This past week-end at a venue one of our customers told us the interesting story of a man she had met who had collected a very large number of antique and vintage Japanese wedding kimonos(called uchikake),Japanese costumes, obi and kesa (monks robes) . We looked it up and the story is a fascinating one:
From his website:
Spanning 250 years of Japanese history, the Alexander Collection includes more than one thousand pieces of one of a kind, hand-made textiles comprised of: kimono, obi, theatrical costumes and kesa from the Edo, Meiji, Taisho and Showa periods. The vast collection is unmatched in its breadth and diversity, representing every type of weaving, dyeing, and decorative technique in silk, cotton, hemp, ramie and wool.
Alexander Murray has accumulated almost 1000 uchikake and other pieces, antique and vintage from all periods. They are all in pristine (museum quality or better) condition. Blogger Polly Guerin had this to say:
If anyone had asked Alexander Murray, “What would you like to do when you grow up?” We would not expect his answer to be “collect kimonos,” but that is what happened to this private collector in New York who first discovered the unique aesthetic and culture of Japan quite surreptitiously. “It all started quite by accident,” Mr. Murray admits. Being the ardent antique shop peruser that he is, Murray was strolling down a street in Greenwich Village one day and discovered a beautiful Japanese wedding robe hanging in the window in an antique shop. “I just had to have it,” and the modest finances the young man had at the time (nearly 50 years ago) he laid down ten dollars and asked the shop keeper to hold it for him. This collector, a visionary in the making finally acquired the rare garment and hung it on the wall of his apartment. And so begins the saga of the country’s quintessential collector of kimonos and the birth of the Alexander Collection.
His website has many lovely pictures (sample pics above and below), so check it out. He is trying to sell this collection, if anyone is interested (details on the website). It is a showcase of marvelous Japanese textile art. To learn more about this awesome (in the original sense of this term) collection visit the Alexander Kimono Collection website HERE.