Tuesday, August 18, 2009


My brain is melting. Apparently, humidity and lack of sleep (remember: teething baby!) will do that to you. Hence, today, I'll be lazy and I'll just present to you some of the best pieces from my Kimono collection. What, did you think this was going to be all about historical or movie costumes? Have I taught you nothing about the vast world and meaning of the word "costume"?

A few years back, I started doing research on Kimono with a Geisha costume in mind (that was before Memoirs of a Geisha was made into a movie). This led to a veritable Japanese craze on my part and I began a love affair with Kimono. I then spent hundreds of dollars (not that many, but I've lost count - of course, I had no mortgage or child at the time) on gorgeous vintage pieces and I even made myself a few Yukata (cotton Kimono for summer, very informal).

Kimono, although associated with the traditional Japanese garment, actually means "thing to wear", so I will refer to each picture by the correct term and, considering that I have your constant education at heart, I'll even tell you what they mean!

Note: All of the Kimono presented here were bought from Yamatoku (the pictures are from either the eBay sales page or the store's website - I don't have an appropriate set-up to take such great pictures of my collection).

Purple Haori with Country Landscape

Haori: a Kimono jacket, meant to be worn over a Kimono. (I personally like to wear mine over jeans and a neutral top - so what if I look strange to Western Eyes, I'm a Costumeholic!)

Orange Houmongi

Houmongi: Literally means "Visiting dress". It is considered to be pre-formal and can be worn to functions or other formal occasions. A Houmongi is the most flamboyant Kimono a married woman can wear.

Autumn Flower Kurotomesode

Kurotomesode: Meaning Black Tomesode. A Kurotomesode is the most formal Kimono a married woman can wear. It is patterned only below the waist line and will usually have five Kamon (family crest) printed on the sleeves, chest and back. (The more Kamon there are - up to five - the more formal the Kimono!)

Teal Hanayome Kakeshita

Kakeshita: A wedding Furisode (long hanging sleeves), worn by the bride under an Uchikake (long bridal coat).

The story of how I got this Kimono is a lovely one. Do you care to know it? (If you don't, just scroll down to the next picture, 'cause I'm telling it anyways!)

A month before Christmas 2006, I was looking at all the pretty pictures of Furisode on Yamatoku's website when I spotted that one. It was named Superb Hanayome Kakeshita and it was just breathtaking. I looked at the price tag, sighed and said to my Sweetheart that I was going to be good and wait until after the Holidays to buy it. But I couldn't stop staring at it, going back to the page often just to look at it. And then, 48 hours after I had first spotted it, it was sold. I felt miserable, regretting my decision to wait. I still went to the page to stare at it. I hoped and dreamed like crazy that maybe, just maybe, it had been bought for me for Christmas, like it happens in the movies. But who was I kidding... Then, on Christmas morning, we are opening presents and I get this large box. I unwrap it and I notice the stamps. No... It could not be possible! I opened the box, untied the rice paper tatoshi with shaking hands, and there it was! The Kimono of my dreams.

Apparently, right after I had shown it to my Sweetheart, he had ordered it for me. To this day, it is probably the best present I have ever had. Since it's a wedding Kimono, I've often joked that it was sort of, but not really an engagement ring (still waiting on that one).

Back to the collection: we are moving on to Obi.

Green Phoenix Fukuro Obi

Fukuro Obi: An Obi is the sash worn over a Kimono. A Fukuro Obi is the second most formal type of Obi for women (and the most formal used today), surpassed only by the Maru Obi.

I usually match this Obi with my Orange Houmongi.

Orange Hexagon Fukuro Obi

This Obi reminded me a lot of my parent's Special Occasion China, which they got as a wedding present when they got married in the '70s. It's white with a two-tone orange circle and a black dot in the center. Apparently, it was the latest fashion in dinnerware, seen in all the decoration magazine. (Considering how my brother and I have always taunted my parents for their "lack" of taste in choosing this China, my dad was very touched when I told him about my reasons for getting this Obi. If he's reading this he probably doesn't remember, but he did, at the time!)

I'd love to one day pair this Obi with either a Green, Teal or Light Blue Silk Kimono.

Iridescent Fukuro Obi

This Obi just made me think of Christmas. I want to one day get a Green or Red silk Kimono to wear it with.

All of the pieces I've presented are made of silk and are vintage pieces from the '70s. Although I've already mentioned I've spent a lot on all these pieces, the most expensive one cost 150$ USD, whereas a new Kimono can be many thousands of dollars, so all in all, it's a good deal. I don't really wear these out because I don't have all of the items needed for a proper Kitsuke (the art of Kimono wearing).

One day, I have to invest in all those little things I'm missing to be able to wear them (and one day, I'll list them for you). I would love to see an event where a group of costumers dressed up in proper Kitsuke to go visit a Japanese Garden and enjoy a Tea Ceremony. In the mean time, I'll just keep all these beautiful silks away from harm.

Note: Whew! For someone who wanted to be lazy, I've written a lot!

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