Hello Tango! I am writing my blog from London. Perhaps it seems strange to be writing about kimono from London, but I am here for a very special reason. The biggest kimono exhibition that there has ever been outside Japan, has just opened in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
For over 150 years the Victoria and Albert Museum has been collecting beautiful arts and crafts from around the world. They have fine collections of ukiyoe, inro, tea bowls and many other Japanese items. They also have a lot of kimono from the Edo period on. The title of the exhibition is “Kimono: From Kyoto to Catwalk”, and the purpose of the show is to emphasise the fact that the kimono has always been changing, adapting and absorbing new influences and is not only a part of Japanese culture, but also a fashionable dress.
As I have introduced contemporary kimono designers to the museum, and written about them in the exhibition book, I was able to go to the opening party with the designers. Can you imagine how exciting it was to see hundreds of people lining up to see the kimono exhibition? We waited for the big wooden doors to open, and were welcomed inside by the curator. We were all given champagne to drink and we enjoyed taking photographs in the fantastic entrance hall of the museum. After this we were able to walk through the museum, which is very large, to see the kimono exhibition.
The first section of the exhibition is in a space with tea green walls, and bamboo fences. It evokes the Edo world. It continues through the period of mixing and matching when dresses were inspired by the kimono and its straight lines, and when suiting from the west was used to make kimono. A mirror-filled room created the sense of modernism that is seen in meisen and modernist kimono and finally the space opens into a huge white space. It contains not only contemporary kimono, but kimono like garments or those inspired by kimono.
The designers rushed through the first part of the show to see their kimono on display. It was a moving experience to stand with them, while they observed their kimono on display in one of the world’s most famous museum. Sometimes I felt moved to tears.
I never imagined I would see such a fantastic kimono exhibition in London. The designers were excited that their work was right near the Star Wars costumes, the kimono inspired dresses worn by Bjork and Madonna, and the kimono bought by Freddie Mercury. I was so happy to be there because I feel that the opening of this show is a great moment in the history of kimono.