Here is my kimono collection – hope you enjoy it.
It hadn’t occurred to me until now that I haven’t done a blog with all my kimono in it, so, as at August 2010, here is my kimono gallery. It’s quite large, so it’s in sections. Part one, formal kimono.
Gold uchikake with royal carts. Age, probably 1970s – stiff, heavy kara-ori (Chinese weave, ie: brocade).
Purple uchikake with cranes. Probably 1980s – soft, pliable kara-ori in an unusual colour.
Uchikake of the modern era are impossible to wear, so these are strictly for display. I have one dark back wall where they can be shown to their full advantage and I alternate them.
Orange rinzu with white ume. 1960s with yuzen dyeing. I didn’t like this when it arrived – the design is gigantic and the yuzen painted areas are as stiff as a board. Currently dismantled, awaiting re-assembly.
Pale pink satin with flower fans. A modern kimono in a nameless textured satin (both inside and out), as well as silk embroidery. I can’t work out if it’s yuzen or a print.
Furisode are supposed to be something I am long past, at the age of 47, and I am still in two minds as to whether I should own any at all, but the pale pink one is particularly good for display and there are some techniques in furisode that just aren’t available anywhere else, so it’s nice to have a couple.
1970s with stylised mist. My first kimono, in heavy, heavy hitokoshi chirimen with applied surihaku, glitter-thread embroidery, yuzen and gold thread couching. Typical of the tomesode of this era, it feels like outerwear and has a padded hem.
Taisho era with yuzen mirror pattern. My favourite tomesode, in soft, lightweight silk with a red lining. Note the mirror-pattern yuzen characteristic of this period – this carries on through the inside. The collar is stitched down, showing, I think, that it was worn frequently, and the yuzen is of a very high standard.
1970s with Edo scenery. Really beautiful in real life – a faultless 1970s tomesode. I really like the idea of wearing a kimono featuring images of women wearing kimono.
1980s with white wisp. An impulse bid, since no-one else was bidding on it – a very pretty tomesode with white yuzen leaves and flowers in thick gold thread.
1980s ro summer tomesode. Wonderful to get a tomesode for summer – this one has yuzen and surihaku in the wave pattern.
Tomesode are my favourite kimono and I would like to own more Taisho-era ones with their red linings and amazing yuzen. However, more modern ones also offer lovely techniques, particularly surihaku, gold thread couching and embroidery in both silks and metallic threads.
Mustard hitokoshi-chirimen with grisaille bamboo. A fabulous, strongly coloured houmongi (quite a rare thing), with fabulous quality grisaille bamboo, and gold paint outlines.
Pale green 1960s with orange yuzen. Sadly, no longer with us (it is still something that makes me break out in a sweat occasionally, that I cut this up). But nevertheless still very much used. The jacket I made from it is beautiful and always receives admiring glances and comments.
Cream Showa rinzu with gold embroidery. My replacement purchase for the pale green one – wonderful soft rinzu with loads of embroidery in gold thread.
Most houmongi are a bit too ladylike to my taste, so if I get any more, they will probably be strongly coloured. This mustard one is a rare example of a modern kimono I like, while the cream Showa one is just gorgeously soft. I would never have cut up the pale green one if I had realised how difficult it would be to find another one I liked.
Pale green rinzu with watercolour-painted sakura. The painting on this kimono is not yuzen, but sits on top of the silk, allowing the pale green colour to grin through. Sadly, I again cut it up some years ago (one of my early disasters), but it has now furnished a han-eri, a scarf for my sister, a scarf for myself and there’s still enough left over to make a jacket, so it has not disappeared from the world.
Black figured matt silk with yuzen irises. The silk on this kimono is very very matt and figured, while the yuzen is almost irridescent in quality. The ombre-dyed yellow lining also matches beautifully – a really lovely kimono. Black tsukesage are very rare, I think – certainly I’ve never seen another one. Again, most tsukesage are too pastel and ladylike for my taste, but I will look out in the future for strongly coloured ones.
IROMUJI or MOFUKU?
Black ro kimono with five crests. The idea of iromuji (unpatterned) kimono is something I’ve never been very keen on, addicted as I am to colour and pattern. Many of those available are pastel and easily marked, which makes them difficult to wear, though such kimono are said to be perfect for the tea ceremony, so that you don’t draw attention to yourself or clash with the implements. I thought I’d never actually bought an unpatterned kimono, but I realised recently that I do in fact have just one – this five-crested, plain black ro kimono, which I bought as a summer overlayer and to do double-duty as a juban in the offseason.
The thing is, I am not entirely certain that it’s not mofuku (mourning wear). In theory, five-crested black kimono are only for funerals, but it seems odd to me that someone would wear a see-through kimono to a funeral.
Whatever it was originally designed for, at least I always have the option of overdyeing it, discharge-dyeing it, adding embroidery, lace appliqué, etc etc, to bring it up to a more decorative state – and I certainly won’t be wearing it in Japan, just in case…