Thursday, October 6, 2016

Journey to Momijigari











Momijigari (もみじがり?) is the Japanese word for “autumn leaf hunting”, and I took a drive recently for just such a purpose.

And alright, so that last pose is pretty silly, I'm no model, but I wanted you to see the gorgeous sleeves of this Japanese haori jacket!

The term cultural appropriation had yet to be invented in the 1920's, and "oriental" fashions were rampant. The styles created then are undeniably both fun and beautiful, but traditional clothing is not a costume to be borrowed, which is why I want to be clear that in wearing a haori I mean nothing but great admiration for Japanese traditional clothing. I wrote a short post about haori, or jackets worn over kimono, a few weeks ago here on the blog (read it here), and I have been doing a lot of research on Japanese traditional clothing recently in general. I think the styles, fabrics, and techniques are just beautiful, and sadly some aspects of traditional kimono making are dying out in the modern age.  It seems there is a pretty big split over the idea of westerners wearing kimono, seeming that Japanese Americans do tend to find it offensive, while people in Japan are happy to have people interested in kimono and other aspects of their culture (and I am sure there are some in each country who feel opposite to these generalizations too). While my intention is never to offend, I understand that to some people westerners borrowing any aspect of their culture is offensive, and that is a valid opinion no matter my intent. More on this topic soon, but until then, isn't this haori crazy beautiful?

The design is created by wax resist (batik) dyeing and as soon as I saw the leaf pattern I had to have it for my collection. The lining is an orangey-red silk with faux shibori designs in white. This haori, like the others I have (*cough* yes I already have 3 now), is entirely sewn together by hand using traditional Japanese stitch techniques. Though originally worn with kimono, haori are often styled with modern clothing now as they make a very stylish alternative to a blazer or cardigan. I paired my new-to-me haori with a black 1920s style dress, a vintage (possibly even antique) parasol, and my trusty Modcloth t-strap heels.

As for these photos, they were taken at Georgetown lake in the Rocky Mountains west of Denver and as you can see the aspen trees were in full fall form glowing yellow all around us along the road and dotting every mountainside. How lucky am I to live in such a gorgeous place? Fall is my favorite season for a drive into the Rockies, if only the season lasted longer before the snows arrive!

Dress: Made by me
Haori: Vintage
Shoes: Modcloth
Tights: What Katie Did
Necklace & Earrings: Made by me
Parasol: Vintage


26 comments:

  1. Oh wow, what a gorgeous piece! And you've captured the 1920's vibe perfectly with this outfit. There can be such a thin line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation, with the vintage fashion aspect adding another complexity to the issue. I think you've done it in the best way possible, with your awareness of the issue, research into the history of the garment, and the thoughtfulness with which you have put into wearing such a piece.

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    1. Thank you Kate! I think with vintage alone some can think we are going for a "costume" not just wearing clothes, so it is even more important to approach other cultures traditional designs with serious care!

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  2. Rapturously gorgeous outfit and setting. Really, what could be a more breathtaking backdrop than the majestic Rocky Mountains during the fall? Little if anything, if you as me, and it definitely serves as an incredible accompaniment to your stunning Asian inspired ensemble.

    xoxo ♥ Jessica

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    1. Thank you Jessica! Nothing better than a drive through the fall colors <3

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  3. This might be my favorite post of yours ever!! And my goodness these photos are amazing!!! Seriously breathtaking backdrop and I'm overwhelmed with joy seeing this outfit!! I can't believe it!!! And hey yes maybe it was cultural appropriation back in the day, but I think you are being super respectful and appreciative here so don't you worry!

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    1. Thank you so much Nora! I just had to have this haori the moment I spotted it, the motif and color pairing are just too perfect <3

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  4. Stunning! The backdrop is amazing and you look gorgeous.

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  5. What a perfect background for these photos! The colours of the trees match your outfit beautifully.

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    1. Thank you Helen! I love the seasonal colors here in Colorado, I am super lucky to live in such a pretty place!

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  6. Lady you have absolutely outdone yourself here! What an incredible set of photos - I just love that the foliage matches the colours on your haori. As always, you make the most fantastic pieces for your wardrobe. Something that I really like about the 20s is the way that there was a lot of inspiration from other cultures. From what I have seen their take on interpreting the styles of other cultures was very tasteful and respectful (though I stand to be corrected as I am not an expert in this). As a Russian I really appreciate the Slavic influence of which there was a lot in the early 20s. I like being able to wear 20s repro pieces that reflect this style as it lets me wear something from my own cultural background without wearing a traditional costume.

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    1. Thank you Harlow! I wish I had made this dress a bit longer actually, but I made it under a bit of a time crunch as it was for an event. One day I'll actually get a photo of the back as it has a hand beaded geometric shaped sheer panel! The 1920's styles inspired by other cultures are undeniably gorgeous <3

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  7. So beautiful! You match the surroundings perfectly :)
    I find that interesting that Japanese-American's find it offensive, while people living in Japan don't tend to. I think that is probably often the case- for example if you look in tourist shops in different countries, they do sell the things that their culture is famous for. They aren't offended to sell them- they are just a part of their culture. However, if a culture doesn't sell something, as it is strictly for people of that culture only, for example Native American war bonnets, then we should avoid it. That's just being respectful.
    The Artyologist

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    1. Thank you Nicole! I think a lot of the conversation surrounding cultural appropriation rightly focuses on a member of a larger (and historically oppressive/colonizing) culture wearing things from a smaller or persecuted culture. Seeing as the United States historically treated Japanese Americans horribly during WWII, I can understand the argument that "white" American's today have no right to wear kimono after such atrocities. It is a complex issue for sure!

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  8. Breathtaking photos, and the particular attention to detail with the colours in your robe matching the trees in the background - just perfection!! Embrace the silly-posing, it often turns out way better than you think x

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  9. Wow, that is gorgeous! Great location, great pictures, beautiful hoari.
    I really like the way you styled this piece too. Even without going into issues of cultural appropriation (the degree of offensiveness of which, I think, generally depends on the power balance between the copiers and the copied) it is often difficult to wear any kind of traditional garment (especially of a cultural background which is not your own) without it ending up looking like a fancy dress costume. Yours just looks beautiful.
    I recently tried some hoari and kimono's at a local vintage store and loved the items but when I put them on, I was just a pale girl playing dress-up...

    Oh, I'm not unfamiliar with worrying about cultural appropriation when blogging. I love African wax prints but even if I can find designs which look good on me, I do stop and think (and blog) about what message I am sending out as a white Dutch woman wearing such fabrics

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    1. Thank you Lauriana! I totally agree with you about the power balance issue, especially when it comes to imbalances and prejudices that still exist today. I have also written about African style wax prints here on TCH before, though I suppose that since many are Dutch made you have more of a "right" to wear them than I do! They are a part of your culture and history too after all.

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  10. Absolutely stunning - pictures, scenery, and of course the outfit!

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  11. Your haori is beautiful. As with all these things, there's a web of context and understanding to be negotiated. I think it helps that you're wearing the haori as part of an outfit that isn't completely Japanese; it's serving its part as a top layer without you looking as though you're dressing up as someone from another culture. Though I'm not Japanese, Japanese people might feel differently. It's tricky.

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  12. Wow! What a stunning set of photos! Everything in them is beautiful.

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