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Fashioning Kimono: Dress and Modernity in Early Twentieth-Century Japan
Edited by Annie M. Van Assche, with texts by Reiko Mochinaga Brandon, Akiko Fukai, Anna Jackson, Elise Kurashige Tipton, and Annie M. Van AsscheThis book was published to accompany the traveling exhibition organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. It features 150 Japanese garments dating from the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries from the renowned Montgomery Collection—a collection that includes outstanding examples of informal women’s and men’s kimonos, haori jackets, under-kimono, and ceremonial/formal garments, as well as children’s robes. While the surface designs on many of the garments reflect historical continuity, many more show a radical break from tradition. Western art themes and designs—rather than historical Japanese references—predominate, reflecting the modernization, or Westernization, of Japan at this time. This collection represents one of the most dynamic periods in the history of Japan’s national costume. It encompasses the last historical period of what might be thought of as the “living” kimono—when the kimono was still being worn daily by the majority of the people in Japan. After Japan’s defeat in the Second World War and the ensuing destruction of all its major urban centers (with the exception of Kyoto), western clothes—more affordable and more conducive to the new post-war lifestyle—quickly came to replace the kimono as everyday wear. The kimono eventually took on a purely ceremonial or formal role, and today—except for the few fashionably daring—it is worn mainly for tea ceremonies, funerals, and weddings.