Event Category: Cultural Events
The kimono is perhaps the most recognizable symbol of Japanese fashion history, dating back over a thousand years to the Heian court (794-1185 AD), and associated with luxury, craftsmanship, and refinement. But many may not know that the market for traditional kimonos has been shrinking, along with the ranks of artisanal dyers, weavers and suppliers, with many calling it an “existential crisis” for the form. Luckily, a new generation of innovative designers like Hiromi Asai are bringing this icon to life in fresh, often unexpected forms – like menswear on the runways of international fashion shows.
Asai believes that the true essence of the kimono is not its shape, which has evolved over time, but its fabric, which has been developed through age-old processes with deep cultural significance. As kimono fabric is very different from most fabrics typically used in Western fashion, Asai had to develop a unique, bespoke approach to integrate these textiles into contemporary styles.
Since 2016, the U.S.-based Asai has been creating exquisite contemporary garments with fabrics made by traditional kimono artisans, as a way of honoring and reviving their craft. She has recently expanded from womenswear to menswear and artisanal suits, and collaborates with Japan’s foremost experts in techniques such as jacquard weave, Rinzu figured satin, Nuitori embroidery and lacing, and ancient processes of coloring including Bokashizome ombre and Hikizome brush dyeing as well as Yuzen hand resist dyeing. She works closely not only with the fabric makers, but with diverse production partners in Japan including pattern-makers, sewers, and tailors, to ensure all elements of a design can come together smoothly and beautifully.
Coinciding with L.A. Fashion Week, JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles is proud to present a special showcase with Hiromi Asai, featuring 16 looks from her latest menswear collections, followed by a talk by the designer and two of the expert artisans she works with to craft her fabrics, Mr. Yuji Shibata and Mr. Toru Yamamoto, who are traveling from Japan just to join this event. She will also share a unique creation that just made its debut at this year’s New York and Paris Fashion Weeks – the “1000 Year Coat,” celebrating the kimono’s more-than-1000 year history in Japan, and illustrating her belief that the kimono isn’t restricted to one form. It will be a singular opportunity to learn about fashion, culture, and how to remix heritage for a global audience. In the words of Asai, “I think that we have to keep creating and relevant products and try to meet global market for preserving and even developing the art of craftsmanship.”