Thursday, April 14, 2016

Motifs: Linear (Tate-Jima/Yoko-Jima)

Lines may not be a 'motif' in the strictest sense of the word. They don't have the glamour of carrying meanings in the same way the other motifs I've talked about do, but there is no denying that they are exceedingly versatile, serving as a base to moderate more outspoken patterns in a variety of ways.

If you've been with me for the whole month, you might remember my post on fuji (wisteria) and the simple pin-stripe kimono I wore to set off the very striking haori. I put together an ensemble using the same idea a couple of years ago, but in that case, I wanted to lessen the somewhat dizzying effect my kimono could have on the unsuspecting viewer.

Hitoe kimono in bold stripes of black and white, interspersed with primary colors. Note that the stripes all run on the bias, or diagonally.

Same ensemble, but with the addition of an orange haori.
In the above examples, both garments work in harmony to create one visual whole. The haori would be too loud if placed over another floral kimono, and the hitoe on its own lacks a certain visual panache, despite the bold striping on the bias. The combination was also chosen to reflect the season, with the grape leaves on the orange field of the haori added a touch of autumn.

With the next example, the components have been switched, and we have a striped haori over patterned kimono.

Yukata with snowbunnies under striped haori.
The bunny yukata is not one of my boldest kimono as far as coloring and patterning go. It's unique in that it is a decidedly wintery pattern printed on cotton and intended to be worn as yukata (the idea being that the motif leads the viewer to think on the cooler seasons and be refreshed while the season is warm). As a consequence, this is a garment that I will pull out for summer, because it is lightweight and comfortable, but also for winter because the motif then reflects the season and the garment can be 'dressed up' to make it less causal than a yukata might otherwise be when worn outside the summer season. Part of that 'dressing up' is aided by wearing a haori as a final layer, and this subdued striped haori completes the impression that 'cooler weather is here.'

We've already seen how geometric motifs can be highly complimentary in obi, and stripes are certainly no exception to this rule. The next example, a yukata with multiple flowers making up the design, is set off by a mauve obi with subtle striping in the pattern. The slightly curved pattern on the obi compliments the circular flower motifs without being too similar and still adding visual interest without making the ensemble feel busy.

Yukata with bell-flowers and nadeshiko with mauve striped obi.

Putting together this entry was really eye-opening for me; I didn't realize just how many striped items I had in my collection. As I combed through all of the images, I saw that I wouldn't be able to create such a variety of looks if I didn't have this powerhouse of versatility. Do my kind readers have an unsung hero of their wardrobe? I'd love to read about them in the comments!

Tomorrow will bring us back to botanical motifs as we look at Momiji (Maple Leaves)!

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