A uncommon 17th century treasure from Kyoto, the costume worn by Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars and an high fashion robe designed by John Galliano for Christian Dior might be among the many displays in Europe’s first main exhibition on the kimono, the final word image of Japan.
With catwalk items by Yves Saint Laurent and Rei Kawakubo, and costumes from the Oscar-winning movie Memoirs of a Geisha in addition to a cropped Jean Paul Gaultier kimono created for a Madonna video impressed by that movie, curator Anna Jackson goals to “overturn the concept of the kimono as static, atrophied object and present it as a dynamic and continuously evolving icon of vogue”.
The story of the kimono traces Japanese society from the style-conscious celeb tradition of 19th century Japan during which kabuki actors and courtesans had been, says Jackson, “the heartthrobs and vogue icons of the day” to its disappearance from day by day life in postwar Japan, the place it develop into a codified costume mothballed in nostalgia and unwrapped just for particular events.
Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk, which opens on the V&A in February, goals to problem the institution custom during which vogue from Paris and London has been thought-about artwork and accepted as a worldwide rubric for style, whereas clothes from non-western nations have been thought to be unique curios.
The kimono was on the centre of a cultural appropriation row earlier this 12 months, when Kim Kardashian West renamed her shapewear model from “Kimono” to “Skims” six days after the announcement of its launch. The riff on her title sparked accusations of insensitivity and cultural appropriation with the mayor of Kyoto, birthplace of the kimono, writing a important open letter. Kardashian West has apologised for the offence brought about, saying that she “had actually harmless intentions”.
“Cultural appropriation is about who has the ability to talk,” mentioned Jackson on the exhibition launch. Jackson, sporting a kimono over a white shirt, mentioned she had “thought-about the query of whether or not it’s applicable for me to put on this. It’s completely applicable on my colleagues who’re Japanese, however on me – is it totally different from 19th century orientalism? This is a crucial situation. However there’s a hazard that being conscious of the reverence during which the kimono is held signifies that it will get caught previously, and that denies the influence it has had on international vogue and mimimises its energy to influence vogue sooner or later.”
The exhibition will discover the 21st century revival of the kimono amongst younger individuals in Japan who’re rejecting the industrialised pattern system of western vogue and returning to a timeless mode of gown.
Seventeenth century commerce between Japan and the Netherlands led to a Dutch vogue for kimono, tailored to the northern European local weather with heat padding. “There was already a convention of robes in Europe – consider Holbein’s The Ambassadors – however all of a sudden you get all these wealthy, vibrant colors and everybody needs one” mentioned Jackson. A 1678 portrait of Dutch aristocrat Anna Elizabeth van Reede will journey to the V&A for the exhibition, the primary time it has left the ancestral citadel for which it was painted. In Edwardian England, kimono grew to become trendy in inventive circles as a marker of bohemian style.
With its straight seams and right-angled edges the kimono, not like most western vogue, is reduce to neither hint nor exaggerate the human kind. It’s as a result of “the physique is irrelevant” to the kimono, says Jackson, that it’s historically displayed on a T-shaped body, fairly than a model.
The influence of the kimono on western vogue has been explored within the e-book accompanying the exhibition by the director of the Kyoto Costume Institute, who examines how Japanese gown tradition dramatically modified the course of Paris vogue.
Present displays will embrace a gown designed by Alexander McQueen for Björk, immortalised on the quilt of her 1997 album Homogenic, and the long-lasting Star Wars Jedi costume which George Lucas, an admirer of the movies of Akira Kurosawa, conceived as half Buddhist monk and half samurai. Milligan Beaumont, a younger designer whose graduate assortment of “kimono hoodies” was purchased in it entirety and brought on a world stadium tour by Christina Aguilera, can even function.