The Kimono’s Journey to Western Fashion
Kimonos have been a part of Japanese culture for centuries, but it wasn’t until the late 19th and early 20th centuries that they started becoming popular in the Western world. As Japan began opening up to the West during the Meiji period, Westerners became fascinated with Japanese culture and fashion, leading to the introduction of the kimono to the Western fashion scene.
The Early Days of Kimono Fashion in the West
At first, kimonos were only worn by wealthy and fashionable women in the West who could afford the high price tags. They were often worn as dressing gowns or for costume parties, and were considered exotic and luxurious. Designers such as Paul Poiret and Madeleine Vionnet were some of the first to incorporate Japanese-inspired elements into their designs, such as kimono sleeves and obi belts.
The Kimono in the 1960s and Beyond
The 1960s saw a resurgence of interest in Japanese fashion, which brought the kimono back into the spotlight. Designers such as Yves Saint Laurent and John Galliano incorporated kimono-inspired silhouettes and prints into their collections, creating a fusion of Eastern and Western fashion that was both stylish and trendy. Today, kimonos continue to be worn as both traditional Japanese dress and as fashionable outerwear and accessories in the West.
Kimonos on the Runway
Over the years, fashion designers have found inspiration in the kimono to create unique and stunning runway looks. In 2015, Gucci’s Alessandro Michele sent models down the runway in printed kimonos that were updated with pleating and embroidery, while in 2019, Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri showcased a collection that was inspired by Japanese woodblock prints and featured modern interpretations of the kimono silhouette.
While the kimono has become a staple in Western fashion and is widely accepted as a fashionable garment, it has also sparked controversy in recent years. In 2015, Kim Kardashian faced backlash for wearing a beaded Givenchy dress that was inspired by the kimono but was not an authentic representation of the garment. Many accused her of cultural appropriation, sparking a larger conversation about the appropriate use of cultural dress in fashion.