Kimono fashion, 2003 compared to 2007 (1)

July 11, 2009

Anyone interested in Japanese textiles who finds themselves in Kyoto will drop by for the fifteen-minute free kimono fashion show put on hourly at the Nishijin Textile Centre. Shopping on the first floor and museum-viewing on the third floor stops temporarily while the models strut the catwalk to loud Japanese music – think Japanese ‘disco’.

The models parade what I perceive to be three types of kimono: brightly-coloured kimono for the Younger Person, more subdued-coloured kimono for the Older Woman and some which seem to have elements of both, probably the Working Professional woman in her 30s or 40s. Of course very few women wear kimono in contemporary Japan, but top marks for Nishijin Textile Centre in trying to promote and publicise kimono.

I’m sure the fashion parades have been recorded on YouTube, but what interests me here is the subtle shift between the kimono on show in October 2003 compared to those in November 2007. The common denominator is that they were both Autumn; I guess scrutiny of the motifs and colours will point up any seasonal similarities. Certainly anyone visiting Kyoto will note the use of chestnuts and momiji maple leaves in all manner of window displays at this time of year, whether they restaurants or boutique shops.

But what I notcied about the 2007 collection was the subtle shifts – towards big blousy bows at the back of the obi and the very strong presence of obidome, the jewelled clasp on the obijime at the front.  I apologise in advance for the quality of the photography of 2007: it was much more difficult to get a stop to view and photograph.


Here’s the final lineup in 2007: the Younger Persons’ in red and blue are obvious, compared to the more subdued pinks and beiges. The large bow of the obijime is a bit outre for me, so I assume this is more for the Young Professional trying to look a bit hip while acquiescing to the advancing years.  You’ll notice the very large obidome worn by the central model in teal blue.


By comparison, here are three models, part of the lineup of 2003: no obidome, despite two out of three showing fancy bows of obijime (the middle obijime seems to be a strange concoction of ‘normal’ purple obijime interlaced with a separate red/yellow/green one.

Here’s the strongest statement in 2007 of the preposterously large bow of the obi on a kimono with an all-over pattern reminiscent of the 1960s or 1970s :




Here are two of the 2003 models, with conventionally subdued obi and obijime. Compare this with the following two from 2007: the conquettish loosely-tied obijime at left and the strong obidome statement to the right:


Now for some comparisons on the Young Person front…. Firstly the 2003 look, with bright green/gold obi on pink, with purple obiage behind and maroon obijime, tied in a strong flourish of a bow:


Compare this with a blue number, with what appear to be either traditional Heian Period mandala-like roundels (one of my personal favourite motifs in brocade silk weaving) or quasi-temari balls, offset by tiny cherry blossom petals:


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The other Young Person’s kimono of 2007 was the following, with its strong black-background obi, offset by an obvious gold-orange shibori obiage:


I’ll follow this with some additional photos devoted to kimono for older women.


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