c.2014 New York Times News Service

c.2014 New York Times News Service

Glamour is a slippery concept, defined one season by a neoprene minidress, and the next by a gown cut from stiffened brocade. But in one of those pendulum swings as regular as rent hikes, it is encapsulated this summer in the loose, and louche, kimono, the casual uniform of music festival pilgrims traipsing through Coachella, South by Southwest or Bonnaroo. A stand-in for the trusty jeans jacket or cardigan, the look is being embraced this year by self-styled free spirits of every persuasion.

“The kimono is definitely the must-have cover-up of the season,” said Sheila Aimette, a vice president at the trend forecasting company WGSN. It was taken up a year ago by a handful of early adopters, Aimette said, and went on to become a wardrobe mainstay of the festival circuit.

Star power has played as vital a role in propelling this evergreen from a fluid loungewear staple to emblem of faintly indecent allure. If the image of Rihanna wrapped in a pink houndstooth kimono coat in the Balmain spring ad campaign wasn’t compelling enough, consider the draw of Kate Moss flitting around London in a Topshop kimono of her design.

The runways, too, have done their part, spawning permutations of the classical Japanese straight-seamed, wrap-and-tie robe or the shorter traditional Happi coat. Catwalk variations include a filmy, glitter-accented kimonos by Frida Giannini for Gucci; a deeply fringed version at Roberto Cavalli, a palm-patterned kimono jacket at Fausto Puglisi and, at Givenchy, a lustrous black gown ending in a ripple of pleats.

The trend has now penetrated the marketplace, including Nordstrom, Anthropologie and Asos, the Internet shopping site, as well as Neiman Marcus and Net-a-Porter, according to a recent WGSN data search. Prices vary from about $30 to $3,000, this last for a Saint Laurent kimono coat offered for fall.

On or off the runways, the prevalence of kimonos may be read as an early indication of a move away from the robotically rigid futurism of recent seasons toward a looser, more liquid look, one captured by Dries Van Noten in a spring collection filled with semi-sheer flower-patterned styles, and even in his men’s show last week, in which the kimono was shown as an opulent alternative to the dressing gown.

By no means exclusive to coltishly slender festival followers, this boxy shape can be draped and tied to fit most body types. “You can make it do what you need it to do,” said Glorifé Simon, the editor of Magnolia magazine, published online in Calgary, Canada. Simon said that on the streets, kimonos are being worn mostly over tank tops, T-shirts, shorts and jeans. “But I’m starting to see them in the corporate world as well,” she said. As office cover-ups, she said, “they give a more feminine feel than a blazer.”

Inevitably this beach and après-sun favorite will make the transfer to fall. A capelike, raccoon-trimmed variation by L.G.B., and a cashmere interpretation by Denis Colomb will be sold at Patron of the New in New York City. Kirna Zabête, an outpost for progressive style, will offer an Altuzarra kimono robe coat in navy and cobalt. Designers tweaking the look in somber tones include Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen of The Row and Giambattista Valli, who has fashioned a spotted kimono coat sheared at the knees.

The kimono’s mood of rich-hippie indolence seems to have contributed to its impressive staying power. “There’s nostalgia to it,” said Sarah Easley, an owner of Kirna Zabête. “It represents a fantasy lifestyle.”

“Everyone has that bohemian side,” Easley added. “You can be sitting at your desk at Citibank, looking at online images of a Dior kimono dress, and you’ll tell yourself, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s so me.'”