A few months ago I attended Sakura-Con 2014, where I attended a mini doll-meet with OhnoRaptor, jadepixel, thebobness, and perfect34. thebobness had brought his Melty in a nice kimono, which made me think that I should get my Arc one as well. I searched around online afterwards and came across Haku1923’s beautiful Kimono Sora, whose kimono I immediately fell in love with. After doing some searching around, I eventually found out about the many kimono shops on Taobao, including the one Haku1923’s Sora had. Turned out it was an older set, 花絳Ⅱ, by Infinite Love and had sold out long ago.
I continued searching around Taobao but really couldn’t find any kimono sets that I really liked as much as the Sora’s until I came across 兰亭 (Lanting), who happened to do custom commissions (linked is the down payment page). The fees were reasonable and her past examples were pretty good, so I decided to go for it and make a custom kimono request.
For those unfamiliar with Taobao, it’s a Chinese eBay, but with heavy buyer-to-seller communication. While they do take VISA credit card, they use the Alipay system and expects human-to-human instant messaging conversation via their 阿里旺旺 client (similar to QQ). In most cases, you would want to use a proxy such as TaobaoNow to order items (note that some stores will reject proxies), but for something custom like this, you definitely need a native Chinese speaker.
Luckily, a close friend of mine offered to help be the translator/middleman (even though he knew nothing about dolls nor Taobao) and after a bit of website figuring out, we got in touch with the store owner/tailor, who then sent us full instructions on what to do. Turned out she already had most of the raw materials for making a kimono almost identical to Infinite Love’s except the very outer layer, so we went ahead with the order + down payment, with the outer layer pending my fabric choice.
After an entire week of combing through Taobao’s many, many fabric stores, I finally settled on this (there’s a few other listings of the same fabric with better pics, but this one was the cheapest). The tailor ordered the fabric for me and, after over 2 months of waiting, she finally finished it! It actually could have been finished earlier but I ended up changing my mind on the outer fabric after seeing pics. According to her, my first choice was better quality fabric, but I wasn’t a fan of the green leaves, so she just put it up for sale in her store.
All in all, the final cost was 600 RMB, which is roughly equivalent to $100 USD. Shipping was surprisingly expensive at 300 RMB ($50 USD) but as you’ll see from the pictures below, I couldn’t have been happier with the results. See for yourself! ^_^
What’s this? A special surprise gift for Arc?
It’s a complete Oiran-style kimono set!
The top left is the nagajuban (長襦袢), the under-kimono, the inner most layer. The top right is the furisode (振袖), the typical outer kimono you see with the long hanging sleeves, which goes over top the ngajuban. Bottom left is the uchikake (打掛), the heavy decorated outer-most layer that almost acts like a coat around the rest of the kimono. Bottom right is the obi (帯) + triple-layer obi-age (帯揚げ), the sash that goes around the furisode kimono. Also came with mid-calf-high socks (they weren’t tabi socks unfortunately) and two obijimes (帯締め) bead+string ornaments that you tie around the obi. There was also a purple ribbon and some thin red ribbons that I wasn’t sure what to do with.
First off, on goes the nice flower-printed nagajuban. Time to strip Arc :3
Arc looks rather cute in just the underkimono, I must say :3
Now the furisode. Normally for regular kimonos, this layer is the colourful one, but I really liked the red-black contrast in Infinite Love’s kimono and wanted to replicate it here. Rather than festival, it gives off an empowering aura, perfect for Arc’s power level.
Surprise! Inside is actually padded with two mini pillows! (probably to maintain the shape)
I think Arc just got herself a nice pair of body pillows ^_^
Oh no! With all this moving around, the nagajuban will slip off!
It’s dangerous to go alone, take this!
A bit tight, but it works (I wonder if that was what it was meant for)
My crappy ribbon tying skills haven’t really improved much… orz
Perfect. The ribbon helps makes the underkimono emphasize your big… eyes…
Alright, on the furisode goes!
It’s quite long and flowing, but looks pretty nice on its own as well
Next up, the triple-ribboned obi~
Turns out, it just velcros on. The flower print is nice though – I’m glad the tailor rejected my original colour choice of red-white-black and went with the more rich and vibrant red-yellow-black.
Colour-shifted this pic a bit too much, oops. The backing of the obi (as well as all the other outer pieces) is a rich solid red.
Unfortunately the velcro’s not exactly the best and doesn’t hold on that well (or maybe the obi-age is just too heavy) but it does the job
The final piece – the decorative uchikake that I spent hours and hours picking the right fabric design for.
What an absolutely gorgeous design~
Surprise, even more mini pillows!
Happy Arc is happy~
But lets go back and admire the design some more. The tailor did an excellent job arranging the fabric as to make the flowers-and-crane print stand out quite well, on the collar, sleeve ends, and back.
Arc had quite the trouble putting it on by herself – at this point she’s already wearing two layers and a triple-ribbon obi after all!
Finally got it on! The triple layer results in quite some thick and heavy long sleeves that don’t easily hide into each other, but otherwise, it looks quite gorgeous
In an oiran-style kimono, the obi-age is actually supposed to go in the front I believe (since it apparently makes for “easy access” for the clients).
Don’t forget about the socks! Unfortunately they were just simple cotton socks rather than nice tabi ones, but oh well.
Added on a pair of okobo (おこぼ) geta footwear that I bought in a separate auction. They are usually worn by apprentice geishas.
Tada! All put together~ Obviously not as neat and tidy as the promo pics in Taobao listings, but Arc was in a rush to wear her new outfit. Didn’t know what to do with the red ribbons so I just wrapped them around Arc for (poor) effect. Regardless, despite the crappy low-light photo, Arc definitely looks gorgeous in the kimono.
And definitely quite alluring… Care for some more sake, Master? ;3
Can’t wait to get some fitting backdrops so I can take some proper photos that’ll do the outfit justice. Even Saber Lily is on her knees before the beauty of Arc~ (actually, I just need to get a second DD stand xD).