History of "Kimono Bustle Dress"

“A Drawing of Women's Sawing” (1887)
“A Drawing of Women's Sawing” (1887)

The history of Western style dress in Japan started 150 years ago. 


In 1859, the Japanese Government abolished "sakoku" (national isolation) policy

that had continued for over 300 years,

it was at this time the Japanese Government opened ports to foreign countries.

After that, foreign trades started and

many kinds of foreign cultures were imported to Japan.


In 1863, Mrs. Pearson opened a dressmaker's shop in Yokohama.

It was the beginning of dressmaking culture in Japan.


When Western fashion was imported to Japan,

the "bustle-style" dresses were prevalent in Western countries.


The "crinoline-style" was prior to the bustle style. It had a wide skirt.

Compared with crinoline dresses, bustle dresses changed volume allocation

to billow on their lower back.


With the bustle-style dress, women could feel comfortable while working

without the loss of feminine dressing.


The bustle-style dress was the first dress that

Japanese people saw and wore.


As the Japanese Government began to assimilate a western style policy,

politicians and diplomats had to adopt western-style clothes.


Under such circumstances, Nagako Nabeshima, a wife of a Japanese diplomat

wore a bustle dress made of kimono.

The silhouette was western, and the used fabric was "kosode"*,

a kind of antique kimono . 


The dress looked gorgeous and graceful.

Moreover, even we can find the strong will

not only to be involved in Western culture, but also respect the culture and the history of her own country.

The new-style dress was born as an outcome of interaction

between Western culture and Japanese history.


Meanwhile, Japanese culture was exported overseas.

It was introduced into many countries through international exhibitions.

It was the era of "Japonism".

Especially kimonos were of great concern among western people, 

and thus bustle dresses made with kimono fabrics were also created in Europe.


In this way, these dresses from totally different cultural backgrounds

became prevalent in Japan as well overseas.

Today, we can see most of them only in portraits.

For this reason, we would like to see what will happen if these classical dresses are reborn.

This is the the driving force to start our project.


We believe that

through the fusion of Japanese and foreign culture,

and the fusion of new and old,

we will be able to get a new idea of beauty in future.



*Kosode…A kind of antique kimono. It was mainly worn by women in "samurai "class in Edo era (former era of Meiji).