2015 Fashion Adventures

inceAt the end of 2015, I had to confront a hard truth: I’ve lost interest in dressing up.  It’s not a complete abandonment.  I still think J-fashion is really cool, and I do bust out my ensembles for special occasions.  The reality is that I won’t go out of my way to attend meet-ups or to relentlessly pursue sales on brand items.  On the flip side, I won’t stop my yearly recaps or suddenly become very mundane with my fashion.

I also will continue to take a peek at the new style tribes that are covered by Style Arena.  This year had a couple of intriguing ones.  The Shuffler caught my eye because Kareshi learned that dance form but dresses the total opposite of that group.  “Survival game fashion” is something akin to what I’ve done before although I’ve combined it with another style, like visual kei below (this was from when I was in Japan 6 years ago).  I’ve always enjoyed military chic so this is probably the one tribe from this year’s group that fits my aesthetic.

I did buy a new piece this year: a black Baby the Stars Shine Bright blouse.  It was going to be worn to my friends’ wedding in November, but I decided to debut it at a neo-Victorian meet-up at a Sherlock Holmes special exhibit.  Unfortunately I got the meeting times mixed up, and Kareshi did not get a full outfit shot like I had thought.
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I paired the blouse with my pinstripe pants, a cloak in gamekeeper’s tweed (which reminded me of Holmes’ infamous deerstalker), and a magnifying glass necklace. This not-quite-steampunk/not-quite-ouji mash-up is my favorite new outfit of 2015.

My favorite outfit overall is my steampunk ouji number that I covered in 2012.  It’s unassuming enough to be my con ensemble for when I’m working press (I think the newsboy cap helps me feel as thought it fits).  I wore it to Anime Matsuri, where I sat in on the boystyle panel with Akira and Shiva from Atelier Boz.  They stood by the door to shake hands with all of us, and Shiva said I looked really cool.  Although the outfit is one of my all-time faves, I don’t think much of it because it’s not as fancy as other steampunks or oujis.  Shiva’s comments made me feel really good since sometimes I feel like I’m just stumbling along and throwing together clothing.
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Speaking of Anime Matsuri, being at the fashion show did remind me why I was drawn to J-fashion in the first place.  Despite having covered it already, I’m gonna share some more pics because everyone looked fantastic. I also want to go on the record and say that I hope for other cons to take on J-fashion that treats their models and guests more professionally and respectfully.

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Atelier Boz and Angelic Pretty

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Putumayo and Metamophose

Ironically 2015 had me closer to lolita than ever before because I finally had a fluffy petticoat and a proper blouse to go under my Baby JSK. As a result, I wound up putting together a gothic lolita outfit for the library’s annual Edgar Allan Poe Victorian Steampunk Halloween. As a part of the volunteer group, I had brought that there are other fashion subcultures that would fit so I took it upon myself to represent the lolis.

With the poof, I could barely fit in the coffin.

With that ensemble, I attempted at byojaku make-up, a trend that caught global attention in 2015. A lot of people don’t like the fact that you look sickly, but I’ve kinda been a fan of the dead girl look a la My Chemical Romance’s “Helena” video. I went a little too light on the blush and too heavy on the eyeliner (the latter I always do). Maybe I should have watched one of RinRin Doll’s tutorials:

And here I was afraid that I wouldn’t have anything to write about. My style resolution last year was to just be myself and possibly try more ouji. The former has worked out perfectly. The latter didn’t go as expected, but I have been adopting a more androgynous style. I think this year’s resolution is to just keep doing my thing… and maybe do a better attempt at byojaku make-up.

Listening to: “PoW!” by FEMM

The Mary Baskett Collection of Japanese Fashion

Last year, a special exhibit featuring items from the Mary Baskett Collection of Japanese Fashion opened at the Crow Collection of Asian Art.  The former Curator of Prints at the Cincinnati Art Museum discovered three Japanese fashion designersIssey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, and Yohji Yamamotoon a business trip.  She began collecting and wearing their clothes, and in 2007, her collection made its debut in Cincinnati.  Although the exhibit has already closed in Dallas, you can enjoy some of the pictures I took and a bit about each of the designers.
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From left: Comme des Garçons A/W 2009/2010 dress, Yohji Yamamoto x Cyborg 009 A/W 2012 wool sweater and underdress, and Issey Miyake A/W 2010/2011 132_5 Dress

All three are well-known today for being fashion innovators, melding traditional and avant-garde, East and West.  When their designs first appeared in the 1970s and 1980s, Western critics were shocked by the oversized silhouettes, raw edges, and monochromatic palettes.  They introduced the Western fashion world to Japanese aesthetics and new techniques and have been fashion powerhouses ever since.

Issey Miyake made his debut in 1971 in New York and is known for experimenting with layers and space in his designs.  He created the infamous black turtlenecks that Steve Jobs wore, and he developed a new method of pleating fabric that made garments easier to wear and launder.  After “retiring” from design in 1997, he focused on textile technology, leading to the creation of A-POC (A Piece of Cloth).  Over a decade older than 3-D printing, this customizable  garment emerges from a piece of cloth that is cut into the finished product, no sewing required.
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This is an example of Miyake’s A-POC with the cloth transformed into a skirt.

Founder of Comme des Garçons, Rei Kawakubo founded the company in 1973 and is involved in all aspects of it.  Her clothes challenge the ideas of fashion and beauty with their raw edges and bulky shapes.  Until the late 1980s, she stuck to mostly black to bring focus to form and structure.  Comme des Garçons often changes styles each season, as Kawakubo constantly reworks her ideas.  This eccentric designer is thought to be one of the inspirations for Edna Mode from The Incredibles.
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The dress on the left is from the 2005/2006 Broken Bride collection and is a collaboration between Kawakubo and Christian Astuguevieille.

