From Geisha to Diva
January 29-April 11, 2014
The fascinating life of Ichimaru (1906-1997), one of the most famous geishas of the 20th century due to her exceptional singing voice, is told through this collection of her magnificent kimonos and other personal effects. In the 1930s, Ichimaru left geishahood to pursue an illustrious career as a full-time recording artist, but even as a diva, she continued to perform in full geisha regalia. Combining her experience as a geisha with an extraordinary talent as a vocalist and musician, she would become a unique figure in the social history of twentieth-century Japan. Determined to distinguish herself, she studied music with the best teachers to be found in Tokyo's "floating world," or pleasure district. Ichimaru secured a recording contract in 1931 and never looked back as she won international renown.
Ichimaru's exquisitely hand-crafted kimonos reveal her style and taste over several decades, offering an intimate glimpse into the life and times of an icon of Japanese popular culture. The exhibition combines garments and fashion with documentary materials and ephemera offering a unique glimpse at processes of globalization and dynamism of traditions over the last century.
From Geisha to Diva is organized and circulated by the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.