Bright Gold Medallions In Lacquer Threads On Deep Black Silk.
It’s trying very hard to be spring occasionally here in Chicagoland, USA, so it seems the perfect time to be showcasing the jackets of my kimono collection. Today, here’s a beautiful douchugi from the early Showa Era. I have confirmation that this piece is from the 1930’s, which is why I’m sure of the era placement. This one is special in a number of ways. There is something delightfully vintage and yet so perfectly modern looking about it. If I hadn’t purchased it from Japan, and from someone who knew the history of it, then this would be piece that you’d read me dropping some hard R expletives while I complain about how weird it is. This is because the overall style and arrangements of the designs have a modern sensibility to them, while the feel of the silk and the lining are very soft. The fabric is woven the way that 20’s-40’s era kimono tend to be. Modern silk haori tend to feel quite crisp and firm comparatively. Some of you are reading this nodding. Some of you have blood shooting from your noses trying to figure out what the hell I’m talking about. These are both valid reactions.
You know. I had a lot of hope for the year 2020. Because when it comes to art and design on a global level, the 1920’s tends to be one of my favourite eras. And all over the place, in my favourite haunts and in new places for me, I see little revivals poking out and ready to play. But noooooooo. It’s Plague O’Clock. Ugh. Well, whatever. Why am I bitching about 20’s things if this douchugi was made in the 30’s, you ask? Because it is Art Deco as fuck. Just look at beautiful gold geometry on that black background. Spectacular.
This douchugi arrived to me in excellent shape with the exception of some weak seams and a few smudges. I’m not going to qualify this as a restoration, even though I did redo the seams on the sides under the sleeves, and of course I gave it a good cleaning. Yeah, I put some work into that, but I really struggle to say that I “restored” something just because I fixed a seam here or there. Kimonos are hand sewn, and you can expect to have to fix a seam every now and then. I also tend to resize items if that’s applicable to the garment, which can involve taking damn near the whole thing apart. I don’t consider that to be a restoration, either. Keeps my Okayest Seamstress skills nice and sharp, though.
So let’s talk about this beautiful beast. We have nice, soft, sweet black silk with urushi (lacquer) gold threads in large medallions with a stylized kiku (chrysanthemum) theme. The hem of the jacket also has a checked pattern with little flowers in it, but I actually have no idea if this theme has a specific name. I’m sure it does, but I haven’t come across it and I’m not even quite sure how to search for it. Any guesses? Let me know. The inside is a white, pink, and red silk lining with a rinzu (woven pattern) that resembles wood grain, or in my opinion, more closely a Damascus like on a knife. I took a detailed shot of that which I’ll display even closer here.
This is another one of those pieces that I just want to shove into your hands, wrap you in, and scream excitedly in your face with my annoying kimono love voice about how goddamn soft it is. This thing is luxurious to wear. It also tends to attract attention. No fewer than four different times wearing this out, someone has offered to buy it off of me. Like, literally asked me first where I got it, and when I told them what it was, they asked me how much I wanted for it. Is…is this a thing normal people do? I’m told that I don’t -checks notecards- “other humans” very well because according to my physician I’m -reads further- “fucking weird,” so sometimes I’m not great at telling when people are being normal and expected. Is offering to buy something off of someone that they’re actively wearing a normal thing that people do? Is that how fashion works? Someone explain that to me.
When worn, this piece comes down to about right between my hip and my knee in length. The sleeves are delightfully long, but not quite Taisho might-take-flight-on-a-stiff-breeze long. It’s also surprisingly warm by itself, but it’s great for warmer weather, too. I’ve worn it in as cold as 35°F (1.6°C) and as warm as 65°F-ish (18°C) comfortably. I wouldn’t run around in this in the summer, though. You’d melt. Or, more accurately I’d melt, because no I won’t be selling it off of my literal body, random person at the grocery store/theater/museum/Greek restaurant.
Here’s a bad mirror selfie wearing it with like zero prep. Even on me, it just pops!