Written By Katie Finn
Published: April 11, 2012
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Fashion inspirations from Japan
Japan has been an inspiration for Western culture since the 19th century. Western civilization has been intrigued by Japanese art ranging from wood
block printing on paper or silk to calligraphy and poetry. Japan has also been influencing fashion years and centuries before cosplayers started
dressing up as their favorite anime characters. But before cosplaying and kimonos were easily accessible, only high society could indulge in
Japanese fashion.

Japanese influence in fashion was under an umbrella term dubbed Orientalism in the mid 1800s. This brought influences from Japan along with the
rest of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The clothing of this period had details of these exotic countries in Western clothing, like the kimono and obi.
However the clothing still kept Western shapes and standards that were apart of society at that time. If you were able to purchase imports from the
orient you were seen as very well to do in society at the time.

During the 1910s was when Japanese influence was more apparent in Western clothing as Oriental opulence expanded. Couture designer, Paul
Poiret, took this expanding opulence and transformed his clients into Geishas and Harem Girls. The colors were vivid in soft and liquid fabrications
with kimono style dresses, pantaloons, and turbans. Like the first wave of Orientalism in the earlier century there were influences from all of Asia,
Africa, and the Middle East. Although Japan was producing more exports, the wealthy and high society could flaunt and indulge in opulence from the
Orient.

Due to conflicts and wars, Japan was not the forerunner of fashion like it once was in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It wasn’t until the late 1980s
when Japanese anime started to air around the world. With anime series and manga being exported this started to elevate the way we dress up as
our favorite super heroes or cartoon characters. This was the introduction to the world of cosplay and cosplayers. Cosplayers are seen at anime,
manga, and comic book conventions. Cosplayers often create very elaborate costumes of their favorite anime characters and are often very accurate
and well made. As cosplay and cosplayers become more frequent, anime fans will cosplay for photo shots of their favorite characters or superheroes
for fun and Internet posting.

The Japanese street style of Lolita has become a new phenomenon among young women and teenage girls around the world. But in actuality the
Lolita fashion style has been around since the 1980s. The typical shape for the Lolita fashion is a bell shaped skirt that is taken from the Victorian and
Rococo periods. The style is very young and childish in appearance. So much so that the Lolitas themselves almost look like dolls or young children.
But there are some Lolita styles, like the Aristocrat, that are for the mature and wiser Lolita with longer and more tailored and less cutesy looks. Or the
classic Lolita that have flared and tailored skirts instead of bell shaped skirts and bloomers for the Lolita who is young, but doesn’t want to look too, too
young or doll like. Whatever way your personal style leads you there is a Lolita sub style out there for you. Even if you’re a punk rock rebel or
androgynous!

Japan seems to be a strong influence on pop culture and fashion today. In reality Japan really has been a forerunner for art, textiles, and fashion alike
before the 20th and 21st centuries. And will also likely to do so for years to come.
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My name is Kat and I’m originally from Ebensburg, PA and moved to Ohio
after getting a job in costuming for theater. I graduated from Moore College of Art &
Design in 2011 with my BFA in fashion design. I have shown some of my fashion
pieces at various art shows in my native state of Pennsylvania. I also created a
dance costume for one of the lead dancers of 180 Dance Company’s production,
A Portrait in White, for the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts in April 2011.
Before graduating college I created a collection of five completed looks that walked
down the runway of the annual Moore College Fashion Show. I have my own
independent fashion label, Cheshire Couture, in the works when I’m not at work
on the costumes for the next production.


Websites

DeviantART:
http://kat-bubbles.deviantart.com