Tag Archives: hime lolita

Gyaru and Lolita

himekaI have never been able to understand why people like to lump different things together into somehow-related groups. I am personally a big fan of just letting things stay unique unto themselves. But, that said, people still do tend to want to consider things as parts of larger groups, much to the chagrin of the actual human members of those groups.

The case in point: gyaru, especially himegyaru, and lolita (I supposed himeloli specifically). Ever since Ageha model Himeka Shirosaki (right; check out her blog) decided to flaunt her love for lolita (well, before that, I’m sure– but that line has a nice ring to it), lolitas all over the world have been at war about whether these two fashion genres are related, and if so, how much.

First, let me outline my own personal bias.
I do not like gyaru, particularly Nagoya’s brand, uncreatively called “Nagoya girls”. It is unfair to make a blanket judgment about any group of people based on their fashion, race, creed, or whatever; I agree with this entirely. But nevertheless I find myself forming a little sneer whenever I see a mass of overly-teased, ozone-murdering hair saunter by. Once bitten, twice shy, I suppose. I have met a LOT of gyaru in my time in Japan, as the fashion is definitely on the rise, and have only ever liked one or two. So. Take whatever I may say about them with a grain of salt, because even if I try to be objective, I will undoubtedly fail.

gyaruAnyway, I think one would have to admit that there are some definite similarities between sweet lolita/hime lolita and himegyaru– at least in the aesthetics. Frills and pastels work well for girls of both persuasions, and big hair and wildly decorated nails are common additions to both looks. The main goal of any kind of fashion with the word “hime” attached to it is naturally to look like a princess, and in the case of Japan that generally means either a Disney character or Marie Antoinette (to be clever I’d wager that himegyaru leans toward the former and himeloli toward the latter).
A major, and noticable, difference is often the choice of materials: while lolitas take (an absurd amount of) pride in cotton cluny and brand-original tulle lace, gyaru clothing tends toward the (generally more noticeable) wide raschel laces. Lolita tends to shun shiny satin ribbons and gyaru bypasses grosgrain. That’s not to say that both fashions don’t occasionally borrow a page from one another’s books, and actually I think it happens fairly often.

la pafaitLast summer I saw a few fabrics used both by Angelic Pretty and La Pafait, a himegyaru brand indigenous to Nagoya, and even what appeared to be a knockoff of AP’s Sweet Ribbon Strawberry print. Additionally, lower tier lolita brands like A+lidel regularly use the same fabrics as gyaru brands, such as the strawberry check fabric seen in the La Pafait skirt to the left.

I have seen gyaru carrying or wearing lolita brand bags, parasols, and other small items more times than I can count, and they often shop in lolita stores. However, I have very rarely spotted a lolita sporting an accessory from a gyaru brand. I think the reason behind this could be that gyaru is more flexible and open to interpretation; also, lolita brands are more apt to make items that target gyaru (AP is especially adept at this) than gyaru brands are to target lolitas. apI think lolitas in the West might be a little surprised to learn about that first note: lolitas in Japan tend not to go for the casual, mix-and-match looks that are so often seen on forums like Daily Lolita. For the most part, they either go all-out, or go for something that many Western lolitas wouldn’t classify as lolita at all (that style is usually labeled as “fruits” in the Western world). While this makes for more serious lolita eye candy, it also provides a fairly fixed box within which to coordinate. However, when a lolita brand does produce something that has an especially gyaru look to it, it is generally accepted by lolitas. Perhaps we’re all just brandwhores at heart, after all…

At any rate, I can honestly say I’ve never seen a girl in lolita hanging out with a girl in himegyaru, or anything like that. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen or that the same girls wouldn’t be together in different clothing, but there does seem to be a divide. Once, walking with a Japanese lolita friend of mine past a string of gyaru shops, she teasingly tried to push me into them, saying “you want to go in there??” — just as you might shove a shy girl into a fetish clothing store. She made a barfing noise and we walked away giggling.
A friend once summed the two fashions’ ideas of one another pretty concisely: Lolitas think of gyaru as easy, gyaru think of lolitas as prudes. And really, there are obvious differences in the fashion (gyaru features low-cut tops and ultra short skirts, versus lolita’s high necklines and knee-length skirts) that would suggest such. But I agree more aptly, probably because it’s less offensive, with the idea that gyaru dress for boys, while lolitas dress for other girls. That sounds about right. Well, personally I don’t really care what other people think. Or, I say I don’t as I post my outfit coordinates online, at least….

