Kimono Style

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Edo Traditions to Modern Design

Monika Bincsik, Karen Van Godtsenhoven, and Arai Masanao

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The untold modern history of the Japanese kimono and its dynamic relationship to Western culture

Though often presented as an unchanging, traditional costume in the West, the Japanese kimono dynamically evolved from the Edo period to the modern age. This publication explores the kimono’s fascinating modern history and a cross-cultural sartorial dialogue with Western fashion that continues to this day. Originally signaling the wearer’s social position, marital status, age, and wealth, the kimono’s traditional designs gave way to the demands of modernized and democratized twentieth-century lifestyles as well as the preferences of the emancipated “new woman.” Access to Western culture inspired new patterns and production techniques, while Western-style marketing and mass production drove sales of affordable, ready-to-wear kimonos in Japanese department stores—a departure from the bespoke, haute couture tradition associated with the garment. Inspired by the kimono’s silhouette, Western designers such as Paul Poiret and Madeleine Vionnet  liberated the female figure from conventional tailoring and provided a new direction for modern Western fashion. Establishing the complexity of Japan's fashion trends and systems while juxtaposing never-before-published Japanese textiles from the John C. Weber Collection with Western couture, this book places the kimono on the stage of global fashion history.

Monika Bincsik is the Diane and Arthur Abbey Associate Curator for Japanese Decorative Arts in the Asian Art Department at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Karen Van Godtsenhoven is an independent curator based in Belgium. Arai Masanao is a textile historian based in Japan.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
(June 6, 2022–February 20, 2023)

ISBN: 9781588397522
Publication Date: June 28, 2022
Publishing Partner: Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Distributed by Yale University Press
224 pages, 8 1/2 x 11
150 color illus.
Collecting Inspiration

Edward C. Moore at Tiffany & Co.

Edited by Medill Higgins Harvey; With text by Andrea Achi,

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