Lolita fashion (ロリータ・ファッション Rorīta fasshon?) is a fashion subculture originating in Japan that is primarily influenced by Victorian clothing as well as costumes from the Rococo period. Lolita has made this into a unique fashion by adding gothic and original design elements to the look. From this, Lolita fashion has evolved into several different sub styles and has created a devoted subculture in Japan. The Lolita look consists primarily of a knee length skirt or dress, headdress, blouse, petticoat, knee high socks or stockings and rocking horse or high heel/platform shoes.
Although the origin of Lolita fashion is unclear, it is likely the movement started in the late 1970s when famous labels including Pink House, Milk and Angelic Pretty began selling clothes that would be considered "Lolita" by today's standards. Shortly after that came Baby, The Stars Shine Bright, and Metamorphose temps de fille. In the 1990s, Lolita fashion became better recognized, with bands like Malice Mizer and other Visual Kei (or visual type) bands coming into popularity. These bands wore intricate costumes, which fans began adopting as their own style. The style soon spread from its origins in the Kansai region, and ultimately reached Tokyo where it became popularized throughout Japanese youth culture. Today, Lolita fashion has grown so much in popularity that it can be found even in department stores in Japan.
In Lolita fashion, it is generally accepted that "Lolita" does not refer to Vladimir Nabokov's famous novel. Adherents present themselves more as Victorian children or porcelain dolls and prefer to look "cute" or "beautiful" rather than "sexy". Most[who?] Lolitas agree that the term 'Lolita' does not necessarily have anything to do with sex at all. The usage of the word may also be considered wasei-eigo. The name is ironic since the fashion was created to fight the growing exposure of the body and skin in today's society, specifically in regard to young women. Lolita fashion can even be considered a movement where girls ranging from pre-teens to late 20s fight the current fashion with modesty. It allows a girl to feel young, cute, beautiful or off-limits, depending on which type of Lolita a girl chooses to be. One follower of the Gothic Lolita fashion explained:
We certainly do not do this for the attention of men. In fact, the fashion frequently alienates them. Frequently, female sexuality is portrayed in a way that is palatable and accessible to men, and anything outside of that is intimidating. Something so unabashedly female is ultimately kind of scary—in fact, I consider it to be pretty confrontational. Dressing this way takes a certain kind of ownership of one’s own sexuality that wearing expected or regular things just does not. It doesn’t take a lot of moxie to put on a pencil skirt and flats. It’s not, as some commentors have suggested, some sort of appeal to men’s expectation that women should be childlike, or an attempt to pander to pedophiles. Pedophiles like little girls. They don’t like grown women who happen to like dresses with cakes on them. I’ve never been hit on by a pedophile while in Lolita. We don’t get into it because it is some sort of misplaced pedo complex or anything, and the objective isn’t simply to emulate little girls, despite the name Lolita.
The majority of Lolitas greatly dislike the suggestion that their fashion is a 'costume', and as such the clothing requires quality material, often going far beyond the quality expected of mainstream clothing. There are many Lolita clothing stores around the world and on the Internet, but because of the multiple piece designs, the high-quality materials used and the fact that it is an unconventional fashion, clothing and accessories are often very expensive. A single outfit can easily cost in excess of US$300. Because of the cost issue, many girls take it upon themselves to sew their own dresses and make accessories as a hobby.
It is often assumed that girls who dress in Lolita follow a Lolita 'lifestyle' in which they seek to emulate the mannerisms, etiquette and the aesthetic of historical time periods, specifically that of the Victorian era. Although some do choose to follow a strict Lolita lifestyle, there are others who simply enjoy wearing the clothes. For the majority of Lolita, dressing in the fashion does not mean changing personalities and habits: It may simply be a preference of style or a statement for modesty.
Gothic lolita, sometimes shortened to GothLoli (ゴスロリ gosu rori?), is a combination of the Gothic and Lolita fashion. The fashion originated in the late 1990s and has been speculated to be "the social backlash" in response to the Japanese fashion Gyaru; however, many adherents of the Gothic Lolita fashion are inspired by music, especially visual kei, "the visual rock genre" in which musicians combine rock music with visual effects and costumes.
