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The V&A opens its doors

The last time I ventured out to the metropolis was 28th February to the V&A exhibition Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk. Then, on 27th August, Janette and I both hit the city with another trip to this exhibition

In February the final photo I took is the one shown above of an ensemble, Wa-Lolita, created in 2019 by students at Bunken Gakeun University, Tokyo.  This outfit was inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and six months ago I was trying to design a panel on this theme and thought the image would be appropriate for my sketch book.

On this recent visit the first image which caught my eye was a brush and ink drawing used as the design on a Kimono displayed alongside.

An unrolled scroll reveals the brush and ink design.

The worked Kimono

I thought this Kimono (below) particularly splendid.  It was worn by a courtesan (dated 1860-80), made on satin silk, with appliqué and embroidery in silk and gold wrapped silk threads.

In this period high ranking courtesans, called oiran, were major celebrities.  They would parade through the pleasure quarter on 15cm high wooden geta (shoes) allowing all to see their elaborate Kimono.  The designs would usually relate to a Kabuki play revealing a connection between the theatre and the brothel.

The embroidery here tells an elaborate tale. 

A man is shown stretched out on the top of a bridge over the river, 

whilst beneath a conflict between another male and a fire breathing dragon is taking place. 

Both men are brandishing flowers, possibly chrysanthemums. 

Only if you know the narrative of the play can you really decipher what is being depicted.  However it is a splendid work of art.

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