Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gackt, Bunraku, and Kimono!

Gackt, a very talented and somewhat eccentric Japanese pop/rock artist (who I first heard upon moving to Japan in 2002, when his "Moon" album came out), appears in the new movie Bunraku, which showed at the Toronto International Film Festival just a few days ago. He's appeared in and used kimono before in photos and in his shows, and wore one to the Bunraku premiere, one from a collaboration collection he's done as an offshoot of a stage production he's in, Nemuri Kyoshiro, "The Sleepy Samurai" (thanks to reader Karadin for that detail!). You can see the yukata collection here and two examples below.

Here's a translation of their latest update, 9/13:

"At the Toronto International Film Festival, Gackt appeared in an elegant kimono, and was showered with attention by world media. That day he had donned his newest creation, "Dance" (this "dance" specifically refers to ancient, sacred Shinto music and dancing). The sensitive aesthetics and gorgeous design can be seen nationally (in Japan) in special exhibitions. Please check this site's exhibition schedule for more information."

For any Gackt fans who happen to run across this post but don't know much about kimono, Gackt's designs are a pretty cool spin on tradition. I've seen some concerned that they're made of polyester, but in recent years high grade polyester has become more and more common for casual kimono as you can hand wash it and it's much cheaper than natural fibers or silk to produce. The price does reflect typical Gackt tour good sort of prices (I haven't been to any shows since I returned from Japan but I can't imagine it's changed that much ;) ), but it's not that high if you look at the prices of brand-new designer kimono and very high-end yukata.

On the topic of yukata vs. kimono, another question I've seen floating around, the short and simplified answer is that yukata are cotton, only meant to be worn to summer festivals and events, and everything else is wool, silk, linen, or high-grade synthetic (a la polyester) and can be worn to everything else, the exact "everything" depending on the kimono type and occasion it's being worn to. I'm not sure why Gackt chose to call his designs "yukata", unless he wanted to emphasize they're casual and/or non-traditional approaches. Yukata and kimono are exactly the same construction, minus a few small details (longer sleeves for the "furisode" type of kimono, linings for non-summer kimono, etc.).

The transparency of some of the collaboration designs, which I love, could also be a nod to "ro" or "sha" kimono, semi-transparent summer-weave kimono worn traditionally between June and September.

For the kimono fans who have no idea who this guy is, if you like Japanese pop or rock music, and I had to pick just a few recommendations, I'd say check out his songs "Kimi no Tame Ni Dekiru Koto", "Redemption", the entire "Moon" and "Mars" albums, and, from his Malice Mizer days (the band before he went solo), "Le Ciel." I can't recommend any of his newer stuff as I sort of wandered off after 2006 and haven't heard any. ^_^; Feel free to make your own recommendations! :)

Getting back to his kimono collaboration, the collection is, to me, an awesome bridge between traditional and pop culture and I hope over time it sparks more interest in kimono from Gackt fans and others both in and out of Japan.

If you'd like a (much cheaper!) street-style yukata, check out these Goth and Lolita friendly options over on Amazon.

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