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Since one of the ensemble members is going to Japan next week, there has already been a little flurry of e-mail discussion among O.P.E.R.A. folks about the acquisition of kimono for next winter's production of Butterfly. Laura is planning to go flea marketing in Kyoto, and is willing to shop by proxy. Great, wonderful, best possible option for people to get good stuff.

Then someone (whom I haven't yet met in person) chimes in that there's a shop near the Belmont Red Line stop that has tons of "brand new kimonos for $10 each."

Solange (my voice teacher, and founder/artistic director of the company), quite understandably, says "Really?" and asks if it's anything I'm familiar with, since we should be checking out all our options before spending money.

I'm...skeptical, but diplomatic. Explain that it's not anything I know anything about, but will definitely check it out since it sounds too good to be true.

Several emails back and forth with the lady who made the suggestion later, I'm...not any less skeptical. She was just there two weeks ago; the shops are WONDERFUL (no argument there -- one of my favorite blocks in any city anywhere); she got a great leather jacket for just $10 (no trouble whatsoever believing that); she can't remember names, or even whether Ragstock or Something Old Something New rings a bell, but there's also another one right around the corner with even more of them!

I would love, love, love for this to be true. But I've shopped that neighborhood many times (albeit not in over a year), and would most certainly have noticed an abundance of jawdroppingly inexpensive kimono.

My assumption at this point is that what she saw are not, in fact, kimono. Silk/satin bathrobes, or maybe mass-market cheongsam. I'm going to check it out next week while brainiacfive is out of town and my evenings are free, 'cause, hey, excuse to shop on Belmont. Twist my arm! Maybe I'll go Tuesday, and hit the open mike at Gentry for the first time in eons.

However, I'm not holding my breath that I'll find anything we can put on turn-of-the-century geisha. Even Puccini pseudo-geisha. And I'm even less looking forward to explaining that to the very well-meaning and enthusiastic person who brought it up...


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 23rd, 2006 08:47 pm (UTC)
Hmmm... If it's the shop I'm thinking of, I don't know about kimonos, but they have many brocade purses, puches etc for quite good prices. I'm thinking you're probably correct that they are bathrobed or the equivalent, rather than true kimonos, based on what I have seen in the shop. It's about half a block east from the Belmont station.
Jun. 23rd, 2006 08:51 pm (UTC)
That sounds like the right place -- she said it was almost under the El tracks. And I'm pretty sure I remember having seen it before.

She also mentioned another place "past an alley," and one that has them "upstairs in women's clothing." I'm guessing that last one is Ragstock. Where, while I've seen some cool vintage robes, I've never laid eyes on an actual kimono.

What are your evenings looking like next week? Feel like some window shopping? ;-D
Jun. 23rd, 2006 09:18 pm (UTC)
Ragstock used to have a whole rack of what I believe were largely men's kimonos -- they had the fabric and sleeves that I associate with kimonos and had obis, also, but tended towards the darker colors. But with the changes Ragstock has been making toward newer clothes and more 70s/80s/"vintage" stock (ie, crap I won't wear), I have no idea if they still have that stockpile.
Jun. 23rd, 2006 09:22 pm (UTC)
Oh, and I missed the second half of this. :) I'd always be up for window shopping, but remember that my evenings would start at about 8:00p.
Jun. 23rd, 2006 10:01 pm (UTC)
'Sokay. I can't really get there before about 7.

And hmmm, re: Ragstock. My kurotomesode (literally "black with closed sleeves") would answer that description, and is definitely for a woman. Although probably not so useful for this purpose -- geisha do wear them for the most formal occasions (same as married women, but worn differently), but Solange is very keen on bright colors for the show. Which makes sense, especially since Cio-Cio-San and her friends should really be maiko (until she's married, which really wouldn't happen, but blame Pierre Loti for that one) rather than full geisha anyway.

Although I very much doubt that they're (a) brand now, or (b) $10, it's certainly worth a look.
Jun. 23rd, 2006 10:06 pm (UTC)
I can guarantee that they are not brand-new, but they might, in fact, be $10-$20. I remember them being quite inexpensive.
Jun. 24th, 2006 06:15 am (UTC)
Last time I checked (which was, admittedly, months ago) the Madison Ragstock still had a big rack of kimonos, and a huge pile of obis. The kimonos weren't in "like new" condition, but they were definitely kimonos. Let me know if you want me to check and see if they're still there; I can run by pretty much any day after work.
Jun. 24th, 2006 08:42 pm (UTC)
I'll definitely keep you posted. (And it would give one of us an excuse to visit the other!) Thanks!
Jun. 23rd, 2006 09:37 pm (UTC)

These things are hard to explain, indeed. I remember, for example, a first period discussion halfway through the year where three or four of my (female) students claimed that the silhouettes of all European/American women's clothes from before 1910 look "exactly alike" and how the clothes didn't change at all since like the 1200s. I gaped, then drew the basic silhouette(s) of eight-plus centuries on the board, talking about the undergarment differences, shape differences, funcationality differences.

When I was done, I pointed and was like, "SEE??"

A few were fascinated. Most were asleep. Several of the original, "It all looks just alike," were still of that same opinion.

How go voice lessons, btw?
Jun. 23rd, 2006 10:02 pm (UTC)
A few were fascinated. Most were asleep. Several of the original, "It all looks just alike," were still of that same opinion.

*chuckle* Been there, yup.

As for voice lessons, still going well, still a process, you'd still hate it. :-)
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


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