The Kimono: Travelling Across Decades and Continents


TexteManon Baeza

©Jeremy Bishop

Nowadays, the kimono is worn only occasionally in Japan, for celebrations or official events. This traditional garment had its heyday in the Edo period (1603-1868) and, since then, has not stopped travelling across centuries and continents. Some years ago already, the piece became a vital part of both masculine and feminine wardrobes.

The kimono was originally worn as an undergarment. Its T-shape and flat cut suit all body shapes. The decoration varied depending on the owner and their social status. With the rise of Japanism at the end of the 19th century, western designers such as Paul Poiret and Madeleine Vionnet redesigned the garment as a coat.

Yves Saint Laurent revisited it in 1994, and today, catwalk shows are constantly placing the garment centre stage. This is notably true for luxury Japanese brands like Kenzo, Issey Miyake, Yumi Katsura and Yohji Yamamoto.

A number of western designers, including John Galliano for Dior, Valentino, Armani, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Alexander McQueen have also reappropriated the kimono several times, still as a coat or jacket. From haute couture to ready-to-wear boutiques, the kimono is charming everyone and becoming a truly timeless piece.


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©David Yanutama