Art Gallery – Yukata Cutie by Nikki R

Check out this utterly adorable drawing of my recent yukata outfit! It was drawn by my friend Nikki, who draws all sorts of awesome comic, pin-up, and stylised artwork. This chubby little caricature style is probably my favourite, though, and I’ve loved watching her artwork evolve over the years.

I’m amazed by how much detail she managed to fit in to such a tiny and cartoony piece. It’s super accurate without feeling cluttered or busy. She even got the ume kanzashi on my hat and the little obi-kazari down pat. For someone not in the habit of drawing kimono-related artwork, she did a fantastic job of getting the details spot-on!

The artist’s going through a bit of a rough spot financially right now, and she deserves all the best. So if you love this style as much as I do and would like one for yourself, please check out Nikki R Illustration on Facebook! Also, I always love seeing how different artists interpret my coordinations so if you’re an artist taking commissions and are interested in giving it a shot, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Aurora – Disney Princess Kitsuke Project

🎵 Once Upon a Dream🎵

Aurora, the lovely Sleeping Beauty. While she may certainly not be the most progressive of princesses, speaking less than any other princess and spending a large chunk of her movie unconscious, there’s no denying that as one of the original three she helped pave the way for what came after. I was initially quite stumped on how to coordinate her outfit, since we don’t really get a huge sense of her personality from the movie. Pink seemed obvious, but then I thought back fondly to the scene where the fairies are arguing over the colour of her dress. When I found this beautiful pink kimono with blue accents, everything fell into place.

I paired up the pink kimono with this beautiful white and platinum obi with tiny pink details. The design is of an abstract flower motif but with a little imagination, the round shapes are reminiscent of the spinning wheel upon which she pricks her finger, bringing Maleficent’s curse to fruition. Since Aurora seems like a fairly traditional, demure, romantic woman I decided to keep this coordination fairly straightforward too, sticking to appropriate accessories and tying the obi in a nice, stiff niijudaiko obi.

I hope you’re enjoying seeing these coordinations as much as I’m enjoying doing them! We’re more than a third of the way through, and I can’t wait to share more soon.

Merida – Disney Princess Kitsuke Project

🎵 Chase the Wind
and Touch The Sky 🎵

We’ve done a Renaissance-era princess and a Silver-era princess so it felt like it was time for one of the modern revival princesses. Merida is one of my favourite princesses. She’s snarky, she’s witty, she’s tough but still vulnerable, and she’s determined to be the architect of her own fate. I found a few kimono online that were close in colour to her dress, but nothing really jumped out at me until I found this utterly perfect vintage piece. Not only is the base of it nearly the identical colour to Merida’s dress, but the yabane, or arrow fletching, motif could not have been more appropriate.

I debated using a brown obi to echo her brown belt but it made the whole outfit feel too heavy and overly mature. Instead, I went with a plain white hakata tied in a very practical karuta musubi, and amped up the warm brown tones in the obijime and dusty embroidered haneri. The bow was my grandmother’s, and I have fond memories of learning to shoot with it as a kid. Using it was pretty much a given. In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that it’s actually a bright candy-apple red, but that’s nothing a little bit of photoshop couldn’t fix.

I really feel like this project is just continuing to build momentum, and I couldn’t be happier! It’s really satisfying to watch these come together. Maybe one day I’ll try to coordinate a fashion show or something and see them all at once.

Day lily Ikebana

The Japanese concept of mono no aware (物の哀れ), or the sense of beauty that comes from the awareness of the transience of all things, is most often exemplified by the beautiful but short-lived cherry blossom season. However, while I was going through our garden looking for inspiration recently, it struck me that these gorgeous fire-like day lily blooms are another flower that is perfectly suited the concept, having as short and vivid a lifespan as they do.

I wanted to balance the modern, sharp, nearly abstract shapes of the lilies with something much softer and more delicate, and the gentle sweeping lines of our grapevine seemed like the perfect contrast. I then chose a very organic and vintage-feeling container and paired it in turn with a clean-lined and almost harsh pedestal. I aimed to create an arrangement that seemed as timeless as it was fleeting, things with a sense of age framed against things that have existed only for a moment. I love how they come together to form both visual and emotional balance, something I am working on as I continue my journey into ikebana.

Cinderella – Disney Princess Kitsuke Project

🎵 A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes 🎵

I started this project with a modern princess, so a classic one seemed like a good place to go next. Cinderella is pretty much the quintessential Disney Princess – she’s kind, clever, determined, and beautiful. Her castle is the centrepiece of several Disney parks and serves as the opening sting for their movies. So I knew I had to do her justice!

I bought this kimono last month at Kimono Vintage Montreal, and I didn’t specifically have Cinderella in mind when I did, I just fell in love it with. I realised after bringing it home that it was a very appropriate shade of blue and had a definite princess vibe to it. While there is no pink in her official outfit, her mother’s dress she plans to wear to the ball initially is pink, and I really liked the idea of calling back to that in a subtle way. The obi has heian noble carts, reminiscent of her pumpkin carriage. Admittedly they’re not one of my favourite motifs but this one was a steal at $5 and fit the theme so well I couldn’t say no after a friend suggested it. I tied it in an improvised bow reminiscent of a fukura suzume to keep the balance between feeling sweet and princess-ish while still showing off the carts.

In a perfect world, this coordination would be paired up with some of Robe Japonica’s incredible acrylic geta to emulate Cinderella’s infamous glass slippers. However, they’re only available in men’s styles and they’re very expensive, so for the time being silver zori and a slipper obidome I made will have to suffice. A bit of black ribbon finished things off nicely, echoing Cinderella’s black choker.

So far, things are turning out very well in this project, I think. I hope I keep up this momentum and success throughout the entire thing!