RAIMENT FOR RECEPTIONS: A JAPANESE BRIDE'S LAST FURISODE
Alumni Gallery | Jean L. Druesedow, Director
The furisode, or "swinging sleeve" kimono, is traditionally worn only by women before marriage. The last time a Japanese bride wears these long, swinging sleeves is at her wedding reception. On this occasion, elaborately embroidered furisode, called uchikake, are worn over a matching kimono and serve to display the family's status as well as to keep the bride the visual focus of the reception party. In The Story of the Kimono, Jan Liddel (1989) writes that during the wedding reception "the bride changes at least two or three times. This astonishing fashion show is designed to entertain the guests and parade family status, and it usually presents a mixture of traditional and Western-style clothing, such as evening dress. At least one furisode will be worn, which may be rented, as the bride will never wear this long-sleeved robe again." The Japanese bride's traditional apparel usually consists of a white kimono called shiromaku (shiro meaning white and maku meaning pure) worn for the wedding ceremony, or for a wedding photograph if she has decided on Western dress for the ceremony itself, and then at least one colorful and elaborate uchikake during the reception. The seven richly ornamented garments in this exhibition, all from the Silverman/Rodgers gift to the Kent State University Museum, are examples of uchikake worn as part of such wedding festivities. They are examples of the extravagance made possible by the late 20th century Japanese economy, and were acquired by Shannon Rodgers after 1975.
Along the major shopping streets of Tokyo and other Japanese cities, shops selling and renting Western-style wedding gowns abound. Shop windows feature the latest fashions in wedding dresses, each one seemingly more elaborate than the last. The bride and groom often rent, at great expense, both Western-style and traditional apparel for the ceremony and reception which are usually held in luxury hotels or wedding halls. Sometimes the hotel's services include the rental of traditional garments for the wedding couple and their families. The costs incurred for weddings and receptions have created a billion-dollar industry in Japan - no small part of the expense is rented wedding apparel.