#MonoKimono Challenge – Black Mofuku

One of the few traditionally monochrome kimono coordinations would be mofuku, or mourning clothes. I debated whether or not to do this outfit, but in the end I figured it was the perfect opportunity to demonstrate something I’d never really have another opportunity to show, and it felt right for this time of year. It’s clearly not appropriate for everyday wear but it’s definitely interesting.

Mofuku kimono are always flat black silk with five crests. There will never be any noticeable texture or rinzu patterning on the kimono. However, obi will occasionally have a subtle woven design like this one does. Obiage and obijime should also be black, while undergarments (juban, haneri, tabi) will always be plain white. You really can’t get much more monochrome than that.

People further from the deceased can wear iromuji in dusty, subtle colour like greys, steel blues, and lavenders, and keep to black accessories, and as the mourning period progresses more colour can be injected into the coordinations.

While I typically like to inject my own flair and personality into nearly every outfit I put together, I felt that doing anything “out of the ordinary” here would be disrespectful, even if it is just on a mannequin. This sort of coordination means something, and it’s not my place to change that.

There’s still two more Yokai outfits to come before the end of the month, so we’ll be getting back to those tomorrow.

Items used in this coordination

Kitsune – Yokai Halloween 2018

The Kitsune is quite possibly the most well-known Yokai. Not only are foxes representative of tricksters in so many cultures and traditions around the world, the kitsune figure appears in so much Japanese media that nearly everyone has, at the very least, a passing familiarity with them.

Kitsune are neither inherently good nor evil – there are so many stories and so many variations. There are helpful ones, vengeful ones, playful ones, and ones who punish the wicked, to name a few. I didn’t have one particular variant in mind when I decided to feature this particular yokai, because it’s impossible to choose. I’d like to think she’s more friendly and playful than outright malicious though.

Since kitsune are so varied, I knew I had a lot of creative liberty for this particular outfit. I decided to go with the first kimono and obi I ever purchased, because this particular kimono feels so quintessentially Japanese to me. The bright red colour and iconic white chrysanthemums pop, and the kitsune mask I painted plays off them so well. The finishing touches were a lovely furry tail and ears. Initially I wanted to put the tail at the hem of the kimono but it’s not very large and got a little bit lost, so I put it below the obi instead, and think it looks very cute there.

And just because I’m really proud of how it turned out, especially considering I freehand painted the whole thing, here’s a close-up of the mask.

Items used in this coordination

 

Yuki-Onna – Yokai Halloween 2018

Halloween season is upon us! If you’ve been here for a while, you’ll know that I like to pick a theme and run with it every October. While I stress heavily that a kimono and in of itself is not a costume, I do think that there are plenty of ways to build a costume or even a series of costumes using kimono as a base.

This year, I thought I would pay tribute to some of the spookiest or most famous female yokai in Japanese folklore. There are so many to choose from, it was difficult to narrow it down to a reasonable number. To start, I decided to go with Yuki Onna, one of the most iconic and well-known women of the spirit world.

Yuki-Onna (雪女, snow woman) is a beautiful maiden with snow-white skin and black hair, typically depicted in white kimono. She is freezing to the touch, thrives in blizzards, and may melt if exposed to fire or hot bath water. I knew I wanted to start with my shiromuku, giving me a clean white base and the drama of long sleeves and a trailing skirt. My beloved Kanbara obi was the perfect focal point. I could absolutely see Yuki-Onna in this landscape! I anchored the outfit with a black skirt underneath and echoed it with a black obiage and obijime. Initially I was going to use this white haneri with snowflakes on it, but it contrasted oddly with the ivory of the kimono and felt a bit too cute and cartoon-like. Instead, I used the solid black reverse side of the other one and accented it with a few glittery snowflake stickers. I love the way they catch the light and sparkle like the sun on snow and ice. A rhinestone and pearl brooch reminiscent of a snowflake completes the ensemble.

Items used in this coordination

 

Harley Quinn

I hate clowns, but I love Harley Quinn. Go figure! This was the outfit I was most looking forward to. It was the most fun, but somehow also the most awful to put together! Even though the other three outfits in this project have been relatively standard and traditional kitsuke, my plan for Harley had been a bit off-the-wall from the very beginning.

For a character who was only created in the 1990s and was never meant to be a permanent addition, Harley’s had an enormous impact on the DC universe and really pop culture as a whole. She’s had some incredible character development, and a long with that a bevy of unique costumes and looks. None are more iconic than her original red and black harlequin jumpsuit though, so I knew that one had to be my starting point.

 

My red ume komon was the grounding point for the whole outfit, along with a black petticoat to give off a cute feminine vibe. Over top of that, I used a ro mofuku kimono I have that’s basically rotted apart at the seams. I’ve been planning to sew it back together, but I realised that it would be perfect to use as a sort of overlay. Since the seams were already separated, I sort of bustled it in four segments over top of the komon. A red, black, and white obi and accessories with card suit motifs were the perfect next step. I added some white ruffled ribbon to the collar and sleeves, and tucked a white shibori obiage in above the obi to look like more ruffles.

Despite it being an enormous pain in the posterior to put together, I could not be happier with how this outfit turned out. I could absolutely see Harley wearing it.

This is going to be the last Batman-themed outfit for a while. It’s been great fun, but I want to focus on a few different things for the month of October. I do have loose ideas for a few more characters so I’ll likely revisit those in the future though.

Items used in this coordination

Catwoman

Up next in my Batman-inspired coordinations, Catwoman! A jewel thief extraordinaire and on-again off-again love interest for Bruce Wayne himself, no project like this would be complete without her.

Her look and costume have evolved almost as much as her origins, and my initial plan was to go for black with hints of blue-green to evoke the gritty night-time feel of Gotham as well as echo her outfits in the Batman Ninja movie. But after some discussion with a friend, I realised I could absolutely pull in the purple as well, and have a very harmonious outfit that nodded to her original costume as well as the more modern iterations.

Of course, this was the perfect opportunity to use my teal haneri with black cats on it. I also tied a variation on a standard otaiko musubi with my teal obi that gives off the impression of cat ears. I really wanted this outfit to be as sleek and elegant as Selina Kyle is, but with a sense of whimsy and a clear nod to cats. The obidome is a stylised clay cat face my father sculpted and I then decorated with pearls and rhinestones to call back to her cat-burglar past. A rich purple obiage and obijime tied everything together, both visually and literally.

Unfortunately, the weather here is awful and dreary and the light in the living room was not amazing today. Combine that with the fact that purple and teal are two of the most difficult colours to photograph. I had to process the photos quite a bit, but I think in the end they’re pretty accurate, and the outfit conveys exactly what I was hoping for, so I’m quite pleased.

Items used in this coordination