• Shona McCarthy

Kimono: Styled & Restyled Exhibition in Kyoto! 2019

Updated: Mar 16

In early 2019, I got to attend The Kimono: Styled & Restyled Exhibition in Kyoto!

I remember that when I first saw the marketing for the exhibition, I found myself thinking that I would like to go, since it looked like they were trying to experiment with new ways that kimono could be worn. I had heard of and seen pictures of kimono as they were worn in earlier phases of history. But it was only after I actually arrived there that I learned they were not new designs! They were reproductions of true, old garments!

So, I was very surprised at the vibrance of colours achieved in the ancient world. As well as how much some of the outfits might have looked at home on a contemporary catwalk. The Japanese title for the showing translates as "Kimono As Fashion", so this might have been the original intent.

Since I found the exhibition by happenstance, originally believing I wouldn't have the time for it, I didn't really prepare myself for it. Which means I never learned much about who had organized it or why, or what the goal was. So, I have now tried to look up websites in the original Japanese and translate them to English using Google Translate so I can read them.

This page seems to come from the company that actually hosted the event. So they describe the location and reveal that the exhibition was celebrating the 50th Anniversary of The Kyoto Textile Wholesale Commercial Association . This is a little exciting for me to learn, since they seem to be the same group that started Kimono No Hi (Kimono Day) and launched the Kimono No Hi app!

It seems that the historical garments depicted were actually collected by members of the association, and that the Exhibition was curated by fashion historian Akiko Fukai. I'm feeling a little embarrassed of myself, since on the day that I attended, I recalled being approached by a lady who complimented me on my outfit and told me that she was the curator of the event. I didn't know what to say since I'm not very good at speaking Japanese yet, but I think she tried to show me around. Statistically, it's believable that I encountered Fukai San herself, since between 4000 and 5000 people attended the event throughout the many days that it ran. She is normally curator of the Kyoto Costume Institute, which maintains a remarkable collection of world historical fashion. So, it seems that she was a natural choice for the event.

The page includes a Youtube video from what seems to be a company channel.

I tried to find more footage from the event, but I couldn't I'm sorry to say, though there seem to be multiple articles and posts about it on the internet if you look for them. I would not like to post all of them here, since that may interfere with their ad revenue.

But I think the moral of the story is to be willing to look for exhibitions relating to your interests when you travel. They can be low cost to attend, and yet, they can create some of the most special experiences!

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