Have you seen the glorious fashion exhibition in the corridor between Neiman Marcus and SouthCourt?
Two extraordinary embroidered kimonos anchor Reimagining the Kimono, an intriguing display that also presents 11 looks inspired by the classic Japanese style.
“We have an amazing collection of kimonos at the Texas Fashion Collection,” notes curator Annette Becker, who manages the trove at the University of North Texas in Denton. “They haven’t been shared before, and it’s something people find really interesting and don’t get to see very often.”
The two ceremonial kimono in the show were probably designed in the late 1960s or 1970s as formal wedding attire. Becker employs them as a springboard to interpretations by such esteemed designers as Pauline Trigère, Karl Lagerfeld, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Oscar de la Renta, Issey Miyake, Halston and Hanae Mori.
“Being part of an institution of learning, I wanted to highlight how to avoid cultural appropriation,” Becker reflects. “This is a good place to explore kimono dresses and some more ethical ways of using them for exploration.”
She selected each piece from the 20,000 items in the Texas Fashion Collection, which continues to grow from its origin with Stanley and Edward Marcus and Dallas historians.
“We have everything from couture to formal dresses from 1950s that someone’s grandmother made at the kitchen table,” Becker explains. “We pull pieces that look cohesive together and can hold their own next to the luxury stores in NorthPark.”
Two of the dresses on display are Hanae Mori creations that were once worn by Stanley Marcus’ wife, Billie. When the Tokyo designer came to Dallas in 1973 to accept the Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion, Marcus bought five dresses for his wife, Becker explains.
“I’m nearly positive that two of them [in the show] are from that set of five,” she says. “My favorite and one of the most important is a chiffon dress with a scene of Mt. Fuji on the bottom and cherry blossoms on top and long draped sleeves. It looks like a caftan, but the way it’s sewn is pretty much exactly like a kimono.”
A kimono is made of one long piece of fabric cut into four sections stitched together at the shoulders and arms.
“It’s a very different way of thinking about how to make clothing,” Becker points out. “A lot of Japanese fashion celebrates the space created when a flat fabric sits on a three-dimensional form like a body.”
The show also features an origami dress by Issey Miyake and a 2016 look by Duro Olowu that were purchased for the Texas Fashion Collection with funds donated by NorthPark Center.
Teeming with flower and bird motifs, the exhibition celebrates spring and will remain up through June 26.