Gothic Lolita fashion is characterized by a darker make-up and clothing. Red lipstick and smokey or neatly defined eyes, created using black eyeliner, are typical styles. Though Gothic make-up is associated with a white powdered face, this is usually considered bad taste within the Lolita fashion. The outfits usually use dark color schemes like black, dark blues and purples, sometimes with accents of white. As with some Western Gothic styles, cross jewelry and other religious symbols are also used to accessorize the Gothic Lolita look. Other accessories in the Gothic Lolita style include bags and purses which are often in modernly common shapes like bats, coffins, and crucifixes.
Like many other Lolita fashions, the visual kei movement was responsible for helping to introduce and popularize the Gothic Lolita style. One artist in particular, Mana, a Japanese musician and fashion-designer, is considered to be the major force behind the popularization of the Gothic Lolita style, though he is not credited with creating it. Mana’s own Gothic Lolita fashion label, Moi-même-Moitié, has grown to be very successful. To describe the designs of his new label, he encouraged the use of the terms Elegant Gothic Lolita (EGL) and Elegant Gothic Aristocrat (EGA).
Sweet Lolita, also known as ama-loli (甘ロリ ama rori?) in Japanese, is heavily influenced by Rococo styles as well as Victorian and Edwardian clothing. Focusing on the child and fantasy aspects of Lolita, the Sweet Lolita style adopts the basic Lolita format and uses lighter colors and child fantasy themes in its design.
Makeup used in sweet Lolita is common throughout most Lolita styles. A natural look is emphasized, to help maintain the childlike feel of Lolita. Light pastels and natural colors make up the Lolita makeup color scheme.
Sweet Lolita places its focus on the child-like aspects of the Lolita style. Outfits consist of pastels, gingham or other colorful prints, lace, bows, and ribbons to emphasize the cuteness in the design. Popular themes in the sweet Lolita are references to Alice in Wonderland, fruits, sweets and classic fairy tales. Jewelry often reflects this fantasy theme. Headdresses and bows are a popular hair accessory to the sweet Lolita look. Bags and purses are often very cute with princess-like designs and often in the form of strawberries, crowns, hearts, and stuffed animals.
Examples for Sweet Lolita brands are Angelic Pretty, Baby, The Stars Shine Bright and Metamorphose temps de fille. Emily Temple cute (sister brand of Shirley Temple, a Japanese boutique), Jane Marple, and MILK are brands that carry more clothing that would be considered more casual, and are available to purchase at department stores in Japan.
Classic Lolita is a more mature style of Lolita that focuses on Baroque, Regency, and Rococo styles. Colors and patterns used in classic Lolita can be seen as somewhere between the Gothic and sweet styles; it is not as dark as Gothic Lolita, but not as cutesy as sweet Lolita. This look can be seen as the more sophisticated, mature Lolita style because of its use of small, intricate patterns, as well more muted colors on the fabric and in the overall design.
Designs containing a-lines, as well as Empire waists are also used to add to the more mature look of the classic style. Most classic Lolita outfits, however, still stick to the basic Lolita silhouette. Shoes and accessories are less whimsical and more functional. Jewelry with intricate designs is also common. The makeup used in classic Lolita is often a more muted version of the sweet Lolita makeup, with an emphasis placed on natural coloring. An example of the classical Lolita brands are Juliette et Justine, Innocent World, Victorian Maiden, Triple Fortune, and Mary Magdalene.
