Ashes to Ashes

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When I woke up this morning, my social media feed was full of posts expressing shock and sorrow about the passing of David Bowie. People of all ages and genders came together to lament the loss of someone who seemed above such boring human concerns as dying. I’m still not entirely done processing it.

In order to cope, I decided to dress Tsukiko. Rather than go for a typical mourning ensemble, I tried to capture the spirit of David Bowie at his most memorable. He was known for his theatrical and flamboyant personas, for his transcendence of time, space, sexuality, and gender. He was also an avid fan of Japanese culture, and often had stage outfits and clothing inspired by Japan. I set out to create an outfit that defied categorisation; a vintage woman’s kimono tied male-style with a low and narrow modern obi, a mid-century haori decorated with chrysanthemums – flowers that once signified queerness.

I’m happy how it turned out. It may not obviously scream his name, but I know what inspired it, and that’s enough for me. Farewell, Starman. Several generations of freaks and weirdos mourn today.

 

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Items used in this coordination

Kimmidolls – A modern take on a Japanese classic

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If you’re reading this blog, odds are high that you’ve got at least a passing familiarity with kokeshi dolls. They are one of the most easily recogniseable traditional Japanese art forms. The simple little dolls, with their smooth bodies and big round heads, are naive and charming, while maintaining that quintessential clean-lined aesthetic.

As you may already know, I work in a toy store and love hoarding collecting action figures and art vinyl toys. So imagine how thrilled to bits I was when I came across Kimmidolls. They are made in Australia, and remain true to the spirit and aesthetic of traditional kokeshi while also reflecting modern aesthetics and collecting. While they all have the same smooth body and blunt bob hairstyle, each doll has a unique facial expression and kimono. Rather than being carved of wood, they are made of a heavy and durable stone resin. They are all individually named, and each doll represents a positive emotion or personality trait. They are incredibly adorable and appeal to both my kimono fascination and my urge to collect things. There are four sizes, from the tiny key-chain models to the limited-edition extra-large ones, often decorated with Swarovski crystals.

My collection is small, but I only discovered these beauties late last year.

 

 

I’ve got a wishlist, and hope to keep my collection growing. They’re an affordable little indulgence, especially when I am too broke and too big to wear kimono as frequently as I’d like to. For a full list of current Kimmidolls I own and ones on my wishlist, please click here.

Kimmidolls can be found frequently in Australia, Asia, and Europe, but may also be available in smaller art/collectibles shops in North America, and are easily available from online retailers such as Tokyo Otaku Mode, Chesterton Manor, City Lights Collectibles, and eBay. There is also the Kimmidoll International fanpage on Facebook, where they engage with fans and post about upcoming collections. And if you are lucky enough to find yourself at Walt Disney World, the Mitsukoshi Department Store in the Japanese Pavilion at Epcot has a huge selection. It’s where I got Airi and Chikako.

I purchased this item myself and chose to review it. I received this item as a gift.

明けましておめでとう! Akemashite omedetou! Happy New Year!

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The new year is upon us! A time of renewal, change, and hope. I wish all of you the best for 2016 and beyond.

To celebrate the beginning of a new year, I pulled out one of my favourite kimono to coordinate. I bought this one the last time I visited Vintage Kimono in Boulder, Colorado. At first glance it looks like a relatively minimalist kurotomesode, with a sparse design of chidori and matsu (plover and pine). However, it’s also got a smattering of chidori on one sleeve. This was a brief trend for kurodomesode, which traditionally only have patterns on the hem. As western-style seating spread through Japan, kimono designers realised that a lot of the artwork and craftsmanship of these most formal kimono were getting lost, as women sat up with their feet tucked away. They started putting a small design somewhere that would be visible in theatre-style seating, usually on one shoulder or sleeve.

The trend has since fallen out of favour and kurotomesode have gone back to their hem-only design placement, but you can still occasionally find little oddities like this one. I’ve been told that at this point I can choose to wear it as a kurotomesode, or a very formal houmongi. Which is probably a good thing, seeing as how I’m 34 and still single.

I paired the kimono with a fairly typical white-and-gold obi with auspicious designs, tied in standard niijudaiko musubi, to hopefully double my good fortune for the coming year. However, I’d forgotten what a complete and utter beast this thing is to tie. It’s very long, even by modern fukuro standards, as well as being very slippery and floppy. It has a core, but it’s a very soft one. So unless I go in forearmed with a handful of extra himo and clips, it always slides around and loosens while tying it. Thankfully I had not only a bunch of tools but also a very helpful and cooperative father to hold bits and pieces while I tied other bits and pieces.

I’ve decided that this year, I am not going to make resolutions. They never work for me. I am, however, going to set goals. If I attain them, fantastic! If I don’t quite succeed, at least I tried and progressed. There’s no point in making myself feel bad for not achieving relatively arbitrary marker points.

Kimono-related goals I would like to set for 2016:

  • Lose enough weight to comfortably wear kimono again.
  • Consistently and regularly work through the backlog of book and tea reviews I’ve got half-done.
  • Coordinate more outfits on Tsukiko.
  • Write more. Blog entries, fiction, personal journal entries. Doesn’t matter what, so long as it’s words.

Do you have any kimono-related goals or resolutions? I’d love to hear about them! Please share them in the comments.