Birthday Pastels

Today is my birthday! I’m now officially closer to 40 than I am to 30. Ack! My initial plan for today was to dress myself in the blue Cinderella furisode and take pictures, but this week has been a very long and exhausting one and I knew when I woke up I was not going to have the energy to do it. I might try on the weekend, but until then I decided I would at least redo the mannequin.

This obi was an entirely unexpected surprise; I was discussing my collection with a customer at work and she told me she had one of those “belt table runner things” and she’d bring it to show me one day. Imagine my shock when she showed up with this stunning springy green fukuro obi with flowers and foliage all over it and insisted I keep it. It’s absolutely beautiful. It’s also got a really nice sage green fabric with gold pinstripes on the reverse, and I’m looking forward to using that side of it sometime soon. It felt like the ideal thing to do a birthday outfit with. It pairs so perfectly with the pink takara houmongi that Naomi’s husband Arian got for me years ago. They feel so classic and elegant together, and subtle pastel accessories finish things off. The obiage is kind of a mess but let’s all ignore that and focus on the beautiful kimono and obi instead.

I’m still holding out hope that I can put the furisode on this weekend but if that doesn’t happen at least I did something productive today!

Mulan – Disney Princess Kitsuke Project

🎵True to you heart,
You must be true🎵

When I started this project, I knew Mulan was going to be a challenge. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to lump a lot of traditional Asian clothing together – quite often you’ll find Chinese cheongsam labelled as kimono, and vice-versa. I wanted to find a way to avoid compounding the confusion by putting Mulan in a very straightforward outfit. However, kimono are legitimately inspired by and derived from ancient Chinese hanfu so I knew there had to be a way to make this work.

After finding this gorgeous creamy yellow dress at the thrift store, everything clicked into place. By bustling a green iromuji over the dress I was able to achieve an outfit that evokes her outfit quite well while not deviating from the theme of the challenge. I finished the outfit off with a blue obi with a metallic tiger’s eye type pattern and red accessories to echo the red sash around her waist. The necklace is something i’ve owned for a while and reminded me of Mulan’s makeup in the matchmaker scene, and the pink floral corsage is a callback to her hair comb. Of course, I had to include a nod to Mushu, and this dragon was the perfect finishing touch.

I think I struck a good balance between hanfu and kimono, and I quite like the way it looks, but I’ll be happy to go back to a more traditional look for the last few outfits.

Modern Monstera Ikebana

What first drew me to ikebana was the clean-lined simplicity of it all, the focus on a few sparse blooms without all the fluff and clutter that tends to be found in western-style flower deisgn. I’ve been experimenting a fair bit lately but I was itching to do a very sleek and low moribana-style arrangement, and when I found this gorgeous monstera leaf at the florist I knew it would be the perfect anchor for my next project. This interesting flower was all by its lonesome in a bucket in the flower fridge, and the texture and shape of it felt like a wonderful counterpoint to the glossy green foliage. I’m afraid I don’t remember what the flower is, but if anyone recognises it I’d love to know. The arrangement feels very heady and tropical to me, well-suited for to the oppressively muggy weather we’ve been having lately. I chose a very simple container to anchor them, in keeping with the clean and modernist vibe. I’m also quite pleased by how well the whole arrangement pops against the warm brown backdrop. This one might be incredibly simple, but it’s also incredibly effective.

Shape and Colour Ikebana

I bought this set of bud vases at everyone’s favourite enormous Scandinavian home goods store a while ago, with the intention of doing something with them, but I hadn’t decided on what. When I found a rose that was a very pale celadon green while out running errands today, I knew I’d found my project. I loved the idea of focusing on shape and colour here, and having three very balanced separate units forming one cohesive and harmonious grouping. I did debate using three different flowers to coordinate with the three different textures of vases, but in the end I felt that using the classic and neutral shape of the roses had the most impact. Thankfully, finding the pink and white ones was a breeze after the stroke of luck that was finding a greenish tinted one (I will be honest, I have no idea if it’s natural or if it was dyed for the florist’s, but either way it worked out quite well for me!) I think the soft, organic roses contrast the tactile and architectural quality of the vases perfectly, and the seeing the three of them together is like hearing three distinct notes coming together in one lovely chord. I arranged them simply on a dark surface to ensure all attention was on them without any background distractions, and I love the way they pop, pop, pop!

Tiana – Disney Princess Kitsuke Project

🎵 Dreams Do Come True in New Orleans🎵

Tiana is one of the princesses I have had the most fun with so far. I knew right away I wanted to use this green irotomesode. Not only its it the perfect shade of froggy green, but it’s also from the same era as Tiana is. While most of the Princess movies exist in a bit of an amorphous time and space, The Princess and The Frog has such a distinct and concrete setting. I wanted something that brought together Taisho-era Japan and Jazz Age New Orleans, and felt like a kimono-hime outfit would strike exactly the mood I was aiming for.

I built the outfit around the kimono, using golden yellow accents as a callback to her beautiful flowery gown. Some ivory lace appliqué on the collar and hem is reminiscent of flapper fringe, and when I found this gorgeous flower belt in the bridal section of the craft store, I knew I’d found my parallel for the lily on her gown. Of course, what is the princess without her frog? An enamel and gold brooch looks perfectly at home nestled in one of the flowers.

My original plan was to tie the obi in a more vintage-feeling musubi, especially since I used a standard niijudaiko on Aurora last week, but this obi is incredibly short and fragile, and I wasn’t comfortable putting too much strain on it. I then realised that the yellow colour tied in a puffy little square otaiko is reminiscent of Tiana’s famous beignets, so it worked out better than I’d planned. Aside from the obi, this one turned out almost identical to what I had in my head, and I couldn’t be happier that it came together so well!