Bebe Taian

September 25, 2018

Otsukimi: 15th Moon-Viewing

Otsukimi isn't coming until later on the 'new' calendar, but it has already passed on the traditional calendar at the first Full Moon of the Autumn Equinox- the same holiday when moon cakes are delivered in China. I delivered some to former bosses (who are Chinese) but I never know what flavour to get- so I typically get azuki, since the red colour is lucky, and their Americanized young kids might like the bean flavour more, since it's more common in ice cream and other snacks here.

In Japan, the holiday takes on a very mochi-flavoured tone: instead of wheat and mung bean/egg yolk moon cakes, balls of pure white mochi are boiled to resemble the moon, and stacked in an arrangement of 15 in a pyramidal shape on a beautiful tray. These are accompanied by clear sake in cups that catch the moon's reflection, susuki branches (a silvery, tall Autumn grass), and rabbit motifs.

Other lucky things to eat are things that resemble a full Harvest moon- fried eggs, yolks intact, things like this. Also, the weather is supposed to cool off by now, so something warm on a cool night would be pleasant.

Since ro weather is to be over now, kimono are being put away for lined items. In Florida... the weather is still in the 90s or hotter, we are still facing hurricanes, and it rains frequently- the blinding kind that causes accidents because you can't even see two metres in front of you while driving. The kind where the ground, the sky, and the cars are all the same silvery colour- and Very Special Drivers don't think they need to turn their headlights on so that you can see them. Obviously, this is no time for me to put away my summer kimono, unless it is to go from a very well air-conditioned place to another well air-conditioned place in something synthetic and washable. This description fits many of my summer kimono, so I wear them all year.

But in this one case... I faced both the humidity and heat to wear relatively seasonally appropriate kimono for Otsukimi, a kimono set I wear only on this night a year.

I own only one woolen, unlined kimono with a pattern something like kenjo-gara in pastel purple and silver, against a background of deep maroon and black, which I did not ever envision myself in but I kept it to pair with my one woolen, unlined obi in brilliant indigo blue with red, purple, and gold motifs.

The obi features round motifs containing rabbits and what looks like it could be a horse? I've never figured out what they were, or what the item near them is... but abstractly, it looks a little like a highly stylized pumpkin, and since this is also close to Halloween, it's adorable. The obiage is a golden yellow with a large white circular haze pattern in it, colours of the Harvest moon. The obijime is to match the purple tones in the kimono; the haneri woven with chrysanthemum patterns.

It rained so much that night, the moon wasn't visible for long in the city. Too many tall buildings, not enough open spaces, so many lights on top of that... but for what we could see, it was pretty nonetheless. <3

August 13, 2018

Akinosuke no Yume - Kimono Ideas

Akinosuke no Yume Kimono Design
I posted this one and some others onto a forum but not yet to this blog. Now and then I think of the kind of kimono I would want to wear, the kind of kimono I would illustrate for books... now, books are easier than ever to have illustrated and published. Since I don't have a proper tablet to learn how to draw on (which is nothing like drawing by hand), I decided that my sketchbook would have to do. What would I wear for all 72 seasons? Muzukashii...

This kimono would be appropriate for mid-March or early April, I think. I haven't decided exactly when I'd place it, but the exact dates typically change from year to year due to the reliance on the Lunar calendar and not the solar calendar. The scanner alters the colours...

The theme of this kimono is Akinosuke no Yume

If you do not know the story of Akinosuke no Yume, it is an adaptation of a Chinese story. Since China and Japan have some significantly different landscapes and climate variances, the story between places has many changes, but the elements are essentially the same. This is one of a few versions of the story I have read:

An aristocratic governor is having an outdoor lunch with some friends. He falls asleep against a cedar tree, and feels like he has awakened almost immediately after... but his friends are gone, left for home- so quickly? As he is getting his bearings, a royal procession passes Akinosuke. Of course, he must be dutiful when this royalty offers to take him to meet their king, so he joins them. He is taken down a long road (then, some say, across a river to a nearby island). Akinosuke is introduced to the king of this land and entertained by him. They get along quite well. By the end of the night, the king has offered Akinosuke a daughter to be his wife. He accepts.

The marriage is actually quite a happy one. Akinosuke is made governor of a nearby land, and he and his wife have many healthy children. The small district is happy and prosperous, a farming town where they spend many years together- until one day, when an army from a place called Sandalvine invades. Many die, and much of the land is destroyed. Akinosuke's wife dies sometime later. When he is informed, he builds a large monument in her honour, grieving, and goes to tell her father what has happened.

As the king falls apart, he tells Akinosuke that his children will be well cared-for, but that Akinosuke is no longer of this kingdom and must return home. The same palaquin that he rode in on has been brought out, now as dilapidated as Akinosuke's spirit. He falls asleep on the ride home, too exhausted to go on.

