A-kon 22 was a whirlwind of a convention. It was fun but thoroughly exhausting, hence my month’s hiatus. I was working press for Purple Sky, where you can read my D live report. Here, I’ll be talking about all the cosplay and fashion.
I ended last year’s A-kon report with the speculation that a merging of its two dominant fashion trends, Lolita and steampunk, would be appearing in the near future. Well, the future has arrived.
Admiral Ramon Leon Del Mar of S.S. Kali’s Hourglass (pictured above right) explained how he and his wife brought steampunk together with J-fashion in a similar outfit for an A-kon affiliated event in his blog. Such experimentation across styles and subcultures dominated A-kon 22 fashion, most notably at the steampunk ball. Although the Victorian British aristocrat and the heavily-armed airship pirate remained dominant looks, this year’s crowd also contained Asian-inspired ensembles and Neo-Victorian variation of fictional characters, including Wolverine, Deadpool, and Elphalba/the Wicked Witch of the West.
Lolita fashion mainly stuck to tried and true styles, but there were a few surprises, such as fairy kei accessories, hime-kei hairstyles, and a greater punk and gothic elements. Even Yuko Ashizawa, designer of the gothic brand Atelier-Pierrot, added an uncharacteristic element to the dress she wore to the Atelier-Pierrot and Chantilly Q&A. Despite not being influenced by traditional Japanese clothing, she used chirimen (yukata fabric) for the dress.
What Ashizawa and Chantilly’s designer Fumiko Kawamura, who was in kuro Lolita, revealed that their inspirations came from Marie Antoinette, the Addams family manor, Alice in Wonderland, and girls who attend conventions. Kawamura based Chantilly’s dresses around the concept of creating pieces to fit a Lolita’s wardrobe while the centerpiece of Atelier-Pierrot is the corset. Both designers expressed joy at the enthusiasm for Japanese gothic and Lolita fashion displayed by their American customers.
In addition to the Q&A, Chantilly and Atelier Pierrot held a fashion show featuring local models and Sophia and Ryu of Blood Stain Child. Atelier-Pierrot’s style was elegant, fit for a princess who has grown up. The dresses were in either black and white or rich jewel tones, accented by mini hats and tiaras. Chantilly’s cute image came across with the whimsical music and playful poses by the models. There were a lot of floral print and ruffles, and several girls wore bonnets (one of Kawamura’s favorite hair accessories).
Cosplay was just as diverse. Last year’s trends, Axis Powers Hetalia and Kuroshitsuji, had not faded. If anything, they were a stronger force with three Kuroshitsuji groups taking cosplay contest prizes and a Hetalia group getting Best in Show. The con staples— that is, the series that are a common sight every year like Super Mario Brothers and Bleach— had their fans go the extra mile with costumes and props to really catch people’s attention.
If there was one new series to look out for in terms of costumes, it’s definitely Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt. Unfortunately I was usually busy running off somewhere when I spotted the cosplayers, but there were several Panties and Stockings around the con (it’s very weird to type this). The series was another dominant force in the cosplay competition.
This year’s space opera theme brought out characters from several live-action sci-fi series, including Doctor Who, Star Wars, and even Space Balls. Non-anime/video game characters seemed to be the norm these days, and perhaps this acceptance of all sorts of characters and fashion style is what draws such a large crowd to A-kon. After all, where else can you stand in line with Lucrezia Noin, see Arwen drinking NOS, ride the elevator with Deadmau5, eat dinner with some steampunk pirates, and catch Captain Jack Sparrow checking out faery art?
For more photos, click here.
Listening to: “Corsican Corridor” by Yuki Kajiura