Kaori Sumi Makes Me Want to Be More Creative
I recently had the opportunity to have a drink with Kaori Sumi, the talent behind art/fashion hybrid In Kaos. Kaori, a designer by trade, has been busy of late with her spring/summer 2008 collection, fashioning antique Japanese kimonos into all sorts of functional objets d’art.
We met at Tokyo Bar where she has recently installed a series of kimono-based handbags, hats, and resin-cast antlers in anticipation of her line’s imminent launch with the MoMa Design store. She explained: “American buyers don’t typically understand the messages in my pieces, so I’ve been very fortunate to work with MoMa Design.”
Indeed, at first blush her creations simply look like bags with gorgeous prints. But the kimonos’ history adds a subtle layer of intention to the pieces. For example, I discover that a western-style fedora is actually made from the scraps of a child’s kimono, a clever critique perhaps of Japanese youth’s fascination with American pop-culture. Or perhaps a more sinister nod to the legacy of American G-Men in the post-nuclear 1940s.
My time pondering this was cut short when Kaori emptied a bag of chopsticks onto our table. Each, she explained, was resin-cast to contail kimono fragments. She seemed to approve when I gravitated to one with a male pattern (male kimonos only have decoration on the inside).
I had no idea there were so many antique kimonos to work with. “Yes,” she said, “but this will not always be the case. They are already becoming very expensive to acquire.”
More info about Kaori Sumi’s 2008 collection and shop list here. –John