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For a recent video for LinkAsia, WSN founder and president Yoshiko I. Wada was invited to speak about her vast knowledge of the history, preservation and meaning of the kimono. After the interview, they created this wonderful short documentary.
Here is an excerpt from the LinkAsia page, Kimonos Today: A Dying Tradition?
“If you go to Japan, you don’t see that many people wearing kimono,” says Kobe-born textiles artist Yoshiko Wada. Among the first in her field to introduce Japanese fiber art to the US and a pioneer in the art-to-wear movement, Wada said that kimonos faded out after World War II when “extensive bombing almost destroyed everything people owned. They had lost not only houses but clothes…there was no luxury item to be had. The change to mostly Western clothes happened rapidly and the younger generation didn’t grow up with kimonos,” she said from her home in Berkeley, California.
Yet Wada believes kimonos have retained their allure even years after the war. “There is still a mystique and romance about kimono,” she said, citing the 2005 movie Memoirs of a Geisha as an example of the mystery that still shrouds kimono culture. Even though she worked on Memoirs of a Geisha as a costume advisor with her friend, anthropologist Liza Dalby, she said it wasn’t a “true portrayal of the traditional and culturally accurate Geisha’s life.” She explained kimono’s deeper roots in Giacomo Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, which introduced the mystery of the Orient and of Japanese women to the western world.
Thank you LinkAsia for the publication and preservation of this important insight and history.