In Japanese kimono literally means “something to wear” and later on it became more than just a
T-shaped “dress”. Originally from China, influenced by the Han people's traditional clothing during the middle of 1600s, it has been chosen as the national costume of Japan.
Kimono is a genuine revolution in terms of gender and empowerment, first of all because worn indiscriminately by males and females and secondly because of the political significance hired in recent times, opening a very topical issue regarding the concept of “cultural appropriation”.
Which is the thin line between “appreciation” and “appropriation”? The debate has been going on for years arising now more than ever amid the growing Black Lives Matter movement.
This is a constant and delicate affair especially when European Fashion presents images and symbols of other cultures without knowing anything about them. Knowledge is the only thing that will save you. With this horizon in mind, and to learn more about the history of kimono, The Victorian & Albert Museum in London dedicated an entire exhibition, this year, titled “Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk”. Whether you took part in it or not, here are a few things you need to know before buying and showing off your kimono.
Kimonos are generally made of silk and they are tied with a wide belt called “obi” and traditionally it was 12 layers. In Japanese culture it is a symbol of longevity and good fortune. The item evolved during the centuries and sometimes changes name depending on occasions. Yukata, for example, is an informal kind of Kimono signifying “bathing cloth” and comes in cotton fabric.
So there is a kimono for every season and for every wearer considering personal qualities and temperament.
But there is a golden rule not to be rude: you must wear the left panel over the right! Only the deceased wore it on the contrary.
Said this, now we are a little bit more ready to see how the kimono fever affected the Western streets and the runways looks, for better or worse.
By Alessandra Busacca