By Frances Lu
During my research on the topic of the kimono, I was amazed by many characteristics of thekimono that distinguish it from the western fashion system which has dominated the fashion world for a long time. I focused on the idea in fashion scholar Sheila Cliffe’s “The Contemporary Kimono” that the kimono is a loose garment shaped by the body itself and a belt called an obi during the process of dressing. Instead of designers making a fitted garment and figuring out all the construction details, the kimono gets people more involved with the garment by having it wrapped around the body and tightened with the obi around the waist to give it a different look.
According to what Joanne Entwistle says in her article “Fashion and the Fleshy Body: Dress as Embodied Practice”, dress meditates the experience of self. In my opinion, this process of dressing makes people more body conscious and therefore become more sensible about the self. I took this concept further and designed some loose garments that can be shaped using buttons, belt and zippers, which not only allows people’s interaction with the garment but also gives space for their creativity. As a result, a single garment can be worn in many different ways, reducing the need to buy more clothes, which is a transformation of the kimono’s ecological concept of using zero-waste pattern into the modern day.
Nowadays, the trending fast fashion industry sells clothes that match with anything and suits most daily occasions so that people don’t have to think about what they are wearing, they can just put it on and be ready. However, by focusing on this concept of a closer relationship between people and their clothes and involving them in part of the design, it helps them to review themselves every time they put on a garment and get a better sense of self. Therefore, instead of making a traditional kimono, I applied my concept to more modern looks. I decided to construct a simple loose dress that has zippers on the side seams, so when the zippers close, it becomes a fitted dress. It also has many buttons and buttonholes from the waist down to provide several ways the garment can be shaped. I used traditional kimono fabric on the inside of the dress so that it shows when the buttons pull up the lower part of the dress.
Apart from the garment itself, I also planned a short slow-motion video of the process of someone actually wearing the garment to more clearly demonstrate my concept. In the process of implementing my plan, I changed my design along the way. For example, because there are so many constructions going on at the lower half of the dress, I kept the rest simple without zipper or waistband in the original plan. The video turned out to be too long to demonstrate my concept so I changed it to photo shoots of different ways to wear the garment.