V&A Dundee to host exhibition charting history and evolution of the kimono

A global exhibition celebrating the history, evolution and influence of an iconic Japanese garment is set to open at the V&A Dundee next month.

Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk, a major exhibition focusing on the kimono as a dynamic and ever-evolving icon of fashion, opens on Saturday May 4.

The exhibition will trace the influence of the kimono from 17th century Japan to present-day couture and global street fashion.

Visitors will have the opportunity to see rare 17th and 18th century kimonos alongside modern designs from the likes of Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, and Alexander McQueen.

A blue kimono with white designs
One of the kimonos on show at the exhibition (V&A/PA)

The kimono’s recent reinvention on the streets of Japan will also be explored through work by a new wave of contemporary designers and stylists.

Anna Jackson, exhibition curator, said: “From the sophisticated culture of 17th century Kyoto to the creativity of the contemporary catwalk, the kimono is unique in its aesthetic importance and cultural impact giving it a fascinating place within the story of fashion.”

The exhibition will challenge the idea that the kimono is simple and timeless by examining it as a dynamic item of fashionable dress that has been restyled throughout history.

Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk, V&A Dundee
Sally Pritchett models an antique kimono at the Japanese Garden in Cowden, Dollar (Jane Barlow/PA)

It includes exploring how it has influenced modern fashion and popular culture, from evening wear and festival fashion to rock stars and Star Wars.

Altogether the exhibition features some 300 items from the V&A’s own collections and collections elsewhere in the world, including garments, accessories, paintings, photographs and film clips.

The V&A Dundee will be the last stop of the Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk international tour and so this exhibition represents the final opportunity visitors have to see the works together.