©Photo by Alexandra Homma

Beyond East & West: A Look Into Yumi Katsura’s Japan-Inspired Dresses

Japan's Renowned Designer Unveils Her Latest Japonesque Collection

By The Savvy Team
February 28, 2018

From Mt. Fuji to koinobori-inspired dresses, these haute couture styles will take your breath away.

February 20, 2018, was a big day for Japanese fashion designer Yumi Katsura and her fans across the globe, but it was also a milestone for the fashion industry as a whole. Held for the very first time in the history of Japan, the designer unveiled her latest collection of dresses, bridal wear and kimonos in an exclusive fashion show at the State Guest House, Akasaka Palace. For Katsura, it had been a four-decade-long dream to have a fashion show at the venue — a culturally significant former palace, today designated as a national treasure. For us viewers, it was a breath of fresh air and an ultimate candy for the eye, a spectacular show unveiling the most impressive wear we’ve seen in awhile.

A Mix of East and West

Titled, “Beyond East & West,” Yumi Katsura’s show unveiled approximately 60 works featuring dresses, bridal wear and kimono, created using traditional Japanese handicraft techniques, including Kyoto yuzen dyeing, Nishijin weaving, hand embroidering and traditional hand painting. Part of the collection, referred to as Yumi Katsura Japonesque, featured 24 dresses inspired by Japanese motifs and famous masters of the Edo period, with a particular focus on Katsushika Hokusai, the renowned ukiyoe painter. Katsura’s designs also implemented motifs from renowned European painters such as Van Gogh, Monet and Henri Riviere, whose art is said to have been greatly influenced by Hokusai.

Getting On The Great Wave of Japonism

Holding a fashion show characterized by a mix of foreign and Japanese at the State Guest House holds major significance for Japan and its fashion industry (and, perhaps, even foreign diplomacy). Built as the former Crown Prince’s palace in 1909, the venue began serving as a guest house for official state guests after the end of World War II, reflecting on Japan’s readiness to open to the world. In 1974, it was renovated as the official State Guest House.

What I and Japanese designers should do is to keep conveying Japanese culture to the world continuously. – Yumi Katsura 

Being the first fashion show to ever be held there, Yumi Katsura’s collection signifies Japan’s readiness to actively export Japan’s tradition abroad — not in a one-sided trading manner, but as a collaboration with the world. The aim of the exclusive event was to demonstrate the attractiveness of combining East and West through the incorporation of Japanese motifs into western-style couture. Having revealed the same collection in Paris in January this year, Katsura vows to continue exporting Japonism and its elegance through her designs.

© Photo by Alexandra Homma

Yumi Katsura

“Currently, there is a Japanese movement in the world, and ‘Japonism’ attracts people’s attention. What I and Japanese designers should do is to keep conveying Japanese culture to the world continuously. I didn’t put on this show just for me. I worked on this as a mission of Japanese designer,” Katsura told the media at the show.

From what we saw on the catwalk that day, the new Japonism wave is definitely something we should all look forward to!

The Dresses

Below are some of the most stunning Japanese motif-inspired dresses from Yumi Katsura’s Beyond East And West, Yumi Katsura Japonesque 2018 collection. Vote for your favorite!

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