He awakens again- under the cedar tree, his friends all around him! He had been asleep for only a few minutes! He exclaims how happy he is to see them, and what a strange dream he had! His friend tells him that a strange thing happened during Akinosuke's sleep- a small yellow butterfly came out of his mouth and fell into a line of ants, and was carried off. Under the cedar's roots, an anthill. Nearby, a small pebble was found with the body of a female ant underneath... and nearby, a sandalwood tree covered in vines... with it's own anthill under it...

Akinosuke sobers, and upon realising the fleeting nature of existence, becomes a monk.

The original Chinese version of the tale is said to have been set in 794 (this would make sense; the Heian era city of Kyoto is a replica of Tang-dynasty capital, and China and Japan traded many things then, including stories). The kimono here is to be sewn with the larger sleeves and perhaps wider body of the Heian kosode, in sakura-turning-peony pinks. The motifs were more difficult to choose without a scene too cluttered.

For nobility ranks, only a hiougi (a fragrant cedar fan used in the courts) would do. This kind of fan has long, trailing tassles, both for beauty and visual balance but also as a signifier of wealth- someone who could afford the silks and time needed to make something luxurious like this.

On the fan should be the motif of sandalwood, the long trailing tassels like vines and roads trailing. Cedar pollinates during sakura season, mid-March to early April; sakura themselves are a sign of fleeting existence of nature and would not be out of place if the motif were woven into the fabric itself, only visible as the light shifts over silk. A few petals may be outlined in a hint of gold; or gold thread details can be put on the fan and other motifs, another sign of luxury and wealth.

The yellow butterfly told of is likely a "Large Grass Yellow"; they migrate throughout the year. The males are yellow; the females are white. A palaquin cart is shown unmanned across a winding path along the bottom. I would have liked to have drawn a procession but I wasn't sure how I should portray it without becoming too direct. In this case, the palaquin would be seen at the hem on the front of the kimono, the hiougi at the back shoulder. The hidden inside panel would show a yellow butterfly and blowing sakura petals. Perhaps a hidden lining of peonies would not be out of place: April's flower to come, and also a mark of nobility and agelessness.

For the obi, a shining water blue, black, silver, and gold pattern of Buddhist wheel motifs in rushing water- the crossing of the river, the turning of Akinosuke's fate, a hint of his decision to come.

July 16, 2018

Searching For An Obi

Off and on, I have been looking for an obi like this- whether Nagoya or hanhaba in ochre, with a similar pattern. It doesn't have to be exact, but... ah, how can such a simple pattern be so difficult to find?

It started after I bought some lots of kimono at the end of last year. Usually secondhand shops will have this fukubukuro deal, like a 'lucky package' and price determines quality or amount of items. In this case, it is a randomized lot of 10 kimono, some wearable, some only for fabric. I bought a few of these because... I am an idiot and I am impulsive.

Actually, I have quite a few beautiful, very expensive kimono in those lots! The others... sadly, cannot be saved. This purple kimono will have to be resewn. The collar is damaged by foundation makeup. Another blue kimono with a nubbly weave like chirimen also has staining. So sad! But the purple one I might save with silk fabric from a damaged black kimono. A black collar, Edo-style, on this kimono with perhaps a deep indigo blue collar on one of my red juban... and an ochre obi with these blues and greens at least...

This is what I have now. I cannot decide on the obijime colour. Obijime did not exist until the mid-1800s, which is why you don't see them in older ukiyo-e. But now, they are like a requirement, so I was thinking wider hanhaba obi, like hosoi obi, or less-formal Nagoya... or this kind of thin, casual fukuro... Hnnn obimakura are also in use now, so I have to choose obiage colour as well. I do not have a deep blue ro kind. Muzukashii. 

The yellow obi is metallic with gold and silver, worn previously with the deep blue sha kimono and cat pattern tabi, and also with the ryou-pattern (gold coin pattern), so I think it isn't in the spirit of this painting.

I am looking at other obi. This one is the right green and white, but is it detailed enough to be a close stand-in? Should I wait on a different one?

Soon, the official season will be over, although it has rained here nearly all week... Florida doesn't have so many seasons, especially in the city. I guess I could dress like July later and take photos. No one will notice the delay. <3 Wish me luck!

July 15, 2018

Coveted Kimono: 70s-Style Wool Komon

I didn't think I liked it, at first. Over the few days it was up for auction, it kind of grew on me. This odd unlined kimono made of fine wool in it's oh-so-early 70s vibe. Think neon lights, the intro to Soul Train, the white go-go boots... saturated emerald velvet accessories, perhaps, or gold lamé. White collar. Big rhinestone obidome set into gold. Long Cher-like hair, like I used to have. Big eye makeup to draw the eye up as well as down the busy kimono pattern.

