Are You Playing Fashion?

21 May to 12 September 2021

The term ‘dress code’ refers to the rules and guidelines on how one should dress, both privately or as a member of certain social, professional, or ethnic groups. These are usually not written ‘laws’, but rather norms that are tacitly assumed and based on a social consensus and can vary according to national affiliation, religion, age or gender. Dress codes can emerge ‘on the street’: Unspoken codes that society produces and that can also be found in so-called subcultures. For example, the punk movement – which emerged in the 1970s – also developed its own dress code as an expression of political protest and conscious opposition to the social upper class.

The exhibition playfully scrutinises the way we deal with dress codes and traditional encodings. It uses different questions to illuminate international fashion as a mirror of both society and the individual. Topics such as authenticity, and brand fetishism are systematised and visualised with exhibits. Whether designer dress or jeans, suit or sweatpants, knitted jumper or uniform – every culture, society, or group has its own dress codes. The exhibition thus negotiates fashion between two poles – the individualist and the conformist. And it brings fashion by style-shaping designers such as Armani, Burberry, Chanel, Comme des Garçons, Martin Margiela, Issey Miyake, Vetements or Vivienne Westwood with contemporary art by Keizo Motoda, Tom Sachs, Cindy Sherman, Oliver Sieber, Juergen Teller or Kyoichi Tsuzuki into a dialogue.

Dressing or ‘dressing up’ is an important motor in the self-discovery process of one’s own identity, and for personality formation, transformation is a creative act. Fashion turns out to be a suitable vehicle of individualisation tendencies – this is also a central statement of the exhibition. In the scramble that takes place in the social media, the name of the game is the permanent striving for one’s own style, which, however, hardly differs in the cultural and global context.

Fashion is not only an act of wearing clothes – it is also an act of seeing and being seen, which today is shared with preference via social networks. In the discussion of occasion and effect, representative requirements or personal preferences, social communication via fashion functions on a visual and non-verbal level. Consciously or unconsciously, every individual deals with clothes on a daily basis, and by slipping into changing roles – be it the anonymous business outfit, the casual leisure look, or the elitist Chanel coat and skirt – their clichés are automatically transferred: You are what you wear! Playing with fashion leads to a mix of styles or a formal redefinition of, for example, a status symbol, which is gladly replaced by self-confident understatement – even in official contexts. The shifting of elements between ‘high and low’ or the breaking of rules has long been common practice in haute couture as well. If punk was perhaps the last great fashion shock wave to sweep through Europe, nowadays at most genderfluid themes can attract widespread attention. Currently, the upcycling of second-hand goods is very much en vogue, with which an individual differentiation from the mainstream is flaunted. The common codes are thus subject to constant shifts in the canon of values.

Visit our Fashion Lab! It explores various themes of the exhibition in greater depth, and its numerous participatory elements offer visitors a sensory experience of the multifaceted nature of fashion. Enjoy the latest smart mirror technology to virtually style yourself in the latest fashion creations or take a slightly more old-tech look at the exciting display of fashion by local designers. Ayzit Bostan, Dawid Tomaszewski, Dead White Mens Clothes, Hannibal, Herr von Eden, Hien Le, Julia Heuer, Kilian Kerner, Maison Common, Marina Hoermanseder, Michael Sontag, Tra My Nguyen und William Fan are presenting their outfits in situ and the UK-based digital fashion house Auroboros displays digital Haute Couture.

Paper dolls in a pop-up photo area invite you to dress up or down in clothes from the exhibition – your photos will further enrich the lab experience. And, to ensure that the impressions and inspirations continue outside the exhibition itself, you can purchase T-shirts designed exclusively for the exhibition directly in the Fashion Lab. The purchase is not made in a conventional shop but is rather offered by means of a vending machine—a reference to the over five million consumer goods vending machines available in Japan. Like a conventional souvenir, the T-shirt ‘to go’ is intended to serve as a fashionable keepsake of the exhibition.

In addition to numerous other offline and online offers, a diversified supporting programme including film screenings, workshops, and panel discussions will address buzzwords such as diversity, internet-hype, and sustainability and stimulate public discourse. Key topics such as gender-fluid fashion, trends in the (post-)digital age or neo-ecology as a mega trend will be examined and critically scrutinised from the perspective of various fashion experts.

Come join us and play it up with fashion!

An exhibition of the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, and the Kyoto Costume Institute in cooperation with the Bundeskunsthalle

#yourdresscodetwitter | facebook | instagram

Audio Guide App

Audio guided tour in German and English,
in German Sign Language  
and as an Audio Description. 

Free of charge directly to your smartphone in the App-Store or via GooglePlay

Logo: Apple - Download on the App Store     Logo: Google Play


Admission tickets

The 3G rule applies to all exhibition visitors on Sunday, September 12 2021. Admission only with proof of vaccination / recovery or with a negative corona test.

Would you like to go directly into the exhibition without stopping at the cash register?
Buy Print@home time slot tickets online!

€12/ €8 (concessions)

Free admission for everyone up to and including the age of 18.


Photographing in this exhibition is not only allowed but desired. Share your photos on social media and use the official hashtags.

Show bibliography
  1. Hauptmotiv der Ausstellung "Dress Code" COMME des GARÇONS / Rei Kawakubo, Spring/Summer 2018, Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Takashi Hatakeyama Kimono of the Dress Code Exhibition
  2. Hans Eijkelboom, Photo Notes, 1992–2019, 1992–2019, detail ©Hans Eijkelboom Four photos which are showing men wearing Rolling Stones Logo labeled T-shirts
  3. Tokio Kumagaï, Shoes, Autumn/Winter 1985, Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute, bequest of Mr. Tokio Kumagai, photo by Takashi Hatakeyama Shoe, designed by Tokio Kumagaï.
  4. Vetements / Demna Gvasalia Show Video, Autumn/Winter 2017, Courtesy of Vetements Videostill, Vetements / Demna Gvasalia Show Video, woman with sunglasses and fur coat.
  5. Kyoichi Tsuzuki (Ed.) / Lamaski, Ishoku-hada (Different colored skin), detail, 2017, from Kyoichi Tsuzuki (Ed.), Real Fashion Nipponica, 2019 ©Lamaski Foto eines Mädchens mit grün bemalter Haut von Kyoichi Tsuzuki
  6. Christian Dior / Maria Grazia Chiuri, T-shirt, Spring/Summer 2017, Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute, gift of Christian Dior Couture, photo by Takashi Hatakeyama T-shirt mit Aufdruck "We should all be Feminists" von Christian Dior / Maria Grazia Chiuri
  7. Vetements / Demna Gvasalia Show Video, Autumn/Winter 2017, Courtesy of Vetements Videostill, Vetements / Demna Gvasalia Show Video, punk with mohawk haircut
  8. Jeff Koons, LOUIS VUITTON, Backpack, 2017, Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Takashi Hatakeyama Backpack printed with Mona Lisa motif, designed by Jeff Koons, LOUIS VUITTON
  9. Gucci / Alessandro Michele, Jacket, Top, Skirt, Spats, Stole, and Shoes, Autumn/Winter 2018, Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Takashi Hatakeyama
  10. Satoru Aoyama, WHO SAID SO Mask, 2020 © AOYAMA Satoru, Courtesy of Mizuma Art Gallery Corona Mask: WHO SAID SO

Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland

Museumsmeile Bonn
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Opening hours

Mondays closed
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(including public holidays even those which fall on Mondays)