japonisme: 11/25/07 - 12/2/07

30 November 2007

book as haiku


Sophie Milenovich
9.5 x 7, 236 pp.
fully illustrated in color
Harry N. Abrams Books

(sold with different covers)

like a haiku, this book is deceptively simple, revealing layer upon layer of insight and poetry with every page. in addition to patterns for making one's own kimono (teaching about it's history at the same time), it gives you follow-ups like, for example, images and patterns for vionnet's beautiful, kimono-inspired gowns.

the very simplicity of the kimono, with its straight sleeves and stiff bearing emphasized by the very flat band of the obi, gives the impression that it is never quite three-dimensional. it exists, on the contrary, in a zone that is

seemingly halfway between surface and volume, that is two-and-a-half dimensional. this impression of a garment with a hint of flatness is rendered in many a japanese print.

the book is filled with kimono, kimono fabric, and antique photos from milenovich's personal collection; you'll covet every one. most of the images you see here in this review are similar but not identical to those in the book. the book's are better.

during the heian period (794-1185), the women of the japanese court wore multiple kimonos, one on top of the other. this fashion was known as juni-hitoe, meaning 'twelve- thick- nesses,' but the number of kimonos could go as high as twenty-five, making movement virtually impossible. the use of colors was rigidly codified, some being the privilege of an exclusive imperial circle.

within this framework, the association of colors became an extremely sophisticated art that despite the tight constraints subtly reflected seasons, virtues, or sentiments, in addition to a taste or talent for demonstrating one's personal sensitivity.

this art was known as iromi no ka- sani. all the liter- ature of the time, and especially the poetry of sei shonagon, reflects a careful attention to chromatic blends and their significance. this sensibility to colors, which remains very much alive today, is the legacy of a very rich period in japan's history.

though the greatest per- centage of the book's focus is clearly kimono in japan, including instructions on how to tie an obi, a generous nod is given to japonisme, finding examples of some that are new to me. from these, the obvious becomes even more clear: western women wear their kimono in very different ways than japanese women do.

in all, a
rich and
ful gift,
one that
with its
tions for

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28 November 2007

twilight time

the three suns

Heavenly shades of night are falling
It's twilight time
Out of the mist your voice is calling
It's twilight time
When purple colored curtains
Mark the end of the day
I hear you my dear at twilight time

Deepening shadows gather splendor
As day is done
Fingers of night will soon surrender
The setting sun
I count the moments darling
Till you're here with me
Together at last at twilight time

Here in the after-glow of day
We keep our rendez-vous beneath the blue
Here in the sweet and same old way
I fall in love again as I did then

Deep in the dark your kiss will thrill me
Like days of old
Lighting the spark of love that fills me
With dreams untold
Each day I pray for evening just
To be with you
Together at last at twilight time

Together at last at twilight time

The words and music of "Twilight Time" were originally written in 1944 by Buck Ram, Marty Nevens, Al Nevens and Artie Dunn. It has been recorded by numerous acts over the years. However, the best known version of the song was recorded by The Platters and became a hit for them in 1958 and became a #1 hit for them in the United States.

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27 November 2007

willow weep for me

Willow weep for me
Willow weep for me
Bend your branches green along
the stream that runs to sea
Listen to my plea
Hear me willow and weep for me

Gone my lovers dream
Lovely sum- mer dream
Gone and left me here to
weep my tears into the stream
Sad as I can be
Hear me willow and weep for me

Whisper to the wind and say that love has sinned
Left my heart a-breaking, and making a moan
Murmur to the night to hide its starry light
So none will see me sighing and crying all alone

Weeping willow tree
Weep in sympathy
Bend your branches down
along the ground and cover me
When the shadows fall,
hear me willow and weep for me

Oh, Weeping willow tree
Weep in sympathy
Bend your branches down
along the ground and cover me
When the shadows fall,
hear me willow and weep for me

Ann Ronell was an American composer and lyricist best known for the jazz standard "Willow Weep for Me" (1932). Ronell was, along with Dorothy Fields, Dana Suesse, and Kay Swift, one of the first successful Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley female composers or librettists. She cowrote Disney's first hit song, "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" (1933) with Frank Churchill for the film of the same name. She was nominated for Best Song, "Linda." Ronell was romantically involved with George Gershwin at the time she wrote her most famous song, "Willow Weep for Me," and she dedicated it to him.

