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Lecture–Lunch Series: Encounters with Asia—Celebrating Japan's Enduring Kimono

April 5, 2017
Nichols Board of Trustees Suite
$75 per person, per program

This lecture traces the evolution of Japanese fashion from the Heian period (794–1185) to the modern era. The history of the Japanese kimono begins with the kosode, a T-shaped garment with small wrist openings that was initially worn as the innermost layer by Japanese aristocrats and surfaced as the primary garment for both men and women of all social classes by the end of the 15th century. The rising samurai class characteristically decorated the plain surfaces of the simpler kosode with dyed and applied naturalistic and pictorial motifs. During the peaceful and prosperous Edo period (1615–1868), the Tokugawa shogunal government issued numerous sumptuary regulations for fashionable dress. New textile techniques and decorative styles developed as the lower classes creatively circumvented such edicts. In 1868, the new Meiji government revoked sumptuary laws and led efforts to try to catch up with the West. From the 1880s, the emperor and empress began to don Western fashion for formal occasions; nonetheless, most Japanese would continue to wear kosode. 

Since joining its curatorial staff in 1987, Sharon Takeda has organized several major exhibitions for LACMA: When Art Became Fashion: Kosode in Edo-Period Japan (1992), Japonism in Fashion: The Influence of Japan on Western Dress (1998), and Miracles and Mischief: Noh and Kyōgen Theater in Japan (2002). Her additional publications include Japanese Fishermen’s Coats from Awaji Island (2001) and articles in The Dictionary of Art and The Encyclopedia of Contemporary Japan. Sharon currently serves on the Directing Council of the Centre International d’Etude des Textiles Anciens (CIETA), an organization for textile historians based in Lyon, France. She holds BA and MA degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles.

This is the first program of the four-part lecture-luncheon series. Registration for each event includes lecture, regionally-specific luncheon, and a paired glass of wine.

About Encounters with Asia

Dressing Up: Ceremony and Celebration is the fifth annual lecture-luncheon series co-organized by the Department of Asian Art and its affiliate organization, the Asian Art Council. It is the first series to span multiple Asian cultures: Japanese, Chinese, Islamic, and Indian. Speakers will consider various aspects of “dressing up,” taking into account issues of functionality, social status, and artistic significance. Subjects will include attire, accessories, and ritual objects distinctive to these cultures and to both the living and the dead.

Other lectures in the Encounters with Asia series:
April 12 “How Much Does a Chinese Hairpin Weigh?”—Eugene Y. Wang
April 19 “Symbols of Power: Islamic Lands Dressed Up”—Louise W. Mackie
April 26 “Dressing Up the Gods in India”—Madhuvanti Ghose 

For more information, please contact the Asian Art Council at or 312-443-7282.


Kimono with Abstract Design, mid-Shōwa period (1926–89). Japan. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by Grace Tsao. Photo © Museum Associates/ LACMA.