The Case of the Golden Kimonos

The Golden Kimonos

Once upon a time, I got the call from a costume shop I sometimes work at.  “We need two kimonos, right away,” they said.  The designs for the show were 1930’s, Western clothes, but they wanted a fairly accurate pair of kimonos, in dark golden/bronze, with floral silk lining.  They gave me fabric and two days.

Kimonos are not difficult to draft, as they’re all straight lines (almost entirely rectangles) but they are a bit complicated to sew, and they’re fully lined.  The first night I stayed up late; the second I pulled an all-nighter.  It was exhausting, but satisfying, to see them mostly finished at the end, just waiting to be hemmed to fit the actresses.  When delivered, everyone loved them; the costume designer was very happy.

One kimono hanging up

The tech rehearsals began a day or two later, and soon I heard from the costume shop manager again.  He sounded tired and very, very grumpy.  “You’ll never believe this,” he said, “but your kimonos got cut from the show.”  Apparently, the colors weren’t working; I think it was that the masks that the cast was wearing seemed washed out when contrasted with the golden fabric.  In place of my kimonos, they pulled two dressing gowns out of their costume collection.

The other kimono hanging up

In actual fact, I didn’t mind.  It comes with the territory.  I learned this lesson, really, from working with some college kids who majored in things like history and music and for whom the costume shop was just a job.  They usually didn’t really like the plays, and they were well used to their hard work being cut from the show at the last minute.  “I once told all my friends to come see the 20 knit dog heads we made,” one of them told me, “but it turned out there were zero knit dog heads.”  Seeing things you’ve made on stage is wonderful, but as long as I’ve done a good job sewing, and as long as I still get paid, I’m fine with my work being put into storage.  These kimonos have been–they’ve never gotten hemmed.  As you can see in these pictures, they need ironing.  But I’m happy enough with them that I don’t mind that they never made it in front of an audience.

Now when my designs are cut by the director!  That’s depressing!

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