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Exhibition Review- Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk at the Victoria and Albert Museum from 29 February to 21 June 2020

 

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The V&A presents Europe’s first major exhibition on kimono. Considered one of the symbols of Japan, the kimono is seen as traditional and unchanging. This exhibition challenges this conception, by presenting the garment as a dynamic and evolving icon of fashion.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The exhibition explores the social significance of the kimono from the 1660s to the present day, both in Japan and in the rest of the world. Rare 17th and 18th century kimono are displayed for the first time in the UK, together with fashions by major designers and iconic film and performance costumes. The kimono’s recent reinvention on the streets of Japan by an exciting new wave of contemporary designers and stylists is also considered.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Almost 300 works are featured in the show, including kimono especially made for the show, some from the V&A’s collections and the rest loaned by museums and private collections in Britain, Europe, America and Japan.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The exhibition begins by looking at the origins of the kimono in mid-17th century Japan. Wealthy merchant classes looked at the kimono as a status symbol to express their affluence and taste, leading actors and famous courtesans wore the latest Kimono styles and became the trend-setters of the day.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The simple structure of the kimono allowed for the creation of complex patterns using sophisticated techniques. The first section of the exhibition explores some of these designs and how fashion in the period was fed by a cult of celebrity and encouraged by makers, sellers and publishers.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Kimono were first exported to Europe in the mid-17th century and foreign fabrics were also brought to Japan and incorporated into kimono. The exhibition features rare survivors from this early period of cultural exchange, including garments made in Japan for the Dutch and kimono tailored from French brocade and Indian chintz.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The late 19th century saw a worldwide craze for Japanese art and design and Kimono could be bought from department stores such as Liberty & Co. in London. Japanese designers began to make bold embroidered ‘kimono for foreigners’, while the Japanese market experimented with European textile technology and chemical dyes.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The kimono’s biggest impact on western fashion came in the early 20th century, when the fascination with East Asia led to designers used the regions symbols and designs in clothes, jewellery and dress-accessories.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The final section of the exhibition provides evidence how the kimono has continued to inspire fashion designers around the world. The potential of the garment to be transformed is seen in designs by Thom Browne, Duro Olowu and Yohji Yamamoto.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The kimono’s universal quality has made it a popular costume for film and performance. The display includes the outfit worn by Toshirō Mifune in Sanjūrō, Oscar-winning costumes from Memoirs of a Geisha, and the Jean Paul Gaultier ensemble worn by Madonna in her video Nothing Really Matters, the dress designed for Björk by Alexander McQueen and worn on the album cover Homogenic, and original Star Wars costumes modelled on kimono by John Mollo and Trisha Biggar.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Japan is currently witnessing a resurgence of interest in kimono. Jōtarō Saitō designs kimono couture for the catwalk, Hiroko Takahashi bridges the divide between art and fashion, and more casual street styles are created by small, independent studios such as Rumi Rock and Modern Antenna.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

This visually stunning exhibition tells the history of the Kimono, although the garment has its origins in the Japanese merchant classes, it has developed in many ways for the Japanese and global market over the centuries. The exhibition provides evidence of that development and how a relatively simple costume has been recreated in a myriad of ways. It is interesting that a garment that has featured as a part of cultural exchange since the 17th century provides endless fascination with designers and the general public.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and tickets, visit the V & A website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in  2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Gallery Review : Europe 1600-1815 Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum from 9th December 2015

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The V&A presents a new suite of galleries dedicated to the arts and design in Europe between 1600 and 1815. The seven galleries have been transformed to display the Museum’s unrivalled collection of 17th- and 18th-century European art and design. Europe 1600-1815 continues the story of art and design that begins in the Medieval & Renaissance galleries which was opened in 2009 and completes the restoration of the entire front wing of the Museum.

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The four main galleries introduce the story in chronological sequence, alternating with three smaller galleries that focus on specific activities: collecting in the Cabinet; entertainment and glamour in the Masquerade and enlightened thought in the Salon . The displays illustrate how France succeeded Italy as the leader of fashionable art and design in Europe in the second half of the 17th century. The French court of Louis XIV in particular set the trends and fashions for the French aristocracy and beyond. Specialist workshops were set up to produce luxury items for the court and to export abroad.

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This period coincided with many European states exploring and exploiting resources from Africa, Asia and the Americas. This created enormous wealth that led to fashionable homes having more and more decorative items to show to your family and friends. From the mid 16th to the early 18th century, many people put together collections of objects in what was known as cabinets. These collections ranged from small collection of rarities to vast private museums.

