I don’t keep up with the latest trends in Japanese fashion anymore, but I still look out for new style tribes and hang around local J-fashion enthusiasts. Therefore, I’m changing my recap to reflect the various activities I’ve done relating to Japanese fashion (and alternative fashion in general). There will be more photos, more personal style and opinions, and a glimpse of the fashion conversation between Japan and America.
Let’s start with two style tribes that are garnering attention on both sides of the Pacific. The first is cult party kei. Named after the store Cult Party, which has now become Virgin Mary, it is a lighter version of dolly kei. Most of outfits are white or pastel (though red is alos featured), and the prints are usually limited to gingham and patchwork. The layers are often sheer, and a common motif is the American Red Cross. The style originated in 2010, but it took a couple of years for overseas audiences to take to it.
cult party style icon, Manapyon (from kinji-collection.tumblr.com)
The second style tribe is not something new: steampunk. We’ve seen traces of it in anime and neo-Victorian styles, but 2012 is when it has become a buzzword. The cool thing is that Japanese steampunks have put their own twist (inspired by traditional Japanese clothing as well as visual kei and lolita) to outfits. I’ve also noticed that while Westerners have avoided the Victorian maid, the Japanese have embraced the look.
Japanese steampunk band, Strange Artifact
Now onto some of my favorite outfits and fashion-related events of 2012. The local lolita group decided to have a post-Valentine’s Day meet-up. It was fun hanging out with old friends and meeting new people.
Anime Matsuri definitely takes the cake for best event. The fashion show was stunning, and Kareshi wound up buying his first brand piece from Alice and the Pirates. I had been eyeing the vest for myself, but if he can wear it with his steampunk ensemble and let me borrow it occasionally, I’m game. To top everyone off, I interviewed Tomomi Nakamura and Masumi Kano, designers for Alice and the Pirates and Baby the Stars Shine Bright respectively.
My military punk lolita outfit remains one of my favorites. I wore most of the pieces to see American Idiot the musical and got complimented on my boots. It amused me to realize that this would probably be on the few times I’d get away with stompy boots at the opera house.
For the annual cosplay/fashion show, I attempted fairy kei. That was no easy task since I tend to avoid pastels. Somehow I made it work though I’m not quite sure the audience got what I was going for. My favorite outfit in the show belonged to my friend Radha who looked like a vampire princess, having been inspired by Hizaki and Jasmine You of Versailles.
Amidst the fun times, there was a lot of frustration. I had to abandon my attempts at steampunking a yukata because they were just not working. I’ll leave the task to the Japanese.
I got some unpleasant messages about how my outfits are “not lolita at all”. Although I’ve never been one to care about fashion rules and there will always be people who think they can police a subculture, it was discouraging. I had already been losing inspiration for dressing up in both lolita and steampunk because I kept feeling like my efforts were never enough. At some point, I realized that I wasn’t dressing for myself anymore. If I had been, there would be more ouji, more hard and edgy elements. Instead, I conformed to the feminine ideals certain people (who opinions do matter more than random internet haters) had for me. My revelation led me to cease all plans for cosplay, lolita, and steampunk and focused on dressing how I wanted, which, for the time being, was mainly casual skater/tomboy.
With a new year comes a fresh perspective. At the end of December, I had discovered that ora ora kei might be something worth trying out, especially since a couple of the examples shown in Style Arena resembled my casual style. I do want to explore the sexier side though. My friend Risa created a facebook group for local gyaru enthusiasts (and potentials) so I decided that part of my style resolution would be to try out ora ora kei. Mostly I just want to get back to creating outfits with shorts and pants since I’m actually not a skirt person at all and to dressing however the hell I want.
Listening to: “Deeper Deeper” by ONE OK ROCK