- An antique meisen silk komon kimono, with butterfly design. Meisen silk is a silk rather like taffeta.
- Komon kimonos and iro muji kimonos are becoming more and more rare as they are not made much anymore, since kimono makers tend to make only very formal, ornate kimonos and summer lightweight cotton yukata kimonos, because very few people in Japan wear kimono all the time nowadays.
- Hitoe (unlined) kimono, unlined for wear in warmer weather
- Meisen silk is similar to soft, silk taffeta.. It feels lovely. Meisen silk, generally crisp and supple, is one of the Japanese silks produced by weaving pre-dyed threads, utilizing the tie-and-resist ikat technique. In this process, the threads are first stretched on a frame. Selected design areas are tightly bound to prevent the dye from penetrating and the hanks of threads are immersed in the dye pots. The bound portions of the yarns resist the dye and when woven, as a result of the threads not being perfectly aligned, create shapes with charmingly uneven edges.
- Meisen silk was a particularly popular fabric for casual kimono between the Taisho era and the beginning of the Showa era, i.e. in early 1900s, in part because it was more affordable than previous silk textiles, and in part because the designs, frequently drawing on Western influences, seemed adventurous and innovative. Even today they retain a contemporary sensibility.
- Meisen kimonos from the early 20th century tend to be a little shorter than later kimonos, though still very long.
- Meisen kimonos are now sought after by kimono collectors, as the supply of good condition ones gets smaller and smaller.
- Please don't make the mistake of thinking that 100 years old means it has any weaknesses. Kimonos are so expensive that the Japanese take immense care of them, so they often stay in exquisite condition, like this one, which it has many, many more years of wear in it.
- Made and bought in Japan
- The Japanese take great pains to store their traditional garments with the utmost care, which is why they stay in such exceptional condition. Some of my Japanese garments have large, white stitching (shitsuke) round the edges. The Japanese put these stitches in to keep the edges flat during long periods of storage, these stitches just get pulled out before wearing the garment
- **If shown with a sash, the sash is not included; for display purposes only, to let you see it closed, however, all kimono require an obi or some sort of sash to hold them closed; these are always bought separately. Think of it like a skirt and blouse, you can't wear either on its own, you buy them separately and mix and match
- Please be aware that different monitors display colour slightly differently. The colour in the photos and descriptions is a guide only
148 cm long
123 cm from sleeve end to sleeve end
The woman in the photos is 125 cm from wrist to wrist and 156 cm from middle finger tip to middle finger tip
Japanese clothing is usually of adjustable fit, being mostly wrap-over or tie-to-fit items, so most garments fit a range of sizes. Because of this (and only really knowing my own size anyway) I can't really advise anyone on the fit. Please judge from the measurements given
Butterfly Meisen Silk Kimono
Kimono require a sash to hold them closed. This is always bought separately. Men usually wear a kaku obi with their kimono or, casually at home, a soft heko obi.
Sizing: Japanese clothing is usually of adjustable fit, being mostly wrap-over or tie-to-fit items, so most garments fit a range of sizes. Because of this (and only really knowing my own size anyway) I can't really advise anyone on the fit. Please judge fit from the measurements given. Check length given for the garment, then measure from base of back of your neck down to judge that length on you.
Also measure from centre back of neck, along shoulder and down the arm to the wrist, then double that and compare it with the sleeve end measurement to judge sleeve length.
Storage: Hang up your garment for a few hours prior to wearing, to remove fold creases. They should also be hung out to air 4 times per year, if not worn frequently. Hang your garment to air for a day or so immediately after purchase too, as it will have been stored for a while. The Japanese take great pains to store their traditional garments with the utmost care, which is why they stay in such exceptional condition. Some of my Japanese garments have white stitching (shitsuke) round the outside edges. The Japanese put these stitches in to keep the edges flat during long periods of storage, these stitches just get pulled out before wearing the garment.
Cedarwood or lavender essential oil keeps moths away, but don't get it on the fabric, apply near it, on the box, wrapper, drawer etc. or on a tissue nearby.
Cleaning: Be very cautious about washing kimonos. All cleaning is done entirely at your own risk, as is standard with all vintage garments and items. I would advise only dry cleaning for silk ones and for most synthetic ones, cotton ones may be dry cleanable too but select your dry cleaner carefully and take their advice before deciding if you want to try dry cleaning it. Some synthetic textile or cotton kimonos can be gently hand washed but the dyes can run even in some of those, so consider that before washing but, if you decide to wash, only cool hand wash very gently, do not rub, just gently squeeze the water through it a few times, do not wring, Use a detergent made for colours, not one for whites, as they contain bleaching agents. Do not machine wash, it can rip off the sleeves, but if you hand wash you can briefly machine spin it to remove excess water before hanging it to dry but do it on its own, separately from other items. All forms of cleaning are done at own risk. In Japan many kimonos, especially silk ones and any ceremonial ones, are cleaned by specialists in kimono cleaning, often by a special method called araihari, where they take it completely apart, clean the pieces, then sew it back together again.
Uses: Kimono and haori can, of course, be worn but also make wonderful display items. If short of space for displaying one, consider a child’s kimono or a haori which are just as striking and beautiful as an adult kimono but require less space.
Colour: Please be aware that different monitors display colour slightly differently. Therefore the colour in the photos and description is a guide only.
One must bear in mind that most are vintage items, which I strive to describe accurately and honestly. Most are in excellent vintage condition and therefore look virtually new but all are vintage, even the unused garments, which are or deadstock. A very, very few smell of mothballs or a touch of vintage mustiness but that is rare. This can be aired out and can sometimes be speeded up by tumble drying the dry garment at cool, but it should be put in a pillowcase in the dryer and is done only at your own risk. I have also had success at removing it by turning garments inside out and spraying very lightly with Oust, then letting them hang for a couple of days, but you do this at your own risk, as I can’t guarantee it won’t damage some fabrics. I found Oust to be much better at it than Febreze, even though Febreze is intended for some fabrics and Oust is an air freshener. Some synthetic textile and cotton kimonos can be hand washed but do this entirely at your own risk and only use a detergent for colours, as all other detergents contain bleaching agents to brighten whites. I usually mention any mothball or musty smell, if one does have it, but one must bear it in mind it is a possibility, even if not stated in the description, whenever buying vintage and antique textiles.