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However, this period was not just about material wealth but also the wealth of ideas, the salons of 18th-century houses were rooms for conversation, entertainment and relaxation. They were also places where the ideas of the intellectual movement known as the Enlightenment were debated. Enlightenment thinkers began to challenge ideas based only on tradition and custom and especially those concerning the monarchy and the Church. Instead, they championed reason and scientific study to create a new society. To celebrate the Age of Reason, the V&A have commissioned an installation entitled the Globe, at the centre of the room is a specially commissioned artwork by the Cuban art collective Los Carpinteros (The Carpenters) in which visitors can chat and debate .

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The clash between absolute monarchy and ideas of the Enlightenment was to lead to the French Revolution, however although the aristocracy was decimated, Napoleon had himself crowned emperor in 1804 and made decorative and fine arts central to the new Empire. Patronage from the imperial court revived French manufacturing, and the production of luxury goods became part of the idea of French military and cultural supremacy.

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The galleries feature three historical interiors which invite visitors to imagine life in the fashionable homes of the time: a 17th-century French bedchamber; a Parisian cabinet from the reign of Louis XVI and a mirrored room from 18th-century Italy.

One little known aspect of the new galleries is the collection of John Jones which forms the foundation of the 18th-century French decorative arts collections in the Europe 1600-1815 galleries. John Jones was a businessman who in 1882 left his large collection of fine and decorative arts to the Museum ‘for the benefit of the nation’. He lived in a house in Piccadilly and created a collection of French fine and decorative art of the 18th century that was considered one of the finest collections of its kind in private hands. His story is told in one of the small alcoves that adjoins the main rooms.

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The new galleries contain some of most important works held by the V&A, including some spectacular examples of textiles and fashion, painting and sculpture, ceramics and glass, furniture and metalwork, prints and books. Many objects were made in Europe by its finest artists and craftsmen for the period and gives some indication of the remarkable wealth accumulated from home and abroad. The introduction of new state-of-the-art cases and lighting shows the items in all their magnificence and splendour. These free to visit galleries are well worth a visit to understand one of the most important periods of European history when the old social orders were beginning to be transformed by the ideas of the Enlightenment.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like more information, visit the V&A website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

A Short Guide to the Victoria and Albert Museum

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The Victoria and Albert Museum (often called the V&A),  is the world’s largest museum of Decorative Arts and Design, housing a permanent collection of over 2.5 million objects.
The Museum owes its existence to the success of the Great Exhibition of 1851, profits from the Exhibition were used to establish the Museum of Manufactures and provide money to purchase exhibits.

The Museum moved to its present site in 1857 and was renamed the South Kensington Museum. The Museum buildings grew rapidly as did the collections including many forms of decorative art from all periods. It also acquired fine art especially paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture.

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In 1899, Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone of a new building designed to give the Museum a grand façade and main entrance. To mark the occasion, it was renamed the Victoria and Albert Museum, in memory of Prince Albert.

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Throughout the 20th century, the collections continued to grow until the present day and the Museum’s collections of ceramics, glass, textiles, dress, silver, ironwork, jewellery, furniture, sculpture, paintings, prints and photographs are considered some of the most important in the world.

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The museums incredibly diverse collections are not all related to the past, contemporary design is an important part of the V&A’s newer collections and exhibitions by modern designers are very popular.

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The Museum is vast and full of interesting objects, therefore it is worth going on a guided tour to discover some of the museums highlights.

Highlights

Tipu’s Tiger  is one of the V&A’s most popular exhibits. The wooden model of a tiger attacking a European was made for Tipu Sultan, ruler of Mysore in India, in the 1790s.

The Luck of Edenhall is a 13th-century Syrian glass beaker

Famous 12th-century Gloucester candlestick

A writing box  which belonged to Henry VIII and was made in 1525.

There are approximately 16,000 objects from China including a spectacular Qing dynasty carved lacquer imperial throne.

The Ardabil carpet at the V&A is the world’s oldest dated carpet (made in Iran in 1539)

The ‘Three Graces’ sculpture by Antonio Canova

The Great Bed of Ware is Britain’s most famous bed; made in the 1590s, it is over 11 feet long and ten feet wide, and is mentioned in Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’.

The museum has around 20 works by the sculptor Rodin, making it one of the largest collections of the sculptor’s work outside France; these were given to the museum by the sculptor in 1914, as acknowledgement of Britain’s support of France in World War.

