Having worked with many fashion week events over the years at the beloved Victoria and Albert Museum, their latest exhibition Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk really got our heads turning.
It’s bloody crucial to us as Trufflers that we are forever keeping our blinkers wide open to learn as much as we can about the world, exploring every possible avenue and liaising with people from all different walks of life.
Culture plays a vital part of this and obviously we can’t keep ourselves away from anything fashion related even if we tried. So it seems the Kyoto to Catwalk exhibition was simply made for us. Invited into a world of bright colours and ancient traditions, this is what we found…
The History Explained
Literally translated as ‘the thing to wear’, the Kimono is an iconic Japanese garment which embodies national culture and sensibility, stretching back over a thousand years. By 1615, everyone in Japan wore kimonos regardless of their gender or social status and in the middle of the 17th century, a distinctive fashion culture was emerging in Kyoto, the centre for luxury textile production. There was a close connection between Kimono design and paintings as artists considered each garment to be a work of art.
An impact on the World
In a cultural exchange, companies brought fabrics to Japan and shipped Kimono back to Europe, having a major impact on fashion. In the 19th century, Japan became even more open to the world as the textile industry modernised, making fashionable clothing available to the masses. A global craze developed for wearing Kimono and this had a great influence on British and European designers. It’s insane to think how one garment transcended geographic borders, totally blurring the boundaries between the familiar and the foreign.
Transformations through Time
After the second World War, Japan looked to its roots for stability and the Kimono became a symbol of national and cultural identity. As such a unique garment, the Kimono reflects Japan as a place where the past and the future happily exist together, making it popular in films and performance. It continues to be re-interpreted across the world; deconstructed and reformed to serve different purposes.
A Kimono Renaissance
Until quite recently, the Kimono had slipped slightly off the radar however Japan is now experiencing a comeback. The proliferation of Japanese street style saw young Japanese people tired of the mundanity of western fashion and turning to restyling vintage garments.
A new wave of designers have subsequently emerged, approaching the Kimono from a whole new perspective. Today’s wearers mostly appreciate the Kimono not as a form of tradition, but as a dynamic, iconic fashion statement.
We certainly hope you’re left feeling well travelled after and quite possibly frantically scanning the depths of the internet for a statement Kimono. Whatever the outcome, get yourself down to the V&A to check this magical exhibition out for yourself.