Tag Archives: innocent world

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….

Lifestyle?

There’s always a lot of discussion about whether lolita is just a fashion, or a lifestyle. As ever, people tend to be polarized on the subject. As ever, I find myself walking the line up the middle between the two ideas and taking the safe agnostic approach– to each her own.

Personally I don’t think wearing lolita means you can’t, or shouldn’t, swear or make dirty jokes or drink– if that’s what you normally do, at least. I do think you might want to curb that a little, if you are the kind of person who normally cusses like a sailor or something like that– it just seems weird otherwise. Unless you’re wearing sailor loli! (Cymbal crash here, please.) But that’s just my opinion.

In my experience, the Japanese sort of fall into the same categories as non-Japanese as far as lolita etiquette: some believe your personality should match your clothes, while others act as they probably do on a normal basis. In the end I think its a matter of whether these people consider themselves “girls who wear lolita fashion” and “girls who consider themselves lolitas”. The ones who have created a lifestyle around being a lolita extend that cuteness or loveliness to their whole persona; but then, who is to say whether they were just that cute to begin with? I think you have to have a pretty cute core to become a lolita, anyway. I will admit though, when I see a lolita acting in an especially “unloli” manner I tend to think, “Did she just grab that dress cheap at a resale shop because she wanted to ‘be a lolita’ for a day?”
I think it’s pretty interesting to watch the reactions of non-lolitas in those situations though. For example, I went to a live where there were a few other lolis in the audience, including one wearing Baby’s cutsew OP from a few seasons ago. In order to jump and dive more freely, she yanked off her petticoat gracelessly (though without exposing anything). This earned a few raised brows. Later she sat down to have a smoke and sip a plastic cup of beer. If she’d been wearing a t-shirt, or a punk outfit– or even a gyaru getup, let’s be honest– that would have been almost expected, but she earned the scorn of everyone around her just by being normal when people weren’t expecting it.

momokoSometimes I see lolitas being a little… ridiculous, really. For example there have been several occasions when I’ve seen a girl in lolita clinging to a friend or boyfriend, sometimes a parent, like a small child– like she’s afraid to let go. This might be because he shoes are too hard to walk in, but I think most of the time its because she wants to look completely helpless. From my perspective as a modern American girl, I would never want to be completely helpless, nor appear completely helpless, regardless of my clothing choices. Perhaps I even think of lolita in sort of a feminist light– I certainly don’t dress like this to get the attention of men. And I never considered being ladylike to being on par with being weak– regardless of what Momoko might say! People seem to forget that she ends up being an ass-kicker in the end, anyway (pardon the French… and if you are French, pardon my sense of humour!).
rollsAt the same time though, I have seen a lolita being chauffeured about in an old Rolls Royce like the one pictured to the left (sadly I didn’t take a picture at the time, as I’d forgotten my camera– naturally!). Talk about living the lolita lifestyle! I found that endearing and adorable. So I guess, to each her own.

Honestly though, I think the so-called “brolitas” (I hate that term, by the way), really have it down. I’ve never seen a boy in lolita behave as anything other than adorable. I’ve occasionally been annoyed by a falsetto here and there, but otherwise I think it’s quite cute.
On that topic, I’ve been asked if male lolitas are very common in Japan. I don’t think so, really, at least not compared to their female counterparts. But you do find them every now and then, at events or having tea with a group of female friends. Oddly I’ve noticed that they’re generally the best-dressed in a group as well. Go figure.

As for me… I’m not sure I’d consider myself a “lifestyle loli”, as I observe the disaster area that is my very non-Victorian apartment, the floor scattered with band flyers and the sink stacked with dishes that my own not-so-delicate hands need to wash. But I do feel that, while wearing lolita, I tend to stand a little straighter– maybe a little prouder– and maybe smile a little more often. That feeling is so profound that I actually add a little lolita to every outfit I wear, even at work where I have a strict dress code, whether I sneak a pair of Baby the Stars Shine Bright socks by or just pin my hair back with an Innocent World trump-themed hair clip.
But, to each her own. Everything always is.

Fall 08

So after perusing the 30th volume of the Gothic & Lolita Bible, out today, I started thinking about the fall season from the brands.

metaPeople seem to always polarize their opinions about everything– they either really really love it or absolutely hate it. I’m feeling this especially with Metamorphose this season– almost every lolita I know feels strongly one way or the other. Honestly though, I’m neither extremely impressed nor disappointed (except with the raschel lace Swan Border pieces, which I have a deep distaste for). The school series is playing it safe, in particular.

Angelic Pretty, recently the constant center of attention, really delivered with the Fancy Melody series. I wish I’d acted quick enough to snag the black jumperskirt! I’m really regretting it now that the series is in stores. It’s amazingly cute. The Royal Poodle line is on reserve now, and the blue x silver socks and jumper sold out withing the first two days, so it’s definitely going to be a hit. I like it a lot. If the skirt would fit me I’d be all over it!

babyI was mostly excited about the GLB because I was hoping for better pictures of the Rococo Accessories print (ロココ小物柄). It didn’t really deliver on that, unfortunately. And all I can share with you is an even blurrier, tinier picture of the magazine article! That’s kind of sad…
Anyway though, the print appears to have all sorts of delightful things in it: parasols, fans, perfume bottles. It’s just adorable in my opinion. And I love the violet-ish color with bright accents. It really does scream Marie Antoinette! It’s so decadent.
candlesPersonally I’d like something a little more elegant/adult this season (maybe I’m starting to feel my age… noooooo!), and Baby’s “Rose Candle” onepiece is all of that and then some. I saw the skirt during a sample exhibition at Passe, and fell in love instantly, but Baby’s skirts have much too small of waists for me. This OP will probably turn out too small, as well, because Baby’s sizes rarely end up being what they initially guess for magazines. I think that it looks perfect in this coordination though. Perfect shoes, perfect hair, perfect everything!

Recently I’ve been drawn to brands I don’t pay much attention to; for example the indie brand Chantilly. I’ve seen their bonnets and a few other pieces at the Angelic Pretty here in Nagoya before, and they always seem impeccably made, but I never much noticed anything else about them. In this month’s Kera, which has some photos from the fashion show in France last month, I spotted a darling jsk that I’m just dying to have, black with big lace roses.
I also really really love this upcoming skirt/blouse combination from Mille Fleurs. It’s so ridiculous and over the top! If only it would fit me, I’d.. probably not be able to afford it anyway! Oh well. It’s lovely to look at.
It seems that their site hasn’t been updated in quite a while, though. I really wish some brands would stay on the ball. But I guess if you have a very small business, just keeping your blog updated might be enough. I’m not sure how… but maybe it is.
mille

As for coats, I think everyone is performing brilliantly there. Baby’s are perhaps a bit safe, AP’s appliqués are kooky as ever (though their normal coats and the trench coat currently in reserve are all fabulous), Victorian Maiden’s are to die for… but then, I’m a coat person.

At any rate, that’s my few cents on the Autumn releases from the brands… well, some of them! While it’s on my mind, I’m not too pleased with IW, either. I think they’ve been trying pretty desperately lately to do something ultra cute, but somehow they always seem to miss their mark. They should stick to making elegant and regal pieces, and leave the teddy bear prints to AP. You can’t really pull off stuffed animals in a print using dusty, mature colors, in my opinion.
I was also interested to note that this issue of the GLB is kind of lacking in the over-the-top deco goodness of recent times. Is the wearing-a-parfait trend finally dying out? I hope not… because that will mean I’m fashion-backward!