Punk Lolita (or Lolita Punk) adds punk fashion elements to Lolita fashion. Motifs that are usually found in punk clothing, such as tattered fabric, ties, safety pins and chains, screen-printed fabrics, plaids, and short, androgynous hairstyles are incorporated into the Lolita look. The most popular garments are blouses or cutsews and skirts, although dresses and jumper skirts are also worn. Common footwear includes boots, Mary Janes or oxfords with platforms. Common Punk Lolita brands are A+Lidel, Putumayo, h. NAOTO and Na+H. Many of the Japanese punk Lolita fashion brands take influence from London's famous Camden Town Markets. Vivienne Westwood, who, though not a Lolita designer, has items and collections that reflect Lolita sensibilities, especially in her Japanese collections, is popular in the punk Lolita scene. Males have known to take up Punk Lolita fashion, and as well as Victorian style Lolita fashion.
Other styles and themes
Because of the do-it-yourself nature of Lolita fashion, many other themes have come out of the basic Lolita frame. These styles are often not as well known as the ones mentioned above, but they do showcase the creative nature of the Lolita fashion, and illustrate how people make the fashion their own. Listed below are just a few examples of the smaller subtypes of Lolita fashion.
Wa rori (和ロリ?), or Wa Lolita combines traditional Japanese clothing styles with the Lolita fashion. Wa Lolita usually consists of kimono or hakama modified to fit with common Lolita garments. The bottom half of the garment is altered to accommodate a petticoat, or a kimono-style blouse is used as a top to accompany a plain Lolita skirt. Outerwear can include haori or adult-sized hifu-vests. The shoes and accessories used in this style are typical of traditional Japanese garb including kanzashi flowers, and geta, zori, or Okobo. These shoes are often used in place of the normal Lolita platform and high-heeled shoes. The origin of the suffix Wa in Wa Lolita is the kanji Wa (和?), which is used to denote many things of Japanese origin.
Qi Lolita is a similar style but uses Chinese clothing and accessories in place of Japanese. Usually this includes qipao and cheongsam-dresses modified to accommodate a petticoat. Accessories include platform-slippers for footwear and bun-covers as hair accessories.
Ōji (王子?) or Ōji-sama (王子様?), meaning "prince", is a Japanese fashion that is considered the male version of Lolita fashion. This style takes its influence from the clothing boys in the Victorian era wore. Though it is considered a "boy style", it is often worn by both genders.
Ōji is inspired by what was worn by Victorian boys, and includes masculine blouses and shirts, knickerbockers and other styles of short trousers, knee high socks, top hats, and newsboy caps. The colors usually used are black, white, blue and burgundy, though there are feminine versions of the fashion with a broader palette. Good examples would be some of the outfits sold through Baby, the Stars Shine Bright's line Alice and the Pirates.
Though in Japan this fashion is typically referred to as ouji, in the United States it is common to hear it referred to as "kodona" lolita.
The hime girl fashion trend boomed near the late 2000s and is credited to Jesus Diamante, whose owner, Toyotaka Miyamae, started a dress shop in Osaka in 2001 to create fit dresses for Japanese women. Miyamae credited his inspiration from Brigitte Bardot, although other people have compared hime girl fashions to Marie Antoinette and Paris Hilton.
A woman who routinely dons this style is known as a hime girl (姫ギャル hime gyaru?). The style is also known as the ageha (アゲハ?, lit. "butterfly"), comparing the elegance of the style to a butterfly.
Guro Lolita (Gore Lolita) is the portrayal of a 'broken doll' or "Innocent Gore" by using items such as fake blood, make-up, and bandages to give the appearance of injury. It is suggested that Guro Lolitas wear white to "emphasize the contrast between purity and their wounds" or because blood contrasts better with white.
Lolita fashion that incorporates the look of a Sailor Seifuku. This can include sailor collars and ties, sailor hats, and stripes. Sailor Lolita is widely popular in Japanese anime, featured in many popular shows.
Influence and popularity
Lolita was influenced and popularized by the imagery of more feminine Visual Kei (or "visual art") bands. Visual Kei is a Japanese form of rock music defined by bands featuring performers in elaborate costumes but whose musical style varies. Mana, the cross-dressing former leader and guitarist of the Visual Kei band Malice Mizer is widely credited for having helped popularize Gothic Lolita. He coined the terms "Elegant Gothic Lolita" (EGL) and "Elegant Gothic Aristocrat" (EGA) to describe the style of his own fashion label Moi-même-Moitié, which was founded in 1999 and quickly established itself as one of the most coveted brands of the Lolita scene.
