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An Empress's Wardrobe Unlock'd: Empress Masako and Japan's Imperial Fashions


King, EL and Rose, M, An Empress's Wardrobe Unlock'd: Empress Masako and Japan's Imperial Fashions, Fashion, Women and Power: The Politics of Dress, Intellect Ltd, .'. (ed), Bristol, UK, pp. 59-78. ISBN 9781789384611 (2022) [Research Book Chapter]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2022 Intellect Ltd

DOI: doi:10.1386/9781789384611_3


The story of Empress Masako's integration into the royal family in Japan highlights an instance where a powerful woman in East Asia has struggled with her negotiation of self. Before her marriage, Empress Masako was a highly accomplished woman and an aspiring diplomat who hesitated to marry into the royal family. She was praised in the western media as the 'next Lady Di' before failing to maintain her individuality within the limitations of the Japanese court. In this chapter, using a selection of her ensembles worn across her career, we explore how the use of court dress codes signify Empress Masako’s 'princess lifestyle'. Focusing on three key movements in the Empresses' presentation: courtship, life as a princess, and now as empress, we demonstrate how the use of colour and style are codified to convey messages of individuality, power and progress. To complement this analysis of Masako’s presentation of self, we also draw upon a systematic review of news reportage (both Eastern and Western). We argue that the manner in which the empress is dressed evokes the occidental fantasy of the elegant woman, retaining strong visual parallels to the British Royal Family.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Keywords:fashion, society, Japan Empress, women in politics
Research Division:Language, Communication and Culture
Research Group:Cultural studies
Research Field:Asian cultural studies
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Arts
Objective Field:Arts not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:King, EL (Dr Emerald King)
ID Code:148969
Year Published:2022
Deposited By:Global Cultures and Languages
Deposited On:2022-02-25
Last Modified:2023-03-06

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