Komon Kollection

As this blog develops, I plan to catalogue everything I have. Some pieces, like my vintage furisode deserve their own entries, but for more simple or casual pieces, I figured it would be more straightforward to include them in larger group entries.

When I first started collecting, I was decidedly against the allover-patterned casual kimono known as komon. I thought the patterns I was finding were drab, distracting, and old-lady-ish. Small flowers, little geometrics, nothing with punch. And so, I staunchly avoided them, preferring to stick to the drama of houmongi, furisode, and the like.

Eventually my eyes were opened to the world of large-scale pattern, and a whole new avenue was open to me! Since then I have come to amass a fair number of bold geometrics and big “loud” patterns for casual wear.

Plaid komon
Maybe it’s my Scottish ancestry, but when I saw this weirdo I had to have it. I’ve seen plaid kimono before, but never in such a “typical” tartan-like colour scheme. The kimono itself is stiff and crisp and lush, but too smooth to be tsumugi. It’s a wonderful winter kimono with a vaguely holiday feel to it.

Green swirl komon with red flowers
This was a bit of a shock when it arrived. The auction photos made it look very rich and bright, but in person it’s very soft and muted. That being said, I still love the cool, watery feel of it and the contrast of the soft brick chrysanthemums against the pale dusty green. The silk itself is ridiculously buttery, far too rich-feeling for such a casual piece. Not that I mind!

Bingata-style navy komon with long sleeves
This was a gift from Naomi, a dear dear friend and terrible enabler. ;P I was bemoaning my lack of anything bingata and wham! I was the proud owner of this gorgeous piece that fits really well! Unfortunately, I can’t wear it yet. The sleeves are a lovely but awkward length – too long by modern juban standards, too short by vintage ones, so I am going to have to improvise. Thankfully it’s got a lot of different seasonal motifs, so I’ve got pretty decent leeway for wearing it.

Swirl/arabesque Komon
Up until recently I referred to this as my White Whale kimono. The kimono itself was an easy and impulsive acquisition. Too bad I never thought about pairing it with anything! I was convinced I would never, ever find an obi to coordinate with it, and it became a bit of a mania with me, hunting down the perfect piece XD. I’d pretty much given up on it when I stumbled across a gorgeous rich plum nagoya obi with gold embroidery on the drum end on ebay, and picked it up for a steal. No pictures yet, sadly, as it’s still in the mail. 😉

This piece never ceases to amaze me when I look at it. There are so many delicate and intricate patterns in each wave/curl/stripe/whatever. Flowers, geometrics, you name it. All carefully highlighted in gold.

Red Asanoha and Ume Komon
Considering my earlier statement about not liking small, “drab” patterns on komon, this one may come as a bit of a surprise. However, I love me some asanoha (geometric hemp-leaf/star pattern) and was totally captivated by the size shift in the ume that, from a distance, make the kimono look like it’s covered in clouds. It’s so subtle, it’s almost like magic. This is also another piece whose silk is so supple and rich and buttery that I can’t stop petting it when I have it on.

Red and white yabane
Yabane is one of those traditional patterns I have always wanted to have in my collection, but I always seemed to miss out. As luck would have it, Ame had one that was far too big for her and was looking for a good home. It fits me amazingly well, and I love the contrast of the red and white.

Black, white, and red wool
Wool is one of those other things I was unsure of, I imagined them to be bulky, itchy, heavy, and uncomfortable. I picked one up on sale for a few dollars (because I am a goon and cannot resist a bargain) and realized my preconceived notions were entirely incorrect. They are breezy, warm but not overly hot, and very very easy to wear. When I saw the listing for this one, my inner mallgoth cried out in dark, dark glee and I had to have it XD

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Brick wool komon
This was my first wool kimono, I purchased it mainly because it was on sale. However, I love the cool hits of icy blue and green through the warm background. This is a great fall kimono.

Synthetic ro komon with hydrangea
This came in a mixed lot and my first though was “Oh, no! Now I need to buy ro accessories!”. My immediate second thought was “Yay! Now I have to buy ro accessories!” Such is the life of a kimono addict! I love this kimono because it is ridiculously long and easy for me to dress in. I admit synthetic ro is not quite as breezy as silk ro, but it’s still comfortable even in the muggy Montreal heat.

