Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk ★★★★ Victoria & Albert Museum | Until June 21, 2020


For many the word "kimono" may long have been simply a synonym for housecoat or dressing gown. This fascinating exhibition first looks at the history and importance of this most versatile of garments in its Japanese home and then considers its impact after being introduced into Europe. Some stunningly beautiful examples of traditional kimonos from Japan's Edo period through the Meiji restoration are on display. These are sumptuous garments that reflect the growing fashion interest of a rising merchant class and offer lovely examples from both the geisha and kabuki theatre cultures. Indeed, the history of Japan is woven into the story of  the materials and techniques employed to create these wearable works of art. The post-war period saw the kimono's use relegated to cultural and ceremonial occasions, but there are some delightful examples of its resurgence in Japan's contemporary youth culture.  Since its introduction in the west, there have been a variety of uses for and  interpretations of the garment. At different historical periods, it has represented affluence, the avant-garde or simply convenience. Its influences and reinterpretations continue right up to the present in iterations such as Obi-wan Kenobi's Star Wars costume or Alexander McQueen's design for Björk's amazing outfit on the Homogenic album.This exhibition shows how the history of the kimono is more than an enthralling fashion story. It is entwined into a much broader context of Japanese and western society.

Reviewed by J.C.
Image courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆☆ 

WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until June 21, 2020
Sat to Thurs: 10 am - 4:15 pm
Fri: 10 am - 8:15 pm
Victoria & Albert Museum, Gallery 39 and the North Court

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