Silk Peony Ikebana

Last year, I made an origami ikebana arrangement as a gift for a friend. This year, I wanted to make something for my aunt that would coordinate with her decor and last a long time.

Everything here came from Michaels. I started with the gorgeous, bold red peony that I knew would be the focal point of the whole arrangement. Typically I’m not a huge fan of faux greenery, but these monstera leaves had way more substance and punch than most fake foliage, and since real monstera leaves are quite shiny and waxy anyway, these look much more realistic than most. All I needed after that was a something with height and airiness to balance the earthy, heavy quality of the flower and leaves. My father actually found these very thin branches with pretty silver beads on them that work as the perfect finishing touch.

Of course, I needed some sort of vessel, and I spent a fair bit of time rummaging around in a few different aisles until I found this one and fell in love with it. It’s an almost-perfect match for my aunt’s wall colours so I knew it would coordinate well and while it’s simple enough not to compete with the flower, the bit of texture makes it very earthy and interesting.

Typically, ikebana needs to be done with live, fresh, seasonal flowers. However, there are always acceptable reasons to deviate from the norm. Overall, I think for a silk flower arrangement this was very successful. And my aunt seemed to like it, which is the important part!

Classic Elegance

It feels like I’ve been doing a fair number of casual and non-traditional outfits lately, and while there’s nothing wrong with that I was in the mood for a little classic elegance. To me, there’s nothing like the graceful simplicity of a kurotomesode to really demonstrate the luxury and refinement of kimono.

Admittedly, I still managed to inject some of my personal style and preferences into this outfit. Typically, a kurotomesode should be paired with a metallic fukuro obi and white/metallic accessories. However, this kimono actually occupies a strange liminal space between kurotomesode and houmongi. The black base colour and five crests imply the highest level of formality, but the fact that there is pattern, however subtle, on one sleeve, knocks it down a peg. Because of that, I knew I could get away with deviating from the norm a little bit.

I thought it would be a good time to use this gorgeous tsuke-obi that I got recently, It was clearly a fukuro obi at some point in its life, but was converted to make it easier to wear. However, whoever converted it did so with their specific body in mind; because of this, it was an absolute bear to tie on the mannequin. Both the obi and the kimono were too big for her, which is not a problem I come across very often! However, this does mean I could probably wear this outfit myself if I lost a few pounds. It’s always good to have one very formal outfit ready to go, I suppose. I went with olive accessories since there’s a very similar green in both the kimono and the obi. Thanks to the gold accents, they still feel appropriately formal but feel a little more interesting than plain white would have been.

Overall, I really like how this looks. It conveys the traditional mood I was aiming for but still has a sense of unique personality.

Items used in this coordination

New haneri

While I was visiting Naomi, I picked up a bunch of gorgeous haneri we’d bought together on YJA. Unfortunately, the selection was random so we didn’t get exactly the ones we were hoping for, but I am happy with the ones I ended up with.

Maroon with floral roundels
Maroon floral haneri
A beautiful rich colour with multi-seasonal flowers. For modern machine embroidery, this is surprisingly lush.

Taupe with floral roundels
Taupe floral haneri
Same as the previous one, but in a much more gentle colourway.

Ivory with sakura
Beige sakura haneri
I’m not usually one for sakura motifs, but the soft ivory background of this one and the variety in colour of the flowers makes it charming and versatile.

White with grapes
White grapevine haneri
I thought the little pastel grapes on this were very adorable, I couldn’t resist!

White with dramatic flowers
White floral haneri
Again, lots of sakura, but the ones in the background are abstract enough to look like botan or kiku with the right outfits. I also love the charming little yellow maple leaves.

Pinstripe haneri with ume
Pinstripe and flower haneri
This was actually a gift from Kansai_gal that I’ve had for quite a while now, but never got around to photographing. Apparently it was such a good price that she couldn’t pass it up, but she didn’t particularly like the design. Worked out well though, because I absolutely love it.

Playing cards
Playing card haneri
This adorable homemade haneri was a gift from Rubyminky. I am really looking forward to wearing it with my playing card kanzashi hairband and obidome.

Bunnies!
Bunny haneri
Also from Rubyminky, this is an adorable soft dusty pink with cavorting bunnies. What’s not to love?

Kimono for benefit concert

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending a benefit concert for the Red Cross, featuring Arashi Daiko and Matsu Take Ensemble. Sadly, there were no photographs allowed during the concert so I have none to share with you, but let me assure you that it was a wonderful experience. The energy was great, the music was awesome, the dancers were adorable. If you are ever in the Montreal area and have the opportunity to see either of these groups, I highly recommend it.

Of course, I chose to wear a kimono to the concert. Sadly, I was literally the only person in the entire audience who did, but that did have some benefit. After the concert I went to thank some of the members of Arashi Daiko, and one of them informed that a few of them had noticed my outfit from the stage, and found it very inspiring and touching that I’d chosen to wear kimono. It literally brought tears to my eyes. I’m so glad I decided to wear one. I also got lots of lovely compliments from other people in the audience.

I decided to wear a beautiful olive-green karakusa komon from Naomi, and paired it up with my pink and white hakata to emphasize the pink in the pattern. I just happened to have an olive green obijime and mustard yellow obiage that matched perfectly, and couldn’t resist tying in the pink with my adorable new playing card geta. I also chose to use my new biyosugata (obi tying aid). Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to take photos before I left, so everything looks a little bit rumpled. However, I think for about an hour total in a car, and several hours in an auditorium seat, everything held up quite well.

Art Gallery – Flower and butterfly kakemono

Many of my beloved friends and family members appreciate and encourage my kimono addiction, but when it comes to giving me gifts they openly admit they’re not comfortable buying kimono for me – either they’re unsure of where to start, they’re not familiar with sizing structures, or are just not familiar enough with my tastes or the specifics of what I want/need. This has led to a wonderful trend of people giving me gifts of artwork that are related, either directly or indirectly, to my passion for Japanese aesthetics.

I love all these pieces, and while I can’t really carry them around outside to share with the world like I do when I wear kimono out, I realized there’s nothing stopping me from sharing them with my wonderful readers who would probably appreciate them as much as I do.

This one is a gorgeous kakemono or kakejiku, a painted wall-scroll attached to a fabric backing, usually for hanging in an alcove in a traditional Japanese room. It was a gift from a dear family friend – I’m not entirely sure where he got it, I think it was found in a box while he was cleaning out his mother’s house. Wherever it’s from, it’s really lovely. The painting itself is a cascade of pink flowers and a tiny stylized butterfly. I often find depictions of butterflies a bit twee and frilly in Japanese art, but this one is sort of geometric and absolutely original, and fits perfectly with the stylized flowers.

I’m not sure if the painting itself is Japanese or Chinese in origin (a lot of these are also made for the Chinese export industry), but here is a close-up of the calligraphy on it – if anyone has any ideas what it might say I’d love to know.

I hope you enjoyed this odd little venture outside the specific realm of kimono, because there will be at least a few more of these to come in the near future!