Everyday kimono make up the vast majority of my collection. Here are the komons – printed, painted and shibori’ed.
Non-formal kimono are in their turn divided into ‘woven things’ (less formal) and ‘painted things’ (more formal). Komons – simple, printed silk kimono – are classed as ‘painted things’ and are the next step down from formal (haregi) kimono. They are worn in Japan for at-home, streetwear, casual gatherings with friends, and work. Mine show a range of applied techniques and their yummy colours is explanation enough for collecting them.
1970s duck-egg blue with bush clover. This kimono is made from hitokoshi chirimen with an applied design in roketsu-zome- the Japanese version of batik. The cracks through the wax create a dancing, lively feel on the surface of the heavy matt silk.
Showa red crepe with grisaille flower and stream. This print komon was my first Showa kimono, and my first crepe, kicking off a love affair with both. I love the long sleeves and the soft drape of this kimono.
Taisho sage green crepe with yellow floral yabane. My first Taisho kimono, creating a lasting romance with this era – my favourite of the 20th century. The yabane – here filled with flowers – is also a favourite theme. In wear, this kimono is quite noticeably adorned with buddist swastikas, which causes some raised eyebrows among those who don’t realise the origin of this symbol!
Showa cream bingata crepe with Edo landscape. This 1970s komon, in heavy crepe, has an applied design in Bingata style – a multicoloured stencil technique used in the island of Okinawa. The stencilling creates a slightly off-register look that is very lively and pretty compared with a simple print.
Showa brown and cream arabesque komon. This quiet 1950s print is on very thin, lightweight crepe and also has applied (though very faded) silver surihaku all over the brown sections. The ribbon hem and cafe au lait crepe hakkake are also very pleasing and quiet.
Taisho black rinzu with cranes. A wonderfully thin Taisho rinzu, with crysanthemums in the weave and a print of interlocking origami cranes in solid red and outline red. The hem is lightly padded for extra formality and I adore the red doura and burgundy hakkake – a gorgeous kimono.
1970s pink rinzu with red boshi shibori. My first rinzu kimono, with a wonderful maples and stream pattern in the weave. The faint white lines are kanoko shibori, while the red flowers are created from the boshi shibori technique. Simply gorgeous.
1970s purple rinzu with tiny flowers. This rinzu is much coarser and heavier than the pink one, and the print – though you can’t tell from this photo – is made up from millions of tiny multicoloured flowers that appear abstract at a distance.
Early Showa grey rinzu with sumi-nagashi pattern. Sumi-nagashi is ‘dripping ink’ pattern, originally created by floating dyes on water, much as we do with book endpapers. This, however, is a print and dates from before the War. The doura is whisper-thin, as is characteristic of pre-war kimono.
1970s cream ro with printed plum blossom. My first ro kimono, in fine, heavy, silky fabric. The plum blossoms were described as shibori by the the vendor, but are in fact a fake shibori print. Not visible in the photo are hundreds of fine black lines, like the strokes of a pen. Plum blossom is a winter theme but this is very much a summer kimono.
Navy and black printed stripe with silver glitter. A rather ‘iki’ item, I feel, as stripes are normally woven, and therefore more casual, but these are printed masquerading as woven – some subtle one-downmanship may be going on here. The rust-coloured hakkake is a surprising touch, and the blue stripes are covered with silver glitter, making this item blinding in the sun. Not sure how old this is, but I would guess 1950s or 1960s.
Taisho sha with blue yabane. This sha (gauze) kimono is made from either rayon or a silk and rayon mix and is in Taisho Roman style. Sadly, it’s marked (seemingly indelibly) with some big coffee-coloured stains, but fortunately they aren’t too noticeable in wear. Yabane is one of my favourite patterns, but I like the pattern to be slightly complicated – in this version, I really like the vertical broken stripes and the black and red spines of the feathers.