A shame I didn't have the ability to snap it up! I need a decent paycheck or ten down before I could put up the expense. There were so many odd wool kimono for sale that week... one that looked like the screen televisions used to have when the broadcast went off the air for the night, or when a screen would get smeared with water somehow. The only annoyance was that this seller has a tendency to break up these wool komon from their matching haori- ugh! If there is a matching piece, I want it! It is impossible to reunite sets once they have been sold to different people. ::sighs::

What is the last kimono you really liked? Did it have an unusual style?

June 9, 2018

Another 1930s Outfit, with Meiji Obi

Another outfit that I dressed up for photos. I should do this more often to show my collection!

This iro-komon is a now-'extinct' mix of iromuji and komon. It is one shade of muted purple with occasional silver and gold flowers woven in. The hakkake lining is also the same purple, with a bright red lining inside in the upper body and sleeves typical of pre-war kimono. There is one mon (crest) denoting moderate formality. I wore this kimono previously with a gold obi and red accessories, which... turned out to also be the outfit of an elderly fortuneteller character in xxxHolic. ... I am the owner of a witch shop... and the running joke in the family is that I was 40 before I was 10... ha. ha. ha. 

The obi in question is being given to a well-respected anthropology professor who is a former Japanese resident (a person who lived there for about a decade, not Nihonjin). He is in love with textiles as I am, and what better living example to show a classroom?

The fact is, this Meiji-era hanhaba obi is far too damaged for 'outside wear'. It is a very soft silk piece that was cut down from a maru obi in olive green with bright purple and orange woven fine embroidery, which has almost entirely worn away now. This 'ribbon' style of tying the obi is meant to show this wear. I used binder clips to hold the folds together and tied it higher with an obi makura, not typically used in this kind of formality. The purpose is to make it easier to see in photos, and more aesthetic. If an obi has weak fabric, binder clips are very strong to hold it together. Just put a small scrap piece of muslin or cotton in between the metal of the binder clip and the silk so that it doesn't snag. For a ribbon obi though, a sanjuhimo or gojujimo is easiest. It was ends like a normal koshi himo to tie in front, but in the back, it is three or five strands for pulling hanhaba or heko obi through for this kind of drapey look.

This kind of musubi styling could feasibly be appropriate for a silk, patterened hanhaba obi of high quality (as opposed to cheap synthetic kinds) with a lower-end komon, but not with an iro-komon like this, since it has a crest in the back denoting formality. If using the makura, an obiage is necessary. This is the same white and gold cloud obiage from the blue 1930s set, since it was just easier... Ideally, if using an obiage, you should also use obijime. Since it's done with heko or hanhaba, wouldn't a narrow, thin obijime with an old clip-on earring for an obidome be really cute?

The rice bag is also photographed here, since it's from approx. wartime era, and it's beautifully made from old maru obi fabric outside with some leftover cotton or somesuch inside. I'm absolutely against taking it apart to find out exact material via burn test since these bags are quite rare on the english-speaking markets these days. Rice is no longer kept this way. We keep it all in plastic now; airtight means rice lasts longer in storage, no worry about bugs. The scent of silk stored in tansu with some cedar kept them away in previous years, and can do it now of course, but it's more work. So no one really needs them anymore...

Wish me luck in buying a new mannequin soon. I would like one for displaying clothing, and also for making clothing. It would be so much easier if I had one to pin fabric to as I worked. <3

June 5, 2018

An Early 1930s Outfit

It isn't in 1930s style, per se, but I brought out a few of my kimono yesterday for another textile lover. Since I couldn't figure out how to get good photos with them lying flat on the bed, I decided to get out my hanging torsos and tie some quick outfits. Of course, these are without the modern ohashori, and the musubi is tied in front to hang them on the wall. My inability to get the top of the otaiko to sit right on the mannequin was driving me crazy!

I'll post the next set soon, when I'm done editing them.

This irotomesode (coloured tomesode) kimono is one you've all seen before. I typically wear it with a different obi, one that is more muted and tan, and a warm brown obijime. Same white obiage. I haven't had too many of those over the years. and this one has cloud patterns in shibori with a fine lining of gold thread. I made sure to switch a few things up so that I don't let my mind do the autistic thing of This Thing Must Not Change. Trying to get comfortable with breaking habits is one of those exercises somehow made a little easier when it's kimono that I'm dealing with.

The kimono is a dusty deep blue chirimen fabric, super-thin and light, with the original red lining. The lower hakkake lining is a deeper chemical blue, like a slightly purple-tinged royal blue that matches the bold blue in the obi. The dating is 1930s, with sleeves longer than post-war standards but shorter than Taisho era's long, flowing sleeves. Because it still has the red lining, this places it pre-war era. The art deco design and light use of gold leafing on the bottom has a classic 30s feel. The wearer was maybe middle age- the design is bold and modern, but still subdued. Yet, it isn't so muted or pastel that it would be for an old woman, either, nor are the sleeves long enough to suggest a younger or unmarried wearer too old for furisode. Of course, there are also formal occasions where furisode would be out of place, especially after ~15 years old back then. The kimono has only one mon, minimum formality for an irotomesode.

