Thursday, June 9, 2011

Kimono Costumes: Geisha and "Samurai Darth Maul"

I'm sometimes asked what I do with the kimono I collect. The answer is usually "wear them when I have the opportunity" or "show them at educational panels," but as a costuming geek I also have fun working them into costumes when I can.

So a couple of weeks ago at Houston's Comicpalooza convention (awesome, can't wait for next year!) I wore these two:

Geisha "Ayame"

This costume has been a long labor of love as I kept an eye out for pieces in my price range, but I finally pieced together a decent "starter" geisha look! It involves a hikizuri (trailing kimono often worn during dance performances) in my favorite color, a hakata obi (traditional geometric weave pattern classically seen on geisha) worn in a style particular to geisha, two-color dance fans, and a human-hair katsura (wig) in a styling very similar to a geisha's.

"Ayame" 菖蒲 means "iris" and is a flower that fits me for a couple of reasons: it blooms in my birth month (May) and is often seen in my favorite color, purple. :)

My kitsuke (kimono-wearing) skills need a lot of practice, but I loved this costume and will definitely wear it again.

"Samurai" Darth Maul

This next costume comes from the fact I'm aiming for an eventual full Darth Maul (Star Wars) costume, because I love challenges in costuming, but due to funding and time only had half of it done by the convention. My choices if I wanted to do it anyway were a white T-shirt with "rest of costume goes here" worn over my linen black pants and Frank Thomas black boots, or my idea to do a nod to the awesome Star Wars "ukiyo-e" paintings I saw on the Immortal Geisha forums a long while back, which featured the characters as classical Japanese nobles, samurai, demons, etc.

So I bring you a loosely-inspired "Samurai Darth Maul" in punk black hakama by indies brand Qutie Frash, a formal men's kimono and haori, boken practice sword, men's geta, and a whole lot of paint!

It was well-received at the con (Darth Maul barely talks, so with binding and a silent swagger the costume seemed to work, as I was taken for a guy all day) and an artist actually came running up to me excited because he did a series of paintings, apparently, featuring Star Wars characters in "real life" and one was a Maul samurai. It was a lot of fun all around, though I will say to any guys reading that it was tough figuring out how to walk like a guy. ;)

I will also say that after all the prep time and work that goes into Maul (bald cap, handmade horns, full head of paint) the geisha makeup seems like a breeze in comparison.

So there are two of my own kimono-based costumes! If you've done any you'd like to share, any costume that involves a kimono, please send me a link or picture! I'd love to see them. :)

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