Gothic Wa-Lolita Inspiration

I’ve done some wa-lolita coordinations before, to varying levels of success, but somehow it wasn’t until I got a solid black mofuku kimono that it occurred to me to do something using this skirt! I found this incredible Alexander Henry Midnight Pastoral skeleton toile fabric a few years back, and Naomi was kind enough to make it into a skirt for me. 💖

I decided to stick to the sort of gothic/Victorian vibe the fabric brought in and paired the solid black kimono with a high-collared white blouse and a black lace choker with a skull cameo on it. In lieu of an obi, I used a wide studded leather belt which worked alright out but I think next time I’d prefer something with a little more volume in the back. As it is, the front of this outfit has much more interest, and feels a little unbalanced because of it.

This didn’t start out as a memorial outfit, but as I was working on it I realised I had Rick Genest/Zombie Boy on my mind. He was certainly not as much of a household name as David Bowie or Anthony Bourdain, but he was a true original and a Montreal native, as well as being an artistic muse to so many misfits and creatives. The repeated skeleton motifs in this particular outfit, as well as the use of the mofuku kimono, seem like a fitting tribute for yet another flame snuffed out too soon.

#monoKIMONO Challenge – Wedding White

I never set out to assemble a full wedding white ensemble, but once I had, it only seemed logical to feature it as a #monokimono outfit. Since lots of folks are still talking about the recent Royal Wedding, I decided to run with it for May!

I originally got this ivory silk uchikake waaaaay back when I first started collecting. I had no intention of buying one, but a professor in the college IT lab where I was working overheard me talking to a co-worker about my collection and asked if I’d be interested in buying a piece that’d he brought home from Japan as a souvenir years earlier. I said I’d take a look, but I’ll be honest, I was fully expecting some satiny tourist robe. So imagine my shock when he showed up lugging a gorgeous warm ivory uchikake in a trash bag! Of course I had to rescue it, and he accepted my ridiculously low offer.

Fast-forward to earlier this year when I stumbled across an astonishingly inexpensive ($18) ivory shiromuku furisode on Ichiroya. Since neither piece was pure white, I expected a close coordination but not an exact match, so you can imagine how thrilled I was when I discovered they’re spot-on perfect.

The rest of the accessories kind of fell into place after that. I love the look of beaded obijime, and found a white one on the cheap. The hakoseko set was also a bargain and happens to tie my silver zori into the outfit really nicely too. I don’t usually include footwear in these outfits, but with a wedding set it’s really Go Big or Go Home, right?

Technically, I should have used one of my off-white fukuro obi, but I couldn’t get over how well the hakata coordinated. And I’m firmly of the mindset that hakata ori goes with everything. Since this isn’t actually being worn to a wedding (unless my mannequin’s hiding something from me…) I figured I had a little more leeway. It’s also not unheard of now for brides to add a little more personal and non-traditional touches to their outfits. I love this look with extra lace and a lovely hat instead of the traditional white tsuno-kakushi hood, for example. Since I’d veered off-track with the obi already, I couldn’t resist using my silvery-white beaded obijime as well. This also makes the fact that I’ve yet to find an ivory kakae obi (the narrow, stiff band worn below the regular obi) a little easier to overlook, honestly.

Bonus: For those of you who  miss my furry little interlopers, they’re still around, they just tend to ignore the mannequin. Tribble decided to show up today though!

Items used in this coordination

Kurotome & Jacket Experiment

Last October, amazing and modern kimono stylist Akira put out Akira Times – Wafuku Anarchist, a book of his work. On the cover is a gorgeous woman in a fantastic, punk-feeling kitsuke with a leather jacket over top. Needless to say, I fell in love immediately. I knew I wanted to try something similar, but somehow never got around to it.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was reminded by Nichole Fiorentino, who also does some utterly gorgeous and aspirational kimono styling, when she posted older photos of her doing a similar kitsuke with holographic accessories and a holographic leather jacket. I knew the time had come for me to do a kurotme & jacket experiment of my own!

Amusingly enough, the jacket itself came from another dear friend named Nicole, and it’s one of my favourite things in my wardrobe. I knew I wanted to use it, instead of a plain black one, so I chose this vintage kurotome because of the similarities in colour accents, and the flower motifs. I figured since I was already doing something “wrong” I could just throw caution to the wind and have a little fun. I pulled out some really bold accessories, and went with the narrow band of my hakata tsuke-obi since the back would be hidden anyway, and it helped to reduce bulk under the jacket.

While I can’t say whether or not I’d ever be confident enough to wear something like this out in public, I do think the experiment was ultimately very successful and I’m glad I did it!

Items used in this coordination

(and one epic jacket!)

Kannon Ikebana

This ceramic figure of Kannon (観音,  Guanyin, Kwan Yin, more) belonged to my grandmother, who I’ve mentioned on this blog many times before. She was always an inspiration to me. I’ve never been a spiritual person of any ilk, but I can’t help admire and respect the bodhisattva of mercy and compassion. My grandmother and father always referred to her as Guanyin, which is her Chinese name. The Japanese refer to her as Kannon, so for the purposes of a Japanese-inspired arrangement that’s what I stuck with today.

A while back, Naomi sent me some great little vintage floral books, including one published by Coca-Cola, of all things. In it was a very pretty arrangement using a nearly-identical figure of her, so I knew I was determined to create one of my own at some point. My first thought was peonies, but I found these plush chrysanthemums and felt that I had to use them. The small pink ranunculus add a little touch of colour and the small rounded shape of them combined with the large ruffled kiku are reminiscent of peonies in the end, I think! To balance the soft organic qualities of both the flowers and the statuette I arranged them in repeating triangles, and then I anchored the whole piece in a shallow white vessel that also belonged to my grandmother to bring it all full circle.

Something I’ve had floating around in my head for months always has the possibility of going very awry and not turning out how I’d envisioned it. That would have been frustrating on a normal day, but while still dealing with a concussion it would likely have pushed me over the edge and resulted in a rather epic sulk.Thankfully, that was not the case this time. I’m really happy with how it pulled together.

Vintage Temari

Spring is still in the air, and I’m finally feeling up to dressing the mannequin! I’ve been trying to make coordinations using pieces I’ve never worked with before, and decided it was high time I use this vintage temari chuuya obi. It’s actually the reverse side of the amazing crustacean obi Naomi sent me a while back, this side is just a lovely bonus.

As gorgeous as this side is, it’s a bit difficult to work with. There are two sets of designs on an otherwise solid black base, but no matter how I tried tying it I could not get one on the front and one on the otaiko at the same time. I decided to keep the front plain and use a fun obijime so I could focus on getting the design centred on the back and make it the focal point. Maybe next time I’ll use an obidome to add a bit more interest.

My beloved purple cotton yabane kimono made a wonderful base for the obi, and I pulled the accent colours of salmon red and aqua out of the obi motif in the accessories so everything feels cohesive. I do wish I’d been able to get some sort of design on the front, but I still think that overall this was a successful outfit.

And yes, that is yesterday’s ikebana peeping out from behind the mannequin! I was going to move it for the photos but I thought it added a cute touch and I love how the yellow flowers match the yellow accents in the kimono.

Items used in this coordination