My kimono inspiration

I’ve always been mad about kimonos. I see them as the absolute ultimate in textile design excellence. Their simple, straight panels make them the perfect canvas for patterns, colour and expression.

For years, I’ve collected reference images of kimonos, knowing that one day they would come in useful for one of my designs. The tipping point came in 2020. I visited the V&A Kimono exhibition, then the  world went into lockdown. As I started work on a new bed linen collection locked up alone in the studio, I knew I wanted to create a special kimono design.

Here a couple of reasons why I find kimonos so inspiring…

They tell a story
I’m always struck by how the most beautiful kimonos take you ona  visual journey

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The RED kimono would only have been worn by an unmarried woman for a special occasion. On this one, your eye follows the branches of the blossoming plum tree from hem to shoulder.

The ORANGE silk robe features a scattering of lucky symbols – peonies, butterflies and plum blossom.

Within the lattice pattern of the golden YELLOW kimono costume there are small slices of a garden.

The blossom seems to shimmer on the checkerboard of the 1950s GREEN kimono.

Cormorants fish on the pale BLUE summer kimono.

Plants and flowers from all four seasons are represented on the INDIGO kimono.

On the PURPLE kimono, you can just about see a red string with bells on it that zigzags between the blossoming cherry tree branches.

For my design, I tried to conjure up a cloud forest that I’d visited on a trip to Costa Rica in 2018. The trees gradually revealed themselves in the mist and it was just the most incredible experience.

Gorgeous colour palettes
Another thing kimonos get just right is the balance of colours – each with its own symbolic meaning. Apparently purple is used on kimonos as a metaphor for undying love. This comes from the fact that the plant used to create the purple dye has very long roots.

I decided to work with a dusky palette of blush pink, plum, cherry and misty teal, that you’d want to return to night after night. It echoes  the tones of the woodblock print below –

One day, I hope I’ll get a chance to go to Kyoto, and maybe catch a glimpse of people wearing kimonos in real life strolling through blossom-lined streets. In the meantime, here is a pic I found of me and Stanley’s alter egos in 19th-century Japan. He’s just knocked over an orchid, naughty cat!

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