Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Kyoto Costume Institute

I don't know about you, but I love to travel. One place I dream of visiting is Kyoto, Japan, and not just for Gion (the most famous Geisha District of that city), but also for The Kyoto Costume Institute (KCI).

Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century, Taschen Books, 2007

My aunt M. got me the Fashion History Books by Taschen on one of their trips to France (and by the way, this is the book my Mom got me this Christmas that I returned, yet she was with my aunt when she bought the book). It is full of absolutely beautiful costume pictures, all from The Kyoto Costume Institute. So of course, I want to go there!

Robe et Habit à la Française, pages 68-69, Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century Vol. 1

Would it surprise you to learn that my favourite book is the first volume, which is about 18th and 19th Century fashion? I didn't think so.

Hairdos and Robes à l'Anglaise, pages 110-111, Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century Vol. 1

Even though it is is situated in Japan, KCI collects Western Clothing for studying purposes. The idea is that clothing is intertwined with everyday life, and so by studying one we may understand the other better. I couldn't agree more. Their collection ranges from the 17th century to the present time, which means that under one roof you an find perfectly preserved clothes and underpinnings that could have been worn by Versailles courtesans or made by Jeanne Lanvin.

Revolution in Fashion 1715-1815, The Kyoto Costume Institute

KCI only holds small-scale exhibitions at its own KCI Gallery, as the space of the gallery is 86m². The pieces shown are carefully selected from the collection.

The permanent collection of the KCI is not on public view, but they often organize exhibitions that travel to museums around the world. For instance, the Revolution in Fashion 1715-1815 exhibit was shown at the Palais du Louvres in Paris, France, in the early 90's (under the name Élégances et Modes en France au XVⅢème Siècle).

Luxury in fashion Reconsidered, The Kyoto Costume Institute

If like me you are not about to go there, you can still visit their Digital Archive where you will find good quality pictures of a few chosen pieces for each period. Thank goodness for Internet!

I should start a Costumer's travel agency, so I could organize tours around themes and museums. I wonder if it would catch on?

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