CLAMP Mokona’s Okimono Kimono – Art Book Review

Review by: Sophie Stevens

Publisher: Dark Horse Manga
Author: CLAMP Mokona
Genre: Graphic Novel (Nonfiction, Manga, Art Book)
MSRP: $12.99 US
Rating: N/A
Release Date: Available Now

Just about everything you ever wanted to know about kimonos but where afraid to ask.

Born and raised in England, there wasn’t much chance to try on a kimono where I lived but my inner fashion diva has always longed to wear one and wear it right. So you can imagine my delight in finding CLAMP Mokona’s Okimono Kimono, a book with just about everything you can ask for when it comes to advice on wearing a kimono with style. I mean, this is the talented artist that makes xxxHolic’s Yuko look good so how can you go wrong, right?

For those who don’t know them, CLAMP consists of four very amazing artists/manga-ka who – together – have an impressive lineup of manga titles that include Chobits, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, xxxHolic and Cardcaptor Sakura just to name a few favorites. Among them, of course, is Mokona who has had a deep fascination with kimonos for a long time. Okimono Kimono is an artistic testament to her love for traditional and non-traditional kimono, yukatas and the accessories that give the fashion ensemble a refreshing look for various occasions.

Make no mistake, this isn’t just a fashion book but rather an affectionate look at beauty that is the Japanese kimono and the artistry that goes into the patterns. More importantly, however, are the various ways you can make your look even better and Mokona covers just about everything. Mokona also includes her own kimono patterns and designs that have even shown up in her work. As we can see from some of her designs – via some beautiful photography with backgrounds drawn by CLAMP’s Nekoi Tsubaki and commentary by Mokona – that were inspired by xxxHolic’s most fashion-savvy character, Yuko Ichihara.

Using attractive models, the book has a chapter with photographs detailing the right type of kimono or yukata selection for the right occasion. She goes into intricate yet playful details of the look best suited for the various occasions that make each kimono feel in tune with the occasion and that includes design, color and accessories. Naturally, you don’t wear a kimono you wore at a wedding to a cherry blossom viewing event and you certainly don’t wear a kimono appropriate to rock concerts to a formal classical music concert.

Accessories also play a big hand in making a kimono look even more chic and Mokona has a chapter on that including pictures of a large variety of accessories that range from different hats to ornaments you would place on the obi (the sort of decorative sash that is tied around the waist). There are even her thoughts on the decorative collars that would go good with different kimono colors and patterns so you have to take that into consideration as well. Finally, there are different footwear such as various clogs and sandals and she even makes an interesting comment about the ways you can decorate the straps to fit your kimono’s look.

There’s also a playful interview with singer Onuki Ami of the popular Puffy AmiYumi who is not only a CLAMP fan but also an admirer of kimonos. Their conversation is actually sweet as the two women talk about their history wearing kimonos as well as what they think about the various styles that have changed over the years. Interestingly enough, Mokona also includes an interview with Yumioka Katsumi, owner of a kimono store called Ichinokura in Harajuko, who offers some extremely insightful tips on selecting the right kimono.

Mokona includes a photo diary as well that recounts various events she participated in from 2005-2006 and the kimonos she wore at them as well. Those who were in Los Angeles’ Anime Expo in 2006 will recall CLAMP’s first visit to L.A. as well as the lovely kimono she was wearing at the panel.

I also liked CLAMP’s Igarashi Satsuki’s essay “Chipmunk’s Paulownia Chest” and a short-yet-cute manga story by Nekoi Tsubaki of a little girl in her red kimono who asks her brother to make Horan for her just like he did for their father. Sure, it’s not a story about kimonos but it’s a beautiful story with some beautiful art.

Unfortunately, despite mentioning the fact that she has her own methods of putting on a kimono, she never shows us via pictures or her cute drawings how to put one on properly. Sure, we can look it up online or via another book but it would have been nice to have includes an in-depth “How-To” that includes how to properly wrap an obi around your waist on your own. This would have made this book a true asset especially to us Western readers who might be interested in buying or putting on a kimono.

CLAMP Mokona’s Okimono Kimono is a valuable book for anyone who is interested in kimonos and an artistic art book that is just what you would expect from such a talented artist. Filled with lovely photographs, enlightening information and plenty of helpful tips, Okimono Kimono is a book you need to own if fashion is your fancy. Sure, a big element was left out but – in the end – there’s more than enough here to make everyone happy.

MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: A-
CLAMP’s Mokona has always had a fascination with kimonos and shares his marvelous gift for accessorizing and selecting the right kimono for right occasion. More importantly, she shares her own artistic designs that show up in her manga work. There’s also interviews with Onuki Ami of the musical duo Puffy AmiYuki as well as the owner of a kimono store. She also kept a picture diary of her wearing different kimonos to different events plus includes a short manga story.

ART: A+
With gorgeous photography and some artistic shots with Mokona’s lovely art as backgrounds, the visuals in this book are just as stylish as the kimonos and yukatas featured throughout. There’s also a short manga story drawn by CLAMP’s other talent, Nekoi Tsubaki.

OVERALL: A-
Just about everything you want to know about accessorizing and wearing the right kimono makes Okimono Kimono a real gem for anyone who has ever wanted to try on a kimono for fun. Sadly, she doesn’t include some How To info for us North American folk but with so much info and lovely examples you will find this book to be a valuable asset and the perfect coffee table book even for non manga readers.

Review copy provided by Dark Horse Manga