Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Over My Head?

Courtesy of Demode, I got pulled into the 18th Court Ensemble brigade. Though I don't have the budget to travel to the next Costume Con, I can post and share pictures of what I do. Price is also why I'm making it 60cm sized rather than for me. Like with the Meiji Schiap outfit, Kozu will be my model.

I did a lot of poking around online to see if there was any outfit that caught my fancy. The thought of making panniers and the appropriate petticoats didn't appeal to me. So I started looking at China, and found several male court tunics that looked pretty, but didn't grab me. Also, a tunic isn't a full outfit, and I'm not so familiar with the rank insignia that copying the symbols would feel disingenuous.

I turned to Japan, and went to the Costume Museum in Kyoto. The Edo period is pretty long and engulfs all of the 18th century. None of the dates listed for the outfits I was eying was any more specific than "late" or "early." Likewise, there were no Western years given. I have to estimate.

The formal court clothes of early Edo, looked nicer than the late. By this I mean it looked more lived in, and less a full body prop. However, to replicate this would mean I'd have to create a whole lot of layers, and find a way to replicate the patterned cloth. I seriously doubt my patience on this regard. Similarly, I liked the Ooku garb. It looked simple, but the patterns on the clothes were quite pretty. Again, I don't think I have the mental stamina to do it all without long breaks in between.

I could mimic the patterns with embroidery, but I'm also aware that it's easy for me to bite off more than I can chew. It's happened before. -_-; I could try and use brocade, and maybe I can find something in the right scale, though I doubt I'd find patterns I'd find suitable. Other options include batik, of which I have very little experience, or ordering custom fabric from Spoonflower. The latter would be pretty tricky, since the clothes don't have an obvious repeat and the patterns are asymmetrical. With lots of time and thought I can pull it off, but at the moment it doesn't appeal to me.
With these considerations in mind, I've settled on this ensemble. It's an informal court outfit, with easy to find materials and rectangular construction. Also, that orange is eye catching, as is the size of the model's ogoshibakama (posh trousers.)


When I was out and about earlier near the garment district, I decided to take the plunge and pick up some orange silk. I could use a cheaper material, or buy inexpensive silk and dye it. However, since this project is already much more frugal than it could be, one or two small indulgences can't hurt. At the shop, I found the perfect fabric at $39 a yard.

I kept looking. 

After a lot more looking around, price checking, and asking about minimum lengths, I got half a yard of a somewhat cheaper silk. It's slubby and hence unlikely to be worn by a posh courtier, but the sticker shock isn't as strong, and the color is fabulous.


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