Antique Haori–Warm Roses & Ivy

Dusky Black Woven Silk With Sweet Blooming Roses And Climbing Ivy Leaves

If you have been following along, then you might recognize this haori from this post. The restoration is complete! While she is not perfect, the fading is under control, the goddamn Sharpie has been removed, and she has been completely resewn back together again.

This piece boasts a finish that has a subtle shine to it, and the silk is so soft and smooth. There are patterns of lattice and flowers woven into the silk in a technique called “rinzu.”

Let’s talk about the damage. To start with, there was very noticeable fading throughout, but most prominent across the shoulders and the top of the collar. To remedy this, I have a dye mixture that I apply with a soft bristle brush in layers. I let the fabric dry between layers to see if another layer of the mixture needs to be added. When it matches as closely as I can get it, then I set the dye with steam and press. This process is not perfect–but it’s very gentle on the fabric, and lets me treat the spots individually, and once it’s been set, it’s not prone to bleeding.

There are small pulls in the fabric here and there on the sleeves, and I was able to straighten some of them, but others were just tucked away and will be left as is. As I have learned A FEW TIMES NOW, there isn’t always a “good as new” when it comes to these things. Sometimes the goal is to prevent further damage. But this actually makes these pulls sound pretty dramatic; they’re smaller than a pinhead, and there’s only three of them. Clearly not a catastrophe.

The most difficult part of this restoration was, of course, the GODDAMN SHARPIE. I can’t even begin to describe the weird twisting sensation that went off in my head when I sat down and finally figured out just what in the fresh hell I was looking at. I was holding it, touching it, and then I held it up and the way it touched the light, my whole body and definitely my mouth went “DID SOMEONE FUCKING COLOUR THIS IN WITH A GODDAMN SHARPIE?!” The stain has carried that name ever since, as you can see.

I’ve been asked how I knew it was Sharpie–well, I suppose that I don’t for a fact. It could be any alcohol based marker, really. But you know that weird sort of shine that Sharpie has in the right light? A glimmer of almost goldish colour saturation that isn’t quite fully black? This had that shine to it. That’s what made me think Sharpie.

The removal process was detailed pretty well in the in-progress post. It wasn’t easy. At times, I had to set it down and walk away to resist just lighting the house on fire and saying “Oops, someone…burned that.” It took several hours of work to just do the washing out; never mind the time taken to take the haori apart and handle the fading, and then to sew it back together again. And the results aren’t perfect–there was no removing all of it. I was able to get it very close. Progress just kind of stopped at “very close” and I wasn’t willing to engage in any kind of destructive repairs, so it was good enough for me.

This was a unique restoration. Unique is the nice way to say it. I mean, I have dealt with a lot of utterly bizarre “repairs” and “alterations” made by previous owners of kimono items that don’t quite understand what they have. I’ve removed what looks like fishing line from a busted seam. I’ve picked at threads for a few hours to remove a very sloppily installed zipper. I’ve even found staples in a sleeve once. This is the first time I’ve ever seen anyone just colour in part of the resist-dyed pattern with a goddamn Sharpie, though! So yeah, we’ll go with unique.

Now complete, let’s talk about this beautiful beast! I fell in love with this piece the moment I saw it. Beautiful orange and cream roses (bara) against the black background and accompanied by climbing ivy leaves (tsuta), it calls to mind a garden on a summer night. I worked as a florist while I was in college, and I have a soft spot in my heart for roses. Especially shades of orange and cream. It pulls at my heart in some vague, nostalgic way that I think we all have in us somewhere. A memory of a peaceful moment, warm and calm, when nothing was wrong. Of course I had to fix her up.

I’m not certain how old this one is. I have it labeled as “Taisho” in my organization folder, but I have reason to believe that this might be closer to a trend in the 1930’s, which would put it in the Showa Era instead. The texture, sleeve length, and feel of it overall have me pretty convinced that it is a pre-WWII piece, anyway. After restoration, she’s in great shape. She is sturdy and fine. This piece joins my collection of haori that I do wear regularly.

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