Pastel Pearl-fection!

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I bought this pearl ribbon thing a while back with the intention of using it in kitsuke and somehow never got around to it. When I was looking for an inspirational jumping-off point for today’s outfit I remembered I still had them and decided to work off that.

Pearls, to me, needed a really sweet and feminine outfit, so it was time to bust out this gorgeous blue furisode with pink accents again.  I went with the solid deep rose side of my sakura chuuya obi, and decided to use the pearls as something between an obijime and a pattern itself. I really like how this looks! I also covered up a pink embroidered haneri with more pearls because sometimes more is more. The obi provides a bit of visual weight to an otherwise very light and airy kimono. Previously, all the coordinations I’ve done with this piece have been with white or silver based obi, and it’s pretty cool to see how different it feels with something richer and more colourful.

I also had fun improvising the obi musubi, it sort of looks like a cross between a fukura suzume and a han-darari. It feels very sweet and youthful, and took advantage of this soft, floppy obi well I think. A few more rose and white accessories just pulled the whole thing into a really pretty, girly, cohesive outfit.

Items used in this coordination

A Prayer for Notre Dame

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Monday, I watched with the world as the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris burned. I may be, as I’ve mentioned before, an atheist, but the thought of the world losing such an important monument filled me with despair. There is no denying that aside from spiritually, it’s an incredibly vital structure historically, artistically, architecturally, and culturally. It has witnessed revolutions, wars, births, deaths, been central to great works of fiction, and great works of art.

Now, several days later, we know the extent of the damage, and mercifully it’s not as dire as it felt watching it live. However, it’s going to need a massive amount of restoration in the years – and likely decades – to come. Thankfully the structure is still mostly stable, and the bulk of the art and religious relics contained within were saved, but she is still going to need a ton of work.

If you’re a regular around here, you’ve likely seen my use of kitsuke as a coping mechanism for distant but impactful deaths. This time, I’m using it as a coping mechanism for loss and despondency. I wanted to honour Notre Dame in the best and most personal way I know how.

The wrought-iron metalwork designs on the haori call to the famous spire that was lost about halfway through the blaze. As an unintended but not unappreciated bonus, the haori over the obi makes a distinctive hump, hearkening back to Quasimodo, the cathedral’s most famous fictional resident. I chose an obi with the circular floral motif to echo the Rose Window, central to the front facade. The roses on the kimono are also a bit of an indirect nod there. The red accessories add a vital, aggressive pop of contrast, exactly what Notre Dame needs right now. A reminder to fight, that she’s been through worse and come out the other side, and will remain standing for centuries to come.

Items used in this coordination

Art Gallery – Eeeveelution Girls

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What’s this nonsense? Pokémon fanart? I was inspired by the Kimono Girls who are present in both the games and the anime and manga. I thought it would be really cool to do a series of them inspired by each of the evolution forms of Eevee, who is one of my favourite pokemon. Hopefully it’s obvious which one is which, but just in case it doesn’t come through clearly (or you’re not familiar with Pokemon), we have, in order:

  • Eevee – Since Eevee is the original/unevolved form, I wanted her outfit to be basic and versatile. Eevee’s distinctive fur ruff and tail formed the starting point for her kimono.
  • Vaporeon – For the water evolution, I knew a seigaiha obi would be perfect, and I’ll never pass up the opportunity to include Kanagawa’s Great Wave when I can!
  • Jolteon – Modern lightning motifs for the electric evolution, of course.
  • Flareon – Hot colours and traditional flames suit the fire evolution perfectly.
  • Espeon – The psychic evolution is hard to convey visually, so I chose to do a base kimono in a subtle gradient of Espeon’s colours, and the sakura motif obi as a nod to the trainer Sakura in the anime, who has an Espeon.
  • Umbreon  – Like psychic, dark is a hard concept to convey, so Umbreon’s style was inspired directly by the visuals of the game.
  • Sylveon – The pastels and bows of the fairy evolution seemed perfectly suited to tabane noshi. This is actually the first one I made, and inspired the rest of the project!
  • Glaceon – Yukiwa motif for the ice-based Glaceon just made sense. The diamond pattern of the obi helps reinforce the crystalline feel.
  • Leafeon – Swirling vines and shades of green and brown were the clear choice for Leafeon’s grass form.

I had a lot of fun finding the right colours and patterns for each of these little ladies, and I love how they look all put together! If you get a kick out of them too, prints are available in my Society6 shop.

Timeless Elegance

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Thank you so much for being patient while I was out of town, and settling back in. I apologise for the lack of content, and if you’re curious as to why I’ve been relatively radio silent there’s a bit of info at the bottom of this post. Feel free to skip it though.

I knew I needed to get back into the swing of things, and decided to do something with the gorgeous, timeless elegance of this vintage irotomesode. Like a lot of other pieces from this era, the designs on it are incredibly soft and dusty and subdued, and I wanted to make sure the obi didn’t compete or overwhelm in any way. As you may know, I’m of the mind that hakata obi go with everything and anything, so this very pale pink and white one seemed like the ideal complement to the dusky pastels of the kimono.

I’m trying to branch out and do more interesting things with my kitsuke, so I tried doing kouken musubi and I think it turned out quite well for a first attempt! Olive green accessories and a coordinating haneri helped give the whole outfit a bit of weight and contrast, which I think it definitely needed.

It felt good to get this done. While I was down in California, two separate tragedies struck at times when I felt helpless to do anything. My friend Dan Howard, the incredibly talented and sweet and funny artist who drew this portrait of me, lost a hard-fought battle with pneumonia. The following day our tiny, grumbly, loveable cat Tribble (whom you’ve definitely seen if you’re a long-time reader) succumbed to a very aggressive form of cancer. My folks made the humane choice to end her suffering but I was thousands of miles away and couldn’t say goodbye. So I was already not in a great place mentally or emotionally, and leaving Keith always makes me sad. On top of everything else, the trip home was long, full of incidents and delays. All these things have compounded to put me in a pretty bad state of mind. Distracting myself with something as familiar as kimono really helped today.

If you read all that, I apologise and I thank you. But I’m starting to do better, and we’ll be back to a more regular schedule from here on in. 💖

Items used in this coordination

Roaring Twenties

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A while back, a friend sent me this awesome michiyuki with gorgeous long sleeves. It sat in storage for some time while I wondered what to do with it, and it recently struck me that it would make an amazing dress-like outfit.

Michiyuki like these are intended as over-coats for inclement weather, but they are also great to wear and style as mod-era dresses. Their boxy shape is perfect, and since they’re the only common kimono garment that actually snaps up the front, they’re very easy to wear.

The styling for this one was super simple; I wanted to keep the Taisho vibe of the piece in focus so I went for a bit of a sleek twenties feel. A gold necklace worked to bring out the warm tones in the garment, and a big chunky belt gave it a bit of shape and definition at the waist. I have another michiyuki with a much more modern and graphic pattern, and I can’t wait to do a similar outfit with that one as well, but trying to evoke the mod style of the 1960s.

I’m still on vacation, but I’m keeping up with things as much as I can. How do we all feel about the new upcoming era name, Reiwa? I’m not sure how I feel, I think it will really depend on how people choose to interpret it. The intention of “good/auspicious peace” is lovely, but the fact that it can also be read as “commanded peace” feels a bit odd to me. I guess only time will tell!

Items used in this coordination