Theater - Fashion Fusion Sparkles In Paris With Vintage Kimono Creations

Theater-fashion fusion sparkles in Paris with vintage kimono creationsA drama about clothes designed from vintage Japanese kimono fabric has been attracting fashion mavens and theatergoers in Tokyo and was just recently showcased in Paris.

Called a "fusion of theater and fashion show," the play titled “Tokasetsu” (Peach blossom festival) is a story of a long-established kimono fabric dealer in Tokyo’s downtown area.

The protagonist and a daughter of the dealer, Moe, tells of the value of kimono that Japanese women have handed down since before World War II. The jackets and dresses of the characters in the play were all made with vintage kimono obtained through, for example, donations. The performers strut across the stage to music just as they do in fashion shows.

“Tokasetsu” was featured at a theater in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward when a performance of the play was filmed in March. That film was shown at the 2013 Japan Expo Paris that concluded in The City of Light on July 7.

“Tokasetsu” was a brainchild of Kiwa Anraku, who also designed the costumes and clothes used in the play. The 33-year-old said she became hooked on kimono in high school after viewing some vintage kimono at a secondhand clothing store. Anraku said she was impressed with all the different types of kimono fabrics, such as multicolor, lame and embroidered designs. That led her to a career as a needleworker making garments from old kimono cloth.

One day, a female customer brought Anraku her father's old kimono, which had suffered damage from his habit of being a heavy smoker. Anraku was able to salvage usable parts of the cloth, which she used as frill in creating a cardigan, much to the delight of her customer.

“Each custom-made kimono has a story,” Anraku says. “I was thinking for a long time about how to express these stories of kimono as a fashion show. Then I got the idea (of creating 'Tokasetsu')."

Prior to the Paris exhibition, director Koji Kobayashi said "Tokasetsu" was an exciting new experience.

“It's not a drama or a fashion show," the 46-year-old says. "But a new stage combining both elements.”