The go-to look for fashionable and urban woman in the 1920s and ’30s, Meisen was so popular that it was advertised by famous actresses of the time and large department stores could hardly keep up with the demand for Meisen kimono.
Meisen is a moderately light-weight, silk weave fabric that is smooth to the touch and known for it’s bold colors and modern design. Meisen is often used alongside a kasuri, or ikat, dying process which gives the fabric it’s trademark look.
A simple overview of the process:
Warp threads are first very loosely woven together to prepare them for the dying process. They are then dyed using either screens or stencils to create the final design. Once dying is complete the loosely woven weft threads are removed, and the dyed warp threads are placed on the loom to be woven with the actual weft threads, creating the finished product.
Although it may seem like adding the extra step of loosely weaving the warp threads before dying, and subsequently removing the threads afterwards, would result in a more time consuming process, this technique actually allowed Japanese craftspeople to speed up their production time, resulting in a type of mass production of the fabric. As a result many of the vintage kimono from the early 20th century tend to reflect the trends and fads of that time period.
While Meisen is known for having a very nostalgic and retro feel to it, there are still craftspeople persevering in keeping this technique alive for future generations. There is even a Meisen Museum in the Chichibu region of Saitama Prefecture devoted to the Meisen created in that region of Japan.
So won’t you come and experience the retro feeling of 20th century Japan here at Morie Tokyo?