Freddie Mercury, Bjork and David Bowie in 'rock and robe' hall of fame for V&A Kimono exhibition

Robert Dex
Brian McLaughlin/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Freddie Mercury is joining Bjork, David Bowie and Madonna in the V&A’s ‘rock and robe’ hall of fame after one of his kimonos was added to its exhibition of Japanese fashion.

The garment, believed to have been bought by the singer during a tour of Japan with his band Queen, has been loaned to the museum in South Kensington by a private collector.

Mercury himself collected Japanese art and regularly wore a kimono on stage during gigs in the 1970s as well as at home with Rami Malek even donning one for his Oscar winning portrayal of the singer in the 2018 film Bohemian Rhapsody.

It is going on show alongside a kimono-style dress designed for Björk by Alexander McQueen and worn on the album cover Homogenic, and a Jean Paul Gaultier robe worn by Madonna in her video for Nothing Really Matters.

Other exhibits include kimono costumes made for Star Wars and an image of David Bowie performing in a kimono during a 1974 tour.

Curator Anna Jackson said Mercury’s kimono was “a rather beautiful thing”.

She said: “The kimono travels across borders, it is east and west, male and female. It can be traditional or avant-garde and presumably that ambiguity appealed to him.

Freddie on film: Rami Malek in character as Freddie Mercury in 2018's Bohemian Rhapsody

“There is a timeless quality about them that is quite futuristic and slightly exotic as well as ambiguous.

“There are pictures of Freddie on stage in a rather bold kimono but this is one he wore at home, it is actually made for a woman and it has these pink and pastel colours so stylistically it is quite a fancy garment.”

The show, which is the first major European exhibition about the kimono, will trace its history over hundreds of years with rare garments from the 17th and 18th century as well as paintings, prints and film footage.

It will include robes made for Dutch traders and kimonos that use foreign fabric brought into Japan after the country began to open up to the world as well as 19th century versions sold in Liberty’s London department store.

It follows other successful fashion exhibitions at the museum including shows dedicated to designers including Mary Quant, Christian Dior and McQueen.

Kimono: Kyoto To Catwalk, sponsored by MUFG, runs from February 29 to June 21, vam.ac.uk