Kimonos on Display

Most of us in the West are familiar with the traditional kimono. Elaborately handwoven from fine silk, such kimonos are a luxury few can afford—a traditional kimono can easily cost as much as $10,000! Of course, such kimonos are for special occasions. For more everyday wear informal kimonos are a much less costly choice.


At the turn of the century informal kimonos became even more widely available as affordable “ready-to-wear” kimonos started appearing in department stores. While they were still handwoven, they used different techniques from their more expensive counterparts.


Currently, The Art Institute of Chicago is hosting an exhibit devoted to the different styles of kimonos entitled Japanese Kimono, 1915-1940: From Tradition to Ready Wear. On display until November 13, the exhibit shows how these beautiful garments changed through the years, reflecting both ideas of modernity and traditionalism.


If you can’t make it to Chicago to see this exhibit in person, Marcuson and Hall have an online exhibit of ready-to-wear kimonos and Haori (a coat worn over a kimono) and a description of how these kimonos were made—including how the weavers faked ikat!  

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