White and Blue Cherry Blossom Prom Gown

Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

So it is harder than a person might think, trying to both draw a paperdoll outfit every day and keep studying Japanese at the same time. The thing is, neither one is just about doing the work itself, whether that work is drawing little flowers on a skirt or writing out row after row of kanji. To really do well at either of them, I have to be open to associated experiences. That is, when I’m studying Japanese, it means I listen to Japanese stories on my iPod while washing dishes, I read books about the modernization of Japan, the yakuza, and marriage and alliances in traditional families, I cook rice and miso soup, I even play video games in Japanese (until I get impatient, skim screens and screens of dialogue, then can’t quite tell exactly what’s going on anymore). If I’m paperdolling, I listen to audiobooks instead, I watch more movies and read more books in English, I take more time to notice how things fit together and how colors and textures around me work, I play around with my Prismacolors. Basically, I try to create as many opportunities as I can to link my life to my hobby, thinking “How can this make my Japanese better?” or “How can I can turn this into a paperdoll blog entry?” In short, I get obsessive. I do my best work in the grip of an obsession, but there are disadvantages too, like six-month paperdoll page vacations. Trying to indulge two obsessions at once? It’s kind of like… crossing the streams. Could be bad.

Ah, well, I’m coping (doesn’t hurt that my work schedule’s been light this month) and I’ve been thinking of ways to combine the two. Of course everyone suggested I draw Japanese clothes last time I brought this up, but actually, I don’t know much about Japanese clothes! Now, I draw things I don’t know much about all the time. I don’t mind drawing things like this robe à la polonaise or this 1920s dress on the strength of a couple days’ worth of research and a bunch of reference images, and if the colors are wrong, the hemline a few inches high or the shoes anachronistic, I don’t lose a lot of sleep over it. I’m not a historian, I just like learning new things and drawing something pretty. But I know enough about traditional Japanese clothes and more recent trends to feel like I can’t quite fake it in the same way, because it would seriously annoy me to get the details wrong. I don’t know how to choose an obi to go with a kimono, what impressions various colors and patterns give, and most of the time I’m lucky if I remember that the front folds left over right (because the other way around is how you dress a corpse). Basically, I can kind of make an informed guess about what looks right for a Regency gown, but I’m lost with a kimono. So, of course, the answer is to learn the details; I’m working on that but it’ll take me a while. Incidentally, if anyone can point me to any good online resources (especially ones with lots and lots of pictures) I’d appreciate it! I got a nice new book about kimono, too, so that holds promise…

I’m a little late for cherry blossom season, but getting back into paperdolling reminds me of something some of my Japanese friends mentioned, which is that spring is seen as a time to start new projects and things like that. I never seem to start new projects, though, I just go back to my paperdolls. Well, that’s OK though! Anyways, I don’t know if this is the kind of thing kids are wearing to prom these days (off my lawn, etc.) but that’s kind of how it looked to me when I was done with it.

20 thoughts on “White and Blue Cherry Blossom Prom Gown

  1. Hey liana, a bit of randomness here but what is the difference in between your daily dress and the dresses in the paper doll boutique. I love your site, you are a HUGE inspiration to me!

  2. How beautiful! I’m a sucker for anything with sakura. I’m not as Japan-obsessed as I used to be, but I’ll keep my eye out for websites that may help. Since I’m going through a full-blown Sailor Moon obsession right now (watching all the episodes in Japanese, printing coloring pages, wishing I had a time machine so I could go back and join the fan club), I can tell you I’d be ecstatic over a Sailor Moon paper doll. I’m sure other people would be too, reliving our childhood and whatnot. *hint hint, nudge nudge* ^^

  3. Thanks, everyone :D

    Kelly, all of the “Paper Doll Boutique” dresses were drawn when I was in high school, so they’re about a decade old.

  4. I love this dress! Would you think of this as a sort of more modern, less traditional Japanese wedding dress? Because I’m doing a project on Japanese weddings then and now, and I just need to get something pretty and appealing to Westerner kind of dress into my brain for this project.

  5. Jasmin, Mollie, thanks for the links! Hope you weren’t worried by the spam filter eating them initially :)

    Celestina, honestly it reads as pretty American to me ^^ I was inspired by American takes on cherry blossoms — the image that comes to mind are those cherry blossom wedding cakes I’ve seen a lot of pictures of lately. http://www.google.com/images?q=cherry%20blossom%20wedding%20cake&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=og&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wi

    My impression is that Western-style Japanese wedding dresses are all white, and the bride might change into a more colorful dress later on. So this dress wouldn’t fit, and anyways, I think it’s too restrained. I mean, look: http://www.kekkon-j.com/dress/dress_91/gallery_1094.html I love it! How could you not love it? ^^

    Anyways, googling ウエディングドレス (wedding dress) will get you far, if you haven’t already. Also, I recommend the book “Packaged Japaneseness: Weddings, Business and Brides” by Ofra Goldstein-Gidoni, who worked at a Japanese wedding parlour and really goes into detail about the history and what a modern wedding is like.

  6. It’s so beautiful and simple! The colors match perfectly, it all matches very well! I would definitely wear this!

  7. Wow! This is going to help; I would rather not just have brown and white kimonos on the project. Thanks!

  8. So, these aren’t actually about Kimonos, but I am aware of two books on Japanese street fashion which you might find interesting. They are nothing but photographs and interviews with the people wearing the clothing.

    They are both by Shoichi Aoki and are called “Fruits” and “Fresh Fruits.” Someday, I want to own them both, but in the mean time, I know libraries house them.

  9. Thanks, everyone :)

    Amelia, thanks for that link – I had seen the Immortal Geisha site before, but I’m not particularly into the whole geisha thing, so I didn’t delve too deeply into it. But I just found this: http://www.immortalgeisha.com/ig_bb/viewtopic.php?t=2965 And that is exactly the sort of thing that I am interested in! :)

    RLC, I ordered “Fruits” through inter-library loan, thanks for the recommendation!

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