This spectacular exhibition celebrates the kimono as an iconic garment and explores its history. The ultimate signifier of Japan, it is revered within the country as the embodiment of national culture and sensibility, and internationally regarded with exotic fascination. This symbolic status and the fact that the basic shape has remained relatively consistent over the centuries, means that the kimono is often viewed as a simple, timeless garment. lt is "traditional", while "modernity" and by extension "fashion" is a western phenomenon. The aim of this exhibition is to counter this assumption and to present the kimono, not as static and unchanging, but as a highly dynamic and fashionable item of dress. Over 100 splendid kimonos, paintings, and woodblock prints from the 18th to the 20th centuries and elaborate creations by contemporary fashion designers reveal the sartorial and aesthetic significance of the kimono in historical and contemporary contexts, both in Japan and in the West where its impact on dress has been felt since the 17th century.

This exhibition was first shown at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The Museum Rietberg is the sole venue for it in German-speaking Europe.