Kabuki Costumes

In June I attended an exhibition at the Yves St. Laurent institute that featured costumes from Kabuki performances plus the various properties that surrounded them.

It was a small exhibit, with only about twenty costumes, but it was well-curated and highly interested. Kabuki costumes are similar to everyday clothing worn by Japanese audience members but, like Western theatrical costumes make allowances for the needs of performance. The movement of the actors, the theatricality of the event, and the mass appeal of the genre all contribute to the final costumes.

The included robes in the exhibition were striking.

Kabuki was linked to the world of geisha, of popular entertainment, of the city streets. The onnagata or female performers were the greatest celebrities of the art, and continue to epitomize the height of the traditional theatre form.

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