Kimono fashion has recently had a tremendous renaissance in the fashion world and it looks as if it has come to stay. It has been visible both on the streets and at catwalks of Céline, Gucci, Marnis and Moschino – not to mention Japanese fashion designers like e.g. Jotaro Saito.
The kimono is relaxed and is perfect on the beach, in the city and at work. Styled on top of jeans wearing high heels or sneakers or as a wrap-around dress.
An exclusive selection of vintage silk kimonos available from Nordic Poetry
But, the kimono is not a new trend! Around 700 the Japanese invented what we today call the kimono.
In Japanese kimono 着物 means a thing to wear, but the classic kimono actually tells stories and is not simply a piece of clothing.
All of the patterns, colors, mountain landscapes, birds and flowers that adorn the kimono and the obi belt indicate something about the person wearing it. What is the person’s status, age, conviction? Is he rich? Single? All this is symbolized on the fabric.
For example, the colors: Blue frightens snakes and insects away because the blue indigo color was previously used for bites. Purple stands for immortal love because the color comes from the plant Lithospermum that has very long roots. And red symbolizes youthfulness and desire.
And the motives as well have meanings. For example seigaiha a pattern of overlapping circles symbolizes the ebb and flow of life.
A peacock is associated with love, goodwill, nurturing, and a kind heart and cranes symbolize longevity and good fortune since cranes are believed to live for a thousand years and inhabit the land of the immortals.
River or a winding stream represents continuity and the future and chrysanthemum is an auspicious symbol of regal beauty, rejuvenation and longevity. Used as the imperial seal of Japan, it also represents autumn. Cherry blossom symbolizes new beginnings, renewal (early spring), beauty and the transience of life with its distinctive notched petals that blooms briefly and is fragile.
On the traditional winter kimono is mostly bamboo and pine trees whereas the spring kimono are featuring more bright colors and flowers.
Dressed in spring kimonos with bright colors. Captured in Kyoto by Paolo Votino.
In this way, the Japanese have used the kimono to show their identity for centuries. However, the symbols were not attached much importance when the kimono came to Europe in the early 1900s. Here it was simply used as a piece of pure fashion and an everyday lighter version including the haori was introduced as we see it in the Western fashion scene today.
The haori is a kimono style jacket with swinging sleeves available in a short and a long version. Haori kimono jackets, unlike kimonos, do not need a sash or obi. They are either worn open or loosely fastened at center front with a tie, but they also look fantastic with a belt and mix perfectly with western clothing.
Dressed in long traditional Haori without a belt. Captured in Kyoto by Paolo Votino.
Vintage 70’s hand-painted butterflies silk haori available at Nordic Poetry
A nice way to make a fashion statement is to invest in a vintage kimono, haori or vintage kimono bag.
EXODOS Copenhagen produces and markets unique and numbered kimono messenger bags and hand-knitted clutches with kimono lining made by hand from top quality vintage or new kimono fabric manufactured in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan famous for its textile tradition. All bags come with a certificate.
EXODOS Copenhagen Messenger Bag featuring peacocks
Beautiful messenger bag with seigaiha pattern symbolizing the ebb and flow of life.
Clutch hand-knitted from 100% Alpaca yarn with Japanese kimono silk lining