Hello, fellow kimono lovers of all shapes, sizes, colors, & geographic persuasions!
If you’re like me, and love modern kimono dressing—especially my favorite —you’re in for a treat! kimono hime style
Kimono princessing is all about mixing East and West, colors and patterns, styles and eras, and it warmly embraces
vintage, second-hand delights as well as new. But there are a growing number of talented designers who have boosted the ancient artform onto modern runways, and the results are utterly swoonworthy. If you haven’t been introduced to these fabulous brands yet, here’s a peek at my favorite modern kimono designers. (But don’t say I didn’t warn you: hide your credit card first, because it will definitely be trying to leap from your wallet!)
I love everything this designer has ever put together. She designs and illustrates her own fabrics in a painterly mixed-media style, and her choice of subject matter never fails to amuse and amaze
You can see her illustration style a little better here. Isn’t this a fabulous balance between modern and retro?
Here’s the designer herownself in one of her coordinations (at one of her trunk shows in Harajuku). I’d never have the nerve to put that kimono, obi and jacket together, which just shows what a novice I am, because it totally works
Even when she does elegant, it’s head-swiveling and eye-popping
You can romp through her current collection on the
Tamao Shigemune website, but I also like her blog and @tamamshi Instagram, which are filled with more casual shots and great coordinations
Everything they make is sooooo stylish
Their obis are especially…hard…to…resist…aieeeee!
And look what I discovered on their Instagram! If you don’t have quite enough cash lying around to invest in their kimonos and obi, you can indulge your princess fantasies by renting one of their beyond-fabulous yukata coordinations for a day (more on rentals after I check it out myself!)
Mamechiyo Modern’s online store and you can see their coordinations and accessories on their @mamechiyomodern Instagram
If a Gothic Lolita grew up to become the coolest of kimono designers, this would be her collection
The black and white pieces are modern and retro, fashion cult and Japon-esque, all at the same time
The collection’s not all black and white, and even the more mainstream colors and patterns work in deliciously offbeat ways, like this kimono and obi fashioned of the same fabric and tied in a nouveau-Edo style
More kimono inspiration on the
Double Maison website and their extra-fab Instagram @doublemaison
This collection is an elegant and unexpected riff on kimono hime style (with just a hint of goth), made of unusual fabrics (lace and velvet!) and designs that incorporate inventive obi folding and details like edgy western corset lacing
Their traditional designs are also anything but, like this strikingly anti-seasonal, yet festive, furisode for Coming-of-age Day
They’re also pioneering easy-to-wear summer yukata, that are much faster to put on, because they dispense with obi-tying in favor of a wide, sleek belt that’s still in harmony with traditional yukata
Kiiro’s 2020 collection can be found on
this page and their furisode can be ogled in the Mimatsu Group online store.
Nyan, nyan! This big girl is sporting a little-girl-style obi, and it makes this ensemble even more charmingly casual
Manga don’t care
Modern Antenna’s dramatic patterns leave no doubt that you’ve come out of your shell on Coming-of-age Day
Modern Antenna website. These photos are from their Mod Series and Polka Dot Series. Their @modern_antenna Instagram is wonderful too.
SAKUTEN (SAKU LABORATORY)
Sakuten (Saku Laboratory) became famous for their obi with a cat “sleeping” on the obijime
But their collection is filled with entertaining tongue-in-cheek themes, like this unwrapped chocolate bar that’s attracting some uninvited guests (HA, don’t you love the tinfoil obiage?)
Even their “traditional” coordinations (like these dancing ghosts and demons) are freed from the traditional seasons, and celebrate holidays that are definitely off the beaten calendar
They even have some excellent “manly” designs, for kimono princes
Tons more entertaining Sakuten designs can be found on their fabulous
@gofukuyasan Instagram and the Gofukuyasan website
HIGH CALORIE OTOME （ハイキャロリオトメ）
High Calorie Otome also has a famous cat obi, and their charming designs incorporate breezy patterns and creative musubi techniques
High Calorie Otome website, where you can see their whole line
If it’s tradition-busting motifs you’re after, RumiRock features bad girl rocker designs like snakes and their skins…
Even their summer wear would look right at home on a live house stage
All the RumiRock offerings are un their
online shop and you can check out their newest designs on their @rumirockstore Instagram
But if it’s kimonos fit for rock royalty you’re craving, you can’t get more legit than this line designed by Yoshiki, the legendary drummer/pianist of X Japan
This year, he’s got a superhero obsession
But his heros and villians are elevated to high art when writ large all over a kimono
Skull season has never been more stylish
More eye candy is on the
Yoshikimono website and you can catch a glimpse of the master himself amid the kimonos on the @yoshikimono official Instagram
Shito Hisayo is also doing swoonworthy work for the modern princess, like these lavish Coming-of-age Day furisodes that break all the rules in the best possible way
The entire collection can be seen on the
Shito Hisayo website, but all the latest designs and coordinations can be glimpsed on the @shitohisayo_official Instagram
Jotaro Saito may be the king of modern kimono designers, with his luxe runway shows in Tokyo and New York
His fabric designs and color combinations are untraditional—but timeless and not tied to any season—and they all do that classic kimono thing of looking fabulous on women of any age
He makes men of any age look dashing too
Photos of his runway show at Tokyo Fashion Week 2020 are on the
Jotaro Saito web shop page and his Instagram @jotarosaito
Do you have a favorite designer who I left out? Tell me in the comments, because I never get tired of discovering new looks and this won’t be the last time you’ll read about modern kimono here!
And now the only thing left to say is, TAKE MY MONEY!
was chosen as an The Last Tea Bowl Thief Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon!
“A great read!” —Liza Dalby, author of
Geisha and The Tale of Murasaki
For three hundred years, a missing tea bowl passes from one fortune-seeker to the next, altering the lives of all who possess it… read more
Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly newsletter Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had