Okay…here comes the nitpick you’ve all been waiting for. The costumers for KotN did some things really well and other things…*makes a face* (Reference photo here.)
(P.S.: How cute is Bobby as a samurai?! *fangirl squee*)
The most galling thing isn’t even a mistake in geisha costuming; it’s a mistake period: WHY DIDN’T YOU HAVE CURTIS SHAVE?! *puff, pant* Onnagata are expected to be clean-shaven…this should be no exception! (Onnagata are men who play female roles in kabuki.)
More subtly, they should’ve made him take his wedding ring off. Geisha are not married. (In all my reading, I’ve only ever heard of one…and who knows how long she lasted in the industry–or in her marriage–after the book was written.) Part of the allure is that the customers–usually men–can fantasize about what it would be like to date (or bed) geisha, while the artiste herself is forever out of their reach. A wedding ring might not be a turn-off to a female customer, but geisha parties are still predominantly male, so a ring would ruin the whole atmosphere.
Moving on (and running from the top down)…what kind of hairstyle is that supposed to be? If it’s the geisha style (and not an attempt at any of the maiko styles), they missed pretty badly. (See this photo for more detail…the one on the left is a geisha, while the one on the right is a maiko.) A simple, bowed ribbon in the front is also a no-no…geisha have much more subdued hairstyles. Even if they were trying to make him into a maiko, the ribbon should be wrapped around the top knot and not in a flashy bow. (More on maiko styles here.) The flowers are fine…they look like the kanzashi (hair ornaments) I’ve seen in photos. The trouble–again–is that flowers are best suited to a maiko, not an adult geisha, as Curtis should be. (If the costuming department is positing him as a maiko, then the complaint is that the wig is underdecorated, as opposed to over for a geisha.)
The second most galling thing is the makeup…the coloring is too subtle. I understand not wanting to fuss with oshiroi (the traditional white makeup), as it requires a special oil applied to the face and needs to be painted on a certain way, but couldn’t you at least settle for greasepaint? (If that is greasepaint, then the makeup department diluted it too much…a good “geisha” should have a face as white as a clown.) A little too much red around the eyes for a geisha (unless–again–we’re going for maiko), but good on the red eyeliner. The ears are never painted (seen here) and I bet they didn’t take time to do up the nape of his neck, either. (See the previous photo.) And–I never thought I’d say this to a man–your lipstick needs to be brighter than your kimono! (*chuckle*)
Any problems I’d have with the neckline would probably be solved with my next nitpick–Curtis isn’t wearing a nagajuban (underrobe)! (I assume he’s only wearing a kimono and underwear…and if he’s not, I don’t want to know!) As I’m sure you’ve noticed from all the sample pictures, the nagajuban sets off the kimono–subtly for a geisha and not so much for a maiko. (The nagajuban is also the garment to which the famous red/white collars are attached.) If they had put him in a nagajuban, there would be a little less skin showing around the front of the neckline. I can’t tell how far down the kimono is draped, but if they didn’t apply makeup on his the back of his neck (as I suspect), then it’s probably not pulled down far enough. The kimono and the nagajuban need to be pulled down to show the first several vertebrae in the spine, as the nape of the neck is considered sexy (on a geisha) in Japanese culture–and even more so when makeup is properly applied.
The kimono is way too bright. As with the wig, geisha wear more subtle colors…maiko are supposed to stand out, so that color would be fine if Curtis was a great deal younger. But he’s not! The burgundy of the obiage would be a perfect shade for a geisha (real or fake) of his age. I would almost like to see more of a pattern on the kimono, but not too much, or the costuming department would be guilty of trying to make him into a maiko again! (See how subtle this is? Keep that photo open for the next paragraph…I’m using it for a reference picture.)
The obi looks just a little bit too narrow, in comparison to the reference photo and–even though I’ve seen the episode since I started working on this post–Curtis never turns around, so I can’t see if the costume department tied correctly. (I’m also not loving a cream obi with a red kimono, but that’s another story.) The obiage is sticking out too much, but that may have been easily fixed if the obi was wide enough in the first place. The obijimae (the lilac cord in the reference picture and the gold cord in the original picture) is fine. A true kimono enthusiast might complain and say that a simple cord is not an appropriate obijimae, but since I’m not a connoisseur, I don’t care.
Overall, it’s a pretty decent effect, even if there are a lot of mistakes present. Besides, Curtis is not portraying the geisha as a slut (as has been far too common in American culture), so I’m satisfied. (For more on what he was and wasn’t wearing, see here. [Yes, it’s hosted on a children’s site, but it’s one of my most comprehensive geisha works to date.])
As far as the episode? Next post, ladies and gentlemen, if you please…!