Catwalk-Worthy Fashions in Our Collections

Freer and Sackler Galleries

As documented in such publications as Fruits magazine, Japanese street style pushes boundaries a bit further each year. 

Fashion Forward
Going back a few centuries proves that Japanese fashion has a history of catching eyes. There would be no missing the girl in an orange vermilion dress, painted somewhere between 1661 and 1673. 

Compare her ensemble to the eighteenth- or nineteenth-century silk costumes made for No performances. Gold is seen extensively in No costumes, used to reflect light and highlight the actors’ slow, stylized movements.

Long, flowing robes also were en vogue in China, as seen in these tiny but detailed figurines dating between the eighth and thirteenth centuries.

Status in Silk
A few hundred years later, noblewomen wore coats over their floor-length robes. Dating to the mid-1800s, this summer surcoat is patterned with encircled dragons. The number of these roundels—and of the dragons’ claws—let everyone know the high status of the woman within the silk garment.

The woman in the nineteenth- or early twentieth-century portrait posed in her coat, which she paired with a headpiece made of vivid kingfisher feathers. Speaking of which: see our post on fabulous accessories in our collections.

Credits: Story

Joelle Seligson is digital editor at the Freer|Sackler.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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