One of the shops in Takeshita-doori Street, Harajuku’s main road (original image)
For most people Halloween is definitely about the dressing up. I have had some friends who spent almost an entire month in advance preparing their costumes before the Halloween weekend to get it just right, ordering wigs, painting clothes, and finding just the right shade of eyeshadow to really tie it all in. In other parts of the world, however, dressing up isn’t just reserved for Halloween.
The fashion scene in Tokyo is known for both its diversity and uniqueness – it’s probably the only city with such extreme variation in fashion subculture all happening at the same time and in the same place. In this metropolis the term “anything goes” is literally taken to an extreme.
Image from Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery
One place in particular in Tokyo has recently gained lots of attention thanks to the likes of musicians and celebrities like Gwen Stefani and Lady Gaga who have constantly expressed their love for it – Harajuku, the mecca for the Japanese Gothic Lolita style.
Japanese Gothic Lolita, much like any contemporary Japanese subculture, is a phenomenon that has become known worldwide thanks to the popularization of Japanese street fashion. While on the outside it might seem like a seemingly strange and almost incomprehensible form of fashion, it has its distinct position in the fashion realm. Gothic Lolita was popularized by a branch of rock music called Visual Kei – which is known for its outlandish costumes and cross-dressing musicians.
There are subtle differences between the Lolita and Gothic Lolita fashion styles in Japan. Lolita is supposedly based on the 19th century Victorian mode of dressing, which was conservative and showed virtually no skin. The modern Japanese adaptation of this style is by no means conservative, in the sense that those who dress in Lolita and Gothic Lolita put a tremendous amount of effort in their fashion.
Some other types of Lolita fashion include sweet Lolitas and classic Lolitas, which are each characterized by distinct characteristics. Compared to other types of Lolita fashion, Gothic Lolita has a darker, almost vampirish look.
One of the most popular Visual Kei musicians who supposedly took the Gothic Lolita style to a whole new level is Mana, who was a guitarist for the rock band Malice Mizer.
Image from Monologue-de-chi
The scariest thing about this outfit? Mana is actually a cross-dresser, so that’s a man you’re seeing in all that lace and chiffon. Earlier in his career, he actually dressed more closely to the classic Lolita style, which had elements that were closer to the Victorian influence the style boasts.
Image from Dis inferno Br
Gothic Lolita culture really is a phenomenon that has taken hold not just on the streets of Harajuku but has spread throughout the world – making it a growing subculture in fashion worldwide.
I personally am still trying to figure out the appeal this has for some people, but it makes a certainly fascinating social study of contemporary culture. Not to mention, pretty good ideas for a scary costume for next year!