When ever I travel I always make a point of searching for unusual ateliers that share my fascination with combining the old with the new. Recently I strolled down Via di Monserrato near Campo de’ Fiori, a piazza that owes its name to its 15th Century floral past. The streets around the piazza are named after trades: Via dei Cappellari (makers of hats), Via dei Giubbonari (makers of uniforms) in the historic part of Rome. I was excited to find Antichi Kimono, a shop owned by Gloria Gobbi, an Italian woman with a passion for kimono’s. www.antichikimono.com
Gloria, a former jewellery designer visited Japan some twenty years ago where she began to buy kimono’s for herself. Over the years her passion grew and now her shop has many kimono’s with some dating from the 1920s, a period in Japan that was creative and artistic.
As I touched the handmade kimono’s I was struck by the fabric and the modern graphics even though some of the designs were several hundreds years old. I also noticed how the intricate decorative linings contrasted beautifully with the outer fabric.
When I spoke to Gloria she described the process of making a kimono particularly the Shibori technique that produces the combination of vivid colours and detail associated with an ancient art. She also described how many people contribute to making one garment and we laughed about how rare this was likely to be today.
Gloria was hopeful for the future. She said that there is an emerging generation of Japanese artists who are combining Japanese technique with modern cultural knowledge to create new kimono’s. She said her kimono’s were “come portare un opera d’arte.” Like wearing a work of art!