I wonder who the wearer was, what she was like... would she have chosen an obi like this? With its' subtle use of metallics in gold and silver hidden in the vibrant, but traditional, patterns of fans and royal carts? I feel like the obi fits the colour scheme but maybe not the pattern of the kimono. The obi is about the same age though, I think.

It is a proper Nagoya obi, not a converted one from an earlier maru obi. Those were invented in the 30s, so maybe this one is from late '30s-'40s. The heavy brocade still says 'maru', but the length is perfect- when the otaiko is folded away from the tare, the tare makes one perfect 'loop' around the taiko when folding it, so it rests neatly. It's so satisfying to fold for storage.

The obijime here is tied in kind of a fanciful knot, like a flower blossom, for photographic effect. I think a formal event ensemble should generally follow 'proper kimono rules'... although, since it has only one crest, maybe something like this could be okay for a younger wearer? The dusty rose colour brings out the richness of the blue and kind of nods to the values of the orange and plum shades in the obi. I'm still not sure about the type of patterns, though- it could be better, a modern obi design with a modern kimono design. But it's passable, and I think most people wouldn't think too deeply on it so long as it looks nice. It's just me being picky, that's all. :P

May 25, 2018

Night Out at Yoko's

Yoko's Restaurant is one of my favourite places. Yoko is still there frequently, and the food is not just Americanized-Japanese. There are also Japanese-Japanese options, which makes me very happy. She also makes these really well-spiced apple harumaki, like apple pie in thin deep-fried shells, served with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. After the semester ended and I walked with straight-A's, my friend decided that we should celebrate with sushi. :P Of course, I had to wear kimono. What better excuse? What nicer location?

Tomoko of ChirimenBunny made me some super-cute kanzashi! Blue on blue flowers with a gold and faux pearl centre. They come with alligator clips so that they'll actually stay in my hair, which is super-fine and way straighter than I will ever be.

It's been raining for weeks. Weeks. And there's more slated for the next two weeks. The parking lot out front floods daily, but usually dries out by evening... just in time for more rain. >D So when my friend invited me out to dinner, I didn't want to wear anything that could be ruined by rainwater. And of course, pulling my outfit together and getting everything on took right up until the last minute (aaaugh, is this obi really a foot shorter than I thought?? no, no, I gained more weight...) I didn't get photos until late that night, around 11pm. It was so dark by that time that it was difficult at best to get photos... ::sighs::

I ended up choosing my old intensely-blue ro iromuji, which is fully synthetic and washable, a synthetic ro juban in pure white, a grey-blue ro obiage, pale pink obijime which picks up the same pink from the clouds in the obiage. The obiage almost matches the grey-blue in the sha obi, which is pale blue with metallic pale gold pampass grass with the same muted pastel purples, pinks, and greens with a mum design on one side of the obi. I tried for a 'fluffier' musubi but ended up not having enough obi to pull it off... now that I've gained 20lbs... thanks, fibromyalgia. I needed that. x.x The asagao fan was a gift from my homestay sister in Sapporo from 2005. I still use it all the time... It matches the iromuji perfectly!

Protip: the secret to that super-sleek, flat-looking obiage is... paper. Take a piece of plain white printer paper. Fold it in half and tear it so that it is 8.5"x5.5". Fold it into 3-4 folds so that it's wide enough for your obiage. Fold it inside the obiage close to the front. Leave room to tie the obiage. Tuck one end into the obi. Fold the other end neatly to hide the knot and tuck into the obi behind the obi-ita. The paper should be close enough to the front knot to keep that sleek look. You might need to fold the corners down in front to prevent a 'boxy' giveaway shape. All done! That's it! That's how you get that formal 'flat' look. <3

May 6, 2018

When I was 13...

When I was 13, I finally had some money gifted to me to pursue my interests. I think around this time I had paid off my first sewing machine. There were extremely few online sellers of kimono, with almost no information about formalities or types. Most sites in English were about how to tie yukata, not layers of kimono. They definitely didn't tell me about everything I needed to wear them. This was before even Youtube existed. Even damaged kimono were extremely expensive... obi were harder to find. Mostly it was cheap Chinese knockoffs, the kind for Halloween costumes and tourists. If I'd had a lot more money then, I could have purchased a very large bundle from Yokodana and sorted them out, but I could never afford it then.

So, of course not knowing better, I bought some fabric (which was still expensive to 13 year old me, working under the table for it) and started drawing what I would have liked to have seen. I had ningyo from Nishi Co. for inspiration and some photos of maiko and geiko circa 1960s (postcards from my paternal grandfather) and 1990s. I can't believe the ink has lasted this long. Also not knowing how to do proper embroidery, I figured if I set some gold thread in first, I could fill it in later when I was better at embroidering large areas. I tackled it like a test at school- do all the easy stuff first, then go back for the hard parts.

