This is a vibrant and beautiful Japanese uchikake (wedding gown) design by Yumi Katsura, a top bridal ware designer from Japan. Her name and ‘Japon’ are woven on a large black square located on the lower part of the center edge. After graduating from college, Yumi Katsura studied in France and in 1964, she opened the first bridal ware rental shop in Japan. She designs ready-wear and haute couture bridal gowns both in western and kimono style and currently has her shop in Paris along with shops in Japan. I believe that she was recently chosen as the most favorite bridal designer by the readers of a bridal magazine.
The fabric of this gown is loosely woven with flat, gold metallic strips with thick black threads. It is thick but light probably intended for a summer wedding. The embroidery like design is also done with thick threads. The metallic gold glitters in the sun, yet it is tasteful. The design has auspicious phoenix birds, waves and flowers all stylized. The workmanship is excellent almost to perfection. This gown may be over 25 years old but it looks as if it were made yesterday. Excellent condition with basting stitches still intact in some areas.
Dimensions 51 inches wide x 74 1/2 inches long (sleeves 41 inches long)
The clothing of Japanese people made a drastic change in recent years. It started when the country opened its door to the world after many years of seclusion in the mid 19th century. A recent conversation I had with a couple of people who live outside of Tokyo proved the extension of the changes. I was told that nobody wears traditional Uchikake today. Of course, they meant with the exception of a very few people. Most brides rented Uchikake kimono gowns in the mid 1900s (1970 to 1990) for traditional weddings. I was informed that the rental of these gowns themselves for a day can easily run up to over $5000 today. A bowl of noodle used to cost me 60 cents in Tokyo (by my college), the cheapest subway tickets were 20 cents and a one day wedding gown rental would cost $1000 - $1500. I still have a hard time believing that my noodle lunch (without fancy toppings) would cost me $8 to $10 (because of the devaluation of dollars this figures should be even higher) today.