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

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!

 

Taisho Blues

I know, I know, I said the last outfit I posted would be around for a while. Work continues apace on updating and redoing my visual catalogue, and when I took out this Taisho-era beauty I love so much, I realised I’d never coordinated her with this vintage orange hakata obi and that seemed like a crime. They feel like they were made for each other. But then again, I think hakata goes with everything. When I first got it, I paired it with an orange obi and while I loved the colour contrast, the obi was a metallic, Showa-era blingfest that felt incongruous with the soft vintage feel of the kimono. Springy green accessories were the perfect finishing touch, including a brand new obiage I’ve never used before.

If you’re a regular reader, you know that for whatever reason I’ve always had bad luck with tying obi in tsunodashi musubi but I was really in the groove after putting this outfit together and I figured I’d give it another shot. I’m really glad I did, because it worked out perfectly. The ohashori is quite puffy-looking, which is unfortunate, but sometimes it’s inevitable due to the shape of the mannequin.

Now this is definitely an outfit I’m happy to leave on the mannequin until I’m finished everything else I have in the works.