Courage – A Canadian Farewell

I found this kimono on eBay a few weeks back and fell in loved with it. Last thing I need is another tiny kurotomesode, but it was too beautiful to let it escape and my folks said it could be my birthday present from them, so I took the plunge. It arrived yesterday and it was more gorgeous in person than I could have imagined, the auction photos did it no justice. So I knew right away that I was going to do something with it today, on my day off. My initial plan was to do a fairly straightforward traditional kitsuke, with a formal obi with lots of metallic, white accessories, something clean and simple.

All that went out the window this morning, when I woke up to the news that Gord Downie had passed away. He was the frontman for a group that nearly all Canadians are familiar with, the Tragically Hip. He was diagnosed with glioblastoma just over a year ago, and rather than withdraw from the public eye, he fought back with everything he could. The band went on one last tour, big and loud and loving. He continued to work tirelessly for justice and equality, speaking loudly for Canadians whose voices had been silenced over the years. Everyone knew he didn’t have long for the world, but he filled that time with so much love and passion and brightness that it still hurts enormously. All day I’ve seen people whose jobs require them to be professional and detached (news anchors, radio announcers, even our Prime Minister) lose their composure and break down while talking about Gord.

What does all this have to do with my kimono? Well, as you may have noticed I have a strange coping mechanism of coordinating outfits to deal with grief. Maybe it’s not the healthiest thing, but it works for me. So to deal with this, I decided to throw caution and tradition to the wind and coordinate it in a bright and bold way that makes me happy. I’d like to think that someone who wore brightly coloured holographic suits and fantastic hats during his farewell tour would appreciate that. A vintage chuuya obi with maple leaves felt appropriate for someone who took so much pride in his Canadian heritage, and the accessories brought a vibrant punch to the outfit.

I’ll leave you with some of the lyrics from Courage (for Hugh MacLennan), one of my favourite songs of theirs.

So there’s no simple explanation
For anything important any of us do
And yeah the human tragedy
Consists in the necessity
Of living with the consequences
Under pressure, under pressure.
Courage, my word, it didn’t come, it doesn’t matter,
Courage, it couldn’t come at a worse time.

Harvest Gold

Does anyone remember harvest gold appliances? Thankfully we never had any in my household but we did have an avocado green dishwasher for a very long time! It’s funny how colours go and out of fashion, isn’t it? And how they can look so lovely on a kimono but so ghastly in a kitchen!

This kimono was actually the emergency back-up I purchased for Belle’s outfit, after it seemed like the one I wanted had got lost in the post. Eventually the first one did show up, so I got to use it as I’d planned, but it seemed like quite a shame for this gorgeous vintage piece to languish in storage so I vowed to do something with it today.

My initial plan was a gold obi, but since I wasn’t doing the Belle outfit anymore I figured I had more freedom, but for some reason I had a heck of a time finding a coordination that did the piece justice. Most of my obi were either too flashy and metallic or too dark, and the soft, delicate quality of the yuzen around the hem would have been completely overwhelmed. Then I thought I could use the yellow nagoya obi I used last week but that seemed repetitive and overly monotone. Then I debated an orange hakata and a grey masculine-feeling nagoya that both didn’t quite work either. Then I found this beautiful dusty taupe nagoya with a subtle bit of gold. It perfectly balanced the kimono, pulling out the grey-brown tones of the flower cart and helping anchor it. Simple green accessories and one of the charming new subtle haneri I bought rounded things off.

The outfit feels very soft and elegant to me, stylish in a very understated sort of way that looks fantastic on a mannequin but I could probably never pull off in person! It also feels very seasonal right now, despite having more spring and summer flowers on it. The colours reflect the changing leaves outside, which makes me very happy.

Autumn Vintage

As fun as the Disney Princess Kitsuke Project was, I was definitely ready for something a little more straightforward. I lucked into a day off today, so I figured it was high time I did something with this amazing komon I got from Sayumi of Kimono Bijin. It’s a gorgeous vintage piece, really soft silk with a fantastic pattern of shishi and arabesque vines. Unfortunately, it’s also showing its age. A few of the seams are loose, and the lining is quite worn, but it’s so beautiful that it’s easy to overlook those problems. It’s a very tiny piece and I know it would never fit me even if I were to lose half my body weight, so after I take it off the mannequin it’s going to Naomi; she is much smaller than I am and loves all things magenta and teal and vintage and shishi, so I know it will be very loved.

My initial plan was to coordinate it with a black-based obi so all the attention would be on the kimono itself, but that choice felt very safe and a little bit boring. Then I remembered I had this gorgeous gold vintage obi with flowers, particularly some large botan. Shishi and botan are a very traditional pairing and the obi also has a really punchy Taisho/Early Showa feel to it, so I knew I’d found the perfect match. I did gravitate to black for the accessories though, which helps anchor the whole outfit and keep it from feeling too loud or clashy. I think it work

Disney Princess Kitsuke Project! Complete!

You guys! It’s done! While part of me is excited to work on other things, I admit that I’ve had so much fun doing these that I am a little bit sad to see it end. I’m thinking of occasionally doing one-off other Disney ladies now and then (Alice, Kida, Esmeralda, Megara, etc). If you would like to see those, please let me know!

This has been a really interesting project for me, working with different styles and trying to make sure the spirit of each Princess comes through without being overly “costumey”. I think I’ve succeed quite well in the end. Seeing them all together like this is very satisfying! It’s also pretty neat to me to see how different the living room looks in different weather/lighting/etc.

For full details of each outfit, as well as my thought processes and any meaning in the textiles or designs, please check out the individual post for each princess.

This has been an amazingly fun project. It encouraged me to think out of the box while still technically adhering to the rules in most cases. It’s been a blast, but I am also happy to be finished. I’ve got a few simpler things in the works – something fun for Halloween and a little surprise for my Facebook followers. However my work schedule is about to get hellish. Not only are the holidays closer than they seem, by the first week of October I will be the only employee in the store, which means I’ll have to be in there all day every day six days a week. I will do my best to keep a semi-regular content schedule, but things will be sparse for a bit. Thanks in advance for understanding! 💖

If you’ve enjoyed this project and would like to see more things like this in the future, or would just like to encourage me in general, please consider dropping a few dollars in my PayPal account or support me on Patreon.

Rapunzel – Disney Princess Kitsuke Project

🎵 Flower gleam and glow 🎵

Rapunzel is definitely one of the more “fun” princesses. She’s got a chameleon for a best friend, she can fight with a frying pan, and she undeniably has the best hair of anyone. I wanted to find a way to acknowledge that amazing, magical hair without using a wig.

How better to emulate a long gold cascade than a gorgeous gold obi tied darari-style? This style is typically worn by maiko, but I feel like it was the best way to capture Rapunzel’s hair in a way that still felt true to the project. The addition of some silk flowers really kicked it up a notch. Of course I had to use a pink and purple kimono to echo her pink and purple dress. I purchased the obijime on a whim a while back, and I realised it would be a great reinforcement of not only the colour scheme but also her braided hair. Not only that, but the pearls on them form sweet little flowers that call back to the golden flower that granted Rapunzel’s healing powers. After that, braiding a few obiage together really pulled everything together, I think. And of course, Pascal the chameleon had to make an appearance.

And with that, all of the brave, brilliant, beautiful Disney Princesses are done! I’ve assembled a master post for the entire project, and I’m so happy with how they all look together!