Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wednesday Weekly Wishlist: Sayuri's Winter Dance

I guess I'm in an Asian mood these days so yesterday I watched Memoirs of a Geisha (2005). For any Kimono lover, this movie is filled with wonder. Of course, the hairstyles are all wrong, but lets not go there. In this entire movie, the only costume I would like to reproduce as is is Sayuri's Winter Dance Kimono.

Now I have to admit that when I first saw that sequence at the theatre, and not having read the book, I felt awful for the character because I thought her dance was so ridiculous that she had just made a fool of herself, especially when no one reacted at the end. But as my parents say, 'the movie guy fixed it' ("C'est arrangé avec le gars des vues"). I love Japanese culture so much that there are many "artistic licences" I hated in the movie.

But back to the costume that I would love to make for a Japanese oriented Convention such as Otakuthon or Anime North.

Ziyi Zhang as Sayuri, Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

I have pondered for a long time on the making of this costume. To make it, I would need a white and silver Uchikake (coat) with Crane design and red lining and padded hem, a silver white Furisode with a splash light blue from the hem up and on the lower part of the sleeves, an under kimono, or juban, with red skirt and red trimmed sleeves, and a white Obi (sash) trimmed in violet.

Ziyi Zhang as Sayuri, Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

There are two main accessories that Sayuri uses during her dance. The first is her parasol. It is made of sheer black fabric and painted with what I believe are tree designs. As I don't expect to be able to find a parasol that fits perfectly with the look, I expect I will have to make my own buy getting a cheap paper one and replacing said paper by the right fabric which I would then paint.

Costumes of Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) at the FIDM Museum

The second important accessory is the stilt like Geta (sandals) that she comes on stage with. Watching the making of, I have heard people refer to them and mentioning different heights. Apparently, they are somewhere between 8 inches and a foot high. I would also have to make these. This means a block of wood for each foot which will need to be cut in the shape of a rectangular truncated pyramid. The top stays a natural wood color, but the sides are painted black and lacquered, and as these shoes are hollow (can you imagine the weight if they weren't?), the interior is painted red and also lacquered. Then I'd need a pair of black velvet hanao to slip my toes in.

A little tidbit of information for you: Maiko wear tall geta called Okobo. Okobo are made of wood with no finish, but the summer Okobo are lacquered black, were as for this costume, the black lacquered geta are for a winter dance.

Oiran Geta

By the way, such sandals are not actually used by anyone in Japan. The closest match are the geta worn by Oiran, but these are not full blocks as you can see from the picture.

Ziyi Zhang as Sayuri, Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

I would also invest in a black wig for this costume; somehow, I don't think my blond mane would have the same effect (but I would like to make a Beach Blond Geisha costume someday).

The hairdo is quite simple: a small ponytail wrapped in red silk on top of the head and the rest of the hair is down.

Finally, there is the issue of makeup. Geisha makeup is snow white and covers the face, neck and shoulders, but there is about a centimetre of skin showing around the face as well as two points on the neck. I'll need help to paint myself. Other than that, it is red lips, black kohl and red eyeliner. Simple enough!

Now my only question is do I make the Kimono and Obi or do I buy vintage ones? Do I only buy the Uchikake? I know I could find a vintage one to fit my needs. Needless to say, the cost of making this costume means I'm not about to make it. But I can dream!

1 comment:

  1. I love this costume too! But I would like to make a few notes. One: there is no blue or violet in the costume it is white, silver, and red. What you may see as blue in the photograph is the stage lighting. Another thing to consider is the Uchikake is twice as long as a normal one. I dont think her Juban is red; rather, it appears to me to be white with red edges.

    Another idea is to by a white parasol, which I have found, and paint the outer edge black. The interior appears to be more white fading out into black.

    Also her hair style also has two to three smaller pieces of hair on the right side (left if you are watching the movie) that have been pulled out and put into a piggy-tail-type style.