“Group of Seven” Landscape Houmongi

When I saw this gorgeous landscape houmongi up for auction recently, the Canadian in me just had to have it. It reminded me immediately of something by the Group of Seven and while I realise it’s a Japanese landscape it could just as easily be any of the wild, untamed nature of this beautiful country.

I actually have a handful of obi that will all look incredible with this piece but for my first time showing it off this metallic hawks-over-water nagoya obi felt like the right direction. I love the idea of the birds flying high over the landscape, and the heavy gold of the obi helps up the very subtle gold decoration in the hem pop. It also increases the formality of the whole outfit, and since the kimono has one crest it can be dressed up a bit. I went subtle with the rest of the accessories to let the kimono and obi speak for themselves, and I think it worked well.

 

I can’t wait to do other things with this stunning piece. I’m so happy I was able to add it to my collection.

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Thank you, Ichiroya!

If you’re active in the kimono communities online, odds are high that you’ve already heard the devastating news that Ichiroya, one of the oldest and most well-established online kimono stores, is closing. I’ve spoken about them at length here on this blog, even devoting an entire entry on how wonderful they are and how to use their services. Everyone there is so kind and helpful, and they’ve always been the first place I suggest when people want to dip their toes into buying vintage kimono online. While I am very sad,t this feels like the end of an era, I wish the owners all the best for their upcoming retirement!

I also used this as an opportunity to treat myself to some items I’d been watching for a while. One of the pieces I splurged on was this beautiful vintage houmongi with genjiko motif on an utterly lush purple background. When it arrived, I realised that an obi I’d bought from Ichiroya quite some time ago was the perfect complement to the pink and green accents of the kimono, and it all fell into place.

I wanted the kimono (and to a lesser extent, the obi) to shine so I went with subtle brown and beige accessories that tied into the kimono motif without drawing attention to themselves. I can’t remember where most of the accessories came from, they’re not from Ichiroya, but they worked very well with the outfit. I love how the brown obiage almost looks like shiny gold due to the gradations on it. I hope I did these pieces justice, as I wanted to honour and thank Ichiroya for twenty years of amazing service.

I bought one other kimono and two gorgeous obi at the same time as this one, so be prepared for lots of new stuff soon!

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L is for Layers

Layers, one thickness, course, or fold laid or lying over or under another

Today was a finicky one, since there is no L letter or phoneme in Japanese – loanwords from other languages such as English will typically use ru- or ra- syllables instead. So obviously I couldn’t use a traditional motif or technique for this entry. Instead, I decided to run with a relatively mundane English word. Layers. Lots of lovely layers!

The concept of layering one kimono over another is definitely nothing new. Think back to my entry about junihitoe from a few days ago! As recently as the Taisho era, it was common for formal kimono to come as a kasane set, including two or three layers of matching kimono in coordinating colours. Even after these were deemed too heavy and impractical, it was trendy to use a dounuki, which was somewhere between a kimono and a juban, to give the illusion of multiple layers.

I bought this kimono way back in the early autumn, before the whole flood nonsense, but I’d just never had the occasion to do anything with it until now. But I knew it would be gorgeous with a peek of bright golden yellow peeking out at the collar, sleeves, and hem, so out it came.

My vivid yellow rose houmongi made the perfect layer underneath, along with a green and gold date-eri to give the impression of even more layers! I used my beloved green and gold hakata obi to pull out more of the green and gold, and draw more attention to the gorgeous stained-glass designs on the kimono. Of course, my beloved lemon-yellow accessories worked perfectly here. But honestly, when don’t they work?

I love this whole coordination more than I can express. I knew in my mind it would work well, but seeing it in person it’s even better than I imagined. It’s always a great day when that happens!

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Over Hills and Mountains

One of the best ways to bring back flagging or missing motivation is a new piece. I saw this gorgeous 53 Stations of the Tokaido obi in the extra clearance section over at Ichiroya just over a month ago. It had been marked down to $16, and I couldn’t resist. It arrived earlier this week and I knew I wanted to do something with it.

I decided to combine the soft, painted quality of the obi with a bolder, woven design on the kimono. They’re both landscapes with mountains, but the different techniques complement each other wonderfully. The obi has gorgeous, soft dusty decoration and I pulled out the sort of raspberry/burgundy colours with the accessories. A green obijime echoes the kimono, and an agate obidome in the same reddish tones was the perfect finishing touch.

To prepare for my upcoming presentations at Costume-Con 38, I also used this as an occasion to practice doing kitsuke while explaining what I was doing. My poor father was subjected to my “lecture”, and he was a good sport about it.  😛

Since this obi is so new, I don’t have proper close-up photo of it yet, but that’s coming! I need to catalogue a lot of new stuff sometime soon. It’s just a bit overwhelming.

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I’m back!

First of all, I’d like to take a moment to thank you for your patience, support, and faith in me. It’s been a very long few months. As you may know, my bedroom flooded a few months back. Mercifully, my kimono are stored in a separate room upstairs, so they were safe. But my life got turned quite upside-down while my room was being renovated and restored. Then the holidays hit, and as I’ve mentioned before, I work in a toy store so things get very hectic around then. To top things all off, I somehow forgot to put my anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication in my pill organiser at the end of December. If anyone’s gone off anti-depressants cold turkey, you know how rough it can be. I did that without even realising what I’d done wrong, so January was a very, very hard month for me.

Thankfully, that’s all behind me now. My room is complete, work has definitely quieted down, and my medication is stable again. I knew it was time to get back into the swing of things and start blogging properly again.

I received this gorgeous kimono as a birthday gift from Sophie back in November, and I think it was the perfect piece to use to celebrate my return. I love the variety of colour and pattern, and I’m always a sucker for black-based kimono that aren’t kurotomesode. It came with the red date-eri already attached, so using more red accessories was a no-brainer. I felt that the orange and gold obi had a similar showa-fabulous vibe, and the colours are very harmonious. It’s not a risky or adventurous coordination by any means, but it works well.

Honestly, I was worried I’d be rusty and out of practice, but kitsuke really is like riding a bicycle. After a few minutes, the muscle memory just takes over.

I also have some exciting news to share. Costume-Con 38 is taking place here in Montreal next month and I will be doing three panels; two kimono dressing workshops and one lecture on the history and evolution of kimono. If you’ll be attending, I’d love to see you!

Thank you again if you’ve stuck around during my little break, I really do appreciate the support. <3

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