Reflections on Kimono − 着物について

I think that kimono wearers and aficionados would be a modern-day tribe. Or at least that's what it felt like when I visited the Ikeda Shigeko Collection: The Elegance of Kimono exhibit at Matsuya Department store. Matsuya, which started as a kimono store in 1869 was the perfect location for the display of more than 60 kimono and kimono accessories from the collection of designer Shigeko Ikeda. Ikeda started her own kimono label, Yume-koubou, in the 1980s, which she later followed with The Shigeko Ikeda Collection. Both lines were a huge success that brought her many fans and helped popularize the traditional garment among younger generations. Passionate about kimono and its aesthetic as a whole, Ikeda collected about 8,000 kimono and their related items over a period of 30 years. The "Ikeda Shigeko Collection" exhibition series first ran in the early 1990s. It has since traveled Japan and overseas.


But its not just Shigeko herself who is passionate about kimono, the show drew hundreds on the day I attended. Seminars were given by a 74-year old sensei, who not only had some tricks up her sleeve, but has also crafted a set of ties and clips to make getting into kimono, and creating clean lines, easier. In the demonstration I watched, Sato-san was explaining to the women in the audience that if they had to go somewhere - like a reunion, and wanted to look younger that a particular obi knot (which she was deftly showcasing while she was talking) would be the talk of the reunion for how young it would make the wearer appear.


I've run home with a September issue of a fashion magazine (long before the movie) and poured over page after page with girlfriends, I've attended Fashion Weeks and fashion trade shows and yet this was the first time I saw such a large group of women dedicated to a particular style. Kimono doesn't offer a lot of variations; one-style for single women, another for married, shoes come in: summer, winter or dressy. And the main distinctions lie in kimono or obi colour choices and flair.


One of the highlights of the Shigeko'collection was a display of 250 obidome. This is the added accessory (like jewellery) for the obi that can be themed on nature, seasonal motifs or traditional events. They can be made with metal, jewels, coral, beads, lacquer etc. The piece of flair that would stand out (they range in price from tens to thousands of dollars - the only thing I can think that compares would be jewellery; necklaces, earrings etc.)

'Fashion is not about looking gorgeous or grand, but about trying to be stylish' Shigeko Ikeda stated in a recent article in the Yomiuri. So are kimono wearers that different, then?


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