Monthly Archives: September 2008

Bodyline takes center stage

Recently the much maligned Bodyline has become more and more popular among tried-and-true lolitas, for more than just petticoats and bloomers. In the past the brand was a laughingstock, the name considered synonymous with cheap lace and costume-like designs.

bodylineA recent major sale by the brand, however, led some people to give them another try– present party included. I personally purchased several items from Bodyline during the 50% off sale and was quite pleased with the quality for the price. For example, I got the skirt pictured here for only 1500yen (~$15US). It’s not the best-made thing I own, but it’s quite worth 1500 yen!
I also purchased a jumperskirt and was was happy to find that it was trimmed with soft cotton lace, and had no apparent major flaws.

However, one has to wonder about Bodyline– is it such a good thing? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with getting cute products for cheap, especially for beginner lolitas or old hands who would like to add some pieces for lounging around in. However, Bodyline has a history of ripping off other brands, sometimes more blatantly than others. Take, for example, these recent additions to Bodylines rakuten shop:
bodyline
The print on the skirt is an obvious reproduction of Angelic Pretty’s extremely popular “Fruit Parlor” (sometimes incorrectly translated as “Fruits Parlor”) series, which is pictured below.
AP

I am surprised by the reaction to these new items– at least, by the Western community. I’ve seen a lot of Japanese threads full of outrage, but most of the non-Japanese lolitas seem to find it an acceptable, cheap alternative to the original brands. I suppose this might be due to the fact that, with all fees and shipping included, buying brand from overseas is not only time-consuming and difficult, it is also significantly more expensive. Also, purchasing fake items– such as Secret Shop shoes (AP is certainly a frequent target for this sort of thing– is a common, well-known, and accepted fact within the Western lolita community.
In my opinion, I think people should only buy the knockoffs if they like the design of the knockoff, not because it looks like a brand item. If you want something that looks like Angelic Pretty’s Fruit Parlor, you should buy Angelic Pretty’s Fruit Parlor. If you think that this is a cute skirt, you should buy it for that reason, but not try to pass it off as the real deal.

These are pretty obvious fakes though; I have to wonder how people are going to feel while wearing them. Living in Japan I think I would be self-conscious about running into someone wearing the real deal; but I think even in America I would feel awkward about it.
But then, the irony of that is the skirt that I ordered, pictured above, is actually an Atelier Pierrot knockoff. Perhaps I feel less awkward about it because it is less obvious? Or maybe because I couldn’t wear the original design due to size issues… More grey area!

For all the stories that Western lolitas spread about Bodyline in Japan (I once heard a laughable tale about “real” lolitas standing outside of a Bodyline shop and lynching anyone who came out with a purchase in hand, which at least is an hilarious mental image before you have to admit that it is ridiculous), I think it’s more a source of embarrassment than anything else. Often you see girls caught in a Kera! Snap wearing a piece of Bodyline in their outfit, but never once have I actually seen it listed in their brand list– the item is usually simply referred to as “from Harajuku” or “I forgot”. While brand events have been known to put a “no Bodyline” clause into the invitations for parties with strict dress codes, I don’t think they’d go so far as to lynch anyone over it, either. Japan is too non-confrontational, as a whole, for people to actually be attacked for something like that; though they’ll probably be the stars of a malicious thread on an anonymous forum later on (kind of like the West, actually).

If anything, it just gives Bodyline more publicity. But if they are really trying to become a respectable brand, they need to carefully consider things like this. I think they may have seriously shot themselves in the foot; they’ll turn a quick profit on this, for sure, but they’ll loose some potential longterm customers in the process. …Well, maybe.
Personally, I can say that I lost what respect that I had gained for Bodyline– and I really HAD gained some, upon seeing the quality of the items I ordered. However, I still want to order some shoes from their site… even the most self-righteous lolita needs cheap shoes!

