Kimono: Fashioning Culture

Front Cover
University of Washington Press, 2001 - Social Science - 384 pages

The colorful and stylized kimono--the national garment of Japan--expresses not only Japanese aesthetic sensibilities but the soul of Japan as well. In this beautifully written and lavishly illustrated book, Liza Dalby, author of the highly acclaimed Geisha and Tale of Murasaki, traces the history of kimono--its uses, aesthetics, and social meanings--to explore Japanese culture. Drawing on a variety of period texts including 17th-century kimono pattern books, Dalby vividly recreates kimono and those who wore them through the centuries. She discusses the development of the kimono robe from its Chinese origins two thousand years ago to its assimilation as the national dress of Japan.

An engaging mix of fashion history and social anthropology, this lively and scholarly book demonstrates in a new way how clothing can illuminate our understanding of culture.

"The force behind this excellent book is Dalby's personal passion for the whole cultural realm she discovered while learning to wear kimono with the exacting perfection of a professional, which meant learning to feel natural in it."--Ann Hollander, Yale Review

"Ms. Dalby has a great deal to tell, starting with her contention that clothing and wearer merge in Japan more than in most places. . . . [She] offers a tour of the cultural collisions that have become part of the fabric not just of the kimono but of modern Japan. It is a tour well worth taking." --Wall Street Journal

"A lively, informative study of the kimono, tracing its evolution throughout Japanese history to its current status as the national dress of Japan. [Dalby's] book's coverage includes all types of 'native' dress, past and present; her unique position as a Western 'insider' allows her to demystify the complex social mores connected with wearing the kimono. . . At once scholarly and enjoyable reading."--Journal of Japanese Studies

"Kimono is as elegantly designed as its topic. Lavishly illustrated and visually stunning . . . the text is every bit the equal of this graphic richness. In language simple but strikingly patterned, it weaves its way through technical details and historical arcanities with panache and color. . . . Such is the variety of lenses focussed upon its topic that the book will engage interests ranging from pop culture to literary history."--Mangajin

"An impressive, unusual, and beautiful book. There are many valuable insights here--not only about Japanese clothing but also about patterns of gender, class, and identity in Japanese culture."--Joseph J. Tobin, author of Re-Made in Japan

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - JenneB - LibraryThing

I was at a museum in Japan that had some antique kimono, and I thought, you know, I would really like to read a book about the history and cultural meaning of kimono. This book could not have been ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - senbei - LibraryThing

I was lucky enough to get this book signed by the author. It's half-fashion analysis, half-historical analysis of wafuku in Japan. Highly recommended. Read full review

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About the author (2001)

Liza Crihfield Dalby, who holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from Stanford University, spent a year as a geisha in Japan. She is the author of Tale of Murasaki and Geisha and lives in Berkeley, California.

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