Belle – Disney Princess Kitsuke Project

🎵 Tale as old as time 🎵

Beauty & the Beast has always been one of my favourite classic fairy tales. From very traditional to a middle-eastern interpretation told from the Beast’s perspective, to cheesy steampunk romance novels, it’s just always called to me. Disney’s version is no exception. Belle was a heroine for all of us awkward book-worms, she was stubborn all while being courageous and devoted.

I found this kimono on eBay back in June, and all I could see was Belle’s famous golden ball gown. Even the heavy kinkoma embroidery roses on it seemed too good to be true. I threw out a fairly high bid on it just to be safe and was shocked when I won it uncontested. That was the catalyst for this entire project. I figured if I was going to do Belle I may as well try all the Princesses. While waiting eagerly for this one to arrive, I scoured my collection and began plotting out the other outfits, trying to use as many things I already owned as possible.

Weeks passed with no sign of this kimono. I’d already started the project and I couldn’t very well just leave my favourite princess out, so I scouted out a few other viable alternatives and eventually settled on one. It was pretty, and suitable, just nowhere near as perfect as this one. The seller was kind enough to refund my purchase and I accepted that this one was lost for good. I began working my way through the other outfits, but I hadn’t yet found my motivation to do Belle. I knew what accessories I was going to use, and even made an obidome with roses and the magic mirror on it, but I just couldn’t bring myself to actually dress the mannequin.

So imagine my shock when the kimono arrived in the mail yesterday, three months after I won it! I was so excited to coordinate it that I scrapped my other plans for today to put the outfit together. To emphasise the rose motif, the obi is tied in bara musubi with a red silk rose tucked in as an accent. Two rosebuds tucked into the front pull in a tiny pop of red, while yellow and gold accessories round the outfit out. Of course, I had to include Lumiere (who was purchased at Disneyland in California earlier this year) and the Enchanted Rose (which I made myself using craft supplies and the dome from an old clock), and even managed to catch a cameo from my very own beast.

I am so happy I waited, everything turned out exactly as I’d pictured it in my head. 💖

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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.

Pretty Pastels

It’s hot out there, you guys. It’s so hot! I really needed to make an outfit that felt summery and breezy to counteract the oppressive weather. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen this adorable card-suit obi that followed me home from California. It seemed like a good place to start. Even before I’d brought it home, I was thinking it would work well with this hydrangea hitoe komon I’ve had for years that never gets enough love. It’s way too tiny for me to ever wear, and I admittedly only bought it because it was bundled with an obi I wanted, but the light colour palette and seasonality of motif fit perfectly with the breezy summer concept I was aiming for.

This adorable shell haneri from Kansai_Gal seemed like the ideal finishing touch for the outfit. Rather than default to my usual standbys for a hanhaba obi (chocho musubi or karuta musubi) I thought I might try to be inspired by Choko and her amazing ability to improvise soft and relaxed-looking obi musubi that would also fit with the airy and relaxed style I was aiming for. I would like to think I’ve succeeded.

A few of us here in Montreal are having a kimono meet-up  this coming weekend and I do wish there was some way I could get this kimono to fit me, but even if I were to lose a huge amount of weight it would still be too narrow across the back and too short, sadly. It would look so cute with pink lace tabi and my card-suit geta, but that’s a coordination for another person on another day. I will likely end up wearing my bunny komon and teal hakama, and you can be sure I will take tons of photos so check back early next week for that.

Architectural Ikebana

Most of the arrangements I’ve done so far have been fairly loose and natural in feeling, working with the shape of the flowers instead of forcing them. I really wanted to try something more sculptural and geometric and work with straight lines and the very linear quality of lucky bamboo (which isn’t really bamboo) seemed like an excellent starting point. While I was at the florist’s I saw these gorgeous miniature purple calla lilies and I knew I’d found the perfect counterpart for the bamboo.

I focused on the diagonal lines to draw the eye from the top of the arrangement to the bottom. Initially I’d just wrapped the vase in the faux banana leaf but the colour balance felt off. I found this ribbon while packing for vacation; it’s actually the belt from a dress I have. The mauve was a perfect match for the calla lilies, and it really helps to anchor the whole arrangement and make it feel much more balanced. Overall, this one turned out very close to what I’d initially had in mind, and I’m very happy with it!

Odori Otoko-Poi

I bought this dance kimono on a whim a while back, because I loved the graphic quality of it. The seller had listed it as a woman’s kimono but I was fairly certain it was actually a men’s dance piece. My suspicions were confirmed when it arrived. I don’t hold it against the seller, they list tons of items every single day and I’m sure it was an honest mistake. I was still very happy because it’s so fun and bold. I knew I wanted to do an otoko-poi or tomboyish look with it, and I wanted to keep the colour scheme really simple, so I pulled out my tenga obi with a gold side and stuck to black accessories. I would have preferred an all-black or monochrome haneri but since I don’t own one I thought the pink flowers on this one were neutral enough for the time being.

This is my first men’s kimono and I was actually quite surprised by how different putting it on was. I’m so used to slack in the collar, the extra length and ohashori, and the open sleeves that this was much more of a challenge than I’d initially anticipated. Despite that, eventually I’d like to try to wear this outfit, but I’d like a paler gold obi and a solid black collar first. I am curious to see if wearing a men’s kimono feels as different as using it on the mannequin did.

By the way, I am still on vacation, I just took these photos before I left so there wouldn’t be too huge a content gap while I was out of town 🙂 I’ve got a few more things in the works, but this will be the last mannequin coordination until I get home. Thanks for understanding! ❤️