Fukumi Shimura exhibition

Sooooo. I cut my hair. Like, I suddendly wanted it short (it's been a while I've been thinking about it) and though that if I didn't cut it I would never ever dare, so I just cutted it. Real short. Chin-lenght short. And I'm absolutly please with it, not even one once of regret. I even think I look cuter that way.

against padding for informal kimono, yay.
And I've been to a wonderful kimono exhibition. Until recently I wasn't really aware of weaving technics and advanced japanese textiles classification (such a generic thing to learn about, right ?) but since I'm currently crossreading The Power of the Weave by Yuko Tanaka and Kyoto Modern Textiles (Kyoto textiles wholesalers association) I've been able to gather a bit more knowledge about fabrics. I was lucky enough to attend the Fukumi Shimura exhibition in Paris just as I started the chapter adressing Mingei and handicrafts.

I didn't know Fukumi Shimura before, and oh boy what did I miss.

Look how precious she is !
This cute little grandma of 90 (!) years is one of Japan's 'Ningen kokuhô', a living national treasure. With her daughter they dye and weave priceless tsumugi kimono using traditionnal technics and natural handmade dyes. Her daughter is specialized in japanese indigo, known to be one of the most difficult dye to master.

I don't know how I can express that, but I feel an unconditionnal love for this women. A bit like my weird obsession for Vivienne Westwood. Fukumi Shimura is a thinker. She definitely is an artist. The exhibition walls were plastered with quotes from her various speeches and books entirely about devoting her life to nature rendition, colors and art. She explained how she was influenced by Europe and especially France in her approach of clothing, and although definitely japanese her kimono have something indefinite which totally overcome culture boundaries.

If you know me, you also know that the only thing that can make me cry is clothing, especially handcrafted period clothing and their ethnic pendants. I swear I didn't cry. But it was a tough one.

Their was something else in that exhibition than pretty textiles, something that was not explained but gave to Shimura's work a lot more depth. She only works on pongee and make tsumugi type kimono. She of course use gold and silver thread as well as high quality silk, but most of her work is handyed pongee.
Now, if you don't know kimono, it might not seem that interesting, but let me explain. Pongee is a lower type of silk, made of broken silk thread. It was usually worn by commoners, especially silk-maker. This make tsumugi kimono traditionaly unaceptable in any formal setting. These are hand-dyed, gold and silver woven, handmade by one of Japan's live national treasure informal kimono. A bit like a gold threaded summer dress or hand-embroided jeans. And that's iki.

Honestly I can't picture anyone wearing these successfully. Maybe a geisha or an Onnagata could, but no one is iki enought to rock these awesome pieces of art. I don't know if we can still name them 'kimono'.

I know the exhibition's gonna tour in Germany in a close future, so if you have the occasion of seeing it please do. These pictures don't do them any justice, flattens the details of the fabric and fail to capture the colors.

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