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Thursday, 20 August 2015

Unsquish thyself

Yeah, it looks like a kimono with an obi. 
Mel Kobayashi, Bag and a Beret, is it a kimono
But look again. 
Mel Kobayashi, Bag and a Beret, kimono and corset
The scary contraption is a vintage corset in pale peach with a hook-and-eye closure at the front. The lacing appears to be a cat's cradle gone horribly wrong. Did the makers think the feminine colour would soften the harsh reality of its grim task? No matter, I love the danger/sweet disparity.

I found this vintage kimono at Blim, a cool shop and mini art school in Chinatown, which specializes in apparel with hamburger prints and googly eyes, but it also has a small rack of vintage and sample clothes. My cashmere Moschino hot pants are from there.
Melanie Kobayashi, Bag and a Beret, hybrid kimono
Not being Japanese I wanted to hybridize the kimono to reflect me and its new context, to punk it up just a bit. Specific first challenges: create an interesting closure system and find a way to shorten this without scissors. After mulling it over for several months...

My solution: a corset, which I had, and mitten clips, which consist of a stretchy band with a suspender clip at each end. I attached two clips to the corset garters at the front and one on each side. They not only keep the hem up without damaging the fabric, but they free my legs for walking and create interesting draping, especially at the back. Overall, I'd call it Punk Lite.
Melanie Kobayashi, Bag and a Beret, hybrid kimono
As for wearing clothing aligned with other places/people, I figure any clothing that appears in the public domain becomes part of our shared aesthetic dialogue and inspiration soup. Everything comes from everything. I'm dipping this kimono back into the stock with a sour twist.

This piece looks much better in motion than static and I smiled the whole time I wore it, feeling a fine zesty grating of punk and feminine - it's hard to escape the softness of the colour. And I kept the corset loose-laced so I wouldn't be squished. The kimono seemed glad of a little fresh air after lost decades of idleness. 

I know some people chop kimonos up into handbags and even shoelaces, but I couldn't bear it, at least not yet. I'm excited to see where this work-in-progress goes, colour-wise and accessory-wise, now that I have a feel for it. 

I'm linking this up to Anne of SpyGirl's 52 Pick-me-up: Pink/Discovery/Journey

And another piece of finished business...
I made this video sketch a couple of years ago when I found out I had to leave my studio - what a gift it was while it lasted.

I accidentally dropped the music in a few days ago when I rediscovered the clip set to Private on my YouTube channel. The sound cuts out at the end, but it's a wrap. My work is done here. I am healed! Ba-bye studio. I'm on to bigger and better things. Bwahahaha!
I am looking forward to making more videos, I can tell you! 

And one more thing:
I wanted to show you the boot combo I wore today with my vintage stretch denim, Pao's idea. I got one of the best compliments ever: "Ooo-eee!! You look ready to take on Manhattan!" I laughed because New York is the site of Sylvia's (40+ Style) imminent meetup, so it's been on my mind. Someone else referred to the denim as a one-dy. It seems more appropriate than jumpsuit.

Whew. That's all. I think. For now. We need rain so bad. The grass is like beige fringed plastic. 


  1. I repeat myself, and I don't Believe I appear credible, but at the moment I think that this is your best look ever

  2. Brilliant is the word that comes to mine.

  3. Oooh the boots look cool together! Genius method for holding the kimono together!x

  4. Fab-u-lous!!! Loving everything you wear, and your video!!
    PS: I will send you some rain, I am over it.

  5. You are our Muse, our inspiration, our style guru. I kiss your fringy mismatched boots xo

  6. I adore that corset, and it looks amazing teamed with the Kimono.
    The video is completely awesome.

    You're more than welcome to take some of our rain.

    Enjoy your day :D

  7. I love the corsetry and kimono hybrid, its like a sexy straight jacket from the back. That should sounds like my dream destination. I usually have to get drunk to see googly eyes and hamburger prints - fun without the hangover.
    Some people get all arsey about "cultural appropriation" don't they? Can you imagine if we stuck to our traditional form of dress? I'd kill myself if I had to live in stout brogues, tweed and pearls! xxx

  8. Brilliant - sexy and traditional and shoe-mad. How do you do it? Send me a few brain cells, regular mail is OK. xox

  9. That lacing system was integral to the corset and not your adaptation? I've never seen anything like it! Wowza. There is so much to love and ogle in this post that I must now go Google nun images to calm myself down. You are one amazing muse, my dear!

  10. Oh my, oh my, I am beside myself from your utter amazingmusta!!! One glorious item after another, each at maximus Melamus. You are not a star, you are a galaxy, etc., etc. Kimono with corset were born to be married and carried on by you. ahhh. Denim one-dy with mismatched fringed boots, no body but you, yeah. I have yet to reach the video for fear of being knocked unconscious.

  11. HOly Cow, I would love to take you with me to NYC so you can stun them with the kimonoAndCorset and denim one-dy and fringey footwear. You would leave the New Yawkers gasping in your wake.

    Seriously, these are two of my absolute favourite outfits of yours. Don't you dare cut up that kimono - it is glorious as it is and your little elastic clip thingies are genius.

    Your clothing creativity has no bounds, and I bow to your styling spectacularness.