Clearly I didn't finish making it into an obi. I didn't have nearly enough. And being 13, even then, I didn't finish most of my craft projects... I was always so, so busy. School, work, homework, chores, making food, cleaning up, sometimes a friend??? babysitting, school, reading... there is never enough time in life.

I found this fabric again, bright daidaiiro red (the camera makes it look a little more pink-toned). I don't know what I should do with it. Clearly, it isn't finished. It isn't even of decent quality. I was just learning about fabrics then, without many resources at all to tell the difference between good and bad. Why do books never come with fabric samples, or at least up-close, detailed photos? But even so, I don't want to throw it out. Besides being something I had worked on, it's perfectly serviceable fabric... hnnn.

May 5, 2018

Kodomo no Hi + Kalesia Tea

It's possibly the last day I can tolerate awase kimono this year. And that is only because I am going to and from an air-conditioned place, in an air conditioned car, on a day where we will finally have some rain.

Today is Cinco de Mayo, but it is also 5-5, Kodomo no Hi (Childrens' Day). Plus, Kalesia Tea is having their Spring Tasting (but... it's almost summer?) which means lots of free tea to drink. How can I pass it up?

To get ready, I finally made myself a hanjuban layer. It was easy, really. I was frustrated that wearing only a tank top would still mean sweat might get on my juban, ruining the silks, so I cut the collar from a plain white cotton t-shirt. I need to sew on a binding piece of fabric to keep the knit from unravelling, but it didn't need to be done right then. T-shirt + susoyoke combo in white under a white hitoe juban, with a yellow nature and court scene patterned kimono in the shade of yellowed parchement paper. The obi is a parchment-patterned white, silver, and pale gold, woven with Heian-era court ladies and flowers to fit with the empty houses of the kimono. The ro obiage carries the muted oranges, greens, and purples within faded pale blue; the obijime is woven with the same blue and silver within rich brown. The zori, naturally, matched the metallics and silvers perfectly.

Even though it's Spring becoming Summer, I wanted to use muted colours as the kimono is still in the warm yellow-tan range that reminisces of heat in an already unbearably warm season. I think pairing the soft colours to emphasize blues and silvers might have helped 'cool' it visually.

My friends met up with me at Kalesia's to enjoy the different teas as well. It was nice to catch up with them. Eventually we decided that the tea was making us all hungry... and being Cinco de Mayo, we wanted to avoid any place that might have or be near a bar. Naturally, being in kimono and having a tea day, we decided to head to a sushi restaurant. It turned out to be very affordable, even on weekends! I can eat endless harumaki, okay? Even in kimono, I wear it so that the himo can be adjusted for a big lunch...

In any event, it was very comfortable to wear. I think it would have been even better if it hadn't been so hot... but I'm lucky that I escaped most of the rain! It suddenly started pouring on my way home, after threatening with grey clouds all day. Next time, I will remember to bring different socks for the drive. I take off my zori while driving because they slide, and I don't like that. But being the floor of an old car, the pedals get my white tabi absolutely filthy. So note to self: different socks to drive. Change them when I get to an event! And bring a tenugui to protect the kimono from the seat of the car!

April 22, 2018

Making Susoyoke + My Big Giant List

I have a Big Giant List of things to make for kimono. And things to make in general, but really, I need to not be so lazy (and so broke... and unemployed... and disabled, causing the unemployment...) and just MAKE things!

In this case, the summer heat has been here for some time. It's overwhelming. 90F+ daily, no rain in sight.

I sold enough recently that I bought myself some things deeply on clearance. Namely, some thin gauze-like organic cotton in uroku pattern, some uroko-patterned thicker cotton (heavier, like quilting cotton), and some polyblend crepe de chine. Fortunately, it doesn't have the cheap-looking shine to it that some polys do. Each was on the clearance rack, half off or more, plus I had a discount coupon valid even for things on clearance. Otherwise, I couldn't have afforded them. I consider myself quite fortunute, though! The only hard choice was between the coral or the green version of the organic gauze. Aaaugh! But I already have enough saturated coral-colour juban, so green it is. I won't have enough to make sleeves, I think, but the susoyoke is what I really need now since almost all of my juban are nearly a foot too short... and I'm only 5'3". oy. I was going to try to buy a premade red susoyoke at least, but... $80 for the cheapest one I could find? And it's synthetic? Absolutely out of the question! Thanks, I don't think I even spent $20 on all of this fabric; I'm not paying $80 for a factory-made susoyoke.

Resting Beauty in Summer
- Oda Tomiya
::sighs:: Really, when it comes to dressing, I'm bored.

