Dazzling costumes displayed in Kobe

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Costumes for “Parfum de Paris” designed by Kenzo Takada.

KOBE — An exhibition showcasing stage costumes from Takarazuka Revue Company’s dramatic productions is currently taking place at the Kobe Fashion Museum.

The exhibition, “Kareinaru Takarazuka Kageki Isho no Sekai” (The world of splendid Revue costumes), will run until June 12. It is the first-ever exhibition that focuses solely on the costumes of the famed all-women revue company since its first public performance in 1914.

Visitors to the exhibition will have the opportunity to marvel up close at the glittery, one-of-a-kind costumes, which were created by designers who truly understood the context and atmosphere of each production.

Elements inspired by the historical background of the story and the personality of the character are added to each design. And the attention to detail in not only ensuring a costume’s attractiveness but level of mobility for the wearer is also quite notable.

The main exhibits are costumes used in shows since the 1990s. A highlight of the exhibition is the showcase of costumes by two major Japanese fashion designers: Kenzo Takada and Hiroko Koshino.

Takada, who died two years ago, was born in Hyogo Prefecture, where the company is based. Takada moved to France in 1965, and opened a shop in Paris, presenting his debut collection in 1970. For Takarazuka Revue, Takada designed costumes for “Parfum de Paris,” a song and dance revue created for the opening of the Takarazuka Grand Theater in the city of Takarazuka in 1993. Takada apparently projected the image he had of Paris into the making of the costumes.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A sketch by Kenzo Takada for the deep pink dress

Four of the approximately 600 costumes he created are on display. The splendor, the large bright-colored feather decorations and buoyant, folklore-style dresses are very much evocative of the Kenzo brand.

At the exhibition, Takada’s sketches for his design of costumes are also on display.

Koshino who has presented collections in major cities such as Tokyo, Paris, Rome and Shanghai, designed costumes for “Senor Don Juan,” a 2003 production set in the Milan fashion industry. One of the designs is a frilly red dress that is particularly beautiful and the dress was worn by the production’s heroine.

Among other must-see exhibits are costumes covered with sequins, which are worn only by star performers because they not only look brilliant under the spotlight but also take a great deal of time and money to create, and swallow-tail coats that are the formal attire for male-role performers.

There are also costumes from shows based on manga, such as “Versailles no Bara” (The Rose of Versailles), which depicts France before and after the French Revolution in the 18th century.

“I’m sure you can appreciate things that may not be visible from a theater seat, such as the constructive feel of each costume, the quality of fabric and the details of the elaborate decorations. I hope visitors will revel in the world of Takarazuka,” said Jun Arimura, the company’s resident designer.

Artistry of designers

The exhibition features about 120 costumes and other items from the past.

“This is a rare opportunity for visitors to see up close the artistry of the designers through delicate stitching, fabric textures and other aspects of their craftsmanship,” said Tamami Nakamura, curator at the museum, when asked about the exhibition’s highlight.

“Takarazuka Revue’s costume designers apply delicate decorations down to the smallest detail to ensure that each costume will look good on the big stage,” Nakamura said.

Takarazuka Revue offers a wide variety of performances, some of which have stories set in foreign countries. “It’s interesting to see costumes that recreate the world of a story, including those with an international flair such as the dresses of European aristocrats,” Nakamura added.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Costumes designed by Hiroko Koshino
The Yomiuri Shimbun
A sequin-covered suit
The Yomiuri Shimbun
A stylish swallow-tail coat is seen in the middle.