by Giulia Cassano
This time I go for an oversized, owl & bird print blouse.
Its wide sleeves with golden buttons closing at cuff suggest this could be a piece of clothing from the 1980s/1990s.
The first thing I want to do is cutting off as much as possible so that I can turn this huge blouse into a kimono sweater.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, thanks to imports of objects and fabrics from Japan, Westerns begin to appreciate the beauty of Japanese culture and style, which are seen as something exotic and mysterious.. The most famous fashion designers of that time start using fabrics with delicate flower patterns and later on, in the early twentieth century, they include kimono-inspired dresses in their collections: Worth, Madame Vionnet, and above all Poiret (1), the famous French couturier who was the first designer to do away with corsets, not because he was a feminist crusader but for beauty’s sake alone (as a matter of fact we have to thank Coco Chanel for freeing women from corsets and thus creating a fashion revolution which has had a long-lasting influence in fashion designs to come). Poiret designs dresses, jackets, overcoats and cloaks with innovative kimono-like cut, and he makes his name with the controversial kimono coat, dating back to 1905, made of burgundy fabric with oriental embroidery designs and contrasting light pink lining.
Japanese gorgeous prints and magnificent embroidery are the quintessence of beauty elegance and harmony: according to ancient Japanese tradition the folds of a kimono are similar to the shades of the heart… and the part of a garment which is nearest to the body of the person who is wearing it represents his/her soul, for this reason the lining is so important in this culture.
The spring/summer collections in 2013 with their kimono-like cuts, wooden wedge shoes and flower motifs (Prada, Etro) are an example of how much western fashion is influenced by Japanese style.
-Â I cut off the cuffs, I create a central opening and a collar.
-Â I add some pink silk bands to the sleeves and bottom hem and give a special shape to the collar.
– I stitch the central opening, which isn’t necessary to wear this wide-cut blouse.
Originally an autumn dress, it has now turned into a light kimono. This is the reason why for the pictures taken I matched it with a heavy skirt created specifically for this occasion by using some black velvet fabric which had been lying in my wardrobeÂ for a long time.
(1) Paul Poiret (Paris 1879 — Paris 1944) is a French fashion designer best known for freeing women from corsets and for incorporating exotic elements in his fashion designs.
Bibliography and Webliography
– Fashioning Kimono: Dress and Modernity in Early Twentieth-Century Japan. Art exhibition catalogue (London, October 2005-May 2006; Sarran en Corrèze, July-October 2006)
– History of Fashion and CostumesÂ by Vincenza Maugeri & Angela Paffumi (Original title: Storia della Moda e del Costume). Calderini Editore Publishin, 2005
– The Worldwide History of Dress by Patricia Rieff Anawalt, (Original title: Historia del vestido) Thames&Hudson Publishing, 2007