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Liza Dalby on Taisho Chic

"Modern Girls (Unless They're French) Don't Wear Kimono"

September 25, 2005; 60 Minutes; Video

Liza Dalby On Taisho Chic
September 25, 2005

Modernity had an impact on the traditional kimono, and vice versa, as cultural anthropologist and author Liza Dalby explains: "The first two decades of the twentieth century in Japan saw the kimono burst forth in a creative last gasp of fashion for the masses. Since this time, its place in Japanese culture has always been linked to the question of modernity. Just at the point where kimono began to lose ground to Western clothing on its home turf, its exotic design and form as seen through Western eyes impacted fashion in Paris, London, and New York."

Dalby's slide-illustrated talk considers historical precedents in Japan for the very notion of fashion, and how the Japanese themselves reincorporated the West's fashion of "japonisme." She also looks at paintings in Taisho Chic from the standpoint of a Taisho-era audience.

Dalby, who received her Ph.D. from Stanford, is the author of several notable books: Geisha; Kimono: Fashioning Culture (a cultural history of Japanese attire); and the novel The Tale of Murasaki. She has the distinction of being the only American ever to have worked as a geisha. Recently, Dalby served as script consultant and on-set advisor for the film adaptation of Arthur Golden's novel Memoirs of a Geisha.

Lecture cosponsored by the UC Berkeley Institute for East Asian Studies.