Friday, March 7, 2014

Attempting Tsumami Kanzashi

Years ago, while rummaging through my favourite vintage kimono shop I stumbled upon an old wedding kimono and fell in love with it.  Yellow gold silk embroidered with golden peacocks with shimmering green blue tails and splashes of striking red.  I had to have it.  Where I was going to wear this kimono I had no idea and the fact that it was furisode, long sleeves which show a woman is unmarried, and my left hand showed that was not the case, I didn't care, the kimono would be mine.  So I bought it.

similar to this but with blue peacocks

Last year my In-Laws took me to the local kimono shop and bought me all the other parts (hundreds of them) that you need to wear a kimono.  Half a dozen silk ties, clips, hidden clips and more clips, two layers of underwear, tiny cushions, hard plastic supports for in collars and under obi, pretty ropes and obi decorations, tiny fans and uncomfortable shoes to match your uncomfortable socks.  I left with bags full of things … and nowhere to wear my kimono.

Then came an invite, my best friends wedding in Australia in April.  Tickets were booked and the kimono was looked out for a practice run of how to put the damn thing on.  When buying all the bits at the kimono shop the lady had very nicely shown me how to put the kimono on while my husband had dutifully filmed the whole ordeal on his phone.  # hours later we had it just about right and I decided that matching kimono were the outfit of choice for me and the man, indeed due to the amount of stuff required and the rubbish low weight allowance of our chosen low cost air carrier, it might be all I wear while in Australia!

Problem 1: Does this make me look fat?
The answer is yes, it does, deal with it.  Kimono aren't meant to make you look all hourglass curvy or supermodel thin.  Look at all the stuff in the pictures above, there is no way you can tie all that on yourself and not look bigger.
In Japan, when kimono were the only clothes worn, the ideal body shape was a tube.  Yes a tube.  Your kimono should lie flat everywhere giving you no chest, no bum and no hips.  To achieve this look on my non tubular body shape I have to tie 3 towels around my waist.  Yes, I think I may be the first person to go to a wedding wearing towels in an aim to make myself shapeless.

Problem 2: a hat?

It is hard to imagine kimono without the amazing traditional hair ornaments that go with them.

These however tend to go hand in hand with massive wigs and unless you are from the Edo era or you are a bride (and thus rocking a massive wig) they aren't seen much anymore. 

If you want to see what is happening in the world of kimono you only need to wait for Seijin no Hi.  This is coming of age day in Japan where anyone turning 20 that year gets dressed up in kimono and goes to a big ceremony to celebrate becoming an adult.  It is also where the traditional kimono meets Japanese youth and the results can be both amazing and scary.

Here you can see Japanese fashion clashing with western styles and Tokyo street fashion in the form of blonde hair, Barbie and braids.

Yep even coming dressed as a Storm Trooper is ok

And its not just the 20 somethings bringing kimono up to date as a growing number of people are reverting back to every day more relaxed kimono and bringing a whole new layer of awesomeness to the traditional look.

T-rex obi…hell yeah!

Notice what is lacking in all these looks…a hat.

That isn't to say that hats are never seen with kimono.  Guys in kimono and hats seems quite common;

and hours of internet trawling will bring you some (pretty wicked) results;

but these are mostly in the casual/funky kimono genre not the formal look I am after.  That doesn't mean that Japanese girls have given up hair adornment altogether, far from it, even the massive wig still makes an appearance.

But again this isn't quite what I am after.  It seems that with formal kimono comes formal kanzashi and the flower is as much a part of the kimono as the obi and the funky toe socks.

And so back to my Kimono outfit for Oz.  I have decided to make a small button hat with a black kimono silk base and a black branch stretching up and over the hat covered in different sizes of black flowers.  At the base of the branch will be a cluster of smaller flowers with 3 tails of falling black leaves (like the blue example in the photo above).

Problem 3: I don't know how to make kanzashi flowers.

So off to the book shop I went and bought the book with the most pictures in it and thus have spent the week with tweezers in hand, covered in rice starch glue and tiny bits of silk.

These are examples of what I didn't make.

The plan was to write this blog on Friday so that I could include pictures of my finished hat and show you the fruitful labour of my week.  I can't.  Making tsunami kanzashi flowers is bloody hard.  I have a month to figure it out or I will be attending this wedding adorned with Hello Kitty ears as proof of my failure and humiliation as a milliner.  I will look as stupid in my kimono as these dogs look in theirs.