Grazia discovers an enlightening new exhibition of Japanese fashion

From Kyoto to Catwalk
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Grazia discovers an enlightening new exhibition of Japanese fashion

This March at Grazia, apart from the eye-pleasing and Instagram-worthy Sakura season - the beautiful cherry blossom festival – we get to celebrate the beauty and diversity of another timeless and fashionable custom of Japan. Discover the fascinating history and evolution of the Japanese national attire in a meticulously curated show.

Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk at the V&A in London will be the largest and most comprehensive exhibition ever staged in the UK entirely dedicated to the traditional garments, offering an in-depth and wide-ranging study of the unique and cultural garment in fashion history.

Considered to be the ultimate symbol of Japanese fashion, the kimono is often seen as traditional and unchanging. Across the galleries, the presentation showcases the diversity of its design, the ancestral craftsmanship and the modern interpretation of the Kimono presenting the garment as a constantly evolving part of fashion.

Christian Dior Haute Couture SS07

The curator of the exhibition, Anna Jackson states: “Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk will uncover both the sartorial and social significance of the kimono from the 1660s to the present day, both locally in Japan but also on a global platform. Visitors will be able to discover rare 17th and 18th century kimonos which will be displayed for the first time in the UK, together with creations by major fashion designers, iconic film props and performance costumes cementing the place of the kimono across various mediums.”

Grazia picks a few favorites from the display, which include a kimono created by Living National Treasure Kunihiko Moriguchi, the dress designed for singer and avant-garde performer Björk by British couturier Alexander McQueen and famously worn on the album cover of her Homogenic record, and also original Star Wars costumes modelled on kimono by John Mollo and Trisha Biggar.

Thom Browne Menswear SS16

Additionally, with designs by Yves Saint Laurent, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons and John Galliano from his Dior era, this particular section will focus and reveal the kimono’s role as a constant source of inspiration for fashion designers highlighting its strong impact on the Haute Couture world.

Alongside garments, the exhibition will also include paintings, prints, films, dress accessories and other objects, providing additional context to the fascinating story of the style and influence of the kimono throughout the years.

Reflecting on its past but also forecasting on its future, its appeal and versatility remain obvious in menswear creations by the likes of American designer Thom Browne or closer to home, Japanese designer Takahashi Hiroko who is bringing together the kimono and her signature hallmark inclusive of circular and geometric straight lines patterns.

Madonna Nothing Really Matters video, 1999, New York City

Concluding about the exhibition, Anna Jackson said: “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.” A truly extensive yet entertaining exhibition capturing the spirit of the kimono making it a must-see to all fashion connoisseurs. 

  • Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk will be on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum from the 29 February 2020 until the 21 June 2020

Photos: Getty Images, Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum; Frank Micelotta, Courtesy of Image Direct