuki Hayashi.

Dress, 1920–1930, by Paul Poiret (French, 1879–1944) for The House of Paul Poiret. Dress and belt: silk crepe, tie-dyed, with stenciling. Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute. © The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Masayuki Hayashi.

An early 20th century trendsetter, Paul Poiret opened his store in Paris in 1903. He presented a dress without a corset in 1906 and later introduced a series of works influenced by the avant-garde Ballets Russes that incorporated motifs from Egypt and Eastern Europe, among other sources. As he sought to break away from 19th-century-style clothing that conformed to and restricted the body, he worked to create a straight cut and gentle drape in his dresses, drawing on clothing features from several countries, including Japan. This dress was tailored to suggest a black woven haori, or short coat, worn over a gray kimono.

Evening dress, Autumn/Winter 1991, by Rei Kawakubo (Japanese, b. 1942) for Comme des Garçons Noir. Silk taffeta with hand painting. Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute. © The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Takashi Hatakeyama.

Evening dress, Autumn/Winter 1991, by Rei Kawakubo (Japanese, b. 1942) for Comme des Garçons Noir. Silk taffeta with hand painting. Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute. © The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Takashi Hatakeyama.

The keywords for the 1991 Comme des Garçons Noir collection were “chic punk,” “vinyl,” and “noir,” or black. Evening dresses with Japanese associations formed the finale of this collection and included this piece in which a yuzen (traditional dyeing technique) painter freely drew an avian design on this Western-style crinoline-like skirt. Said Kawakubo: “I wanted to juxtapose the very naïve, almost childlike brushstrokes with the very formal evening dress.” Inserting kimono-style cotton padding into the hem of the underdress lends the dress a certain élan while also giving it just enough weight to preserve its silhouette.

Dress, Spring/Summer 2011, by Issey Miyake (Japanese, b. 1938) & Reality Lab Team for 132 5. ISSEY MIYAKE. Recycled polyester plain weave with printing. Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute. © The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Takashi Hatakeyama.

Dress, Spring/Summer 2011, by Issey Miyake (Japanese, b. 1938) & Reality Lab Team for 132 5. ISSEY MIYAKE. Recycled polyester plain weave with printing. Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute. © The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Takashi Hatakeyama.

Dress, Spring/Summer 2011, by Issey Miyake (Japanese, b. 1938) & Reality Lab Team for 132 5. ISSEY MIYAKE. Recycled polyester plain weave with printing. Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute. © The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Takashi Hatakeyama.

Dress, Spring/Summer 2011, by Issey Miyake (Japanese, b. 1938) & Reality Lab Team for 132 5. ISSEY MIYAKE. Recycled polyester plain weave with printing. Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute. © The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Takashi Hatakeyama.

Here, a folded piece of cloth is transformed, like origami, into a three-dimensional dress when lifted from the center. Refolded, it again becomes a flat square. Miyake describes the 132 5. line, which started in 2010, as follows: “The number ‘1’ refers to the fact that one piece of cloth can become three-dimensional (‘3’), and be refolded into its two-dimensional (‘2’) state again. The number ‘5’ after the space signifies the temporal dimension that comes into being after the clothing is worn by people.”

Dress, from the Iris van Herpen Haute Couture Collection, Autumn/Winter 2016, by Iris van Herpen (Dutch, b. 1984). Polyester monofilament organza, shibori tied, and cotton/elastane-blend twill. Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute. © The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Takashi Hatakeyama.

Dress, from the Iris van Herpen Haute Couture Collection, Autumn/Winter 2016, by Iris van Herpen (Dutch, b. 1984). Polyester monofilament organza, shibori tied, and cotton/elastane-blend twill. Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute. © The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Takashi Hatakeyama.

Dress, from the Iris van Herpen Haute Couture Collection, Autumn/Winter 2016, by Iris van Herpen (Dutch, b. 1984). Polyester monofilament organza, shibori tied, and cotton/elastane-blend twill. Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute. © The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Takashi Hatakeyama.

Dress, from the Iris van Herpen Haute Couture Collection, Autumn/Winter 2016, by Iris van Herpen (Dutch, b. 1984). Polyester monofilament organza, shibori tied, and cotton/elastane-blend twill. Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute. © The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Takashi Hatakeyama.

This minidress uses Super Organza, the thinnest, lightest organza in the world, woven from single threads of polyester measuring five to seven denier — about one-fifth the diameter of a human hair. Also called Ten’nyo no hagoromo (Heavenly maiden’s feather robe) it is woven in Nanao, Japan. Single-thread polyester was originally developed to shield components in plasma televisions from electromagnetic waves. Amaike Textile Industry Co. Ltd. applied the shibori tying technique to the fabric, and Iris van Herpen used this unusual material by stitching it in layers to a black ground fabric and turning it over on the sleeves and skirt so the shibori protrusions formed a curved silhouette.

EXHIBITION-RELATED EVENTS

Installation view of Kimono Refashioned, 2019, Asian Art Museum. Photograph © Asian Art Museum.

Installation view of Kimono Refashioned, 2019, Asian Art Museum. Photograph © Asian Art Museum.

Get an inside look at Japanese style at these special Kimono Refashioned programs. Fashion-world professionals and curators explain the global impact of Japanese clothing design and consider the relationship between high fashion and popular culture. Textile artist Jenny Fong offers shibori-dying workshops for those who like to get hands-on. Family Fun Days explore the influence of Japanese manga and anime on contemporary fashion. Museum members can enjoy an intimate tour of the exhibition, followed by tea and conversation.

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ASIAN ART MUSEUM
Chong-Moon Lee Center for
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