This vintage photograph features three women wearing pretty kimonos and flowers in their hair. Judging by their smiles, they seem to be having a good time as they pose for their portrait at the Butler Studio in Chatham, Ontario, Canada. There was a time when wearing this Japanese style clothing was quite popular in parts of the United States and Canada. This is apparent because it is not uncommon to find cabinet card era photographs with Western subjects wearing kimonos. In fact, you can view other photographs of Western women dressed in kimonos in the Cabinet Card Gallery’s collection. Place the word “kimono” in this blog’s search box to see other photos exemplifying this impact of Japanese fashion on American/Canadian fashion around the early twentieth century. The photographer of this image is J. S. Butler who operated as a photographer in Chatham from 1874 until 1902. A number of his photographs can be found in the collection of the Chatham-Kent Municipal Museum. A photo of Mr. Butler can be seen below.



Published in: on April 8, 2018 at 3:03 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Perhaps they were playing the “Three Little Maids” (Pitti-Sing, Peep-Bo, and Yum-Yum) in a local production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta “The Mikado.” I have a similar picture hanging on the wall in my bedroom, and that’s where my mind usually goes whenever I see three Western women in traditionalJapanese dress.

    • Thanks for your comment. Your theory is a good one. The musical opened in London in 1902 and there was a Broadway production in 1903. This photograph was certainly taken around that time or shortly after. Lily Elsie was one of the actresses appearing in the British production and some portraits of Miss Elsie can be found in the Cabinet Card Gallery. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

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