V&A to stage Europe’s first major exhibition on the kimono
By Danielle Wightman-Stone
Oct. 10, 2019
The V&A in London will bring together 17th-century Japanese garments, international haute couture and costumes from Star Wars in Europe’s first major exhibition on kimono fashion.
The ultimate symbol of Japan, the kimono is often perceived as traditional, timeless and unchanging, the V&A is looking to counter this conception with a new exhibition, ‘Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk’ next year that will present the garment as a “dynamic and constantly evolving icon of fashion”.
The exhibition will open on February 29, 2019, and 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. There will be rare 17th and 18th century kimonos on display in the UK for the first time, alongside fashions by major designers and iconic film and performance costumes.
At the heart of its exhibition will be the kimono’s recent reinvention on the streets of Japan, which will be explored through work by an exciting new wave of contemporary designers and stylists.
Highlights of the exhibition will 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, and original Star Wars costumes modelled on kimono by John Mollo and Trisha Biggar.
V&A to show how and why the kimono has been a constant source of fashion inspiration with new exhibition
The fashion exhibition curated for the V&A by Anna Jackson and Josephine Rou, will feature designs by Yves Saint Laurent, Rei Kawakubo, John Galliano for Dior, Thom Browne, Duro Olowu and Yohji Yamamoto revealing the kimono’s role as a constant source of inspiration for fashion designers. Key designs set to be featured include the outfit worn by Toshirō Mifune in Sanjūrō, Oscar-winning costumes from Memoirs of a Geisha, and the Jean Paul Gautier ensemble worn by Madonna in her video Nothing Really Matters.
In addition, paintings, prints, film, dress accessories and other objects will feature throughout the exhibition, providing additional context to the “style, appeal and influence” of the kimono.
In total, more than 315 works will be featured, including a kimono especially made for the show, half drawn from the V&A’s superlative collections and the rest generously lent by museums and private collections in Britain, Europe, America and Japan.
Anna Jackson, curator of Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk at the V&A, said in a statement: “From the sophisticated culture of 17th-century Kyoto to the creativity of the contemporary catwalk, the kimono is unique in its aesthetic importance and cultural impact giving it a fascinating place within the story of fashion.”
The exhibition is the latest in the V&A’s series of fashion exhibitions and follows Mary Quant (2018-2019), Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams (2018), Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion (2016 – 17), Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear (2016 – 2017), Shoes: Pleasure and Pain (2015 – 2016), Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty (2015) and Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s (2013 – 2014).
Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk will run from February 29 to June 21, 2020, at the V&A in London.
Images: Star Wars courtesy of LucasFilm Ltd, Madonna, Nothing Really Matters video, 1999 - photo by Frank Micelotta courtesy of Getty Images, Kimono Times, Akira Times, 2017 courtesy of Akira Times, Christian Dior, Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2007 courtesy of Getty Images, courtesy of Hiroko Takahashi, 2009, Thom Browne, menswear Spring-Summer 2016 image courtesy of Getty Images