Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Review: Okimono Kimono

Like any fashion, there will be different ways to approach assembling looks and ensembles. Where "The New Kimono" presents a classic, chic approach, Mokona's "Okimono Kimono" offers a whimsical, playful take on bringing the wearing of kimono into everyday life.

Mokona is an manga-ka (a Japanese illustrative/"comic" artist) who is perhaps better known as a member of the all-female studio CLAMP. "Okimono Kimono" is her first solo work, stemming from her own interest in the art of kimono.

The book is divided into several sections, the first being "Okimono Art." This section is dedicated to several pieces that Mokona designed herself.  The designs are quite modern and the models in kimono are depicted against CG backgrounds that another CLAMP artist created. While the creations didn't particularly suit my personal style, Mokona's explanations of the designs and her process were undeniably interesting.

Throughout the whole of the book, Mokona brings her own artistic flair to the wearing of kimono. In the second and third sections, dedicated to ensembles, many of her selections are quite bold. In some cases, it can be difficult at first glance to see just why the outfit as a whole works, but her commentary provides clues to her process.

She has a distinct fondness for accessories, both traditional and western, and isn't at all afraid of mixing and matching to get the best effect. The fourth section of the book is dedicated entirely to these little touches that bring together the whole of the look. There is very little commentary but the pictures are quite inspirational (especially for someone such as myself, who crafts some of their own accessories).

The fifth section is a digital-camera photo diary that Mokona kept in 2005-2006. With each photo she explains just a little bit about the kimono and the event for which she chose to wear it. For me, this was very refreshing as it is clear that she is wearing these garments out and about, not just for posing for pictures. Also, it's a little reassuring to see that even Mokona's obi isn't always picture-book perfect.

Though this is not the first book that I consult when I'm trying to figure out how I want an outfit to come together, it is the one I turn to for creative ideas. The hand of its writer is present in every page, but the artistic flairs do not come across as ostentatious or overbearing. Instead, there is a sense of play, though not of irresponsibility. After all, these garments are meant to be cherished and admired, and there is no doubt that Mokona loves her kimono so much that she hopes others will join her in the wearing of this classic garment. I was a fan of her work with CLAMP before, but this sentiment has left me admiring her all the more.

"Okimono Kimono" is available through Amazon if you can not find it in your local bookstore.

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