Thursday, June 26, 2014

RuffleCon News Part 2: Lolita Designer Guests & Events

A few months back I wrote about RuffleCon an alternative fashion conference, and I'm back for round two with all the exciting news that's come out since then! When I first wrote about RuffleCon, it was only just announced, and in the past few months we've had a lot of really exciting announcements. One of the most exciting of which is that a few of the special guests for the premier year are Japanese Lolita brand designers!

Fumiko of Enchantlic Enchantilly
Fumiko of Enchantlic Enchantilly (formerly known as Chantilly) will be be attending and her brand will be sold in the marketplace. Chantilly is known for their lush Gothic designs in bold jewel tones and delicate metallics, as well as their larger range of sizes. They are definitely one of my favorite Gothic Lolita brands and it's very exciting to get the chance to see their clothes in person and meet the designer!

Triple Fortune The other Lolita designer special guests are Kaie and Babi, the designers behind Triple Fortune. This is incredibly exciting news because this will be Triple Fortune's first event in the US! Their clothes are notoriously difficult to get a hold of online, as they mostly sell at events and you usually have to be lucky enough to stumble across something secondhand or through their very limited Kera shop. While Triple fortune is most known in the US for their elaborate bonnets, they also release gorgeous dresses and corsets too! Getting to meet the designers and be able to purchase their items is a rare chance for Lolitas outside of Japan!

Of course, these aren't the only Lolita brands being represented at RuffleCon's marketplace! There is a wide assortment of indie Lolita brands that will be attending, you can check out the currently announced ones here!

Even just beyond designers and shopping, there are a lot of things for the Lolita to do at RuffleCon! We have a number of panel rooms featuring panels and many of our special guests will be presenting panels. In fact, we still have about a week until panel applications close! There will also be quite a few main events including a fashion show (featuring the above brands and then some!), a couple different coordinate contests, and a masquerade with live music. So far it's really gearing up to be an amazing event!
You can check out RuffleCon here:
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If you happen to register for RuffleCon, add my name as a referrer ;D

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Baby, The Stars Shine Bright to Open New York City Store!

If you're friends with anyone on Facebook who happens to live anywhere even remotely close to the US east coast, this is probably old news to you by now, but if you haven't heard yet: Baby the Stars Shine Bright is opening it's first store on the east coast! The news came alongside the news of the re-opening of Tokyo Rebel, a NYC shop that carried a number of Japanese brands, including Baby. In fact, Tokyo Rebel and Baby will be opening side-by-side. The most exciting thing about this is that it isn't happening in some far-off unspecified future, but it's happening in a month.

This is incredible news, and not just for Lolitas who happen to live in and around NYC! This might be the first brand shop to hit the east coast, but it's the second Baby to hit the US, and one of several Lolita shops. Lolita fashion is definitely on the rise in popularity and it's incredibly exciting to see actual brand shops opening up, not just once or twice, but multiple times, outside of Japan. Just as Miss Lumpy pointed out in her post about this news, even if this new shop isn't local to you, with each brand shop to successfully open outside of Japan, it increases the chances of more brand shops opening all around the world! 

As an east coast Lolita, I've often siiighed with envy at all the exciting events that happen for all the west coast Lolita brands, and here's to hoping that with the opening of this Baby store we'll be getting similar events here!

You can keep your eyes on the Baby NYC website for more news about this exciting opening, as well as the twitter and facebook. I would also suggest keeping an eye on Tokyo Rebel and their blog for news as well!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Invent 5 New Lolita Holidays To Celebrate

I haven't had the chance to do a Lolita Blog Carnival post in a while, but this week's was just too fun to pass up! The topic is invent 5 new Lolita holidays to celebrate. Every good Lolita knows that every year comes with, not one, but two International Lolita Days as an excuse to get together and have some meetups, but what about the other 363 days of the year? Now's our chance to fill the calender up with more excuses to wear Lolita!

Maiden's Day
January 26th
January 26th just so happens to be Novala Takemoto's birthday, and what better day to have a Lolita holiday on? Maiden's Day is an excuse to completely indulge in the lifestyle of Lolita. Put on your laciest Old School Lolita dress, sip your most expensive tea, and watch Kamikaze Girls for the millionth time in your life. The best part about Maiden's Day is that you don't necessarily need other Lolitas to celebrate it with, because who needs things like friends?

World Gothic Lolita Day
March 19th
March 19th is already a familiar holiday for a lot of Lolitas, as it's Mana's birthday! What better day to recognize Gothic Lolitas than on his birthday? World Gothic Lolita Day is an excuse for even the sweetest of Sweet Lolitas to goth it up in some black clothes. Take a cue from Mana's Visual Kei roots and put on some Shironuri makeup and go totally OTT with your Gothic coordinates!

