Today, the V&A launches a series of five films that take viewers on a personal, 30-minute behind-the-scenes tour of our critically acclaimed exhibition Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk. Captured as the museum was closing its doors to the public, curator Anna Jackson guides viewers through the exhibition spaces, providing a personal insight into the making of the show, star exhibits and the fascinating history of the iconic garment.
The first major exhibition devoted to kimono in Europe, the show had to close two weeks into its exhibition run. Positively received by critics and visitors alike, Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk explores what is arguably the ultimate symbol of Japan. The kimono is often perceived as traditional, timeless and unchanging, but this exhibition counters this conception, presenting the garment as a dynamic and constantly evolving icon of fashion.
The exhibition reveals the sartorial and social significance of the kimono from the 1660s to the present day, both in Japan and in the rest of the world. Rare 17th– and 18th-century kimono are displayed for the first time in the UK, together with fashion from international designers and iconic film and performance costumes. The kimono’s recent reinvention on the streets of Japan is also explored through work by an exciting new wave of contemporary designers and stylists.
Highlights of the exhibition include a kimono created by Living National Treasure Kunihiko Moriguchi, the Alexander McQueen dress designed for Björk and worn on the cover of her album Homogenic, and original Star Wars costumes modelled on kimono by John Mollo. Designs by Jean Paul Gaultier and John Galliano reveal the kimono’s role as a constant source of inspiration for fashion designers. Paintings, prints, dress accessories and other objects feature throughout the exhibition, providing additional context to the fascinating story of kimono’s style, appeal and influence. Almost 300 works are featured, including kimono specially made for the show, with half being drawn from the V&A’s superlative collections and the rest generously lent by museums and private collections in Britain, Europe, America and Japan.
Anna Jackson, curator of Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk at the V&A, said: ‘Having closed the exhibition early, I am so pleased that we can share the kimono experience with viewers around the world. Many of you will be at home in lockdown, so I hope you will enjoy the opportunity to escape on a journey that will take us from the sophisticated culture of 17th century Japan to the creativity of the contemporary catwalk. We look forward to welcoming you to the V&A again soon, so you can encounter these sumptuous garments and exciting displays for yourself.’
The videos are available to watch here.
Photo credit: V&A Museum