I think I’ve already said this before, but I’ll say it again: despite my terrifying love of Japanese fashion, what I know about kimono could probably fit on the back of a postage stamp. However, I am a huge fan of the visuals, and my clumsy attempts to think about kimono in depth (maple leaves – autumn, maybe?) just leave me wanting to explore this intricate world with its levels of meanings.
I think it’s a popular opinion that the art of kimono, and all it’s related fripperies, is a dying one… I don’t think I’m qualified to provide a proper cultural analysis here, but I will say that I do see at least a few women in some kind of traditional Japanese dress pretty much every day in Tokyo. Maybe I’m simply a lucky kimono-spotter, but I don’t think it’s entirely correct to say that kimono are obsolete. I have noticed a bit of an up-surge in a the rather niche market of kimono-related magazines, particularly those aimed at a younger and more fashionable crowd: Kimono Ageha and Furisode Egg are two titles that come to mind here, surprising cross-overs between gyaru publications and kimono (Furisode Egg even has instructions on how to arrange your obi etc like an (ahem) lady of the night. Very educational!).
Actively prising the nails out of the kimono coffin is Yukiko Hanai – perhaps the most traditionally Japanese collection shown during October’s fashion. Making the choice to put so many kimono on the catwalk (as well as more Western-styles) is undoubtedly a bold decision even in Japan, so I think Hanai deserves a huge round of applause – to my mind, she was also one of the only designers to use Japanese models too. This was a wonderful celebration of authentic Japanese clothing and stood up incredibly well even in such a high-fashion context as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo.
I personally would love to see more Japanese influences in fashion here in Tokyo, especially as there are so many fantastic motifs and patterns and so much history to draw from, it seems like a terrible shame to let it all slip by. Yes, kimono are incredibly expensive and fiddly and time-consuming, but when the end result is as amazing as those below… well, I think it’s time to champion the kimono again and loudly proclaim that kimono’s not dead yet!
Saving my favourite until last!