By Anna Jackson
The Khalili Collection of kimonos comprises over 200 garments spanning 300 years of Japanese textile artistry. The form of the T-shaped, straight-seamed, front-wrapping kimono has changed very little over the centuries, yet the collection reveals an astonishing variety of designs. The garments presented here convey the remarkable creativity of designers who produced works of art that would enfold the wearer. The enormous range of patterns were executed in a complex combination of techniques, with some garments requiring the expert skills of a number of different artisans.
The Khalili Collection includes formal, semi-formal and informal kimono, underkimono and jackets, worn by women, men and children. Represented are the sophisticated garments of the samurai elite and the affluent merchant classes of the Edo period (1603– 1868), the shifting styles and new colour palette of Meiji-period dress (1868–1912) and particularly the bold and dazzling kimono of the Taisho- (1912–26) and early Sho-wa (1926–89) eras, which utilized innovative techniques and drew fresh inspiration from both past traditions and the modern world.
Here, an international team of authors examine the art and evolution of the kimono in the historical context of the 17th to the 20th centuries, under the editorship of Anna Jackson, Keeper of the Asian Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.