The Kimono Gets Reimagined In Latest CAM Exhibit

Jun 28, 2019

The kimono has been around for ages, but that doesn't mean the garb is sartorially stale. That is at least one takeaway from the Cincinnati Art Museum's latest exhibit, Kimono: Refashioning Contemporary Style. The museum is offering a free preview of the show during Art After Dark on Friday from 5-10 p.m.

Organized in partnership with the Kyoto Costume Institute and Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, the exhibit shows the kimono's enduring influence on contemporary fashion. In addition to traditional kimonos from the 19th century, the exhibit features avant-garde works by the likes of Coco Chanel, John Galliano, Iris van Herpen and Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons. All will be on display through September 15. After Friday, the show will be ticketed at a cost of $12 for non-members.

"There's lots of fashion, but also some other things like paintings - anything that might have provided some influence for the designers," explains Kaitlyn Sharo, marketing and communications manager for the museum.

The exhibit displays designs alongside the materials and decorative motifs that inspired them.
Credit Jennifer Merritt / WVXU

In the traditional sense, the kimono is a robe-like garment with long bell sleeves that is worn with a sash, or obi. But the takes on display at CAM show evening dresses, coats and even a decidedly sexier take by the late John Galliano.

Since its inception during the Heian period (794-1192) the kimono has been a unisex garment, and in that sense, this exhibit is no different, showing interpretations by designers in the Japanese "boro," or patchwork style.   

Yusuke Takahashi, Japan, for Issey Miyake Men from the designer's spring/summer 2014 collection.
Credit Takashi Hatakeyama / The Kyoto Costume Institute

During Friday's Art After Dark preview, visitors are encouraged to dress in a kimono or harajuku style, a kind of street style that blends Japanese and American fashion. "We're gong to have some awesome music, some kimono presentations where they'll be showing how to wear a kimono; we'll have food from Fusian and also some docent guided tours of the exhibition," Sharo adds. 

For more information, visit