Indigo Girl

I’d been waffling about buying a Taisho-era indigo piece for a while when this came up on Ichiroya, and while it was a bit more than I usually pay for kimono, the colour, size, and condition of it were all worth the investment in my mind. This is a houmongi with era-typical long sleeves and a beautiful, multiseasonal floral design. It’s got branches of ume (plum blossom), iris, botan (peony), and bamboo around the hem, and a bold, graphic stem of tachibana, which is probably my favourite floral motif. I love how squishy and fun they look!

It also has some gorgeous, lush embroidery on some of the geometric designs

However, I think one of my favourite things about this kimono is probably one of the most subtle. Woven directly into the fabric, before the dyeing process was started, is a gorgeous red and gold windowpane plaid. You’d never see detailing like this on a modern houmongi, as nowadays that sort of design is considered strictly informal. Naomi wrote a great piece on the qualities of indigo dye, and the transitional phenomenon of putting stripes (which are very casual by modern standards) on more formal kimono. It’s a trend I think is beautiful and needs to come back into vogue.

I’ve worn this kimono once, but only inside the yard, as I’m a little worried about wearing such an old piece out and about. Maybe one day when the right time and place come up, I will do so. I chose to pair it with a late-Showa era obi, which may seem odd but the clouds, grasses, and colours just seemed perfect with it. The obiage and obijime were a gift from a friend, and bring out the soft blue and olive tones in the kimono perfectly. For a vintage feel, I chose some burnt paulownia geta instead of zori.

Black Taisho bridal furisode

This is probably one of the jewels of my collection; a black-based, five crested bridal hikizuri. The hem is padded but it is too short for me to wear trailing, so I wear it as a normal furisode. I came across it on eBay and couldn’t bear to risk getting involved in a bidding war. Thankfully there was a reasonable Buy It Now option so I just went for it.

It’s not in the best condition, some of the gold couching is coming off and one of the sleeves was a bit detached when it arrived, but it doesn’t detract from the overall beauty of the piece. I have fixed the sleeve, and am looking for someone who can fix the couching. The embroidery and details on it are breathtaking. I have never seen such lush, textured needlework before.

I chose to pair it up with a green and gold hakata obi and orange and green accessories. I love this outfit. It’s a shame I do not feel comfortable wearing such an old and delicate piece out, nor do I have anywhere formal enough for it to be appropriate.

Items used in this coordination