The kimono enjoyed a single show at Tokyo Fashion Week, a reminder that it still is the elephant in the room when considering Japanese fashion, an alternative path in fashion design that never got the chance to be fully explored in a modern context since it got put in the proverbial closet in late Meiji. Still one show is better than none, and a damn sight better than the usual cliched appearances in fashion editorials, but it does lead to the question as to why there are not more designers working with the garment? As it happens I brought one of my students from Bunka to Jotaro Saito’s AW 2013-14 Tokyo collection and posed her that very topic, her answer was that it simply was not on the fashion education curriculum, the Western idea of cutting cloth to fit the body is the norm, the Japanese idea of wrapping the body a deviation on the way to be built into the former. This has undeniably left the idea of the kimono fixed in time and unlikely to progress again (although there are groups keen to change that), but that does not mean that with each season Jotaro Saito cannot find acceptable ways to give the kimono enough of a fresh twist, whether it be through styling, fabric or most excitingly construction, to remind us how much is still left to be explored.
As ever Jotaro Saito’s show ran well over 30 minutes – the longest of any TFW show, and put on a very light-hearted show that you might not expect from my slightly serious introduction!
The juxtaposed textiles felt immediately modern and made the traditional ribbon shape achieved with the obi feel fresh.
With the men’s Jotaro feels more confident to break the mold, adding in seams and occasionally zips to his popular denim line – a perfect example of adding Western concepts to the Japanese and not the other way round.
With the women’s it was the addition of gingham and herringbone next to the traditional Japanese fabrics that jumped out, and the feisty styling and make-up finished the ensemble perfectly.
Notice the addition of the zip on the eri and the seam that runs from the collar down the arm – subtle additions, but of weight in the world of kimono.
I thought that styling was particularly good and immediately made the whole feel more relevant, even if I did miss the kanzashi.
Some more subtle twists to the formula:
The new selection of obijime were particularly exciting and didn’t need the extra ornamentation of obidome.
Love the contrast here.
Following on from the punk spikes used in the last AW collection, the metal work here fitted the whole a little better.
As ever Jotaro Saito’s fans were enamored with the work and continued their tradition of giving him gifts and flowers after the show – how many other Tokyo Fashion Week designers could count on that?
Personally Jotaro Saito’s shows are always a highlight of TFW, I just wish more would join him in taking their work to a presentation level. There are actually a surprising number of brands who produce modern kimono, but they are never presented as a show, and when other brands do it is normally to the converted audience at events over at Ginza which further alienates the younger fashion generation. At any rate let’s take a moment to appreciate what we do have and I will go back to lusting over the black leather haori that T.A.S and Maruoka collaborated on recently.