Europe's influence on Japanese kimono

40 pieces from 1900 to 1940s at Gorizia's Museum of Fashion

(ANSA) - Rome, November 8 - A new exhibition at the Museum of Fashion in Gorizia, the northeastern Italian town bordering Slovenia, highlights the influence that the Western world had on Japan's iconic kimono in the first half of the 20th century.
    The show, titled "Occidentalism: Modernity and Western Art in Kimonos", features 40 pieces produced in Japan between 1900 and the 1940s that reflect the Japanese Empire's desire to westernise the country.
    The exhibition opens on November 21 and runs through March 17.
    Curated by Raffaella Sgubin with Lydia Manavello and Roberta Orsi Landini, it features classic designs alongside colourful examples that recall Cubism, Futurism, and other European art movements.
    Also on display is a singular kimono that celebrates the tripartite pact between Rome, Berlin, and Tokyo in 1940, where an Italian flag is partially hidden inside the seams among abundant rising sun and swastika motifs.
    Orsi Landini said the garments on display are refined and were made for the middle to upper classes and not for export.
    "They could have been appreciated by cultured people or by those who wished to appear in step with the times," she said.
    The pieces on display, together with prints, obi sashes, illustrations, and magazines, are all from the Italian collection Manavell.
    The Fruili Venezia Giulia regional board of cultural heritage (ERPAC), where co-curator Sgubin serves as director of the museums and historical archives service, proposed the exhibition.
    "The Museum of Fashion in Gorizia is one of the few museums in Italy dedicated to fashion, and now it is also the first in Italy to look into a particular section of the art, offering the public an unprecedented insight into cultural history," Sgubin said.
    The first half of the 20th century is one of the most complex in Japanese history, as it passed from a feudal state to a world superpower, culminating in the Second World War. Although in the West the kimono is symbolic of a refined and exotic Japan, few know that the majority of kimonos produced during the first half of the 20th century, which used a method known as meisen, had prints in a wild kaleidoscope of colours, inspired by avant garde art movements, history or technology.