In this beautifully written and lavishly illustrated book Liza Dalby traces the history of the kimono - its designs, uses, aesthetics and social significance. The colourful and stylised kimono, the national garment of Japan, expresses not only Japanese fashion and design taste but also reveals something of the soul of Japan, and is seen by many as a symbol for all that is Japanese - simplicity, elegance and beauty. Amazingly beautiful, the kimono has gone through many changes in the centuries since it was first imported from China, changes that reflect the way that Japanese society has also developed over the ages.
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(198mm x 128mm x 26mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
In the world of fashion the Japanese kimono is something of a icon. More universal than the caftan or even the Scottish kilt, it has influenced centuries of dress design. Used as a basis for anything from exotic evening frocks to a military greatcoat, the kimono has been most famously adapted to create a ubiquitous leisure robe for both sexes: the dressing gown or beach wrap synonymous, ironically, with comfort and relaxation. Ironically because in its traditional form the kimono is possibly the most difficult article of clothing imaginable. Its wearing is an art, its paradox that although the kimono remains the national dress of Japan, that art of wearing it is one no modern Japanese would ever willingly choose to practise. The covering any race of people has developed to clad the body invariably carries a greater significance than mere modesty or protection against the elements. Clothes are always indicators of class, wealth and rank, and nowhere more so than the kimono. It only takes a brief glance at the historical origin of some of the bizarre strictures this singular costume imposes on the human form to appreciate that the kimono is not simply representative of a style of dress but an entire culture. As Japan has become increasingly susceptible to the trends of contemporary Westernized style, so the changing status of the kimono can be seen as symbolic of a heritage under threat. The very term kimono, its most basic meaning 'a thing to wear', is underpinned by an interior language in danger of losing its relevance. Exhaustively argued, this is an original and valuable book. If it occasionally indulges in academic jargon the author might be forgiven on the grounds that she is an anthropologist specializing in Japanese culture. She clearly knows what she is talking about. Following her earlier Geisha, this is another esoteric delight for anyone intrigued by one of the most extraordinary garments known to mankind. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Liza Dalby
Liza Dalby is an anthropologist specialising in Japanese culture and the only Westerner to have become a geisha. She is the author of The Tale of Murasaki, Geisha and consulted on Steven Spielberg's film of Memoirs of a Geisha. She lives in California with her husband and three children.