Given that Japanese kimono are not only considered functional clothing for everyday use, that they are also considered works of art it comes as no wonder that the styles of kimono greatly varies through the years. There is a long-running publication in Japan that best captures the shifting trends in Japanese kimono fashion and design known as 'The Quarterly Magazine Of Beautiful Kimono', which we have also heard referred to as a few other titles such as 'Beautiful Kimono' or 'Beautiful Kimono Magazine'. This long-running publication spans the decades, and we have editions of it as far back as 1960. Though the magazine is written mostly in Japanese, there are enough photos in it to please citizens of the global community. Flipping through the pages you are treated to a printed fashion show of the best of kimono of that period, hand selected for their quality and design.
Intermixed among the great multitude of pages featuring full-color photos of kimono are also advertisements, and helpful information regarding how to wear and dress in a kimono, and even little tips for etiquette while wearing your kimono. In this post, we will explore the kimono featured in a 1992 edition, which has a staggering 570 pages inside it. Functioning much like a kimono time capsule you can spend hours flipping through the high quality colorful glossy pages which feature kimono in most major styles of the time: yukata, furisode, haori, michiyuki, men's kimono and kimono fashion, fukuro obi, and more.
In previous editions of this publication, we do see at times the kimono making industry experimenting with more modern designs and attempts at reenvisioning the traditional Japanese kimono into something more modern. However, in this edition, it feels like the kimono are stylized to feel more classical, and observe more traditional aesthetics.
The cover features a simple, elegant, and understated casual kimono that has a subtle patchwork style to it that reminds me of a momoyama patchwork kosode. Notice how the total coordination has ample contrast, and there is no pairing of the same colors. Kimono coordination is often about contrast and pop, so that each part of the coordination stands out and makes it own statement while still being a part of a whole.
There are some more modern styles typical of art from this time featured, such as these two kimono. The large bold black and gold brush strokes on the otherwise understated kimono are most certainly in line with the early 90s aesthetics. However much of the remaining catalog features kimono that fall more in line with tradition.
This elegant blue, green, and black kimono paired with the buttercream obi is a favorite of ours, its understated elegance is timeless. Yet again you see the kimono parts layered and paired to create an eye-catching color contrast with the coordination. Kimono such as this one we find to be especially versatile due to how non-commital the design is to any particular season or even motif. Such kimono can be easily mixed into a collection, and easily be changed up in style and presentation by mixing different obi and other items with it.
In all, I find the kimono of this period to be in line with what you expect from kimono designs and styles. I don't see much in the way of radical deviations in designs, and motifs. Furisode still very much look like furisode, and yukata are still very much yukata. I don't think it is until much later into the 2000s that you see some real limits being pushed. Other than a handful of examples in the 80s, you don't see much risk-taking with kimono stylization and design.
Regardless of the era, kimono still observe dressing standards and customs.
Included in each magazine is a section dedicated to candid street photos of common citizens wearing their kimono while out. This section really gives insight into what kimono styles were like at the time, as the photos are candid and are not a staged professional shoot. Usually, there are several pages of candid photos of people wearing kimono in each edition, and for this edition, we decided to focus on the younger ladies' attire.
Of course, what magazine isn't complete without lots of advertisements? Something about the advertisement below caught our attention. Perhaps it was the adorable little dog, or the woman weaving? Either way, we really enjoyed this ad and thought it was worth sharing. The advertisement features the 1991 and 1992 Obashiya collection of obijime, haori himo, and other braided goods.
Be certain to check out the rest of our blog for fashionable tips for wearing haori, our latest inventory restock, and additional insight into wearing Japanese kimono such as yukata, and furisode. Most of all, remember to practice dressing yourself and wearing your kimono!