A thing to wear

I was so happy to wander through this exhibition, Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk. The V&A has reopened after all these months of covid lockdown. And it is more enjoyable than ever because of the need to keep the number of visitors low.

Kimono is Japanese for ‘a thing to wear’. It is a long coat worn by men and women that is made of straight pieces of fabric, all held together by the wide belt called obi.

The exhibition succinctly tells the story of how the kimono changed over the centuries reflecting developments in Japanese society. It shows the intricate ways of painting on fabric – I can’t call it anything else – sometimes large designs, often most complex detailing, embroidery, dye resist, ways of treating fabrics I have never even heard about.

In the second half, the exhibition traces the influence of the kimono on the rest of the world over the past few hundred years up to the present.

And it talks about the recent resurgence of interest among the Japanese themselves and exhibits pieces by Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto alongside less well known names.

To finish off, a photo of a famous design, Alexander McQueen’s 1997 dress with obi for Bjoerk, an astonishing ‘thing to wear’.

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