Kimono Exhibition

The V&A have put their acclaimed Kimono exhibition online with a fascinating series of films from curator Anna Jackson. Peter Gray reports.

You may have blinked and missed it during its brief two week gallery opening, but if you are still aching for a chance to see the V&A’s acclaimed ‘Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk’ exhibition, then now’s your chance. That’s because the Victoria & Albert museum (oops, there goes its street cred) have now posted a series of behind the scenes films about its much talked about Kimono exhibition online.

Led by curator Anna Jackson, the videos take in the main exhibits from the exhibition, which “reveals the sartorial, aesthetic and social significance of the garment from the 1660s to the present day”.

Jackson first tells us about the history of the garment, and when and how the garment became popular in Japan.

The kimono had been around in Japan for 1000 years but the fashion was only widely adopted in the Edo period (1603 – 1868). The garment quickly became ubiquitous, with Japanese people of all classes wearing the garment regardless of gender, class, or profession.

We are shown an array of kimonos from the period with Jackson highlighting the beauty and intricacy of each garment.

We are next introduced to the traditional design process involved in the production of the garment and how the various elements of the design came together in the finished product.

A deconstructed kimono is used to describe the various stages of the process, with Jackson describing how the merchant would first draw upon, and then dye and embroider the fabric with the intricate designs seen in the gallery.

Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk looks not only at the garment’s historic origins, but also at how the garment’s influence has spread and grown. Therefore, we see

We will also see a range of range of kimonos designed for the European market and an array of kimono inspired garments which were all the rage in the early twentieth century.

Jackson concludes here videos by placing the spotlight on some of the modern manifestations of the kimono in pop culture. These include the stunning Alexandra McQueen dress that the pop star Björk wore on the cover of her album ‘Homogenic’, and also some of the costumes from the original ‘Star Wars’ movie.

Anna Jackson’s curator led tours of ‘Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk’ can be accessed here.

For information on other great ways to access museums during the lockdown, please click here.


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What: kimono exhibition
When: on now
Where: online