Propaganda Kimono
Woman’s Michiyuki (square necked jacket)
Rinzu silk, printed silk lining  |  30”x 48”

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Propaganda Kimono

The lining material of this woman's jacket is a colorized montage reproduced from two or more of the actual, black and white, aerial photographs of the attack on Pearl Harbor taken from Japanese warplanes. An extraordinary fashion statement, the woman who wore this would likely have exposed the lining only to friends, or coyly when removing the jacket in public.

Pearl Harbor was the death knell for Japan's colonial aspirations and the pictorial propaganda kimono in this collection. Countless words have been written on the possible outcomes for Japan's expansion had they not goaded the Americans into entering WWII. And by early 1942, after ten years of battle in China, fighting the United States focused all Japanese manufacturing on total war.

The printed fabrics that were popular in the 1930's, when Japan's victories in China were literally worn on their sleeves, were anathema in the khaki-clad 40's. Western-style cotton pants and shirts were not only military issue, they were required for men and women on the home-front as well. Ironically, the fight to maintain tradition forced the Japanese to embrace the clothes of their enemies. Kimono were a suspect luxury, silk was reserved for parachutes, and the frivolity of prints where children and dogs gamboled amidst tanks and battleships lost favor as the country struggled for its very survival.