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25 November 2007

klimt & fashion

after the last post, belvedere beads wrote this comment:

lily, i have a question for you: have you ever done an entry on the schwestern floge -- emile floge and her sister? i am very interested in the clothes they made for their shop but have had very little success trying to find images of their couture. you seem to have the most amazing library maybe you have pictures of their creations?

well, you were right, and thank you for a very interesting day of research! here's what i've pieced together today, and i'll quote some websites too. first, i went through all of my books -- something like seven -- books on that one period, and found something like three photos in a book about koloman moser, and fewer, if any, in the rest.

but reading the books, then spending a lot of happy if occasionally frustrating hours on the internet, i learned a lot of interesting things. regarding her designs, i found only one reference to her designing (the dress in her painted portrait), and having read all the rest, i wasn't sure i believed that.

i think the situation was this: he designed the fabric, and suggested structure in the paintings, and perhaps she turned them into actual clothes. the dress in the above photo is definitely credited to him. the artists in japan designed clothing in much the same way, and i think this is yet another example of the influence of the east.

Emilie Flöge, Gustav Klimt's friend and model, was 28 when she posed for this painting. She was soon to create the very successful Viennese fashion house, Schwestern Flöge, that she directed from 1904 to 1938. With her thin face, azure blue eyes, steadfast gaze and body draped in a typically extravagant "Klimtesque" dress, Emilie Flöge in this portrait is the perfect embodiment of the new turn-of-the-century Viennese beauty. The painting is one of several portraits of women (Damenbildnis) that were shown in 1903 at the Klimt Kollektive exhibition, an event that marked the beginning of a new stylistic era in Vienna for this art form.

The pattern on the dress is inspired by Japanese stencil techniques and Byzantine mosaics. Emerging casually and gracefully from a mysterious blue-tinged background, Emilie Flöge is silhouetted by the unusual ornamental fan. Klimt's first introduction of the ornamented backgrounds that would become so familiar in his later portraits. In addition, Emilie's beltless dress heralds the appearance of more liberal clothing fashions that will encourage greater freedom for both body and art - very much in the spirit of the call by the Viennese Secession for more creativity in all aspects of the decorative arts. Klimt cared deeply for his sister-in-law Emilie Flöge, a feeling that combined affection with mutual respect for their respective artistic talents. This personal connection was responsible for the portrait's becoming part of the Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien's collection in 1908. 1

Although Klimt never married, he had affairs with many women in both high and low classes of society. The name that is most often discussed is Emilie Floge, the fashion designer and Klimt’s sister-in-law. Art historians have often interpreted their lifelong companionship as Klimt’s ardent, albeit spiritual, need for Floge and her loyal and Platonic love for Klimt. The postcards from Klimt to Floge, however, show a remarkably taciturn and inaffection- ate correspondence. Likewise, Klimt painted only two portraits of Floge during their friendship of almost thirty years. Klimt liked to paint the women with whom he was attached, and the lack of such works inspired by Floge is worth noting. These might be evidence to the na- ture of their intimate friendship—that it was just that, and no more. 2

While we may be familiar with the fabulous imagi- nation of Gustav Klimt and his portraits of femmes fatales or mythical women, we are less aware of the fact that the artist also made a name for himself in fashion. With his mistress Emilie Floge, who managed one of the most prominent couture houses in Vienna, he designed "reform" dresses, thus taking part in the revolutionary movement that was rocking artistic and middle class Vienna at the time. By photographing these designs for a magazine, Gustav Klimt became the first photographer of the history of fashion. 3

an interesting website that looks at some of this is here. as you can see, there are contradictions everywhere. the link for #2 above is a really rich, comprehensive website. and for me, i think i'll see if the library has that book!

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