Bridal Redux

Bridal kitsuke is probably the most complex and exhausting of all standard forms of kitsuke. I’ve done it on the mannequin a few times before, but always having to improvise a little. I’ve done  fully coloured ensemble and an all-white ensemble, but when I found this red and gold accessory set for a fantastic price, I knew I wanted to do the transitional style often done for a reception. I paired the bold accessories with my flamboyant and loud uchikake but kept the demure subtle white kimono and obi. I think this is actually my favourite type of bridal ensemble.

I think I’m finally getting the hang of wrapping hikizuri-style kimono to get that lovely x-shaped drape of the hem. It’s not perfect, but I can see definite improvement every time I attempt it. The collar’s pretty mangled, but let’s not speak of that… Because this is my first real, full set of accessories, including a proper-sized bira and an actual kakae-obi, I couldn’t resist taking a bunch of detail shots. I hope you enjoy them!

It’s very satisfying to see the whole thing put together like this. Maybe one day someone will let me dress them up in the whole ensemble.

#monoKIMONO Challenge – Wedding White

I never set out to assemble a full wedding white ensemble, but once I had, it only seemed logical to feature it as a #monokimono outfit. Since lots of folks are still talking about the recent Royal Wedding, I decided to run with it for May!

I originally got this ivory silk uchikake waaaaay back when I first started collecting. I had no intention of buying one, but a professor in the college IT lab where I was working overheard me talking to a co-worker about my collection and asked if I’d be interested in buying a piece that’d he brought home from Japan as a souvenir years earlier. I said I’d take a look, but I’ll be honest, I was fully expecting some satiny tourist robe. So imagine my shock when he showed up lugging a gorgeous warm ivory uchikake in a trash bag! Of course I had to rescue it, and he accepted my ridiculously low offer.

Fast-forward to earlier this year when I stumbled across an astonishingly inexpensive ($18) ivory shiromuku furisode on Ichiroya. Since neither piece was pure white, I expected a close coordination but not an exact match, so you can imagine how thrilled I was when I discovered they’re spot-on perfect.

The rest of the accessories kind of fell into place after that. I love the look of beaded obijime, and found a white one on the cheap. The hakoseko set was also a bargain and happens to tie my silver zori into the outfit really nicely too. I don’t usually include footwear in these outfits, but with a wedding set it’s really Go Big or Go Home, right?

Technically, I should have used one of my off-white fukuro obi, but I couldn’t get over how well the hakata coordinated. And I’m firmly of the mindset that hakata ori goes with everything. Since this isn’t actually being worn to a wedding (unless my mannequin’s hiding something from me…) I figured I had a little more leeway. It’s also not unheard of now for brides to add a little more personal and non-traditional touches to their outfits. I love this look with extra lace and a lovely hat instead of the traditional white tsuno-kakushi hood, for example. Since I’d veered off-track with the obi already, I couldn’t resist using my silvery-white beaded obijime as well. This also makes the fact that I’ve yet to find an ivory kakae obi (the narrow, stiff band worn below the regular obi) a little easier to overlook, honestly.

Bonus: For those of you who  miss my furry little interlopers, they’re still around, they just tend to ignore the mannequin. Tribble decided to show up today though!

Items used in this coordination

Here Comes the Bride

The bride is not me! Let me get that out of the way! But if you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen this uchikake already. If you’re not following me on Instagram, now’s a great time to start.

I found this beautiful vintage uchikake on a local classified listings site, and contacted the seller right away. We managed to arrange a meeting, and I’m very glad. The gentleman selling it was lovely, very friendly. The uchikake was passed down in his family, originally belonging to his step-mother’s mother, and he seemed very keen to make sure it would go to someone who would really appreciate it for what it is. I hope I’m giving it a good home!

It’s a bit hard to age, but based on how it looks and feels in person combined with what he told me of its history, I’d put it somewhere in early Showa. The metallic bits are synthetic, but the lining and base fabric look and behave like silk. It’s a really interesting combination.

I knew I wanted to do a bridal-style kitsuke with it, and my Taisho-era kakeshita seemed like a good place to start. Even if they’re not the same era, they really work together. Unfortunately, I don’t have a proper set of bridal kitsuke accessories yet, so I had to make do using a normal furisode obiage and obijime, and a shigoki obi beneath the obi, along with a normal kimono wallet in lieu of the traditional decorative wallet known as hakoseko. Overall, though, I think it looks beautiful. Obviously, this is not something I’m ever going to wear personally (except for a lecture or display at some point, I suppose), but it’s so beautiful I have a feeling I’m going to be leaving it on the mannequin for longer than usual.

Items used in this coordination

Uchikake-cuchi-coo.

Have you ever come across something that you knew you were never going to use or wear, but for one reason or another had to have anyways? Yeah, that’s how I ended up with Japanese wedding attire.

Uchikake are technically any sort of ceremonial decorated over-kimono (not to be confused with things like haori or michiyuki, which are everyday outerwear). They were commonplace with the upperclass as well as high-class courtesans up until the Edo era, and started losing popularity from then on. At this point, they are pretty much exclusively worn by a bride on her wedding day, over top of a full trailing furisode and obi ensemble. They can be white, as mine is, or brightly coloured with celebratory motifs. Their primary characteristics are the heavy, padded hem and long length (as they are meant to be worn trailing) and often a front decorated with knots or other ornamentation. They are worn over the kimono and obi, and so are not overlapped or folded at the waist. This allows for much more elaborate decorations.

I have no plans to get married any time in the remotely near future, and even if I did I would not wear this piece. I may consider wearing a dressy kimono for the reception, or part of it, but this is too ornate for my tastes, and too “thematic” for any sort of ceremony I’d feel comfortable with.

However, when I was working in the computer lab at a college several years back, one of the professors overheard me discussing my collection, and told me his wife had purchased a kimono as a decoration while they were vacationing there in the 80s, and had tired of it. It was currently living in a garbage bag in their closet, and would I be interested in seeing/buying it?

I said yes, expecting it to be some sort of tourist trappery with hideous embroidery. Imagine my shock when he pulled this poor baby out of the bag!

I offered him a price that to this day I still feel guilty for. If I’d purchased this online, the money I gave him would just about have covered the shipping costs, and nothing else.

This is a modern piece, I’d guess 1970s or later, but it’s still lovely.

The base is a pattern of peacocks and art-nouveau style flourishes, which is a refreshing departure from the typical crane motif.

The peacocks themselves are rather smug-looking, which always makes me chuckle.

It also has some beautiful knotwork at the wrists, and a lovely false-layered effect that evokes the twelve-layered Juunihitoe of Heian court outfits.

Maybe one day I’ll do a courtesan-inspired photoshoot or something and get a chance to drag this beast onto my shoulders again, but for now I am content to simply admire it.