International Casual Lolita Day
Second Saturday in August
This comes a couple months after the summer ILD, in what is usually the hottest time of year, a time when people just generally don't wan to wear Lolita. Come August, most Lolitas probably realize that they haven't worn the fashion in a while! Let's change that with International Casual Lolita Day! Everyone shows up with their favorite Otome-inspired blouseless JSK, big straw hat to block the sun, ruffly ankle socks, and meetups are chosen based on places have the best air conditioning.

Over the Top Day
October 13th
Wearing Lolita in October is sometimes more annoying than it should be because it's so close to Halloween that people tend to assume there's some sort of Halloween party going on that they weren't invited to. OTT Day is a chance to go all out with your Lolita, regardless of your style, and do it in a big meetup group. So now when people ask if there's a Halloween party going on, you can tell them "No, as a matter of fact, it's Over-The-Top Day, just wait till you see our Halloween costumes!"

Ruffle-Butt Christmas
December 28th
Who doesn't love Christmas parties? But the real shame is that once Christmas is over, you have to wait almost a whole week before New Years Eve parties! With Lolita Christmas, the holiday doesn't have to be over so soon. In that awkward week of resting between Christmas with the family and spending all New Years Eve partying we can easily fit in a special holiday just as an excuse to bust out the green and red velvet Lolita dresses you never have a good reason to wear the rest of the year! Ruffle-Butt Christmas is, basically, exactly like regular Christmas, only it's just for Lolitas. You get all your Lolita friends together for one last Christmas party of the year and exchange presents of brand novelties, bake up some cute pastel sweets, and finally get to incorporate tinsel into your coordinates!

Check out these other blogs participating in this week's Lolita Blog Carnival!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Art-Loli: Dramatic Lolita Styles

Recently I stumbled across a post about the Brilliant Star event in Japan compiling some really stunning outfits under the name Art-Loli (short for Artistic Lolita). These outfits were all stunning! They really took the over-the-top decadent trends to the extreme, it's no doubt that these outfits are practically a work of art themselves! The styles bordered on what is generally considered "acceptable" in Lolita, lots of floor length gowns, quirky coordinations, and unusual trims.

Art-Loli on F Yeah Lolita

Big elaborate hats are also something I saw a lot of! These girls are not content with just wearing a headdress or an Alice bow, but instead go for full size Victorian styled hats, completely covered in trimmings!

Art-Loli on F Yeah Lolita

The stylings are very quirky, lots of mismatched patterns, and creepy-cute details. But despite the apparent haphazard look, they are all so thematic that even the most ridiculous accessory works perfectly with the outfit.

Art-Loli on F Yeah Lolita

Unusual trims have always been a love-it or hate-it thing in Lolita, ever since Angelic Pretty put a pompom trim on their most infamous print (Puppet Circus!), Lolitas have not exactly known what to think of these types of details that maybe are more appropriate attached to a fancy pair of curtains or along the bottom of a couch. But with Art-Loli these trims are embraced! From tassles to fringe to braiding, these outfits have it all.

Art-Loli on F Yeah Lolita
 While most of these coordnates feature bold colors, antique golds, and jewel tones, pastels aren't left out in the cold! An outfit like this differs from the usual fare of OTT Sweet Lolita because the individual details are all so elegant. While it may share the same color pallet, and same amount of accessories, the details are all very elegant and opulent, as opposed to kawaii and childlike. Something like this reminds me of a more grownup version of OTT Sweet.

Art-Loli on F Yeah Lolita

This outfit is actually relatively simple compared to the others! But the bold black and white, with touches of gold and rich red, in addition to the thematic accessories such as the eye patch, really makes the coordinate stand out from your average Lolita coordinate.

This might be more of just a style trend, than a proper Lolita substyle, but I think that Art-Loli really puts a name to a style I've been noticing a lot lately (most notably with the rise in the popularity of Shironuri and OTT Classic), and even been around in the background for a very long time.

 Taobao's Classical Puppets is a brand that immediately spring to mind. A friend recently described it as "burlesque steampunk circus", which really hammers home how unplaceable this style was prior to discovering the term Art-Loli.

Kirakira Shoten was another brand that sprang to mind. They've kind of been on the outskirts of the Lolita fashion for years with their really over-the-top colorful corset dresses and crazy hats. There are a ton of other brands out there that would be perfect for the Art-Loli style, from Vierge Vampur to Atelier Pierrot even to Baby the Stars Shine Bright's special sets.

To see some more examples of Art-Loli, check out these posts about the Brilliant Star events by Triple Fortune at Rokkyuu Magazine and Style Arena. Art-Loli is the perfect style to break out for events like this! It's dramatic, eye catching, and very refreshing to see. It's a little different from the usual popular styles, a little more playful and a bit more Gothic. I am excited to see someone has put a name to the style, and I can't wait to see where it goes!

