Kimono Couture: The Beauty of Chiso features the extraordinary collection from the Kyoto-based kimono house, Chiso, with garments dating from the late-17th century to the present. Established in 1555, Chiso is the oldest company in the world today producing made-to-order kimono, and comprises an elite network of 600 artisans. Initially intended for display at the Worcester Art Museum, this exhibition has been reimagined for a virtual platform as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
For the next ten weeks, we will reveal a new kimono and a different theme.
A renowned maker of Buddhist vestments since the 16th century, Chiso began creating luxury kimono during the modern Meiji period (1868–1912) as its foreign and domestic clientele expanded. Chiso’s art and kimono collection serves as inspiration for their designers as they research traditional designs and create new ones.
Grounded in Japanese artistic traditions, Chiso has been a pioneer of innovative approaches and techniques since the late 1800s, particularly in yūzen paste resist dyeing. They were also the first kimono firm to collaborate with artists, most notably nihonga (Japanese-style painting) painters like Kishi Chikudō (1826–97).
This exhibition is organized by the Worcester Art Museum in partnership with Chiso, the revered 465-year-old kimono design and production house based in Kyoto, Japan. Support is provided by the Fletcher Foundation and Michie Family Curatorial Fund. Research for this project was made possible by the Japan-United States Friendship Commission and the Northeast Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies. Additional support is provided by Emily and James Holdstein, and Sandy Hubbard and Thomas J. Logan.
We are indebted to Chiso for being dedicated collaborators, especially Nishimura Sōzaemon XV of the founding family of Chiso; President Nakata Yasushi; Senior Managing Director, Isomoto En; Director of the Institute for Chiso Arts and Culture, Katō Yuriko; and senior designer, Imai Atsuhiro, who created the Worcester Wedding Kimono.
Kimono Couture: The Beauty of Chiso is accompanied by a catalog, authored by the exhibition guest curators, Vivian Li and Christine Starkman, with contributions by Riyo Kikuchi and Yukio Lippit. Published by D Giles Limited, London, in association with the Worcester Art Museum.
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