"Fashioning Kimono" focuses on 150 Japanese garments dating from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries, taken from the renowned Montgomery Collection, which includes informal women's and men's kimono, haori jackets, under-garments, ceremonial/formal clothes, and children's robes. Some of the designs reflect historical continuity, but many others evince a radical break from the traditional. Themes and designs from Western art predominate over historical Japanese references, illustrating the modernisation and Westernisation of Japan at this time. The range of the collection represents one of the most dynamic periods in Japan's national costume. It encompasses the final phase of the "living" kimono - when kimono was still the daily wear of most Japanese people. After Japan's defeat in the Pacific War and the destruction of virtually all its major urban centres, Western clothes quickly came to replace the kimono, being considered more affordable and conducive to the new post-war lifestyle. It eventually took on a purely ceremonial or formal role, and today - except for the few fashionably daring - the kimono is worn mainly for the tea ceremony, funerals, and weddings.
Reiko Mochinaga Brandon has been awarded numerous prizes for her textile works and designs. Her major publications include: Country Textiles of Japan: The Art of Tsutsugaki (1986); Textile Art of Okinawa (1990); Spirit and Symbol: The Japanese New Year (1994); Bright and Daring: Japanese Kimonos in the Taisho Mode (1996); Taisho Chic: Japanese Modernity, Nostalgia, and Deco (2001), and Hawaiian Quilts: Tradition and Transition (2003). Elise Kurashige Tipton is Associate Professor and Chair of Japanese and Korean Studies at the University of Sydney, Australia. She was editor and co-author of Being Modern in Japan: Culture and Society from the 1910s to the 1930s (2000), published with the exhibition 'Modern Boy Modern Girl: Modernity in Japanese Art, 1910-1935' at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1998. She is the author of Modern Japan: A Social and Political History (2002). Anna Jackson is acting Deputy Keeper of the Asian Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Her major publications include Japanese Country Textiles (1997) and Japanese Textiles in the Victoria and Albert Museum (2001). She has contributed to a number of exhibition-related books: Art Nouveau 1890-1914 (2000); The Victorian Vision (2001); Art Deco 1914-1939 (2003); and Encounters: The Meeting of Asia and Europe 1500-1800 (2004). Akiko Fukai is Chief Curator and Director of the Kyoto Costume Institute (Kyoto, Japan). She has organised several major fashion exhibitions in Kyoto, Tokyo, Paris and New York, including 'Japonism in Fashion' (1994), 'Visions of the Body' (1999) and 'Fashion in Colors' (2004). She is the author of two major publications, Japonism in Fashion (1994) and Fashion (2002). Annie M. Van Assche is a Japanese art historian who specialises in Japanese textiles. She also apprenticed with Okawahara Shizuo, a highly respected Japanese textile artist. She has co-written Five Tastes: Traditional Japanese Design (2001); Timeless Beauty: Traditional Japanese Art (2002); and Taisho Chic: Japanese Modernity, Nostalgia, and Deco (2002). In 2003 she curated 'Giappone color indaco' (highlighting the Montgomery collection of mingei textiles) in Milan, Italy.