European fashion was profoundly influenced in the early decades of the 20th century by the style, textiles, patterns and color combinations of Asian clothing. The discovery of the kimono, in particular, with its loose cut, fluid lines and broad range of decorations, captivated the great couturiers of the period. It enabled adventurous women in the Roaring Twenties to cast out their corsets and social straightjackets, while offering a new, daring kind of elegance with exotic overtones.
From the meeting of these two sartorial cultures has sprung an exhibition and this catalog, in which the drawings of Paris fashion designers are compared with examples of contemporary East-Asian textiles from the Baur Foundation in Geneva. The wonderful garments discussed include the collections of kimonos and other Japanese clothes gifted by Sato Mariko (2008) and Sugawara Keiko (2015), as well as Chinese textiles that are the pride of the Foundation.
Estelle Nikles van Osselt is a sinologist and studied Asian art and archaeology at the universities of Geneva, London and Beijing. She is at present curator at the Baur Foundation, Museum of Far Eastern Art, in Geneva, and was formerly employed by the Guy & Myriam Ullens Foundation for Contemporary Chinese Art and their UCCA art centre in Beijing. Her publications include: Five Blessings: Coded Messages in Chinese Art (2015) and L'Aventure chinoise. Une famille suisse à la conquete du Celeste Empire (2017). She specialises in the wordplay underlying the composition of Chinese images and her present research explores the cultural links that gradually developed between Europe and Asia from the 19th century onwards.