Gustave Léonard de Jonghe, The Japanese Fan, c. 1865

Japonism is the term used in Art History to refer to Japanese influence on European art and culture, especially in impressionism, late 19th Century. Although Japonism is not a major force in fashion, the influence of Japanese design and aesthetics continue to be significant. This article will discuss evidences of Japonism throughout contemporary fashion industry.



Christian Dior’s Spring Haute Couture show in 2007


Christian Dior Haute Couture Origami Wedding Dress 2007

Japonism returned to the contemporary fashion world. John Galliano translated Japanese art form into fashion at Christian Dior’s Spring Haute Couture show in 2007. John Galliano went to Japan to search for inspiration sources and found origami. Origami means ‘folding paper’ which is a form of Japanese folk art, the goal of origami is to transform a flat surface into sculpture through folding techniques. Joh Galliano used this technique into his garments. He also interpreted Japanese floral fabric which is geisha-like, the garments were based on traditional silk kimonos


Giorgio Armani Privé Fall/Winter 2011-2012 Collection

Giorgio Armani demonstrated dramatic inspiration of Japonism at the fall haute couture collection in 2011. Diverse colour, floral motifs, and the long and form-fitting silhouettes were inspired by unique Japanese culture. The Armani Privé look was completed by hats which are origami structures designed by renowned milliner, Philip Treacy.
Giorgio Armani’s Japonism is extensive and passionate. Futhermore, it felt like Armani created new Japonism rather than reflecting on old traditions because of the layered, elongated Edwardian line, odd details like the double cuff on a jacket sleeve, and especially in all the asymmetry.


2015 Mercedes-Benz fashion week Australia by Akira Isogawa

 Akira Isogawa is one of Australia’s contemporary designers who was born in Kyoto, Japan and moved to Australia in 1986. He has achieved international acknowledgment for his attractive contemporary designs, which are drawn from his inspiration on Japanese culture.

” I translate fabrics into soft and romantic silhouettes, using natural fabrics like silks and cottons, which are kind to the skin.
Richly embellished fabrics echo Eastern influences, and I have great respect for their traditions. Inspiration can be found from the past – re-using vintage textiles and sometimes creating replicas of them, incorporated with specific craftsmanship.
I see craftsmanship as an implement with which to realise one’s vision. Past, present and future; that slogan continues in almost everything around which my work evolves. Timeless beauty and femininity in my design is profound, in a way for the wearer to express their inner soul.”
— Akira Isogawa


Ajurette Magablog, 2010, Origami-inspired Fashion Designs, viewed 11 August 2015, <http://ajurettemagablog.blogspot.com.au/2010/11/origami-inspired-fashion designs.html>

Akira Boutique, 2015, 2015 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, Sydney, Melbourne, viewed 10 August 2015,<http://www.akira.com.au/2015-mbfwa/>

Australian Government, 2013, Modern Australian fashion textiles, ACT, <http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/modern-austn-fashion>

Kit, A 2015, Fashion Inspiration: Japonism, Fine Fettle; A girl’s post Victorian Guide, CA, United States, weblog, viewed 4 August 2015, <http://finefettleguide.blogspot.com.au/2011/01/fashion-inspiration-japonisme.html>

Sarah, M 2014, Armani Prive/ Fall 2011 Couture, VOGUE Australia, viewed 5 August 2015 <http://www.vogue.com/fashion-week/863219/armani-prive-fall-2011-couture/>