  12. I can't begin to tell you how much I adore that corset! My hope is that you'll dye it or paint it and really make it your own. :)

    Great video. You suit the all black look, I think. Well of course I'd think that, wouldn't I? LOL

  13. About Vix's comment, if I stuck to my traditional form of dress, I'd be naked! Haha. Where I live as a country is so young. I'm older than our flag! And my heritage if you trace is way back is a bit of this, a bit of that. From a modern perspective, square dance dress maybe? But I know those women in Harajuku, Japan, wear them waaay better than I ever could. Heh.

  14. Walking art indeed! That's a great description, sister outlaws. . . There's always intellect peeking through the layers of whatever outfit you put together, Melanie. Fabulous!

  15. Christ. You look really good in a jumpsuit. Damn you. Heh. I'm in love with the kimono with garters. That's f*cking genius. I want it!

    - Anna

  16. Good to see a set of keys on the steps nearby. Don't have to worry about a repeat of your locked out episode!
    The symbology of corsetry and kimono...women's rights in different countries combined. Wow! And mitten clips to round it off into silliness. It has Mel written all over it.
    The denim outfit looks poured on. Only you could wear it! Xo Jazzy Jack

  17. You come up with the most creative ideas and solutions. You look smoking hot and kicked some ass on the streets of Vancouver!

  18. Ooh, just look at that! I love the kimono-with-corset contraption, especially all that madly cross-threaded business at the back, it's superb. And the stretch denim is pretty damn fabulous too - you're on fire! xxx

  19. I could watch you dance around all day. You are a supermodel. And since I am a bit of a shorty, ok a lot of a shorty, most things are way too long on me. So instead of raiding the kids' department for clothes I am going to raid it for mitten clips. And that 70's jumpsuit! Crazy Awesome.

  20. The lace up back is insane.

    LOVED the video. Although it did make me a bit sad. Like you were saying goodbye to a good friend.

    The one-dy is brilliant on you.


  21. You are a frickin' schtar in this, my dear. Seriously, you need FAME and FORTUNE just for being you! I love this kimono and the corset - yowza!

  22. The corset and kimono look like they were made for each other! The corset is just a Western under-obi, isn't it, and who cares if you're appropriating other cultural clothing. After all, you have Japanese family. But what I love the most is the jeans underneath - punk lite, indeed.

    I want to make videos with you!!!

  23. Indeed a very clever solution to your "problem"(length) with the kimono. And it adds so much interest to the outfit. Love the corset. And it makes me want to take out my (real old silk) Japanese kimono as well. It lies neatly folded in a draw but it needs from fresh air too. I love kimonos.
    You do inspire me greatly. Everytime an item isn't quite good enough on me, instead of giving it away, I now start thinking "how can I improve it with an unusual solution?" Not that I get very many great ideas, but it is a start. I am on the road to more adventure.
    Wearing your perfect Mackie top again today (it is silk I am sure). Oh how well it is made! No big boob issues with this top.
    The denim one-dy makes you look so gorgeous and perfect figured. I remember the time when I could wear a belt like that... sigh.
    Glad you took Pao's advice and wore one of each shoe. So cool.
    The video showed me your work and I am curious. Are you still making paintings like this (beautiful)? Or can't you anymore because of lack of space?

  24. About your comment, Greetje, sadly, I can't make paintings like that anymore. I don't have the space or the money. C'est la vie, right? That studio was a true gift. I'm so glad you like your Mackie top!!

  25. I have vintage corset too but under... :)

  26. You are the best Creative Clothing Combiner ever! I'm completely gobsmacked with both these outfits. Also sorry you don't have enough space to paint like that anymore. Sadness.

  27. Oh my goodness, don't you dare chop up that kimono! It deserves to be what it is, in it's full glory with you in it. Love how you're wearing it and you've totally given it a new lease of life. Fabulous.

  28. Melanie! The outfit is super, but omfg, the video is f**king fantastic! Seriously good.

  29. You my dear … are absolutely Gorgeous!!

  30. Just viewed your goodbye studio video. beautiful, the saddest music in all the world.

  31. "Boot Combo"

    An idea whose time has come. And hamburger prints? Googly eyes? Throw in a Slinky, and it sounds like my 80s wardrobe.

  32. Those boots! SO great! Adore you and your humor! Can't watch the video right now (quiet time) but will soon!

    Dawn Lucy

  33. I don't think I can add anything to the fabulous comments above. Your creativity thrills me. Both ensembles are BEYOND! Brava. And congratulations on the award!

  34. I never thought a denim onesie could look gorgeous, but you've done it.

    I'm with you on the altering of a kimono: I don't want to do it but I want to find ways to wear it in a way that is my own, just on the street, to let the garment live again.

  35. Hi, I recently found your blog via 40+ style!!! I love your style and your blog is so much fun!!!! Looking to join the 40+ crowd next month! Becky

  36. The kimono-look is eccentric and theatrical; love it.

    The jeans-onesie is super flattering on you!

  37. Melanie, you solved my problem today. I was trying to describe these amazing boots and here you are wearing both colours - have sent the link to my friend in Portugal who sits on the sidelines as I bore her to death about my new found blogging life. If there's one lesson I can learn from you, it's that I must be me, and love it like crazy.
    Anna x


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