Lolita in the Media

I just saw a tv special about the making of an upcoming drama that made me think about the portrayal of lolita fashion on Japanese tv, because a lot of people ask about it. Of course, I don’t watch tv 24/7, and I don’t speak Japanese brilliantly, so I don’t know everything there is to know, but I do keep an eye out for lolita characters or even cameos– and I do have a fondness for dramas! Anyway there are a couple of dramas this season that make me think of the way tv dramas look at this fashion I love so much.

cat street
First is NHK’s upcoming キャットストリート (“Cat Street”), which is based on a manga by the artist of Hana Yori Dango (which, aside from being immensely popular in that form, also spawned a media frenzy around it’s multiple drama recreations; in fact, there’s a Hana Yori Dango movie in theaters right now!), which prominently features a lolita character. I haven’t read the comic, but through a little research I see that the lolita is a girl named “Momiji” who makes her own clothes and finds herself generally shunned because of her fashion. From the special, I see that she is portrayed at least in the drama as the usual uber-energetic best friend of the main character, and her style is primarily sweet lolita (though in the interview the actress refers to her own character as “Gothic Lolita”).
This program starts on Thursday and I look forward to seeing it, although I’ll have to stream it online because it comes on pretty early 😦

Also currently on air is the Teppei-starring Shibatora, which features a character who works at a maid cafe. Episode 5 most prominently features the maid cafe, in which all the “maids” wear clothing from Baby the Stars Shine Bright. The clothes are never referenced as lolita clothes and are just considered normal costumes for waitresses in maid cafes to wear. This is a fallacy though, actually– I’ve never seen maid cafe staff in anything but maid cosplay; I have, however, seen some Alice- or otherwise-themed cafes uniform their employees in some brand items. For example, the staff of the Alice cafe in Nagoya all wear uniforms by Milky Ange. Anyway, another theme of that particular episode is pedophilia, which is upsetting in the way it is related to lolita.

I think the two completely different portrayals of lolita fashion provided by these shows gives us a little insight into the mindsets in Japan about lolitas. The first girl is lolita ALL the time. It’s who she is. I guess she’s what would be called a “lifestyle loli” in the west. The other girls happen to wear lolita as part of their jobs, which is directly connected to otaku/moe culture and attracts some creepy characters. Of course I feel more comfortable with the first version, but in the general media the latter is much more common. If not something that is related to maid cafes, lolita characters are usually portrayed as gloomy or downright psychotic. You never really see just a normal girl who happens to dress like a little doll… but then, maybe normal girls don’t 😛

possibleI’m not really worried about whether this particular media attention is going to change the face of lolita or anything; it actually happens all the time– don’t forget there was recently a Hello Project group that performed in lolita (called, for some reason, The Possible). A few months back there was also a hime lolita featured on 恋のから騒ぎ(“Much Ado About Love”), a show that is based around a gravelly-voiced host– a very famous tv personality in Japan– asking “weird” girls (mostly gyaru) about their relationships. Just a couple weeks ago a sweet lolita appeared as well, though her fashion sense was a little dubious in my humble opinion.

I don’t really think the presence of lolita characters on tv (or in comics or wherever else) has really made the fashion more understandable to outsiders, though. Most of the appearances just reinforce the stereotypes they already have, so nothing ever really changes. If Cat Street becomes extremely popular, the lolita character might be thought about a little more seriously… but its still not really an accurate portrayal– after all, the lolita is just the sidekick. And the series is only 6 episodes long! I don’t predict too much ground being broken there.
I’ll watch anyway, though. Just to make sure.