Fashion

This Australian expert explains bandhini’s influence on kimonos

Australia-born Caroline Sato kimonos brings her knowledge to Chennai, and explains bandhini’s influence on the Japanese garment

Caroline Sato is in awe of Chennai and its people. “I like the community life here, and the humane approach of people. I feel connected with them. As I studied fashion design, I find the diverse range of textiles and the extraordinary workmanship impressive,” says Caroline, who lives in the city with her Japanese husband and three children.

Caroline who was pursuing her course at the The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, visited Japan in 1999 to research the fashion scenario there.

She ended up getting a lot of interesting information on the Shibori art, a Japanese manual resist dyeing technique that was predominantly used on fabrics used for making kimonos, specialising in kimono fashions for her post-graduation degree.

“Modern lifestyle changes have resulted in a shift in the way we dress. For example, the use of washing machines has a remarkable influence on the fabric we choose or the kind of outfits we wear. This is a universal trend: traditional wear used to be restricted just for special occasions, and it affected the weavers. This applies to both Japan and to India,” Caroline says. Through decades of revival, silk shibori gained prominence, and this resulted in an economic boom during the 1970s and 1980s, she says. Interestingly, she also says that shibori technique travelled to Japan from India.

“Bandhini, a tie dye technique that is an essentially Indian textile art, had travelled all the way to Japan. The Japanese infused their design sensibilities to this art and innovated, making it unique.

Aesthetics and highlights
  • Caroline’s exhibition features a range of Shibori techniques found in a wide range of kimono forms, including some masterpieces curated from various sources
  • One of them, known as Harumi Matsushita’s mother’s kimono, is a masterpiece and heirloom designed by famous designer Takitai
  • from Tokamachi. The technique used is the very rare Oborozome-kasane shibori. It will be displayed just for a day, on March 8

One such example would be the ancient art of Tsujigahana shibori on kimono, but sadly this is found only in museums today.” The extravagant floral patterns of Tsujigahana were rather more picturesque and eye-catching than other ordinary kinds of kimono.

During her time in Japan, Caroline says she understood that the people’s support is what keeps the shibori kimono relevant. “How it evolved in styling and in aesthetics was the focus area of my research. Yukata, a casual version of the silk kimono, is now popular in Japan. Made of cotton, this is easily wearable and suited for summer,” says Caroline, adding that she now has a kimono collection of her own.

Inspired by her experience in Japan, Caroline travelled across Southeast Asia on a textile trail, visiting India a few years ago. She will be sharing this knowledge at a talk organised at DakshinaChitra.

“Apart from sharing my knowledge on kimono, I am also interested in listening to the experiences of other designers and textile connoisseurs: how they view the design innovation and evolution in Indian context in the fashion industry,” she says.

She has curated a two-week-long exhibition, where pieces from her collection will be also on display.

What is a kimono?
  • Literally meaning an outfit or clothes, kimonos can only be made by custom-tailoring to suit an individual. It is never one-size-fits-all, and is traditionally made of silk
  • It is a T-shaped tubular garment, with layers of detailing, made from 12.5 metres of fabric
  • Wearing the kimono is no easy task, as it involves careful overlapping and folding. Different types of folds have different meanings and this is the most important aspect of the kimono
  • Sleeve lengths indicate more about the person wearing it, such as whether they are married or unmarried
  • Simpler versions, called Yukata, are made of cotton and more suited to summers

“I am deeply impressed by the textiles from Japan and India. I hope that the exhibition will provide the chance for visitors to experience beautiful textiles made with time and care, and I hope the exhibition will inspire people to try designing their own shibori.” This exhibition focusses on shibori, as it is a technique already appreciated in India, though it is just a small part of the vast textile repertoire of kimono.

Shibori in Kimono: A Japanese Design Aesthetic, a talk by Caroline Sato, is on March 8, at 3 pm, at DakshinaChitra, Muttukadu.

The exhibition, comprising a collection of curated kimonos and accessories, will be from March 8 to March 23, from 10 am to 5 pm. For details, call 9080721706.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 6:26:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/fashion/how-an-australian-became-an-expert-in-kimonos/article30963026.ece

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