The Kyoto Costume Institute

Lately I’ve been feeling inspired by the incredible fashions found in the digital archives of the Kyoto Costume Institute. Gowns from centuries ago are as jaw dropping as ever, with incredible textures and colors, cuts and patterns. I know this might seem like an abstract source of wedding inspiration, but consider the possibilities – details for a custom dress, color palette ideas, patterns for an envelope liner. And even if they’re totally unhelpful for you in thinking about design elements of your wedding, don’t you find them incredibly beautiful? I wish I had reason to wear a dress like this!

Oh, and as you go through the images, click on them to see larger versions with a closer look at all the details…

The intricate details on this monogrammed ivory hand fan are amazing, but I also love the use of pattern in both the gown and the sash. c. 1800, China.

The one above is probably my favorite of the lot – the simple colors, and the India-inspired pattern. c. 1850, India.

What about taking inspiration for your bouquet or centerpieces from a dress like this? I’d love to see what a floral designer might do with this as her only direction for bridal flowers. c. 1785, England.

This retro gown is a bit different from the rest, with a playfulness in its details (polka dots! bows!). c. 1950, Jacques Fath Paris.

c. 1888, Rouff Paris  //  c. 1780, France.

Even the description of the fabric in this elaborate dress is luscious: “Light-blue Lyons silk chine with cartouche-enclosed floral motif.” c. 1765, France.

Doesn’t this dress look straight out of Emma? I adore how light it seems, and the super simple pattern of what looks like bumblebees and wheat leaves. c. 1795, Italy.

c. 1855, England.

The floral embroidery on this muslin chemise dress is too beautiful for words! And feels very much like a wedding (especially with the white satin toe peeking out from underneath). c. 1802, France.


So what do you say? Would you be able to find inspiration in any of these designs or patterns, or in any of the other pieces over at the Kyoto Costume Institute?


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