CINCINNATI — In Kimono: Refashioning Contemporary Style, on view at the Cincinnati Art Museum from June 28–September 15, 2019, visitors can experience more than 50 ensembles by Japanese, European and American designers including Coco Chanel, Christian Louboutin, John Galliano, Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, Rei Kawakubo, Iris van Herpen and Issey Miyake.
Organized by the Kyoto Costume Institute in Japan and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, the exhibition features fashion from the 1870s to the present day along with kimono, Japanese prints, paintings and textiles.
Kimono—literally translated “thing to wear”—has impacted international fashion since Japan opened its ports to the world in the mid-1850s. The form and silhouette of kimono, its two-dimensional structure and motifs used as surface embellishment, have all been refashioned into a wide array of garments. Kimono revealed new possibilities in clothing design and helped lay the foundation for contemporary fashion design.
The exhibition explores these themes in four sections. The first explores the influence of Japanese aesthetics, called Japonsim, on artists, specifically painters, of the late nineteenth century, who depicted kimono in many of their works. The second section examines kimono’s influence on fashion from the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, when couture designs were inspired by the shape and cut of kimono and incorporated Japanesque motifs in their surface decoration.
Two of the pieces included in this section address the use of kimono by Westerners as dressing gowns with a Cincinnati connection. The third section examines contemporary fashion and the continued use of variations on the kimono silhouette along with traditional weaving, dyeing and decorative techniques. The final section demonstrates how Japan continues to inspire the world of fashion through popular design, including manga and anime.
From a nineteenth century gown decorated with Japanese-inspired floral motifs to a 1960s dress tied with an obi-like sash to couture designs as recent as 2016, Kimono: Refashioning Contemporary Style, is a product of international collaboration between Japanese and American institutions. It makes clear that kimono has had a strong presence in fashion and continues to be an inspiration for designers worldwide.
Tickets for Kimono: Refashioning Contemporary Style are free for museum members. Tickets will soon be available for purchase by the general public at the Cincinnati Art Museum front desk and online at
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The Cincinnati Art Museum is supported by the generosity of individuals and businesses that give annually to Artswave. The Ohio Arts Council helps fund the Cincinnati Art Museum with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. The Cincinnati Art Museum gratefully acknowledges operating support from the City of Cincinnati, as well as our members.
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