Monday, February 11, 2019

Fascinating New Museum Exhibit to Visit: ‘Kimono Refashioned’

‘Kimono Refashioned’ opens February 8 at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. The exhibit, which originated at the superb Kyoto Costume Institute, explores the influence and impact of kimono styles and fabrics and traditions on global fashion, from the Victorian era to current fashions of the digital age.

As Jay Xu, the director of the Asian Art Museum noted, “This is not a kimono show but rather an exhibition that emphasizes the cultural fluidity and inspiration of kimono and its expression in modern fashion.” The show vividly and intriguingly illustrates how a traditional Japanese style has inspired global fashion designers and let to a meaningful (and beautiful) exchange of ideas.

Designers featured in the exhibit include my favorite Issey Miyake, as well as Tom Ford, Coco Chanel, Paul Poiret, Madeleine Vionnet, Christian Louboutin, Iris van Herpen, Alessandro dell’Acqua, Rei Kawakubo, and the great Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen.

On view from Feb. 8 through May 5, 2019, Kimono Refashioned reveals how the two-dimensional structure, cutting-edge textiles and decorative motifs inspired by kimono have shifted the course of contemporary fashion. Featuring apparel from the collection of the renowned Kyoto Costume Institute in Japan, Kimono Refashioned follows the influence of kimono from 19th-century English formal dresses with bustles and trains to 1920s Parisian evening gowns, to haute couture fashion in the late 20th century, to recent pop menswear.

Kimono — which literally means “a thing to wear” in Japanese — is characterized by a relatively simple structure and basic gender-neutral construction that place the focus on material and motifs, rather than on the shape of the body.

“While it is well known that Japanese fashion designers took Paris by storm in the early 1980s, it was not the first time Japan transformed international fashion,” says exhibition co-curator Yuki Morishima, Asian Art Museum associate curator of Japanese art. “Since the late 19th century, the kimono has inspired some of the world's top designers with its distinct silhouette and sophisticated textiles.” 

And while many associate ‘kimono’ with glamorous Japanese gowns of embroidered silk with obi sashes, there is another interpretation on display at the museum

“Following the glitz of the 1970s, the imperfect, austere approaches to dress offered by Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons and Yohji Yamamoto in the 1980s were a breath of fresh air,” says exhibition co-curator and Asian Art Museum assistant curator of contemporary art Karin G. Oen. “Bringing together cocoon shapes, seemingly damaged or worn-out textiles and a more organic color scheme, these groundbreaking designers permanently changed the world of high-fashion. This deconstructed Japanese aesthetic presented a vision totally of the moment that remains surprisingly current more than 30 years later.” 

Designers featured in Kimono Refashioned

Alessandro dell’Acqua for Rochas; Jonathan William Anderson for Loewe; Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen; Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel; Jacques Doucet; Lucy Duff-Gordon; Tom Ford for Gucci; Maurizio Galante; John Galliano; Rudi Gernreich; Iris van Herpen; Nozomi Ishiguro; Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons; House of Amy Linker; Christian Louboutin; Issey Miyake; Yoshiyuki Miyamae for Issey Miyake; Hanae Mori; Hiroaki Ohya for Lacoste; Paul Poiret; House of Rouff; Yusuke Takahashi for Issey Miyake Men; Misses Turner Court Dress Makers; Madeleine Vionnet; Junya Watanabe for Comme des Garçons Man; Yohji Yamamoto; Toshiko Yamasaki. 

The Asian Art Museum Fundraiser Gala

Celebrating ART + FASHION
Thursday, March 7, 2019
6: 30 PM

The Asian Art Museum’s biggest event of the year.

A cocktail reception, dinner and fashion show in the museum showcasing the one-of-a-kind garments inspired by artwork in the museum’s collection. The evening continues with a formal dinner, fashion presentation by CHUCHU Style, and main performance in a custom designed tent. Then, dancing at the After-Party in the museum.

Proceeds from this benefit support the Asian Art Museum’s innovative art, educational and community programs.

About the Asian Art Museum

The Asian Art Museum–Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture is one of San Francisco's premier arts institutions and home to a collection of more than 18,000 Asian art treasures from throughout Asia spanning 6,000 years of history.

Centered on historic and contemporary artworks, the Asian Art Museum is based in an historic neoclassical building that was formerly home to the San Francisco Public Library.


The exhibit has an excellent reference catalog I recommend. ‘Kimono Refashioned: Japan’s Impact on International Fashion’ is available through the museum’s bookshop.


All images courtesy Asian Art Museum, San Francisco.

For further information and tickets:
Instagram: @AsianArtMuseum  #KimonoRefashioned
Kimono Refashioned runs February 8—May 5, 2019. 

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