There have been several articles on kimono in the news recently. From The Globe and Mail, Japanese artist Mamechiyo has recast the traditional garment as a decidedly contemporary art form, discussing her kimono and her North American debut show in Toronto, Canada (which runs until April 2). An excerpt from the end of the article:
Mamechiyo doesn’t see the kimono merely as an art form on which to juxtapose modernity; back home she agitates for its revival as daily clothing. She says it’s enjoyed a renaissance in the past three or four years.
“It’s about living kimono as a lifestyle, a philosophy.”
For Mamechiyo (who has not seen the costume-Oscar-winning Memoirs of a Geisha), wearing a kimono is almost a meditative act.
“When you wear a kimono, it takes effort. It takes longer and is restrictive. It gives you the opportunity to think and remember things. It slows you down,” she says. “Everyone has in themselves sincerity and the ability to feel delightful in things around them.”
The V&A Museum has a beautiful real-life and online exhibition: Fashioning Kimono: Dress in early 20th century Japan. In a nice contrast to the usual focus on formal kimono, there are amazing everyday kimono! From the introductory article:
Although western-style clothes were gaining popularity among women, the kimono continued to be worn. The traditional cut of the garment remained the same, but the motifs were dramatically enlarged and new designs appeared, inspired by western styles such as Art Nouveau and Art Deco. Their striking patterns reflected the confident spirit of the age and provided an exuberant visual statement for the modern, independent, urban woman.
Finally, costume designer for the film Memoirs of a Geisha Colleen Atwood recounts how she learned about kimono in How to get that kimono right. I appreciate that she ends with “a real purist of this would have a heart attack,” because on seeing the film’s kimono, I indeed did… :) However, reading about her discovery of kimono is nonetheless interesting!