One of the most unusual collections is the Cast Courts, two very large rooms that houses hundreds of plaster casts of sculptures, friezes and tombs. One of the rooms is dominated by a full-scale replica of Trajan’s Column, cut in half in order to fit under the ceiling.

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The V&A Café

The V&A Café is a popular spot for lunch with  hot dishes, salads, sandwiches, pastries and cakes, as well as hot and cold drinks, wine and beer. it is located in  the V&A’s original refreshment rooms, the Morris, Gamble and Poynter Rooms. These three rooms formed the first museum restaurant in the world. In the summer there is a Garden Café for drinks and snacks.

The V&A Shop

Equally popular is the  V&A Shop which offers a wide range of unusual products inspired by the V&A’s extensive collections. It has a series of gifts to suit all ages and pockets which include Jewellery, furniture, books, prints, textiles, toys, ceramics, fashion, design, glass and accessories.

Admission to the V&A is free

Although some exhibitions and events may carry a separate charge.
Museum opening hours
10.00 to 17.45 daily
10.00 to 22.00 Fridays (selected galleries remain open after 18.00)
Closing commences 10 minutes before time stated

Closed 24, 25 and 26 December

For more information about the V and A Museum, visit their website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January, we attract thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

 

Exhibition – William Kent : Designing Georgian Britain at the V and A – 22nd March to 13th July

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William Kent by William Aikman    1723–25   © National Portrait Gallery, London

Location –  Cromwell Rd, London SW7 2RL

A collaboration between the V&A and the Bard Graduate Center examines the life and work of William Kent (1685-1748), the leading architect and designer of early Georgian Britain. The exhibition celebrates Kent’s work over four decades (1709-48) .

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Chiswick House by William Henry Hunt,  1828   © Devonshire Collection, Chatsworth. Reproduced by permission of the Chatsworth Settlement Trustees

Kent  turned his hand to painting, sculpture, architecture, interior decoration, furniture, metalwork, book illustration, theatrical design, costume and landscape gardening. The exhibition demonstrates how Kent’s artistic ingenuity and inventiveness led him to play a dominant role in defining British taste for the period.
The exhibition brings together nearly 200 examples of William Kent’s work including architectural drawings for prominent buildings such as the Treasury (1732–37) and Horse Guards (1745–59) at Whitehall, spectacular gilt furniture from Houghton Hall (1725-35) and Chiswick House (1727-38), designs for landscape gardens at Rousham (1738–41) and Stowe (c.1728-40; c.1746-47), as well as paintings, illustrated books and Kent’s model for the Royal palace that was never built (1735), demonstrating the versatility of the ‘Kentian’ style. Many of his most renowned works still survive in country houses around Britain and the exhibition draws together important loans from private collections alongside objects from the V&A’s own collection.

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Console table for Chiswick House   1727-32  © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Kent is perhaps best known for the interiors and landscape gardens he designed for some of Britain’s grand country estates. On display are rare examples of Kent’s richly gilded and upholstered furniture made for Chiswick House, Wanstead House and Houghton Hall,
One section of the exhibition is devoted to Kent’s designs for the new Royal Family including those he produced for Frederick, Prince of Wales’s Royal Barge (1732), Queen Caroline’s Library at St James’ Palace (1736-37) and the Hermitage in Richmond Gardens (1730-31) together with spectacular examples of silver including a chandelier commissioned for the Royal palace in Hanover.

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The Bute epergne made by Thomas Heming, designed by William Kent   Date: 1756  Courtesy of the Sotheby’s Picture Library

The exhibition also examines Kent’s projects for the redesign of Georgian London. On display are architectural renderings and elevations for the facade of Horse Guards (1753) which show Kent’s lasting impact on the appearance of London today. Other architectural projects were never realised including the proposals he submitted for a new House of Parliament (1733–40) and interiors for the House of Lords at Westminster (1735-36), designs for which are on display.
2014 marks the tercentenary of the Hanoverian accession to the throne, a crucial moment in which the new British nation created an original sense of style that is still recognised across the world today. The exhibition is one of many events taking place across Britain and Germany in celebration of the 300th anniversary.

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 Armchair for Devonshire House   Photography by Bruce White  Date: ca. 1733-40  © Devonshire Collection, Chatsworth. Reproduced by permission of Chatsworth Settlement Trustees.

 The V&A is open daily 10.00 – 17.45 and until 22.00 every Friday.

Ticket Information Tickets: £8 (concessions available)

V&A  22 March – 13 July 2014  www.vam.ac.uk/williamkent