On 29 February, the V&A will open Europe’s first major exhibition on kimono. The ultimate symbol of Japan, the kimono is often perceived as traditional, timeless and unchanging. Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk will counter this conception, presenting the garment as a dynamic and constantly evolving icon of fashion.
The exhibition will reveal the sartorial and social significance of the kimono from the 1660s to the present day, both in Japan and in the rest of the world. Rare 17th and 18th century kimono will be displayed for the first time in the UK, together with fashions by major designers and iconic film and performance costumes. The recent reinvention of the kimono on the streets of Japan will also be explored through work by an exciting new wave of contemporary designers and stylists.
Highlights of the exhibition include a kimono created by Living National Treasure Kunihiko Moriguchi, the dress designed for Björk by Alexander McQueen and worn on the album cover Homogenic, original Star Wars costumes modelled on kimono by John Mollo and Trisha Biggar, and YOSHIKIMONO, the fashion brand of rock star Yoshiki.
Designs by Yves Saint Laurent, Rei Kawakubo and John Galliano will reveal the kimono’s role as a constant source of inspiration for fashion designers. Paintings, prints, film, dress accessories and other objects will feature throughout the exhibition, providing additional context to the fascinating story of the style, appeal and influence of the kimono. Over 315 works will be featured, including kimono especially made for the show, half drawn from the V&A’s collections and the rest generously lent by museums and private collections in Britain, Europe, America and Japan.
The exhibition Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk runs from 29 February to 21 June 2020.