13/14 Cornwall Terrace Outer Circle
Kimonos are the elegant and timeless national dress of Japan. Simple in construction, they have an implicit allure, such as the details on the underside, and the gentle opening at the nape of the neck. They are held in place with an obi (sash), and wrap the body in glorious and sumptuous textiles often made by master craftsmen. Despite the undeniable beauty of the kimono, for many people of Japan today, they are cumbersome to put on, and sport a price tag that for most, are not suited to the current economic climate. The number of kimono makers is on the decline, and there are even fears of the kimono culture dying out.
The story doesn’t end there, however. There are also people, many of them young, who are putting their energy and fashionable sensibilities into the world of kimono, and breathing fresh life into an industry that is notoriously resilient to change. Some of these people are next in line in the family lineage of kimono makers, while others are coming into the industry from other creative backgrounds. Many designers are taking on the challenge of preserving this culture, while maintaining an innovative outlook that is removed from the obligations and rules of tradition.
Times of adversity can create brilliance, and for some, this is the most exciting time for kimonos. There is a frenetic energy in the industry, and the determination of the people in the scene is exhilarating. This talk will focus on the current makers, designers and aficionados who have a huge responsibility on their shoulders to ensure the world of kimonos lasts another generation. Author of ‘Kimono Now’, Manami Okazaki will give a talk on contemporary kimono culture, and introduce a number of cutting-edge creative visionaries who are keeping this exquisite garment relevant today.
*‘Kimono Now’ (£15, RRP £24.99) will be on sale during the evening.
Manami Okazaki is a freelance journalist and author based in Tokyo and Hong Kong. Her focus is on Japanese travel, culture, traditional crafts, fashion, and youth orientated subcultures. She has written several books on Japanese creative culture, such as ‘Kawaii, Japan’s Culture of Cute’, ‘Kicks Japan’, and ‘Kokeshi, from Tohoku with Love’, a successful charity book that looks at the culture of kokeshi (handmade wooden dolls) made in Northern Japan. ‘Kimono Now’, was published in March 2015 by Prestel Publishing. Her books have been widely acclaimed in the LA Times, MTV and Vogue.
Kimono de Jack is the brain child of two Kyoto friends who wanted to the address the issue of not having anywhere to wear a kimono back in 2010. They started ‘Kimono de Jack’, an event where people would gather at a designated time and place, and ‘jack’ the city wearing all manner of kimono ensembles. This culture spread around Japan, and has become international with Kimono de Jack chapters in 20 cities all over the world.