Kimonologue: Don the eastern-inspired traditional kimonos with a contemporary reinvention

Experiment with vivid hues, Indianised silhouettes, patterns and fabrics this season

The fashion industry has a special fondness for looking towards the eastern hemisphere for inspirations. So it’s no surprise that the countless runway collections that looked eastward for their Spring/Summer line yielded a singular result — kimonos. Emerging as one of the season’s key motifs, international designers from Alexander McQueen to Alexander Wang were seen marrying the delicacy of traditional Japanese fabrics with perforated neoprene belts tied casually atop sharp blazers.

“I feel this season is all about embracing an easy dressing philosophy and Japanese-inspired kimonos are a perfect way to go about it,” avers designer Pallavi Puri. She adds, “With a dash of bohemian aesthetic, kimonos are a perfect accompaniment that can be worn as a dress, a cover-up, a shirt/blouse and so on. The silhouette options are limitless and the styles are highly versatile. Also, the silhouette of the kimono is flattering to all body types.”

Talking about the evolution of traditional kimonos, designer duo Ashima and Leena share, “Kimonos are conventional Japanese T-shaped straight lined robes, which unfortunately are becoming extinct in Japan. They are now used specifically for ceremonial purposes. However, over the years, many variations and adaptations have been found all over the world. We have seen the traditional kimono evolving into kimono-style blouses, jackets, slip dresses, overcoats, etc. and keeping in mind the Indian summers, we would like to advise women to opt for kimonos in lightweight sheer fabrics such as chiffons, satiny silks and cottons.”

On the other hand, designer Anupama Dayal talks about the shorter version of this outfit. She says, “I like the shorter avatar of kimonos as I feel that they are more compact and can be worn as a top. Also, the absence of a collar makes the style more flattering to the Indian body type and the shorter length takes away some of the ‘too casual’ bedroom feel.” She adds that since Indians are famous for Indianising anything including clothes, “Indianising” kimonos could be a wonderful option as well. Anupama says, “Embroideries will be a great Indian addition and so will embracing Indian colours and patterns. Go for bright hues and pair it with Indian trousers. My only concern is that it should not become a heavy-weighted outfit. The charm of the modern kimono is in its lightness.”

Pallavi agrees and points out, “Keep it light and go for Parsi gara embroideries and Jamavar patterns to ‘Indianise’ this ensemble. The trick is to balance the Indian elements vis-a-vis the international along with keeping in mind, the traditional kimono aesthetic of the far East.”

Designer Esha Amin adds that besides Indian designs and patterns in sheer fabrics such as nets and chiffons, women could also opt for silks. She says, “Silks can give any garment a quintessential rich Indian appearance and one can play with embroideries, appliques, mirrors, sequins to add a subtle bling factor.”

Lastly, as the beautiful garment is incomplete without belts accentuating the waist, designer Shruti Sancheti asserts, “Belts play a huge role in the outfit and should be tied in the traditional way, but in a completely contrasting colour palette. If your kimono is black, then the sash, tie or belt could be in a neon hue or vice versa. If you are donning a printed kimono, the belt could be a solid, bold colour.”

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