In popular culture
These lists display stories which have either characters wearing some form of Lolita fashion or character designs influenced by the fashion.
In Japan, despite still being a subculture and fringe fashion, Lolita fashion is mass-marketed and has wide visibility particularly in the streets of Tokyo and Osaka, on television, in manga and computer games. Outside of Japan it is still a widely unknown fringe fashion although it has slowly begun to spread to other countries. Lolita fashion, along with cosplay and other Japanese cultural phenomena, can sometimes be seen at concerts and anime conventions throughout Europe and the United States. The style has not yet been mass marketed outside of Japan, although increasingly Japanese brands are available for purchase abroad directly from the brands. However, there are plenty of dedicated fans filling the still-remaining gap. Lolita fashion magazines are widely available for purchase on the Internet and at Japanese bookstores which also deal in anime and manga. Adherents often sew their own homemade Lolita outfits, sometimes offering them for sale to make up for the difficulty of acquiring them from Japan. Apart from most Western fashions, Lolita tends to hold higher expectations to those that dress it. Higher quality clothes are favored over "cheap" lace and cosplay-esque designs. Many adherents also purchase Lolita outfits and accessories online from Japanese brands such as Baby, The Stars Shine Bright or other fellow Lolitas.
Gothic & Lolita Bible
One magazine in particular, the seasonally published Gothic & Lolita Bible, has played an instrumental role in promoting and standardizing the style. First published in early 2001, the 100+ page magazine includes fashion tips, photos, sewing patterns, catalog descriptions, decorating ideas, and recipes. Tokyopop has been releasing the English-language version of the magazine since February 2008.
Outside of Japan
Outside of Japan, the Lolita fashion is limited. Lolita, along with cosplay and other Japanese cultural phenomena, can sometimes be seen at concerts and anime conventions throughout North America (see Anime North), the UK, Germany, Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, France, Belgium, Russia, and the Netherlands. The style is not mass marketed outside of Japan, though small stores have emerged, including "One Day in Paradise" in central Melbourne. Baby, The Stars Shine Bright has a store in Paris and opened another in San Francisco in August 2009.
Major brands, such as Metamorphose temps de fille, Angelic Pretty, h. Naoto, Baby, The Stars Shine Bright and Moi-même-Moitié have recently shipped goods to the international market. This is still not widespread, however, and many of the clothes produced by non-Japanese designers are not accepted by the Lolita community for being inaccurate in portraying the style as related to the British 'goth' or French Maid look, and not being as high-quality as the Japanese brand clothes. Lolita magazines are widely available for purchase on the internet and at Japanese bookstores, which also deal in anime and manga. However, there is a growing group of dedicated western Lolita fans who wear Lolita clothing on a semi-regular or even a day-to-day basis, and the Gothic and Lolita Bible now has an American version which not only features translated content from the original magazine but also content from a small but growing group of western Lolita designers from around the world such as Candy Violet, Fanplusfriend, In the Starlight, Blasphemina's Closet, and Sweet Rococo. Celebrity author Novala Takemoto, who is an important figure within Lolita culture and was once involved with Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, traveled to America in 2006 and remarked at a panel on the resourcefulness of western Lolitas, who often make or adapt their own clothing.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Jimenez, Dabrali (26 September 2008). "A New Generation of Lolitas Makes a Fashion Statement". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
- ↑ Ishikawa, Katsuhiko, Gothic & Lolita, Phaidon, 2007, pp 13, 89, 93 et al.
- ↑ Ishikawa, Katsuhiko, Gothic & Lolita, Phaidon, 2007, p 1
- ↑ MacDonald, Heidi (1 October 2008). "A Gothic Lolita Speaks". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
- ↑ Suzuki, Chako (January 2007). "Pretty Babies: Japan's Undying Gothic Lolita Phenomenon". Fashionlines. Retrieved 8 May 2010.
