Darley Newman Meeting Tokyo Kimono Designer
Darley Newman Meeting Tokyo Kimono Designer

Not the same kimono fashion as you would expect! Hiroko Takahashi is one of Tokyo’s top fashion designers. She’s known for pushing the boundaries of tradition and using the kimono as her wearable canvas. I was able to meet this female fashion pioneer at her studio in Tokyo, where with the help of her colleague as a translator, she explained the inspiration behind her designs. 

“The reason behind the patterns,” said Yogo Kato. “They’re all featured and made out of circles and just straight lines. Just those two elements, and what she wanted to express through that is being able to express limitless things through just limited elements.”

I inquired about the mannequins, who were all wearing Hiroko’s designs and all in this very strong stance. 

There’s a stereotype in that if a woman wears a kimono, they usually stand with their thighs inward and they stand, kind of, well, tight. And, and so she decided, I like Judo. I do Judo and so that’s how I’m going to stand, and that’s the kind of strong position that she decided to choose, she felt it as a familiar position. It goes against a stereotype, so it’s trying to say something and confront that stereotype to say, is it feminine,” Yugo revealed. “Is it really that’s what kimonos are and that’s not really the case. The Judo position’s actually also from the deities that stand near a temple and so it’s a very, very strong pose that’s actually quite common, but not that feminine, and so she’s challenging a stereotype at the same time and also relating the fact that it’s, I suppose, it’s a familiar image to the Japanese people anyway.”

Upstairs, Hiroko has a wardrobe filled with kimonos and picked out a special one for me to try on. It was a very special experience. 

By meeting artists, female entrepreneurs and innovators on your travels, you are let into a whole new world of cultural understanding. Thanks, Hiroko, for sharing your story and kimono fashion ethos with “Travels with Darley.”

Watch the Travels with Darley Tokyo episode on PBS and Amazon Prime.