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

Tokaido Road for Tony Bourdain

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If you’ve been a reader for a while, you’ll know that I often make coordinations as a sort of coping mechanism when someone I admire passes on. Friday morning, I heard the news I wasn’t expecting to hear for decades yet. Tony Bourdain was dead. Devastatingly, lost to suicide. This one hit me much harder than any other recent death. I’ve been a huge fan of his for longer than I can remember. His television shows, his books, even the comic books he’s written. I’ve actually been working on a post that involves some of those, but it’s been put to the side for the time being.

In an age of approachable, inviting celebrity chefs and easily marketed sound bites, Anthony Bourdain showed us that it was important to be honest and true to yourself. He showed us that it was entirely possible to be ascerbic and foul-mouthed while being open and empathetic. He used his bad-boy persona and privileged status to amplify the voices of downtrodden people who so many would have ignored, and did it all over a shared meal.

This 53 Stations of the Tokaido obi is an item that had been on my wishlist for months, and when I got a notification that it was on sale I jumped on it. I hadn’t used it yet, waiting for the right time, and what a better way to use this motif focused on travel than to honour a man who encouraged us all to travel and explore and experience new things? I kept the rest of the outfit very subdued, to maintain the focus on the obi.

If you do anything today, do it honestly, do it with no reservations. Try something out of your comfort zone. Sit down and listen to someone you’d normally overlook. Reach out to a loved one. Eat something incredible. Do it with open eyes, open ears, open mouth, open heart, and open mind.

Items used in this coordination

Memorial Ikebana

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Today marks the 28th anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre here in Montreal. A man, one who explicitly blamed women for all of his problems and failures, stormed a local university and shot twenty-eight people, killing fourteen women. December sixth has since become a day of remembrance for the women who lost their lives as well as a more general National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

Today’s ikebana is my way of memorialising and remembering the victims. White roses anchor the piece and represent hope, as well as the White Ribbon Campaign. The green buds bring a little texture in and protect the white roses, and the large leaves work to bridge the two disparate halves of the arrangement as well as evoking a bridge to a better world.

I’m fairly proud of this one. I’ve been trying to do more low, wide pieces and this worked out quite well. It feels balanced and organic as well, which I’ve come to realise is something I’m very fond of doing.

Realistically, I know that playing with flowers isn’t going to change anything in a world where there are still people who view women as second-class citizens, even here in North America. However, I would ask that you please spare a moment today to think of these women who violently and senselessly lost their lives for nothing more than the “crime” of wanting an education. Think of them, and think of the women worldwide who suffer at the hands of society around them.

 
Geneviève Bergeron
Hélène Colgan
Nathalie Croteau
Barbara Daigneault
Anne-Marie Edward
Maud Haviernick
Maryse Laganière
Maryse Leclair
Anne-Marie Lemay
Sonia Pelletier
Michèle Richard
Annie St-Arneault
Annie Turcotte
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz
 
 

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.