As beautiful as expensive, fancy kimono are, you may only get a handful of opportunities to wear one. They tend to be associated with special holidays like the first shrine visit of the New Year, graduation, or special events. So the sad fact is that unless your kimono is specifically tailored to be for everyday wear, it may only get worn a few times before going into storage and never seeing the light of day again.
Kyoto-based company Kien is here to rescue those old kimonos from the store cupboard and make them shine in a modern way. Specifically, Kien upcycles tomesode kimono, ones worn by married women for especially formal situations that typically sport an intricate pattern along the bottom of its skirt. Kien is using a number of tomesode kimonos from the 1950s and 1960s Showa era to create stunning, stylish dresses that draw the eye and flatter the figure.
▼ This design, the Plume, emphasizes the kimono-sleeve cut and sports long sleeves of its own.
▼ Meanwhile, the Cache-coeur (overlapping sections tied with a wrap) pays homage to the wrapped-in-front aspect of original kimonos.
For all that kimono are associated with traditional Japanese beauty, it seems a shame not to sport them more often. By rebirthing old kimonos as dresses, you can take that classic, time-honored aesthetic and wear it to all kinds of parties, dinners, and slightly less formal events. The various cuts each make use of the gorgeous patterned fabric in myriad ways. In addition to two different styles of “one-piece” (dress) cut, options include a drape-neck cut, a raglan-sleeve cut, halter-neck, cache-coeur, plume, cocoon, and even a cut so that you can wear the fabric as a haori jacket.
▼ Each of the one-piece cut dresses look striking and professional.
▼ The cocoon disguises the arms and shoulders to create a more uniform, flowing silhouette.
The kimono dresses are made to order, so they still fetch a hefty price, from 66,000 yen to 104,500 yen. There are plenty of amazing ways to re-use kimono fabrics, so we’ll be keeping our eye on what else Kien sews up for us in the future!
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