What do you think about this Art-Loli trend? I think it's unmistakably "out-of-the-box" thinking, and not exactly something that can easily be put into an already existing style (like the age-old Bittersweet Lolita, which is literally just Sweet Lolita in black), so where normally I'm not too keen on jumping on naming a style at the first sign it might be a trend, I think that this particular style has been around and relatively nameless for long enough that I really like the idea of finally giving it a name.

Monday, May 5, 2014

4 Responses to "What Are You Wearing?!"

Those who wear Lolita are all too familiar with the question "What are you wearing?!" Sometimes it seems like you can't take more than a few steps in public while wearing Lolita without someone asking this question! Unfortunately, sometimes answering it with "It's Lolita fashion!" leaves people with even more questions than before! So what's a Lolita to do when she's asked this sometimes tricky question? Personally I have a few different responses to it, depending on how it's being asked.

"It's from [insert brand/shop here]!"
This is my go-to answer to this question because it doesn't involve any followup questions beyond possibly someone asking where to buy it for themselves, which is generally easily answered with "The internet!". I usually use this response when someone is specifically asking about the clothes, rather than the general style. Personally I notice a lot of older women being interested in the fashion this way, they're generally excited about the lace, or some sort of details, or the fact I'm wearing a petticoat. Although I will also use this response with someone about my age or younger, as there is a good chance they recognize it as Lolita fashion already and will probably even recognize the brand name.

"It's a street fashion from Japan!"
This is the classic "describing Lolita without saying Lolita" description of the fashion. Mostly this type of response is reserved for people who are asking about the general style, like the sort of questions you get when you're out with other friends who are also wearing Lolita. The downside to this response is it usually has a lot of follow up questions! Particularly because of the addition of "from Japan" usually makes people curious about why someone is wearing something from Japan, so far away from Japan!

"It's a retro/vintage/Victorian inspired fashion"
This response is similar to the above, except it neglects to mention Japan, which often leads to less follow up questions. I would save a response like this for someone who wants to know what the general style is called, seems honestly interested, but you don't want to make a particularly long conversation about it.

"Oh, just regular clothes!"
I generally save this response for when I'm feeling particularly snippy, or don't have time to entertain stranger's questions. For example if I'm visibly in a hurry, or doing something, or talking to someone else and someone asks this without seeming to be genuinely curious. If I feel like they are demanding an explanation from me, rather than asking out of genuine interest they will get this response from me. It's kind of passive aggressive but it usually gets the point across that I don't feel the need to explain why I am dressed the way I am.

How do you respond to questions about Lolita fashion from strangers? Are you one of those brave souls who's ready and willing to patiently explain what Lolita fashion is to the curious, or is that a conversation you simply don't want to get into with strangers?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Book Review: Kawaii! Japan's Culture of Cute

Recently I've been accumulating books about Japanese pop culture, particularly ones that reference the Lolita fashion in one way or another. There aren't a ton to choose from, but there have been a few releases that seemed worth checking out! 

The first one I'd like to review is Manami Okazaki and Geoff Johnson's Kawaii! Japan's Culture of Cute from 2013. Of the few I've recently picked up this one is probably my favorite of the bunch! I had actually almost skipped over this one completely because the cover made it look like a much more shallow book than it actually was. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was insightful as well as authentic, showcasing some things beyond just Hello Kitty bento boxes. Kawaii! contains a number of interviews with a variety of different creators about their own take on the kawaii lifestyle. The book is divided into six different aspects of this kawaii lifestyle!

The first section of Kawaii!, "The Roots of Kawaii" is probably the most wordy, even though it's composed of almost entirely interviews, just as the rest of the book is. There's really just a lot to be said about the early days of kawaii in the 60s and 70s! I love the kawaii characters of the 70's and it was really cool to get to see some pictures of the "fancy goods" of the era, in addition to the totally iconic shojo art of the era!

Interviews in this section include the curator of the Yayoi-Yumeji Museum, Eico Hanamura, a couple different researchers with the Kyoto International Manga Museum, Macoto Takahashi, and Yumiko Igarashi. 

The second section was entitled "Cute Design Overload" and focused on kind of "iconic" Japanese kawaii, from cute merchandise characters like Hello Kitty and Gloomy Bear, to cute shops like Swimmer, to cute public works, to even Itasha which is an otaku fad of tricking their cars out with anime character decals.

This section was one of the largest in the books and very photo oriented, but still had a fair number of interviews with the Gloomy Bear creator Mori Chack, Swimmer designer Hiroko Sakizume, and Nameneko creator Satoru Tsuda.

The third section in the book, "Adorable Eats", was very brief and all about cute foods! This section was mostly devoted to pictures, but it did have an interview with Miki Ikezawa, a rep for MaiDreamin.