This is the style I want to bring back. Generally, a juban is not seen except for perhaps in tiny flashes at the hem while walking, or when the wind is blowing quite a bit, or in the summer when all clothing is transparent anyways.

Since juban can be seen through hitoe kimono, but for women, they only come in white, pink, coral, and sometimes, a mixture... ugh. Where is the fun? The artistry?! There ARE other colours, but those are almost exclusively antiques, or things made custom for someone. They are far from common. Once, it was considered the height of fashion to layer gauze kimono in such a way that they produced new colours, or fashionably layered patterns. A hundred years ago, they would be patterned, sometimes with cranes, flowers, pine needles, all sorts of beautiful things- even in brass or gold leaf!

 This, of course, goes back to Heian era values: when courtly women wore between 4-15 or more layers, the art was entirely in how to pair colour combinations and sometimes woven patterns. There were entire running commentaries on this in women's pillow books, most famously perhaps in Murasaki and Shonagon's works.

Why did we stop? For what- austerity? Life is too short for this. Save your formal, muted wear for formal, muted times.

I need to check my thread stash and see about cleaning my sewing machine. Then I can take some measurements and see if I have any muslin fabric to complete the susoyoke, and look up how to tailour the corners properly. Mitred corners make the difference between an obvious beginner and an expert tailour, so I might as well train myself right the first time. If I become good at this, I can make them for others as well!

April 18, 2018

International Student's Day

International Student's Day at my local college is a day for the whole student body to get together and have some fun, talk about where they're from, get some food, and hang out between classes. Around 11am that day, some professors decided to cancel class so that students could attend the flag ceremony without penalty. Dozens of students representing over 15 countries carried flags, each announced separately; students introduced themselves in their native language and/or in English. Afterwards, there was an entire section of campus cleared for a food festival featuring American-Italian, Greek, American-Chinese, and ... hnn one food type I didn't get to try, I think. It was out already! :P

It was so. hot. outside. So hot. ::whines:: I have my asanoha hitoe wool juban, the colour that hurts the eyes it's SO saturated coral, with it's synthetic woven collar under a navy blue hitoe kimono. The obi is a pale blue hanhaba obi with hints of metallic pastel pink. I used a black obijime and cat-patterned tabi in the same blues, blacks, and bright yellow. The zori were tatami and wood with black hanao featuring tiny white pinstripes. All in all, the outfit came together well.

I got to meet the women who represented Japan! She's learning English so quickly (it's a hard language...) and had such a cute yukata! I wish I had gotten a photo of her, but by the time I was able to find her, she had changed back into yofuku. Even so, she was happy to not be the only one in kimono. I hope she becomes more comfortable wearing one in America, but right now, I think she wants to fit in more instead of standing out.

Anyways, other than this, today was mostly just long and tedious. So much classwork, so much homework... so much heat...

Note: typically black accessories today are used for mourning. This is not out of line. Bebe (the cat behind BebeTaian) died recently. We were expecting it this year, since she was 22 or 23 years old, but even so... I was lucky to have 21 years with her.

March 23, 2018

Psi Beta Induction

Psi Beta is an honours' society for college students with a 3.25+ GPA, 12+ credits, and at least a B in a college-level psychology class. I had an A and a ... 3.8? GPA? I don't know. :P It crashed after I cut back on alcohol and the chronic pain and such re-surged, but whatever. New meds, so wish me luck!

I actually made it to this induction, so I'm quite pleased. The requirement was formalwear for inductees, but actually, everyone just kind of showed up in nice street clothes. Had I thought of that, I'd have worn something less complicated and showy!

But this outfit was put together quickly from a kimono my mother in law bought for me. It's actually very long for an early Taisho pieces. The inside of the bottom is also completely patterned with yuzen and thin gold. The sleeves are shorter than "younger women's" kimono of the era but the pattern is decadent and lively. Typically, kurotomesode like this should only be worn with gold or silver shoes, and a muted gold or silver obi, with white, gold, or silver obijime and white obiage, but these bright patterns? How could I do that? Also, I'm not quiiiite so old yet, right? So I kept the traditional white/gold obiage, using an antique chirimen obiage with golden cranes painted onto it, and a white/yellow gradient obijime.

The shoes are white with flecks of silver and palest sakura pink, perfect for March! They match the pale blossoms hidden in the bold patterns at the bottom of the hem. I had to sew the tabi a bit before leaving- oops! I somehow had torn a seam. I should take apart the ones I can't get white again and make a few pairs for myself. I have lots of fabric...

I have a bekko comb in my hair and an early-mid 1900s gold/silver fan. The silver side is cranes in flight. The gold side features two farmers under a bamboo tree, matsu style (the "clumpy" kind of bamboo, not the long straight kind).

