The kimono conquers the world

The kimono is not a vestige of the past, but an element that follows, and will continue, to stimulate creativity.

The kimono, a stimulus for fashion around the world

At the moment, the kimono enjoys a protagonism like never before. For a time, it was considered an exclusive garment for ceremonies but now is elegant clothing for everyday life. In addition, foreign designers consider it a source of inspiration. In the world of fashion, there is a tendency to redesign the garments of different villages.

Famous designers

First of all, one of the most recent is the men’s coat that John Galliano designed for the Maison Margiela brand as part of his spring-summer 2018 collection. The cloth was from an obi – kimono belt – old man who stood out for his colorful and pomp.

In addition, another example is Christian Louboutin’s autumn-winter 2017 collection, wonderful fabric boots with motifs such as bamboo, plums and cranes, all inspired by the kimonos of the second half of the Edo period.

We are particularly interested in the men’s suits that were part of Thom Browne’s spring-summer 2016 collection. These are suits to wear, with the sobriety characteristic of these garments, which have been given a modern and pop touch including motifs typical of a kimono.

If we go back in time, we also find renowned designers who gave prominence to Japan’s own fashion culture:

  • Alexander McQueen
  • Ives Saint Laurent
  • Cristóbal Balenciaga
  • Madeleine Vionnet
  • Paul Poiret
  • Jacques Doucet

Interest in kimonos

We found the answer in some very interesting facts. In the 17th century, the Dutch East India Company took a cotton-filled kimono from Japan from the Edo period. This light and exotic warm clothing would become a valuable knight’s robe. Its success was such that many copies were distributed.

After that, in the second half of the 19th century, the era of Japanism – the rise of Japanese culture – many Japanese works reached different parts of the world, which influenced impressionist painters. The kimono also had an outstanding performance in its art.

It could be said that Parisian fashion and kimono converged naturally. This beautiful and exotic garment conquered French women. Shortly, silk decorated with Japanese motifs burst into Paris fashion.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the designers of the French capital gave importance to kimono. Around 1910, silhouette coats and kimono-inspired dresses such as the uchikake – a silk kimono with long sleeves and rich ornaments commonly worn at weddings – were presented to the beautiful women.

In the 1920s, creators such as Madeleine Vionnet and Paul Poiret, noticed the cut of some kimonos, shaped like tea, and made a fashion based on cylindrical forms of straight lines sewing several rectangular fabrics. Western fashion now had new methods. From that moment on, the possibilities increased thanks to the freedom of forms.


The “Kimono Refashioned” exhibition, which reviews the relationship between kimono and Western fashion opened in:

  • October 2018 at the Newark Museum.
  • February 2019 at the San Francisco Museum of Asian Art.
  • June 2019 it will reach Cincinnati.

In conclusion, it has been made possible thanks to the collaboration of the Kyoto Fashion Institute and the three American museums where it has been or will be.

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