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

Hanakago Ikebana

Hanakago (花篭) means “flower basket”, and it’s a common motif in art and textiles. The baskets can be of any shape and size, and are filled with a profusion of beautiful seasonal flowers. I knew I really wanted to do a hanakago ikebana arrangement, but I’d been waiting for more inspiration than that.

Today was the first day of the year that genuinely felt like spring. I actually went and ran errands without even needing a jacket, and I wanted to celebrate that. I decided to go for a very loose, natural-feeling assemblage of springy flowers in the basket. A beautiful blue hydrangea forms the anchor of the piece, sunny forsythia bring in height and shape, and yellow daisies and a few white ranunculus fill it in and bring some much-needed softness.

It’s a much looser shape than I’m used to doing, but I feel like it’s still very effective. It feels happy and natural and bright. I’m quite happy with how it looks in this little nook, and it will make me smile when the sun and warmth inevitably vanish again in a day or two.

Kits-Mas Day 7 – Midnight Bubbly

The last day of the year is upon us! I think we can all agree that 2017 was a bit of a dumpster fire. I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly glad to see the end of it!

When I was younger, I enjoyed going out on New Year’s Eve, but the older I get, the more content I am to stay inside in a nice fuzzy pair of pyjamas. We’re also still in the depths of a record-breaking cold snap here, as is the rest of Canada and the eastern United States, so going out to watch fireworks at midnight was just not remotely appealing to me. Instead, I thought it would be fun to run with a New Year’s theme for the mannequin tonight.

I thought this gold-accented men’s odori kimono would be the ideal place to start, since it’s so bold and flashy. I considered of all the trappings of a really fun party; sparkling champagne, glitter, fireworks, laughter. The next logical step seemed like this fun hanhaba obi I bought recently with stars on it. It’s a little dull next to the kimono, so I pulled out some gorgeous silver ribbon to use as an accent and a haneri. I still don’t quite have the hang of using a men’s kimono like this, as a woman’s outfit, but all I can do is practice, right?

While the obi still feels a bit subdued against the kimono, I do think this is a bubbly, sparkly, fun outfit that seems like a fitting end to the year.

I am utterly terrible at keeping resolutions, so rather than enumerate things I will inevitably not complete, I am just going to head into the new year with an open mind, an open heart, and a wealth of unbridled enthusiasm. I hope the coming year brings you all sorts of amazing things!