Yes, I wrote “koimono” on purpose. This is not a kind of kimono, I’m just being very clever. Oh so very clever. But other than the super cleverness, the title is very accurate. I suspect internment shenanigans, and I bought this shit from the GoodWill auction site. If you were competing against me for this, I want you to know that if you absolutely regret not going harder for it when you see it now, I understand. But I also want you to know that it’s in good hands.
So we’re gonna start with the auction photos of this piece because really shitty seller photos are just as fucking American as apple pie at this point. And holy mother of sea cucumber salad–my phone decided on that and I’m keeping it–these are fucking atrocious as seller pics go. Get a load of these:
The cringe is real. But the actual title of the auction was worse. Like by a lot.
Do you see this shit? “Japanese Inspired” with “multiple rips and tears.” You know, they could have just called me. Or emailed me. Carrier pigeon. Koolaid Man.
It’s okay. I don’t actually monitor the GoodWill auction site because I don’t particularly like the company and their business practices. It was Renee that pointed this out to me.
If I was going to make an exception for anything, it was going to be for this. Because I see koi. I see kingyo (goldfish). I see vertical ro (half pan style weaving for summer). I also see a purple shattering lining that, quite simply, isn’t supposed to be there.
The war began. The war was won quickly. And she was delivered lightning fast. And now, here she is. The first thing I noticed was that they measured it wrong. They said it was 50in/127cm long–it’s way longer at 63in/160cm. Then my brain exploded because too many amazing pieces of information jumped out at me and slapped my big, hot, throbbin’ lobes all at once. I literally short circuited while inspecting this piece. So let’s get started.
This will be one of the only times I slap my big, honking kimono dating dick on the table with extreme prejudice. No provenance needed. This is a late Meiji to Early Taisho Era oofurisode. There just is no universe that exists where it is any newer or any older than that target. The shape of the collar, the size of the kamon (family crests), the tones, the attention to detail, the texture of the vertical ro, the detail of the hakkake (inside skirt lining). It’s time for me to be confident–I know what I’m looking at.
If you’re anything like me, then you didn’t notice the kamon until right now. This piece has so much going on that I actually didn’t realize what I was looking at until I was elbow deep in my evaluation. Then I made a noise that inspired the dolphins in the actual ocean to file a goddamn noise complaint.
Do you see them? I’ll help:
Now you see them. They went level fucking 20 hardcore on these. They’re resist dyed, tinted, embroidered, and then further embellished with couching threads. Contemporary formality rules nerds are shitting themselves right now and it fills me with absolute glee.
But let’s talk about the elephant in the kimono, that fucked up lining. This picture pretty well sums up my reaction to it.
The first and most easily noticeable thing about this lining is that it’s pretty fucked. This is the thing that they were referring to when the condition of the original auction listed multiple tears and holes. And indeed, it is shattering. It also doesn’t belong here even in the slightest. This was installed way later than the kimono was made.
How do I know this? Firstly, none of the seams are correct, but the way that it was sewn in was gently and in a non-destructive way. Behold:
Notice how there’s no back seam, nor a seam where the okumi panel joins. The bolt for this fabric was not a traditional Japanese one, as it is significantly too wide for that. It’s also machine sewn to itself in places, which tells me that this fabric came from somewhere else and was repurposed for this lining. It is also not silk like the rest of the garment. Burn test indicates rayon.
Contrary to popular belief, rayon can shatter. Rayon, especially vintage rayon, is often made of plant matters like bamboo. Due to this, it can also be susceptible to degradation. And infact, this rayon is so fucked up that I can poke right through it with my thumbnail. See:
So one of my first tasks was extracting this lining, because it isn’t supposed to be here at all. I said “was” because I’m done with that already. I didn’t take new pictures without it, though, so you will be seeing it for the duration of this post.
If you’re wondering why this lining isn’t supposed to be here, then that it is and what it’s made of could answer that part. But it’s actually pretty important to note that this piece isn’t supposed to have an upper lining at all. I’ve encountered many situations of pieces that survived the internment camps where linings were changed or installed with whatever they had available to them, and so this doesn’t surprise me. It’s worth noting that the presence of a hakkake doesn’t necessitate an upper lining. For its age, at this length, this kimono is meant to be hikizuri. This is not exclusively a geisha term. It just suggests a kimono is meant to be worn trailing.
So with the whole lining shit out of the way, we can start on our evaluation of the whole body. And let me just say one more time that in spite of those seller pics, I’m just blown right the fuck away by exactly how good of shape this is in.
As far as staining goes, there’s actually not too much. I’ve actually already started removals because big obsessive energy with this kimono:
That’s one round of the vinegar method, so I’m feeling pretty optimistic. Acetic acid usually does the trick, you just have to be patient. Cursing at it also helps.
There is also some just straight up discoloration here and there. Something I discovered when I dug the lining out is that the whole back has an appearance of dye migration, but that was actually the shit-ass rayon lining fucking with the light coming through the vertical ro. One less task. I will have to do something about these, though.
Pretty standard stuff, actually. Not worried about it.
Now let’s get into some structural damage. I’m pretty happy to report that when I’m done sewing this back together, it will be completely wearable. That said, it does have some pulled threads, a hole, and some stress at the sleeve/armpit area because of fucking course it does.
Patching holes and tightening up small frays is just slightly time consuming. In the case of the person who did the tailoring on this piece, they actually knew what they were doing, so the damage on the sleeves is actually pretty limited. I won’t have massive holes or a fucking sewing machine to clean up after.
There are also luscious, delicious urushi threads throughout, some of which will need my attention and some of which are just perfect somehow.
The silver urushi threads appear thoughout the fish scales and in the water, but some of them have been dislodged and some of them have wrn off. And that’s a goddamn crime, but it’s okay because I’m equipped to replace them. There will be couching repairs, which I scribbled in my notes but didn’t bother to take a million pictures of because if you’ve been here awhile, you know what that looks like. I’ll get good before and after shots for you, though.
The next two pictures are just things I want you to look at rather than things that need repaired. So look at it! -M1 Garand reloading noises- Look. At. It.
LOL can we talk for a second about how coked the fuck out this specific fish looks? He’s just the best.
I am in love with this piece. I’m going to fix it fast and have it ready to wear this summer. I can’t believe that she survived so well, this long, from fucking GoodWill, through internment, all the way to me; but I’m really glad she did. Because now I can fix her up and love her the way she’s meant to be loved.
Join me next time when I’ll be covering more fish, a surprise sanpogi, I’ve almost finished with good examples for a stain removal product test, and I swear I’m almost done with the pigment replacement tutorial. I am also getting ready to work out a step by step for my deodorizing process since that’s been in high demand lately. I might just write out the instructions with reaction gifs instead of photos because you can’t see the smells. Doesn’t make for an interesting visual.