China Doll

My mom has been calling me China Doll since forever. This picture, taken of me at about age 4, demonstrates why. I was blessed with decidedly almond-shaped eyes, and have subsequently been questioned about my heritage since birth. In Turkey I met people that wouldn’t believe I was South African, and I routinely get compared to everything from Korean to Chinese. I secretly like to believe that my mom and I are descended from some ancient Oriental dynasty, but those cherry blossom-tinted delusions remain to be seen.

In the meantime, I have always nurtured a fascination with Oriental aesthetics – winged cat’s eye makeup, porcelain skin, jet black hair, little painted lips, and of course, kimonos.

The kimono is a micro trend that I am trying to find a way to embrace without cheapening its regal origin. The 90’s saw a horrific profusion of cheap satin Chinese-inspired tops and dresses (thigh slits firmly in place), and became the scapegoat for many a sever side parting skewered with a chopstick. This season’s kimono is slightly closer to the real thing – soft, feminine and comprised of compelling prints.

I spotted Louise Ebel in a particularly  pretty ASOS kimono-inspired playsuit – wrap-style at the front and with floaty, draped sleeves – and had brief delusions of sending away for it. In reality, though, it is really not my style, as my best friend pointed out.

I could, however, experiment with an obi belt, as seen (gilded) at Gucci SS 2011. The obi is flattering and dramatic in just the right way – poised and purposeful. A neon printed obi could be a cool alternative to the traditional floral, and could be worn with neutrals and pastels.

Summer will also see more of the clunky wooden-heeled wedges and Hasbeen-wannabe’s that we saw at the tail end of last Summer. Being in possession of my own pair of wooden platforms, I can tell you that teetering around on the 3-inch heel a) yields a satisfying sound and b) produces a forced, petite gait that is akin to the small, deliberate steps taken by the geishas we all picture in our minds.

What do you think of the kimono trend and how will you wear it? I have a sage green vintage smock that has a kimono-esque feel to it, but it’s not quite as delicate as I would like. I will keep you posted as to my China Doll developments.

Images: 1. Family album 2. Vintage geisha postcard via Vintage Lulu 3. Topshop kimono 4. Texuba kimono fabric 5. Unknown cherry blossoms 6. Louise Ebel for Grazia Italia 7. Kimono playsuit by ASOS 8. Gucci SS 2011 9. Obi belt by Uroco 10. Obi belt by ASOS 11. Chloe Sevigny for Opening Ceremony 12. Sonia by Sonia Rykiel


4 responses to “China Doll

  1. and she said she would never wear a waist belt……………

  2. I would always dress as a Geisha girl if invited to dress ups, powdering my face, rouging my lips in a tiny bow and wearing green silk PJs and pearls my granny had purchased on her Orient travels. I agree that the style has been ruined on occasion. A triumph however, was in 1998 when I was 13. I was in possession of the most beautiful, cream cherry blossom and navy silk Kimono style dress, purchased from Big Blue in its early days. I couldn’t wash the dress, or else the blue silk piping on the edges would have bled ink onto the opaque cream of the dress. But I wore it to death, until fraying, and in trying to squeeze into it when 18 I tore it right up the side. I reminisce after it always. 

    • Great kimono anecdote ❤ You'll definitely need to find a grown up alternative to quell the pain. One of my greatest joys is to waltz and/or potter about my abode in my kimono with my hair up, drinking coffee, blogging and painting my nails. Come visit and we can do it together!

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