A furisode (lit. “swinging sleeves”) is a long-sleeved kimono worn by young, unmarried women. This stunning example was made by Chiso for Kawakami Masako, the fifteenth Madame Nishimura and the current matriarch of the Nishimura founding family of Chiso.
Embroidery (shishū) is a technique of decorating fabric with needle and thread. Gold embroidery is preciously used to accent and highlight details on a kimono, such as the outline of the petals and leaves of the peony flowers and the fan seen here.
Embroiderers at Chiso execute designs either by following notated design sketches and translating them on to silk…
… or embellishing existing decorative motifs on the silk.
In addition to embroidery, a generous amount of gold metallic leaf has been used to form the solid bands of mist and decorative patterning on some of the fans. Here, you can see it comprising the golden floral pattern on the purple fan.
To create a pattern with gold leaf on the kimono, an adhesive glue is applied over a stencil to make the pattern sticky.
Then the stencil is removed and the sheets of gold leaf are applied directly to the silk kimono fabric. Areas that do not have adhesive are rubbed away, so that only the gold leaf on the pattern remains.
Here is the finished gold leaf pattern!