Thus concludes my ramblings about my current komon. Until I get more!

Kimono Meetup with Amelie

After months of discussing, planning, and failing on my part, Ame and I finally got to spend the day together yesterday 😀 She is super sweet, as is her fiance, and her cats. It is really nice to find a friend nearby to practice kitsuke with, go to kimono events, and of course loan and swap items. Not only that, but we have many other obscure interests in common.

Of course, we had to share kimono and get dressed up and go to dinner.

I wore my new red tsukesage with french-knot embroidery and my red and cream Stations of the Tokaido hakata obi, Ame wore my green iromuji (which looks and fits waaay better on her than it does on me, it pains me to say) with an adorable cream tsuke-obi.

I apologize for my appearance in these pics – My hair was being really poofy and weird and I wasn’t able to put on any makeup because idiot cat bit me in the eye early in the morning. Yes, my cat is an asshole.

We decided to go out for sushi and her fiance put on yukata 😀

And this is one we’re all familiar with; post-kimono aftermath!

More pics in my flickr

DIY Beaded Haori Himo

I love working with beads, and I hate tying haori himo. Clearly, this was the only logical solution! A quick trip to Wal-Mart to get some pretty decorative beads and metal lobster claws, and voila.

If you want to make your own, it just takes 6″/15 cm of elastic cord, two lobster claws, two crimps, and a nice assortment of beads. I find that length is ideal, it’s long enough to give you a bit of freedom of movement and a nice drape, without being too long. I made them with specific haori and coordination in mind, but there are such amazing beads in large chain stores now, why not just go and see what inspires you?

If anyone else made some of these, I would love to see.

Black Taisho bridal furisode

This is probably one of the jewels of my collection; a black-based, five crested bridal hikizuri. The hem is padded but it is too short for me to wear trailing, so I wear it as a normal furisode. I came across it on eBay and couldn’t bear to risk getting involved in a bidding war. Thankfully there was a reasonable Buy It Now option so I just went for it.

It’s not in the best condition, some of the gold couching is coming off and one of the sleeves was a bit detached when it arrived, but it doesn’t detract from the overall beauty of the piece. I have fixed the sleeve, and am looking for someone who can fix the couching. The embroidery and details on it are breathtaking. I have never seen such lush, textured needlework before.

I chose to pair it up with a green and gold hakata obi and orange and green accessories. I love this outfit. It’s a shame I do not feel comfortable wearing such an old and delicate piece out, nor do I have anywhere formal enough for it to be appropriate.

Blackbirds singing in the dead of night

This obi is one of the most beautiful and frustrating things in my collection. It was a gift from a dear friend – I saw the strange black birds and fell in love, but was short of cash at the time.

When it arrived to me, the black silk backing was rotting away and leaving dust on everything, so it has been removed.

The strangest thing about it, however, is the proportions. The designs are evenly spaced every 24″/60cm. The obi itself is 133″/338cm, which is short for a full fukuro. The oddest bit, however, is that it’s obviously meant to be tied in niijudaiko, the formal double-layered musubi.

The last set of blackbirds is upside-down, and has less embroidery on the wingtips than the second-to-last set. However, the obi is so short it’s barely possible to tie it in standard otaiko musubi. I realize I am wider around the midsection than the average Japanese woman, but not to such a significant extent. Also, when tied in any normal manner, no birds end up anywhere visible on the front.

I do love the obi, and the fact that it was a gift makes it even more special to me, so I am seriously considering cutting it up and making it into a pre-tied obi, because I doubt there is any other way I could ever wear it.

I would love to hear suggestions as to what to do with this, and possible other musubi it may work with.

Edit: It turns out this may be a relatively obscure form of obi known as hikinuki obi, they are a form of stage wear that is meant to be tied quickly in front and moved to the back. It would explain both the pattern layout and the unusual motif. I will have to try tying it in this manner and see!

Update: I have finally repaired this obi. See the how-to and finished product here.