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  • Writer's pictureBeyond the Canvas

Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk -Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Updated: Feb 14, 2022

Iconic, but not frozen in time - a garment that continues to evolve and fascinate. That is the premise of this show that traces the history, transformation and global influence of the Japanese kimono from the 17th century to these days.

Over 300 stunning sartorial masterpieces that show us how the kimono, literally 'the thing to wear', went from everyday outfit in Japan to object of aesthetic inspiration and cultural appropriation in the West. Some of the Western tributes by the likes of Galliano, JP Gaultier and the late Alexander McQueen are particularly striking, but I thought the recent reinterpretations by Japanese designers were the most playful and inventive.

Sanitising gel abounds, but forget about social distancing. The show runs to October 25th and is sold out, so if you don't have a ticket you can always watch the videos of the curator tour:

Left: a kimono which belonged to Freddie Mercury

Centre: outfit designed for Madonna by Jean Paul Gaultier in 1999.

Right: kimono designed by Alexander McQueen for Bjork

Galliano for Dior in 2007

A kimono entitled 'Please let others sit comfortably' by Japanese artists Yokoyama Yumiko and Kadowaki Takahiro.

Kimono costumes from the Star Wars movies (none of which I have seen). On the left is the costume for Obi-Wan Kenobi, played by Alec Guinness in 1977.

Stunning costumes by Colleen Atwood from Memoirs of a Geisha. What a terrible movie that was.

Years ago in Tokyo I had my (tacky and touristy) kimono moment, too. To this day, the most uncomfortable thing I have ever worn.

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