This black kimono is my first meisen hitoe.
Hitoe are unlined kimono and they’re a comparative rarity in modern kimono because the majority of people who now have kimono made only ever have one or two, so they tend to have the high-end type of furisode/tomesode with linings.
However, vintage hitoe kimonos are fairly readily available. Nevertheless, searching for hitoe hasn’t been high on my list of priorities. Perhaps I was put off by my first experience – a rare failing from Yamatoku. When it arrived, it was so filthy and faded that I had to take it apart for the fabric. Even then, it was mostly unsalvadgeable.
But back to this one. It’s rare, says the vendor, Kofudo, and is either Taisho or Showa in the Taisho Roman style, and combines two of my favourite things: meisen silk and yabane pattern. Yabane is one of the most ancient patterns to be found in kimono, dating back to at least the Heian era (794-1195) and it’s a stylised arrow feather or fletch. For centuries, it was equally to be found on men’s kimono – it is, after all, a warrior symbol. Sometimes you find tiny yabane on garments, tightly packed, sometimes they’re elongated to almost the length of the garment and sometimes, as here, they’re just enormous.
I hadn’t noticed until I’d already bought it and someone pointed it out, that the shading on the yabane is really pretty on this kimono. It’s actually turquoise, not as blue as it seems in the pictures, and there are also lime-green bits that don’t show up at all in photos. The combination of grey and black is also very subtle and attractive.
When this kimono arrived I was made up – it’s gorgeous. Really crisp, taffeta-like meisen (quite different from the pink one with cross-hatching) and only 390g, which is lighter than several of my yukata.
The juban, hardly visible, is just a sweet little polyester one that a vendor gave me with another purchase, and as an obi I’m wearing a length of rayon crepe kimono fabric with urushi chrysanthemums.
The obi stay is my 5in deep one and it’s very comfortable. Over it, I wrap the fabric front to back, then back to front, tie it in a knot, wrap it to the back again and knot it in a loose, floppy bow that lies flat enough that I can work at my desk.
The kimono is very comfortable and smooth to wear, and the 18in-long sleeves stay well out of the way when you’re typing.
So this is me today in France in about 23 degrees and a high wind, having just taken off my tazuki cord and pinny (I was cooking lunch), and shod, although you can’t see it, very inelegantly in Crocs (increasingly necessary after my foot operation last year). Time to invest in some tabi and zori, I think…