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Evolving “Kawaii” Lolita Fashion

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You may have heard of the Japanese fashion term “Gosu-Loli,” but even if you haven’t, you can probably guess what it looks like once you know that “Gosu-Loli” is a shortened form of “Gothic and Lolita.” It’s a style that mixes Gothic, Victorian, and Rococo elements and features flared shapes with lots of frills and fringes and a dark and solemn palette. This unique blend of contradictory styles is popular with those in their early twenties and originally developed from the look of fans of Visual Kei rock bands.Recently the balance between Gothic and Lolita-inspired elements has shifted, and the Lolita influence is overpowering.

Though its direct inspiration is Vladimir Nabokov’s novel of the same name, Lolita fashion leans toward cuteness, known as “kawaii,” rather than sexiness. Typical items include dresses and jumpers trimmed with ribbon and lace, bonnets, and small hats with big ribbons in pastel colors. Hair, which should have lots of curls and volume, and makeup should have the look of a baby doll. “Genuine Lolita fashion does not permit the mixing of more than two brands, and people should really stick to one brand,” explains Mr. Satoshi Hashimoto, Editor-in-Chief of Alice à la mode, a magazine promoting an approachable version of Lolita fashion. “It might be a reaction to this formality, but recently ‘choi Lolita,’ meaning ‘a little bit of Lolita,’ is surging in popularity,” continues Mr. Hashimoto. “In ‘choi Lolita,’ people can express their cute side just by incorporating items from Lolita fashion in their regular outfits.”

Lolita fashion items and accessories have great impact by themselves, so adding just one or two pieces to your usual look can highlight the style. This once-niche fashion may now be on its way to the mainstream.

——– Reported by Mark Minai

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Photo courtesy of Inforest Co., Ltd.

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Mark Minai resides in Japan and writes articles and books on cultural trends and fashion issues.