- ↑ Aoki, Deb. "Interview with the Editors of the Gothic and Lolita Bible". About.com. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
- ↑ Anonymous (2002). "Gothic Lolita Hair and Make Up". Gothic & Lolita Bible (Nuuberuguu) 4: 79.
- ↑ Anonymous (2002). "Neo Gothic Style". Gothic & Lolita Bible (Nuuberuguu) 4: 81.
- ↑ Anonymous (2002). "Gothic and Lolita: New Style". Gothic & Lolita Bible (Nuuberuguu) 4: 102.
- ↑ Anonymous (2002). "Artist Brands: Part 1, Mana x Moi-mene-Moitie". Gothic & Lolita Bible (Nuuberguu) 4: 23.
- ↑ Anonymous, “Neo Lolita Style”, Gothic & Lolita Bible, vol 4, Nuuberuguu, 2002, pg 80
- ↑ “IMF's ‘Local Feed’ Tokyo - Lolita Fashion” July 03, 2007 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daUWU2C9yFo
- ↑ Saramaki, Rinna, “From Boring to Beautiful”, La Vie en Rose, vol 2, pp. 21–24 .
- ↑ Seagrave, Amber, "Style: Kodona," La Vie en rose, vol.2, p.18
- ↑ For Lolitas of All Styles. Lolita Fashion. Retrieved on 2010-03-24.
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Kane, Yukari Itawari; Lisa Thomas (20 November 2008). "Japan's Latest Fashion Has Women Playing Princess for a Day". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
- ↑ Script error
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 Muray, Laurel (5 February 2008). "Lolita Culture: An Introduction". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
- ↑ Martin, Theron (15 September 2005). "Petit Cossette DVD 1 - Review -". Anime News Network. Retrieved 21 October 2009.
- ↑ Bertschy, Zac (20 October 2005). "The Fall 2005 Anime Preview Guide". Anime News Network. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- ↑ Brienza, Casey (15 January 2009). "Princess Princess DVD Complete Collection - Review". Anime News Network. Retrieved 1 March 2010.
- ↑ Finnegan, Erin (19 July 2010). "Germ Theory - Shelf Life". Anime News Network. Retrieved 19 July 2010.
- ↑ Kimlinger, Carl (14 February 2007). "MoonPhase DVD 3 - Review". Anime News Network. Retrieved 1 March 2010.
- ↑ Koulikov, Mikhail (February 14, 2006). "Beautiful People GN 1 -Review-". Anime News Network. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
- ↑ Davisson, Zack. "Black Butler v1 review". Mangalife. Retrieved 21 April 2010.
- ↑ Martin, Theron (23 August 2006). "Chibi Vampire GN 2 - Review". Anime News Network. Retrieved 11 March 2010.
- ↑ Eries, Sakura (17 February 2006). "Dazzle (aka: Hatenko Yugi) Vol. #01". Mania Entertainment. Retrieved 11 March 2010.
- ↑ Sparrow, A.E. (8 April 2008). "Doors of Chaos: Volume 1 Review". IGN. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
- ↑ Thompson, Jason (4 December 2009). "365 Days of Manga, Day 80: IC in a Sunflower". Suvudu. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- ↑ Cha, Kai-Ming (27 September 2005). "Sweet and Sour in a Frilly Dress: Gothic Lolita Hits the U.S.". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
- ↑ Harper, Melissa (27 December 2006). "R.I.P. - Requiem in Phonybrian - Review". Anime News Network. Retrieved 29 March 2010.
- ↑ Santos, Carlo (22 March 2006). "The Wallflower GN 1–3 - Review". Anime News Network. Retrieved 11 July 2010.
- ↑ Amazon.co.jp： ゴシック&ロリータバイブル (バウハウスMOOK): 本. Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved on 2010-03-24.
- ↑ "Tokyopop to Ship Gothic & Lolita Bible in February". Anime News Network. 4 December 2007. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
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