My very first costume book was Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th century published by KCI when I was 12 and it sparked my obsession. The first time I looked through the book I used post it notes (that are still attached with a very childish cursive listing what my favorite items were on the page. Funny to see my tastes haven’t changed!) and this was marked with the word “adoration.” Nine years later the word ‘adoration” is still suitable for this dressing gown.
KCI says: This is a kimono-style indoor garment exported from Japan to Western countries. It was appropriated to Western markets with its extravagant design of embroidered cherry trees and a peacock, gussets patched on the sides, body flaring gently down to the hem, and a curved collar. Iida Takashimaya, the predecessor of the present Takashimaya department store, was a major kimono retailer in the Meiji era, and aggressively engaged in foreign trade business as early as the end of the 19th century. In the late 19th century a Japan boom spread in the Western countries, partly through world expositions held in various places. Westerners favored Japanese kimonos, sometimes remaking it as into fashionable dresses. In the 1880s, women in the West started to wear kimonos as indoor wear, which was less subject to social constraints, and kimonos became widely popular in Western countries up until the early 20th century. The Japanese word “kimono” is said to have first been used in France in 1876. Now in America and Europe it is generally used to indicate a loose robe worn indoors.
We all know that the Orient influenced the major fashion in the early 1910s and was prevalent for quite a few years. But the Oriental influence is actually far older (ok, it can traced very, very far but I’m going to stick with what I do best and check out the early Victorians.) The opening of Japan in the 1850 (July 1853 to be exact) started the trend for the Orient.
As you can see from this 1870’s bustle dress from KCI Victorian ladies (and gentlemen) were obsessed with Japan.
KCI says: This dress was remade from a Japanese kimono in London. Some traces of the original kimono seams remain in the textile. The underskirt is missing, but it is thought that an underskirt made of a different fabric was combined with this garment. There are some other indications of missing original ornaments.
In the late 19th century kimonos and textiles from Japan captured of the interest of many people in Western countries. Women in America and Europe made dresses from Japanese kimono fabrics and sometimes unstitched kimonos to make new dresses. They also wore kimonos as indoor wear. They especially favored kimonos for women in the highly ranked warrior families at the end of the Edo Period, like the source material for this dress.