Art History Professor Julia Sapin curates "Silk for Suffragettes and Schoolchildren" at the Whatcom Museum

Detail shot of guazy pale pink dress with lace and gold embroidery at the neckline

Professor of Art History Julia Sapin has curated an exhibit for the Whatcom Museum exploring objects from 1890-1980 that have come into the Whatcom Museum collection primarily from Bellingham community members, revealing their fascination with these kimono-inspired fashions.

Americans and Europeans were crazy for kimono, and garments based on kimono, beginning in mid-nineteenth century, including fashionistas in Whatcom County. This exhibition focuses on kimono-inspired objects that have come into the Whatcom Museum’s collection over the last fifty years.

These textile creations reveal American designers’ ingenuity in adapting aspects of the kimono for Western use. They also show the savvy of Japanese designers in anticipating Western demand and creating clothing designed to suit American and European lifestyles.

From a child’s pink crepe robe to an evening gown with “kimono” sleeves, these garments offer us a glimpse of this fashion frenzy, and the various ways in which it translated into novel patterns of wear in our very own community.

The exhibition is open to the public through August 29, 2021 at Bellingham's Old City Hall. Learn more about the exhibition and plan your visit.

Julia Sapin holds a Ph.D. from the University of Washington. Her research focuses on the visual culture of the Meiji period (1868-1912) in Japan with a special emphasis on representation of national, regional, and gender identities in textiles, painting, and department-store advertising.

Authored on

Jun 3, 2021 8:36am