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Laced with Style

Elegant Fabric Broadens Its Appeal in Japan


A combination of a lace miniskirt and tights. (C)Color & Design Research Room of Kyoritsu Women's Junior College

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A casual use of a lace skirt. (C)Color & Design Research Room of Kyoritsu Women's Junior College

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Lace, which ranks among the most elegant of fabrics, is enjoying renewed popularity in Japan. Though once used exclusively in spring and summer designs, it is now featuring regularly in outfits designed for the colder seasons. The range of uses has also grown to encompass lace overlays, as well as lacy embellishments.

Lacy Winter WearLace has conventionally been used for spring and summer outfits because of its cool, refreshing image. This year, however, lacy dresses and miniskirts were worn even at the height of winter. The range of designs is growing, with lace layered over wool and satin skirts, as it comes to be regarded as a material for all seasons.

Lace skirts are a particularly hot item this winter. The skirts go well with a surprisingly wide range of items and have an alluring versatility. Lace skirts can be paired with a knit sweater or cardigan for a cute, fairytale-like look. Tiered lace skirts combined with tights, long boots, a leather jacket, field coat, or quilted jacket create an appealingly "mismatched" look.

Lace dresses, dresses with a lace accent, and short-sleeved white lace tunics are also big. Black or patterned tights go well with these outfits, and the overall effect is figure flattering, which many women find appealing. While floral-print and other skirts with a lace hem offer a way to create a sweet, feminine look, lace is also being used with more rugged-looking garments, such as denim skirts.

Lace for Kimonos . . . and Men?Lace has been around for a long time, but it was only in the nineteenth century, with the advent of lace-making machines, that it became widely available. In the twentieth century, it was used as a decorative element in dresses, blouses, and handkerchiefs and became an indispensable part of women's fashions.


Men can look stylish in lace, too. (C)Mercury Japan

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In Japan, lace has traditionally been used to dress up Western-style clothes. Recently, however, it has also graced kimono and the informal cotton kimono known as yukata. A touch of lace is added to the collars and obi sash of kimono for a subtly entrancing look. This development is part of a general wave of innovation in kimono styles and the incorporation of new motifs, such as roses and hearts.

Though not yet a major force, a number of young men in and around Harajuku, a wellspring of youth fashion, can be seen sporting lacy shirts and stoles. Lace knit tops paired with a masculine jacket, stoles with lace trim, and other items with a touch of lace can also be seen around town. During the 2010 Tokyo Collection Spring/Summer, a weeklong show held in October 2009, lace shirts worn by male models with pearl and flower necklaces generated a great deal of interest. The outfits were the works of designer Kanou Demian Celica of the Odradek brand, which was taking part in the show for the first time.

Lace is expected to feature even more prominently in the future in both summer and winter fashions for men and women. (March 2010)

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