Review – Erstwilder “Nihon Journey” Collection

Erstwilder is a small Australian company that makes some of the most fun and funky accessories out there. So when I was presented with the opportunity to review some pieces from their new Japan-themed Nihon Journey collection, you can bet I was over the moon.

I selected three pieces; the Mysterious Maiko brooch, the Nishikigoi brooch, and the Noble Neko sweater chain/brooch. They arrived in beautiful boxes that serve as both protection and display, each one with a cute little card describing the design. The pieces are made out of layers of vivid, shimmering acrylic bonded together, and feel incredibly solid and secure without being bulky. They’d make excellent gifts for both kimono collectors and non-collectors alike. While these are all a fantastic way to inject a little Japanese flair into a non-kimono outfit, I thought they’d well and truly shine used as kitsuke accessories as well.

The polymath of the Japanese tea-houses across the land.
From serving to singing, dancing to dining. These girls do it all.

Mysterious Maiko is utterly lovely. She definitely has a hint of the vintage pin-up vibe Erstwilder does so well, but she’s still far more accurate than a lot of maiko and geiko imagery. It’s very clear that Carmen Hui, the designer of this collection, really loves and respects Japanese culture. The pieces are all quirky and unique, but still so undeniably Japanese in style and influence. The pattern detail on her kimono is gorgeous – I’d love one like this for myself. Her hairstyle is simplified, but definitely has the overall shape and volume it should. Her face, despite being reduced to a few graphic black and red swatches, still conveys a sense of coy playfulness. Since the pin back on this one is vertical, I just slid it around the obijime and I think she looks very at home here!

Koi ponds and water gardens are my habitat of choice.
Although I’ve often been known to appear in tattoo form.

Nishikigoi might be the stand-out for me. The colours used are so impossibly lush and deep and iridescent, and the photos I took barely do it justice. The water is rich and shimmery, the koi itself glows from within, and the blue and orange contrast each other perfectly. This brooch will need an obidome converter, unless you’re okay with the fishie being sideways. Honestly though, it works from all angles so if you don’t have access to a converter you could still make it work. I’m also absolutely going to be wearing this with western-style clothing too!

Never ignore my motion as I just might be attempting to divert you
from something dangerous on your intended path.

Noble Neko is absolutely adorable! I actually requested this one because I was curious to see how a traditional sweater chain would work as a haori-himo, and look how perfect it is! The two maneki neko are mirrored, which I think brings a lovely balance to the whole piece. Using it to hold your haori shut is the easiest thing, you can just slide the vertical pin backs through the loops on the haori, so there’s no chance of permanent damage. I honestly find it easier to do and undo than a traditional haori-himo or a chain-style himo. The neko are also small and subtle enough that they would work with a slightly more traditional outfit, while still injecting a bit of cuteness.

All in all, I am very impressed with this collection. The pieces are so well-made, and it’s clear this theme was designed with love and respect and just the right amount of whimsy. Far too often lately have we seen “Japanese” themed things released quickly and with no forethought, clearly designed to take advantage of a culture and aesthetic that’s not well-understood. That is absolutely not the case with Erstwilder. I am seriously debating adding a few more pieces from this collection as well as some from their other collections to my own stash!

If you’d like one of these for yourself (and I highly recommend them), the Nihon Journey collection is on sale as of today.

I received this item from the manufacturer for review purposes.If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me.

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.

Feeling a little Crabby…

It’s been a long week! I was called in to work for two extra days, and as much as I love my job everyone has a limit before the start getting a bit crabby, right? Thankfully today I was able to stay home and work on some things that didn’t require leaving the house, so when time came to take a little break I decided to use that time productively and work with an obi I got recently and had no idea what to do with.

Naomi found this obi on Yahoo Japan literally years ago, and it had been sitting in a box ever since, following her around as she moved. She finally found the time to mail it to me and man, was it ever worth the wait. I love crustacean motifs, and this obi is no exception. It’s a gorgeous old chuuya obi with crabs and lobsters on the purple side. The other side is more “normal”, featuring a design of flowers and drums on solid black. It’s a nice bonus, to be certain, but this obi really is all about the pinchy sea creatures! It’s in rough shape, and the design placement is very odd, which makes it hard to tie. Eventually I’m going to turn it into a reversible tsuke-obi but until then I figured I could find a way to make it work on the mannequin.

The kimono is one of the first casual-style kimono I ever purchased and to this day it remains one of my favourites it work with. It’s a thick, woven silk which makes it slightly rough and a dream to tie because it grips and stays where you put it. The pattern has always reminded me of fishing nets, so it seemed like a match made in crustacean heaven! I decided to run with orange accessories to emphasize the pattern, and realised afterwards that the shibori obiage is also vaguely reminiscent of fish roe, which was an accident but works perfectly. Unfortunately, I now have the Big Bag of Crabs song from Weebl’s Stuff stuck in my head. Things could be worse, I suppose!

A most beautiful gift

For someone who has no plans to get married in the remotely near future, I sure do seem to be amassing a lot of wedding items. This one comes courtesy of an online friend who has a heart of gold. She’d had this piece – as well as two others that will be making appearances soon – for quite some time and felt that it was time to pass it along to someone who would genuinely appreciate it. I am beyond touched that she felt I would be worthy of them.

The package arrived in the mail today, and while she had sent me photos of the pieces they did this piece in particular no justice whatsoever. The silk is lush and heavy, the embroidery is stunning, and there’s a full secondary red lining. Despite the fact that I was hot and tired from work, I was determined to see how this piece looked on the mannequin. It took far longer than it should have and I’m not thrilled with the tidiness (or lack thereof) of the kitsuke but I love the combination of warm gold of the obi with the orange and dark, chocolatey, almost-black plum of the kimono. I would very much like to revisit this coordination in the future, once I’ve got a proper set of bridal accessories. I also think this kakeshita would be absolutely stunning combined with the uchikake I acquired not long ago.

To Boldly Kimono Where No One Has Kimono’ed Before

As soon as I saw this kimono on eBay, I fell in love. Considering the age of the piece predates Star Trek by quite a bit, I’m certain it wasn’t intentional, but the individual golden yabane motifs made me think immediately of the Starfleet Insignia. If you’re a regular reader, it will come as no surprise to you that I, a self-professed giant geek, am a huge fan of Star Trek. I knew I had to have it, and started envisioning how I would coordinate it right away!

I was really hoping to do it yesterday, in honour of Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary, but it only arrived today. I picked it up from the post office on the way home from a very long day at work and despite my better judgement, I had to dress the mannequin right away. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to accent the gold insignias with the Command Gold of the original Star Trek, or the Command Red of The Next Generation (and subsequent series), and then I remembered I had this great red and mustardy gold hanhaba obi. I tied it in such a way as to feature both colours, which I think was a lovely compromise. Lastly, I used the two pieces of this adorable friendship necklace from my Loot Crate subscription as a perfectly thematic obi-kazari.

Thanks for reading. Live long and prosper. Image result for llap emoji

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