Thursday, April 8, 2010

II. Licensed to ill

In the week leading up to my test I went to my school several times to practice but since I wasn't taking lessons, I could wear my normal clothes. This actually proved to be more of a hindrance than anything, because practicing dressing a mannequin while wearing kimono yourself trains your body to move in a certain way and you become accustomed to the restricted range of motion imposed by the kimono. Wearing my work clothes was a disconcerting feeling - not having long sleeves or the need to kneel with my legs firmly together. Once one of the teachers watching me warned that my movements were changing when I wore Western clothes and to pretend I was wearing kimono.

The morning of the test I went to pick up my kimono, obi and nagajyuban that had been finished literally just in time. This made me a little nervous because I had no time to practice with the kimono and to soften up the obi a little. Everything was folded into tissue paper and then wrapped in paper kimono bags.

I opened them up one by one and was almost afraid to touch each piece, lest I mark it with my mere mortal touch in some way. I do realize that I will have to overcome this in order to get my cost-per-wear down. The end of the fabric bolt of both the kimono and obi were also tucked into the packages, as they contained stamps and seals with the information on where the silk was woven, dyed, embroidered, etc.

And here is a sneak peak of the obi before I took it out. You'll have to wait on the kimono, I will post pictures in my wedding post-mort in a couple weeks.

I will never forget what it felt like putting the kimono on for the first time. It fit like a fucking dream and I don't think I would have ever known precisely what that feels like without trying on a made-to-order kimono. It's all very well getting any kimono wrapped around you, but when it is made to fit, the difference is palpable. The silk was heavy and cool to the touch and because there was plenty of length on the sleeves and height, the way it draped was noticeably different from any other kimono I've ever worn. It is this feeling that the kimono belonged on my body that has slowly changed my way of thinking from are these women fucking crazy buying new kimono to maybe they know what they're doing after all.

Dressed in my new finery at the school, my main teacher quickly ran over how the test would go: when our names were called we were to enter the room bearing our props in front of us like we were carrying a tray; we were then to bow and go over to our mannequin, put down the props and wait for the gun to go off; finally, we were to bow once again while saying please look upon me favorably or however you like to translate it, and begin our dressing fervour. The tatami room had been transformed and there were now five stools lined against the wall for the teachers, two mannequin in the middle and a tall folding paper screen behind which we had to wait to be called. There was one other student taking her test that day, and we smiled nervously at each other as we folded and took inventory of all the ties and undergarments we would need to dress our mannequin. My hands wouldn't stop shaking at this point and I couldn't banish the look of terror that had crept across my face. Despite telling myself that I was just there to dress a mannequin in front of five women, I was buzzing with nerves as I waited behind the screen to hear my name. My hand may have even turned purple at this point...

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