Beyond Kimono was more then just a fashion show; it was an evening of Japanese culture for all five senses featuring fashion, dance, piano, food and drink hosted by Be JAPON, a non-profit organization. Be JAPON is dedicated to presenting Japanese beauty to the world under its concept “tradition and creation.” Held at Chelsea’s Holy Apostles Ballroom on 9th Avenue at 28th Street on Saturday, November 7, the line was out the front door and turned down 9th Avenue.
Eiko Kobayashi, Chairman of the Board of Be JAPON, is a Japanese kimono dress designer whose design aesthetic and preferred medium is antique Japanese traditional kimonos revisited for the modern woman. Kobayashi creates updated looks that honor traditional aspects of kimono design with hand painted motifs, embroidery and dyes.
“I saw the old kimono as a real expression of Japanese culture, which was just being put to waste,” Kobayashi said in an interview to Japan Times in 2014. “Of course, kimono continue to be made today, but the old ones are very different to modern ones — the fabric is softer and the designs are far more bold.”
Repurposing the antique kimono into modern looks, Kobayashi set out to share the traditions of Japanese kimono throughout the world by hosting Beyond Kimono in eight different countries.
The runway show kicked off with a performance by a dancer dressed fully in off white except for the hand-painted design on the back of her kimono jacket. This opening lent its way to the first fashion look, which was a bridal look constructed from antique white-on-white printed kimono. The looks that came down the runway were a mix of traditional kimono to modern evening gowns using panels of antique kimono fabric to more casual daytime looks to over-the-top looks featuring intricate headwear. At times traditional kimono styling shared the runway with its modern counterpart using the same fabrics. Looks with silk chiffon capes and jackets physically floated down the runway as the models came by.
As the models took to the runway, pianist Gohei Nishikawa played along side a backdrop of films depicting the beauty of Japan’s four seasons. The same dancer who opened the fashion show appeared throughout the runway show with beautiful movements in different outfits. After the fashion show a reception was held featuring Dassai Sparkling Sake, Sapporo Beer, Ito En Japanese Green Tea and creative Japanese cuisine made by BentOn. As guests mingled Eiko Kobayashi, Gohei Nishikawa, the runway models and anyone who helped behind the scenes to make Beyond Kimono happen gathered for group photos. Some of Kobayashi’s garments and accessories were for sale that evening and can also be purchased here.
To truly enjoy the details of the looks from Beyond Kimono, please take a look at our photos: