Bebe Taian: Private Collection: Lovely Awase Kimono

November 7, 2010

Private Collection: Lovely Awase Kimono

It is awase season! Since the beginning of October, kimono-wearers switch from unlined (hitoe) kimono to lined (awase) kimono. Of course, there are many types of unlined and lined kimono, but generally they can be categorically spoken about as 'awase' or 'hitoe' (unlined).

The seasons can fluctuate depending on how hot it REALLY is, and possibly where you live or what you own. Many women don't own many kimono, if any at all, so if they do not rent and only have one kimono of approximately appropriate formality level and it is lined, it can be acceptable to wear in the middle of summer. For some people, the 'rules' have been relaxed with the decline of frequent wearers. Also, most people are not going to notice the difference if you are an American living in an area devoid of Japanese populace- wearing yukata in the middle of "winter" in Texas? People will be surprised that you aren't in shorts. And what a cute dress for the beach!

There is a kimono I have been wanting to wear (only to model for a short time), but I had difficulty figuring out what obi to wear with it. Generally, something white with an orange and black motif came to mind, to balance out the overall darkness of the kimono itself. From far away it looks brown, doesn't it? But you'd be surprised how the overall image of a kimono can change when seen from across the street!

This komon is a late Showa (1926-1989) to early Heisei (1989-now) Tokyo-style small-patterned komon, which looks one overall colour far away, but close-up the kimono reveals a very tiny, intricate pattern. This one has a simple geometric design in orange and white, perfect for October or November.

In a way, it reminds me of a modern-style Edo kimono, which were woven in browns, oranges, and any other common dyes (purple and black not being among them at the time), with geometrical patterns woven tightly. Women who wove fabric in those days kept books of the patterns they could weave, and often made notations as to how they were woven. A full book of patterns was a great source of pride! The more patterns woven and invented, the more valuable the person was a weaver or designer. These tiny diamonds recall those past small-scale works, updated for modern Tokyo life. They are not woven, but printed. The silk is a decadent shiny satin variety not common for komon. It is this quality that screams style and wealth without being obvious and flashy!

To me, this gives it more flexibility towards formality status. It is a komon without crests, so its' formality can only go so far, but it DOES mean that I can choose what kind of obi is most appropriate to wear with it. With more usual komon, which are made of rougher silk, wool, or hem, a hanhaba in very informal situations or a Nagoya obi would work. For this one, the type of silk demands a Nagoya obi at the least, or a fukuro obi normally reserved for more elaborate or formal kimono.

I think have just the thing.

It isn't the white obi that I had originally envisioned, but with some very bright accessories and white tabi, I might be able to pull it off. The item I am thinking of is a black fukuro obi embroidered with white, gold, orange, and green bamboo and fan patterns. The black background is nearly entirely covered with this embroidery. The fans are large, angular outlines of gold, filled in with various traditional patterns like kikko and lattices. Flowers and bamboo fill in others, and clouds embroidered in gold cover the rest of the material. My concern is that while the white and gold will look amazing with the kimono, that particular shade of orange will not mesh well with the orange of the komon. What I REALLY want for this black obi is a yellow kimono! It is absolutely an autumn-centric obi, but with the seasonless geometric design of the komon, it might work.


But I'm not sure how the darkness of the obi and the patterns would work together. Is there a better option that won't make me look like a yakuza woman?

1 comment:

  1. My mom bought me a kimono in high school. I don't know what happened to it.
    I'm following from the Etsy forum. I would love it if you followed back. : )