Monday, September 24, 2012

Review: The New Kimono

While much of my commentary here has been on what I personally wear and how I style myself for going out, I cannot deny that at least some of my tastes and sensibilities have been inspired by this book. "The New Kimono; From Vintage Style to Everyday Chic" from the Editors of Nanao Magazine is wonderfully written, elegantly illustrated, and far, far too short!

For a Westerner such as myself, interested in kimono but seriously hindered by an inability to read Japanese, this book provides a fresh, approachable format, as well as insights into the wearing of kimono by the modern person in modern Japan.

This book is actually composed of several articles taken from Nanao Magazine, a kimono fashion magazine published quarterly in Japan since 2004. While there are several books on the making and wearing of kimono (and I do plan on reviewing some of those as well), this one is the one I find myself referencing most for ideas in styling. It is a thoroughly modern take on wearing kimono (and, indeed, having fun with kimono) but it does not suggest modern refashioning of the garment. Instead, it is a reaffirmation of kimonos' traditions in today's settings.

In particular, I have found the book very useful for the articles on accessorizing. The kimono is not treated as a blank canvas from which you build up your look, but is the centerpiece around which everything else falls into place. There are several photo spreads with "Styling Points" for different seasons, and articles for how to dress to best reflect the season while remaining comfortable.

I think that one of the best features of the book is that, throughout all of the articles, one never gets the sense that there is a "right" or "wrong" way to style an outfit. Suggestions and rules of thumb are offered, but the focus is really on enjoying the garments and presenting a fresh look so that others might share in that enjoyment.

You can find the book for yourself at Amazon if you can't find it at your local book store.

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