The fourth section was called "How to Dress Kawaii" and was tied with the chapter on kawaii designs for largest in the book! There were tons of interviews and street snaps in this section, pretty much all of which I found very interesting (which is fantastic, because it was the reason I bought the book in the first place!). While most of this section is devoted to street fashion and designers, there is, of course, a few pages devoted to cosplay and Comiket. Books like this almost always inevitably will talk about cosplay, and I'm thankful that this book kept it very short and kept the focus on fashion designers and lifestyle wear rather than costume and otaku culture.

Interviews in this section included Shoichi Aoki of FRUiTS, Kumamiki of Party Baby, Takuya Sawada of Takuya Angel, Yuka and Vani of 6%DOKIDOKI, Toyoko Yokoyama from Conomi, Lolita models Rin Rin and Chikage, and Gashicon of h.NAOTO's Hangry & Angry line.

The fifth section was "Cute Crafts" which is pretty self explanatory! It featured a number of different Japanese crafters, of both modern cute things as well as traditional Japanese cute things like kokeshi. This section was brief but packed full of pictures and interviews with various crafters.

The final section is called "Kawaii Visual Art" and is a bit different from the design section because it featured artists who create art for themselves rather than as part of a larger merchandising business. This section was also brief but packed full of pictures and interviews. A lot of the art in this chapter was trendier and edgier than the design section and was a refreshing end to a book about all things kawaii.

Interviews featured in this chapter include Chikuwaemil, Junko Mizuno, Osamu Watanabe, and a handful of others.

Overall, while the actual Lolita related content in this book is minimal, I really enjoyed this book. I particularly loved the different takes on the kawaii culture, and even the different creators very definitions of the word!

I actually recently put together a list on Amazon of all the English language books about Japanese street fashion that I could find! I have a handful of them but I'm hoping to work my way through the list and eventually get them all. Especially while I'm anticipating the possible English translation of Shades of Wonderland!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lolitas vs. The Living Dolls

Anyone in the Lolita fashion right now can tell you that one of the biggest hot topics at the moment is the media's recent portrayals of Lolitas as "Living Dolls" and lumping them in with a variety of different people who choose to use Barbie as their fashion icons. It's not unusual to associate Lolitas with dolls, we've been doing it ourselves for years, but this recent trend of lumping them with Barbie dolls is a new and unusual stereotype. For some reason it's easier for people to understand the fashion in terms of Barbie dolls. To an extent it's understandable: many Lolitas are known for wearing pink and having elaborately large hair, just like Barbie! But when compared to the other self proclaimed "Human Barbies" Lolitas seem really out of place, at least to those of us who are very familiar with the fashion. Personally I find it really strange that Lolitas are being featured in the same shows as people who go through extensive plastic surgery and extreme breast implants. I really have no problem with people who generally want to look unreal and plan on having very real medical procedures to do so, I just fail to see what these people have to do with the Lolita fashion, because the two are almost always mentioned together.

I've heard a lot of mixed reactions to the term "Living Doll" being used to describe Lolitas. It's mostly groans and head-desking, but a number of people like the term because they like looking like dolls (not necessarily Barbie dolls though) and feel like they shouldn't have to change because of some reality shows. Alternatively I've heard some people say why shouldn't we use the term "Living Doll" to describe Lolita and show people how Lolita is really done and provide some much needed normalcy, compared to the often over dramatic, suspiciously edited, pseudo-Lolita shown in these shows.

A number of Lolitas have expressed concern about people simply getting the wrong idea about what Lolita is based on these shows, and it's a very real concern, as the people featured on these programs, if relatively normal outside of the show, are edited in ways that are intended to make your average viewer think "what a weirdo!". In these "Living Doll" shows and articles Lolitas are often painted as juvenile fame obsessed losers who have little interests beyond wigs, fake eyelashes, and the color pink, and it's this idea that most people are fighting against, not necessarily Lolita's association with dolls.

How do I personally feel about this term being applied to Lolitas? Honestly, as someone who has been a Lolita for a very long time, I find it very difficult to muster up the effort to really care what outsiders to the fashion think about it. I've been around long enough for strangers to have thought we were all self-harming emos, Harajuku obsessed Gwen Stefani fans, or Lady Gaga clones, and then promptly forget they ever thought these things about us in the first place. This new "Living Doll" stereotype is just another on a long list of annoyances. In general I feel kind of apathetic about being called a "Living Doll" by outsiders, it's annoying because it's not true, but there's pretty much a guarantee that if someone thought I was some sort of Human Barbie Doll just because I wear Lolita and they saw a reality show that featured the fashion, they probably would have thought something equally silly if they hadn't seen the show.

What do you think about using the term "Living Doll" for Lolitas? Do you find it to be a less controversial term than "Lolita" and an easy way to explain the fashion to outsiders? Or do you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the hightly-edited antics of "weirdo watching" reality TV?
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