Makeup was some complicated process between 'natural' makeup with lots of colour-correction for the rosacea, mixed with a natural golden foundation with added white for a more formal look. Pale ume pink around the eyes and upper cheeks similar in pattern to maiko, subtle with a hint of highlight and superfine sparkle. I used Destiny's Princess for both; The Truth was used for whitening and lightening. Because of the super-subtle shimmer, it helps in getting a pale glow without a pasty effect. Sadly, The Truth is being discontinued, but any white that is very pure and not shifting to another colour will work. I used a Nyx lipliner and a small pat of The Blood of My Enemies gloss. To set it, I used Dmitri, which is discontinued. It's a bold deep red with a slight brown-gold tint. I use eyeshadow also for brow powder. It's softer than the trend look of heavy waxes, liners, etc.

January 19, 2018

小寒 Shoukan: Minor Cold

In this week of January, it is Shoukan, "minor cold". It is said that one freezes in Shoukan, but melts in Daikan. Of course, halfway through January, the plum blossom season of February is coming, and it is always a little fashionable to be ahead of the natural season!

Of course, we have little to no snow in Florida, but recently we have had very unseasonable deep cold, as low as the 20s F. And of course, who gets a bad case of the flu for nearly two weeks? Me. I did. And a nice hospital bill to prove it (lol). Now that I'm starting to feel better, I just had to go out and do something fun! This time, I went to see Yoko at her restaurant. She adores kimono, and I missed her the last two or three times I was there, so of course I also had to dress up.

In this case, it was a very cold night, and I wanted to bring the feeling of the snow that will never come. It was certainly cold enough, but not wet enough. Sadly I lack a black or deep purple umbrella, but since there is no snow, I guess I don't need one. What I do have is a white figured silk kimono with an allover pattern of plum branches in pale blues and rosy pinks, a silk obiage that is in the same tone as the pale blue-grey of the branches, and a red shigoki obi that I somehow picked up in an American thrift store! The obijime is pale gold with one thread running from deep cold blue to pale white-blue, same as the obiage. The other thread in it is a warm brown, like living wood. I hope it is a tiny detail which brings a hint of life to a frozen landscape. There are very tiny hints of browns in the komon, but they are more grey-toned browns.

The obi was the most difficult decision. Red? Black? No, wait... silver? I had originally wanted to pair this obi with its' bright grass green pine needle side, with another kimono but I didn't have anything that I quite liked as much for the night atmosphere. Instead, I wore the silver side, with just tiny hints of the bright lime green showing at the edges. Inside the pattern of the obi are even smaller patterns of shippo. I tied a very easy fancy musubi in the back, being bored with han-darari and otaiko. Sorry for the blurriness- it's so hard to get a photo of it by myself.

The juban is possibly the juban of an older child's kimono. It was sold as a Taisho-era juban, but the cut of the collar isn't quite right for that, and even for Taisho juban it is a little short. It reminds me quite a bit of a child's juban. But since it somewhat fits, except for length, I wore that as is. It has an auspicious woven sayagata pattern, appropriate for January, with clouds dyed over it in pale blue on red. The sleeves are a little long for the modern komon, but all of my modern juban's sleeves are too short! Ara ma...

Over it, I wore my silk Taisho haori with the bright red lining in the sleeves. The haori also has a shippo pattern- what a cute coincidence! I look at small details like this when building an outfit. I adore it when I can wear something or see something multiple times and always find a new coordinating detail.

There isn't much I can do with my hair these days, unfortunately, or I would have worn some of my antique kanzashi. But I do have my plum blossom bobby pin from AtelierKanawa, so I wore that! I should buy more bobby pins or clip kanzashi. Such lack of traditional style, but... I have such short hair... ::sighs:: Also, I need a coordinating fan for the early Spring season. I have so much for Autumn and a few things for Summer, but I've neglected half the year. So I guess this is the year I need to learn to focus on komono, accessories that really make an outfit superior!

September 17, 2017

Slight Buying Spree

I didn't really have the money to do it yet, but I saw some pieces that I really couldn't pass up. I'm a little tired of my 'plain, conservative' style. I feel so old. But... I'm young still, and I need to remember that before I DO get too old to do much for myself. I can't see myself as ever having been young, but I think I wasted my youth on depression and misery. I've always been the "responsible one", an adult from childhood. And not even 30 yet, I feel like a grandparent waiting to die, an old wolf lumbering along until I fall one more time.

I think I can change that. They say "fake it 'til you make it", right? So maybe if I change my life, I can change my attitude. Sometimes it doesn't work the 'right way' around, changing attitude and then changing life. So maybe if I put a little effort into reminding myself, it'll help?

When I was very young, in my teens, I was in love with ofurisode. I adored them. The bright colours and gorgeous patterns, the over-the-top obi, I felt like the models in the photos looked like royalty- I'd never had the money for even used pieces. I had one furisode when I was young, by 17. Ivory, gold, and navy blue, with royal carts and clouds all over. It was beautiful! And yet, I was so self-conscious. I felt like an older woman trying on her wedding dress after years of marriage. Whimsical, but also ridiculous. Trying to be more than I am: plain, unpretty, wary, fundamentally broken.

