Well into the last century, Japan's traditional national dress--the kimono--was worn by men, women and children of all social classes. Deceptively simple in concept--a one-piece, front-wrap garment with a straight silhouette--the kimono lent itself to endless variations in color, pattern and design that signaled age, gender, status, occasion, even the change of seasons.
A nationally touring exhibition that opens January 31 at the Memorial Art Gallery
showcases nearly 100 extraordinary examples from the famed Montgomery Collection in Lugano, Switzerland. FASHIONING KIMONO: ART DECO AND MODERNISM IN JAPAN brings together everyday garments; intricately embroidered ceremonial robes; boys' kimono stenciled with cars, airplanes and battleships; and colorful Art Deco patterns heralding the emergence of Japans "new woman."
All were created between the 1890s and the 1950s, a dynamic period when technological advances in silk making and the influence of Western styles resulted in an explosion of bold and vibrant designs. This period was also to be the last era of the "living" kimono. After World War II, more affordable Western clothing became the norm, though the kimono continues to be worn for formal events such as weddings and funerals, and increasingly as a fashion statement.
FASHIONING KIMONO is organized and circulated by Art Services International, Alexandria, VA.
At MAG, it remains on view through April 4.