Not-so-pro tips

While this isn’t specifically lolita-related, it is in response to a previous article, so I thought some people might be interested.
After my post about makeup and personal grooming a few people asked for ideas about what specifically they could do. I’m neither a beauty queen nor a makeup expert so I don’t know how qualified I am to reply to that, but I do have a couple basic tricks up my sleeve that I’d like to share! Please remember, though, that I live in Japan, so the products I use generally have a Japan-bias.

tsubakiOne thing I can’t recommend enough is Camellia oil, called Tsubaki in Japan. It has been a staple of Japanese grooming for hundreds of years– it’s what kept the elaborate hairstyles of the Geisha in place (and might still do so, if they haven’t moved on to more modern chemical compounds)– and it has a multitude of uses, including treating dry skin. Personally I just use it for my hair. A friend of mine, after listening to me whine about my coarse, unruly hair not being able to hold a curl for more than 2 seconds in the Nagoya humidity, suggested I try it– and now I am suggesting it to you! The variety I usually use is pictured to the left: “Oshima Tsubaki tsuyatsuya water” — and I’ll admit that I did choose this kind because it has “Camellia oil in water” printed directly on the label! I think that pretty much all “camellia oil in water” solutions should be about the same (or you can buy the oil concentrated and dilute it yourself). The oil not only helps create the perfect curl, it also gives your hair a really healthy shine and, best of all, it’s all-natural. I recommend using wax to hold the curl in place.
If you live in Japan, you can get this particular product for about 1000 yen. Camellia oil products are a bit more expensive overseas, as the Western market hasn’t really caught on to how great they are yet, but still quite affordable. You can buy the Oshima Tsubaki variety on Amazon for US$10.75!

pore puttyI also find that, especially in an extremely humid climate like the one in which I live, makeup base is just about the most important kind of makeup I put on. For the longest time I didn’t think it was necessary, and even after I finally broke down and tried a few kinds, I was put off by the sticky or greasy feel they left me with and less than impressed with their results. And then, the clouds parted and Pore Putty Clear appeared. As disgusting as the name sounds, I absolutely love this stuff. The finish is smooth and powdery to the touch, and it is seriously weapons grade– put it on in the morning and you’ll need to scrub with makeup remover twice to get it off. Which means, it doesn’t go anywhere, even if you sweat or get caught in the rain. Even better? In Japan it retails for about 1050yen including tax, and you can buy it online (for example at Sasa.com, where it is only US$9.70).

You can get it for slightly cheaper at discount cosmetics chains– if you’re around Nagoya I recommend Base Girl, which, while having a rather hilarious mistake of a name, has some great deals on not only cosmetics but also clothing, as well as boasting a huge collection of bargain-basement-priced perfumes.

perfume
Speaking of perfume, I LOVE the stuff, and I think it’s a lolita staple. If you’re going to be really really girly, you need to smell that way too, right? (Right!)
My current favourites are Juicy Couture and Aquolina Pink Sugar — the former I usually spritz on when I’m going for a cooler look, the latter is of course perfect when my goal is to look like a cupcake. Other great scents are the obvious Lolita by Lolita Lempicka (which managed to migrate to another part of my room before I snapped this photo), which has a deeper, headier scent that I think makes it lovely for more mature lolita looks or nighttime outings. Another one that I like is Geparlys Temptation, which is a fruitier scent than I usually choose and therefore I tend to use it when wearing colors or styles that are a little out of the norm.
Perfume is an extremely personal thing, so you should choose your scents carefully and make sure they suit not only your style but your own natural scent. Smell is the sense which is most strongly linked to memory– and who doesn’t want to be remembered beautifully?

Not exactly inconspicuous

me
I think I ended up on TV yesterday… maybe, and definitely only in my region. And if so, only for about 2 seconds during a live show that will never be rerun. Thank goodness!

Why? Because I looked like that! Probably the biggest fund-raiser in Japan took place on Sunday– called 24 Hour TV, just about every city in Japan has some sort of event that culminates with a big celebration at the end of the day, all with the goal of getting donations to support disaster relief and other important causes. I stopped to get information about donating and was singled out by the host of the show here in my city, solely because of the way I was dressed– there were indeed other foreigners around.

This post isn’t very informative… but I thought it was a cute anecdote about the reception of lolitas in Japan… or at least, this particular lolita in Japan.

By the way, right now I’m working on an entry about a topic that someone asked me about. If there are any specific things that people who read this blog are interested in learning more about (that is, about Japan and/or lolita fashion), ask and I’ll do my best to answer. If I have enough to say I’ll make a new entry about it, so we both win.