I was contacted by Marie Claire China a few months ago to do an interview for a special they were putting together “Secret in Women’s Closet”.
They wanted to feature me with my tansu and kimono.
It was just published – on the 10th of October and they mailed me a copy of the magazine! Also, they put the spread up online on their website!
You can see the original photographs sent to them here:
Here is a very rough translation of the interview questions they published:
Q- How big is your house and closet?
A- (house answer not translated) I use a Japanese Tansu.
Q- How do you sort them?
A- I have a few main-themes, like chidori, sakura, umbrella(? not sure). I mostly have kimono made in and inspired by the Taisho Period, which are very romantic. I like the light, flowy feeling of kimono.
Q- How do you change seasons for your kimono?
A- There are 72 seasons according to the Chinese Lunar Calender(?), so there are different colors, prints, designs, etc. If the kimono doesn’t fit into a season, I use an ornament to show the season.
Q-What is your favorite kimono?
A- The Kimono I am wearing in the picture, and a summer chidori kimono, and a certain obi (which we couldn’t translate, but it gives an uplifted feeling…?…)
Q-If you have a daughter, how would you arrange her wardrobe?
A- I will show her the different peoples who wear kimono, and ways of wearing kimono. She’d have to like kimono. I would have lots of heirloom clothing to give her and future generations.
Here are the original questions and answers I sent off:
1. How big is your house’s size? (Flat or villa?) And how big is your closet’s size? (chest ? walk-in closet? Or the others? )
I live in a large studio apartment and use an antique Taisho Era (1920’s) kimono tansu. However, I have more kimono and obi than storage space, so I now also use a bookcase and storage boxes under my bed.
2. Do you have boyfriend or husband? Do you have any children? How about their closet?
I am engaged and we will be married soon (wearing kimono). My fiance has a few kimono we store in my tansu, however as his kimono collection grows bigger, we might need another!
3. Do you remember your first personal closet? How does it develop?
My first personal closet with normal clothing was lots of black skirts and blouses and still is. However, since I started collecting kimono, I have developed a deep appreciation for all sorts of colour and patterns – the kimono silhouette allows for a lot more experimentation with combinations that normal clothing does. This means inside my tansu is very vibrant and bright inside!
4. Do you have special doohickey to clean up your closet?
I use a special acid free rice paper cover called tatoushi to wrap my kimono and obi in. It helps protect the silk from dust and dirt while storing and keeps them folded nice and flat.
5. How do build up your personal style in your closet?
I collect antique kimono from 1910 to 1930 with specific motifs. Because I have been involved with taiko, I have a special spot for drums and collect kimono items with tsuzumi – hand drums. I also collect kimono with bird motifs (chidori, swallows, sparrows, nightingales), ume (plum) hanabishi (diamond shape flower) and I love striped kimono. If I buy modern kimono, it is because it looks similar to antique style.
6. How often do you clean up your closet?
I keep my tansu clean all the time, which is easy as there are special places to store everything. I do like to go through my tansu once a month though to periodically air out my kimono, and to make sure everything is still folded nicely and is protected.
7. How often do you buy new things?
Nearly every week! Because I wear antique kimono, I shop a lot using online auctions in USA and Japan. I have a very good eye for finding high quality pieces for great bargains.
8. How many hours do you spend on shopping new cloth, washing and press cloth and packing per month?
Too many! Kitsuke (kimono dressing) is a hobby as well as fashion for me. So when I’m not working – I’m always thinking about new kimono ensembles, shopping online auctions, dressing in kimono, organizing my tansu. In May this year, I even held a kimono fashion show with friends of mine.
9. Do you have experience that you can not find one cloth in your closet? And surprised find it in next week?
No. Many of my kimono are 80 – 100 years old, so I have to be careful with where and how I store them. I am very protective and always know where all my pieces are.
10. How do you deal with your old cloth? Kimono are too beautiful to throw away!
If my kimono is too old to wear anymore, I will try to recycle it into something new – maybe a kimono jacket. If only a small piece of the kimono fabric is good – I will make handbags, kanzashi or other small accessories for myself.
11. How do you change the season for your closet?
Kimono is very season specific by way of fabric, patterns and whether the kimono is lined or not. The Gregorian calendar has only four seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. However, the Ancient Chinese Farmer’s Almanac breaks down the lunar calendar into 72 seasons for one year! Kimono can follow very closely with the 72 different seasons, which if I can, try to observe, but I don’t switch them around 72 times a year! I normally change my kimono out by the 4 main seasons, storing my in-season kimono inside my tansu, and my out-season kimono in special boxes under my bed. I then use various accessories to follow the different feeling of the 72 seasons.
12. What is your favor in your closet?(which piece does you wear it frequently? Which one do you like it most and maybe most expensive, but you never wear it? )
My current two favourites are what I’m wearing right now in the photo – my embroidered tsuzumi obi, as it was a gift from my taiko sempai and my royal purple, yellow and turquoise hanabishi kimono. The entire outfit is very playful, yet sophisticated. My other favourite pieces is a Taisho era summer ro obi with happy, plump chidori flying over waves. It is very old and has stains, but I still love it.
13. If you will add one piece for your closet? What is it?
Taisho era ro kimono in my two favourite colours, fuchsia and turquoise.
14. What’s your personal style? Or what is the difference between your’s and the other women’s closet?
I love kimono fashion, colours and patterns from 1915-1930 as it was very innovative, dynamic and artistic. My personal style is highly influenced by 1920’s Taisho Roman style, Art Nouveau and Art Deco along with Ukiyo-e from Edo era and the artist, Junichi Nakahara. This makes me different to some other women wearing kimono, because I choose to wear kimono like when it was worn as everyday clothing back in 1910-1930, a more casual, everyday style and fashion rather than the highly formal style you see in tea-ceremony or weddings.
15. If you have one daughter, how do you help her to build the first closet?
I would strongly encourage my daughter to develop her own sense of style and individuality and to appreciate national garments and textiles from all around the world – especially those made by hand. I do hope she will like kimono, though, as I have many kimono to pass from mother to daughter as she grows.