Review: Kimono backpacks by Štěpán Hanzlík

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Especially now that I can’t wear kimono on the regular, I’m always on the lookout for ways to inject a bit of wa, or essence of Japanese culture, into my regular wardrobe. I’ll do things like wear haori over western clothing or buy items and accessories in Japanese textiles. So when my friend Štěpán put up some backpacks he’d made with kimono fabric for sale, I jumped at the chance to own one.

These bags are incredibly well-made. I’ve had similar backpack-style drawstring bags in the past (most notably a Sailormoon one that I carried until it quite literally fell apart on me one day), and I’ve never had one as nicely finished as this. Typically, they’re made from one layer of fabric and a string. However, due to the delicate nature of kimono silk, Štěpán has smartly chosen to both line his bags with a heavy twill fabric and reinforce the bottom with coordinating vinyl. This means that the bags are very durable, putting almost no strain on the actual kimono fabric. The drawstrings are anchored through metal grommets that are inserted into the vinyl section, adding further stability and reinforcement.

There is a divider inside the liner, splitting the bag into two very practical pockets. There are also two tiny pockets made from more kimono silk, and they’re perfect for carrying small, frequently-used items like a phone and keys, so you don’t need to go digging around in the bottom of the bag. We’ve all missed a call or two because we couldn’t find a phone in the depths of an over-stuffed bag, right? 😉 I have been using this one for a week now, and while it’s definitely more of an “event” bag than an everyday bag, it absolutely holds up to modern life. I am hoping to buy more of these when I have the budget.

Currently available bags can be found on Štěpán’s facebook page.

I purchased this item myself and chose to review it. If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me.

To the memory of Opaline Rose

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Yesterday, the Immortal Geisha facebook group was informed of the untimely loss of one of our own. While I was not exceptionally close to her, Opaline Rose was a bright light in the online kimono community. She was also incredibly well-loved in the lolita fashion community, and had a wonderful knack for mixing the two styles and creating something vibrant and original. She always had an encouraging word for anyone trying something new, for anyone uncertain of themselves. I’m shocked and saddened by her passing, as are many other people.

In an attempt to deal with my feelings, I tried to honour her memory with an attempt at wa-lolita, which is the name for a style that melds traditional kimono and modern lolita fashion. Opaline often combined kofurisode with feminine skirts and petticoats to great success. While I’m not sure I accomplished the look, I’d like to think if she’d seen this she would have appreciated it.

À la famille de Marie (Opaline), je vous offre mes sincères condoléances. Elle menait de la joie et la lumière a tous ceux et celles qu’elle touchait.

Spring has sprung!

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Winter is on her way out, which means it’s time for a fresh and vibrant new colour scheme.

“In the cherry blossom’s shade
there’s no such thing
as a stranger.”

-Kobayashi Issa

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

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I won this gorgeous green irotomesode on eBay a few weeks back. It’s so lush and gorgeous; soft old silk with a vivid red lining and a mirrored hem design that puts it in the late Meiji or early Taisho era. I knew it would be too small for me to ever wear, even if I manage to lose weight, but I had to have it!

It arrived in the mail on Tuesday, along with a cute little coordinating obijime. Unfortunately, the flu from hell also arrived on Tuesday. I barely made it through the day at work, went to bed less than an hour after getting home, and promptly spent nearly 22 hours asleep. I’m still not feeling well, but I figured since it was St. Patrick’s Day and the kimono is such a beautiful and vibrant kelly green that I had to muddle through and make an outfit with it.

I chose to emphasize the fresh spring feel of the green with pastel accessories and this lovely tachibana fukuro obi from the obi bundle a few of us splurged on years ago. The obi is adorable but badly stained, so not particularly ideal for wearing out, but I was able to put it on Tsukiko in a way that hides the worst of the discolourations. I really love how this outfit looks together.

Items used in this coordination

Art Gallery – Steven Universe Wafuku

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And now for something a little different. A while back, I posted my watercolour style fanart of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson from BBC’s Sherlock dressed in Meiji-era wafuku. Recently, I’ve become hooked on Steven Universe, which is an utterly adorable and uplifting cartoon. I thought it might be fun to draw the main characters from the show in more modern wafuku. They were super fun to draw! I tried to convey aspects of each character in their outfits, but hopefully even if you’re not familiar with the show you can appreciate them. 🙂

Steven’s wearing a jinbei, featuring a motif of Cookie Cat, the mascot from his favourite snack. Jinbei are very casual cotton two-piece outfits. Adults will generally only wear them around the house, but it’s not uncommon to see younger kids wearing fun print ones to summer festivals and whatnot. I thought the cute, comfortable, slightly juvenile style would fit Steven well.

Connie’s wearing a yukata, which is about a step up formality-wise from a jinbei, but still very relaxed. The two of them could easily be going to a festival or hanging out at the beach. The music note motif is actually the viola sheet music for Do it for Her/Him, which is a song from one of the best episodes featuring Connie.

Pearl has on a fairly traditional semi-formal kimono, featuring a design of her favourite tree around the hem. It’s elegant and a little rigid, just like Pearl, but wearing flats instead of zori and a coloured collar are a little unconvetional, also just like Pearl.

Garnet’s outfit is retro and funky, just like Garnet. The bold pattern and longer sleeves are inspired by Taisho-era style, and she’s got on a shigoki obi under her regular obi for a bit of added brightness.

Amethyst is the youngest and the boldest, so I figured a bright fun coming-of-age furisode outfit would be the most appropriate.

Jasper is all about the big bold drama. She’s in a masculine-styled outfit inspired by the White Lion role in traditional kabuki. With that hair, how could I not? 😉

Peridot’s outfit is staid and practical and geometric, a relatively casual komon kimono with a coordinating haori. (Note that I drew these before the most recent episodes of the show, before her loyalties started to shift).

Lapis, with all her lovely song and fluid movement, is wearing a trailing hikizuri, or dance kimono. They are often worn by geisha, but all other manner of performers as well.

There are star accents on all the Crystal Gems and yellow diamond accents on all the Homeworld Gems, too. Their normal in-show costumes feature these motifs as a subtle visual cue about what “side” they’re on, and I wanted to carry that through in a way that still fit with the rest of the artwork.