I bought a beautiful ofurisode in vibrant orange, black, and gold. It was so beautiful- and I'd forgotten what a pain those ankle-length sleeves can be! I sold it off with a matching obi threaded with gold. The gold ofurisode of my childhood was also sold, many years ago, for a few hundred dollars. I adore the designs and yet, I feel so encumbered wearing them. Still... occasionally I fall in love again.

Maybe that's why I adore antique kimono so much: the vibrant patterns, even on middle-aged women's kimono, the longer sleeves still romantic and flirtatious, but not so long and heavy that they weigh me down. What happened to kimono since then? Wartime shortened sleeves to save fabric, but in an era where fabric is still relatively cheap, shouldn't sleeves lengthen a little again? Maybe there aren't enough buyers to matter. Or women today prefer the very short sleeves since you don't have to think so much about sleeve etiquette when they don't get in the way so much.

So I went on a slight buying spree. The whole 'change my life' thing. Maybe I bought a little too much, but I have some student loans coming in soon, and the job I'm going for will more than pay them off. I'm taking as many classes as possible at once, despite everything. I'm in five now. I think three is considered full-time. So I rationalise deserving some beautiful things in return for my hard work...

I bought this peridot beauty. I'm not sure if I'll have the courage to wear it. I sold my furisode juban already, so I don't really have the accessories for it... I have matching obi and obiage, but not an appropriate obijime or the juban.

Even so, maybe I'll wear it once or twice to see how I feel. Then, I'll sell it off. Beauty should be shared with the world! There isn't enough of it sometimes. I was offered a potential spot at the school I attend for a kimono exhibit, possibly a year off. So I should probably think of a variety to show. But I'd prefer to exhibit antiques and related articles... katagami, old books about kimono, maybe I could get a copy of Shufu no Tomo! But I have to find out how much space I have first, and then I can figure out what to bring.

I'll post a collection of photos when I get the other items! Lots of obijime, obiage, a few haori, and a kosode.

July 16, 2017

One outfit, two styles.

It's amazing how much an outfit can change just by changing a haircut. Really, it transforms everything!

This is a deep grey, nearly black silk kimono with grass pattern, paired with a shibori red obiage and a Taisho-era dragon pattern ro obi in pale tans, off-whites, and gold. The obijime is a deadleaf oak green, the collar too heavy for the season. Plain white tabi, with straw-bottomed wooden zori with black/white straps.

All in all, a relatively plain outfit. What made it more impressive, I think, were finer details to imitate Eisen works and other ukiyo-e artists. While makeup was fairly neutral, a tiny bit of deep pink around the eyes, black mascara, and deep red lips with a dusting of lime green powder in the centre mimicked the ultra-luxe kyoubeni, without needing to apply 30+ layers to get the lacquered shiny effect.

Plus, I was in luck! Papaya has a long green banner in the shop window, a little darker than the lime green powder I used from Shiro Cosmetics to use as a backdrop. I took advantage, of course.

The only disadvantage to this method is that you must absolutely not rub your lips or eat/drink anything- a difficult task when there's a Teavana in the same mall. The goal is to have an almost matcha-coloured centre to the lips, with the outer parts in safflower red. The trick is that if you put on the red liner (I used Nyx in Poppy red) and fill in the whole lip, then apply the green powder, you'll turn it brown. If you outline where the red should be and fill it in like a paint-by-numbers, you'll leave a blank space for the green to stay true to colour. I use a lime green that shines yellow (duochrome) so that it looks closest to the real kyoubeni appearance. Use beeswax or another clear lipgloss to keep the lips moisturized underneath the makeup, or it'll flake. 

This is a similar outfit a year later with some minor changes: I now have summer obijime and obiage. I picked the same red colour in a ro obiage, much more appropriate than shibori, with a similarly-muted colour obijime with thin streaks of silvery-blue to match the grass and tiny portions of the obi embroidery. The shoes are the same as before.

The makeup is the same as before, the collar a bit lower. And I somehow *still* haven't bought any new haneri. Ugh! How am I so picky about a piece of cloth you barely see?! But it's true... or, I see one I like, but I get distracted by another piece I can't pass up, and plain haneri are so common... yet I don't own more than two or three. Gah! 

And what on earth do people do with such short sleeves? How does anyone make 19" sleeves look stylish or delicate? So frustrating!

But a haircut like this somehow makes this outfit look much more modern, and somehow more... aggressive? "Fierce." Before, it was one thing to wear dragons, which aren't common on female clothing, but the overall feminine-coded appearance was 'tough, but sweet'. With a short bob cut, it's suddenly all claws! The lime green lips now look much more bold! What do you think?