Yohji Yamamoto debuted alongside Comme des Garçons in Paris in 1981.  He too featured deconstructed elements, asymmetry, and a monochromatic palette.  His influences include both traditional Japanese clothing and the Belle Époque fashions, and he designs with the idea of making menswear look good on women.  In 2003, Yamamoto teamed up with Adidas to create his sportswear line, Y-3.
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The middle wool suit from Yamamoto’s 2006/2007 collection consists of a jacket, bodysuit, and skirt/trousers.

Throughout the exhibit were quotes from each designer about their aesthetic, which tended to challenge conventional beauty and design. There was also an area for those who have been inspired to draw their own outfits.
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Listening to: “DON’T STOP” by Tanaka Alice

Anime Matsuri 2015 Fashion and Cosplay

Apologies for leaving you hanging for a month.  I had to take a break from blogging to concentrate on real life endeavors and catch up on editing the massive number of photos I took from various events, including Anime Matsuri.   I did do a feature on DISACODE vocalist AKIRA’s appearance in the Anime Matsuri fashion show for JRock247.  However, there were lots more images that I wanted to share.

The show, titled “Monster”, featured designs by Atelier Boz, Angelic Pretty, Putumayo, and Metamophose.  AKIRA played the hero whose complicated relationship with Queen Lilith, portrayed by Midori Fukusawa, is explored in the plot.  In addition to this dramatic storyline, the show also contained contained contortionism, pyrotechnics, and guest appearances by shironuri artist Minori, cosplayer Reika, and several other lolita models.
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AKIRA in Atelier Boz and Midori in Angelic Pretty

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Putumayo, featuring Yui Minataka as the Atomic Queen

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Metamorphose, featuring Chokelate

The fashion guests also hosted panels.  I attended the boystyle one by AKIRA and Shiva, the designer behind Atelier Boz.  They provided advice as well as personal details in the Q&A session.  Many attendees were in elaborate ouji coordinates that would make Oscar Wilde jealous, but Shiva seemed to like my “working” boystyle outfit.  It seemed like OTT (over-the-top) has been trending among both boystyle and lolita.  I also noticed some dolly kei influences in some of the lolita outfits.

On the cosplay side, I learned about make-up from Reika and embellishments from Stella Chuu and Chubear Cosplay.  Since Reika did a live demo on a lucky attendee, it was hard to see the finer details.  She gave a lot of great tips though.
Chubear and Stella had some interesting tips about how to make your costumes really stand out in photos, which often require sacrifice in the form of compromising on accuracy or realism.  Seeing their cosplays broken down helped make the process less intimidating.  Stella also did a panel on nerdlesque, which provided an informative prelude to the show later that evening.

Because I covered three concerts plus a fashion show and wanted to catch some panels in between, I didn’t really get to take too many cosplay photos. It was a shame since there was an area with different backdrops for photoshoots.  It was a great way to get pictures without worrying about blocking traffic, photobombs, or ugly hotel carpeting.  Popular costumes included variations of the Sailor Scouts, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and a bunch of things I didn’t recognize.
I have no idea what these guys are cosplaying, but they look so kawaii and fabulous.

Overall Anime Matsuri 2015 was an interesting experience.  Although I liked the spaciousness of the George R. Brown Convention Center, it might have been a little too big.  Getting lost and dealing with sore feet were inevitable, and the Houston construction outside didn’t help.  I don’t do many anime cons and very rarely do I travel outside of Dallas for a convention so I enjoyed seeing what another city had to offer in terms of J-fashion and cosplay.

Click here to see all my photos.

Listening to: Kirie Toroimen No Shirabe” by AKIRA

2014 J-fashion adventures

Resolving to allow myself to wear whatever I want, even if it meant abandoning the pursuit of different J-fashion styles, was probably the best decision I could have made.  It freed me from anything that limited my creativity and willingness to experiment.  As a result, I wound up knocking a few looks off my fashion bucket list and had several fun adventures worth sharing.

Despite this new energy, I didn’t see many new trends really catch my eyes.  My friends over at Kali’s Hourglass took to shironuri, which cropped up in 2012 but started to get more attention overseas in the past year.  While I think it’s gorgeous, it’s not something I will ever try (too much make-up and white for my tastes).
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Even the style tribes reported in Style-Arena seemed to rehash things that already existed.  I was amused at the concept of “Neo Bowling Style” since it’s something that has cropped here in the U.S. (with kids going bowling in prom dresses and burlesque dancers bowling for charity).  Also I inadvertently had a bowling lolita outfit when the shoes I rented wound up matching what I had worn to a meet-up prior to bowling.

At the Crow Collection fashion show, where Ramon and Radha did shironuri, I decided to attempt ora ora kei.  I’d been wanting to give it a shot, and there wasn’t a big gyaru contingent so I gave it shot with the clothes I had in my closet.  My make-up could probably use some work, but I enjoyed it.  I’m not sure it’s something I would wear regularly because of the make-up and accessories that are needed to properly represent the style.
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Another bucket list style was ero lolita.  Last year I pretty much gave up on lolita, but I still hang out with members of the local group and a murder mystery type of event at the art museum was too fun to pass up.  It was the middle of summer so I decided that it was the perfect time to try ero lolitaor as I called my look, burlesque ero lolita.  Again, not a style that is exactly me, but it was fun to try it out.

Something that was more up my alley was my new steampunk look.  I’d been wanting to do an Asian steampunk look that didn’t involve throwing a corset over a traditional Asian outfit.  I reused pieces from older ensembles and came up with a Rurouni Kenshin-inspired persona of a former assassin who wears to chimes so that she doesn’t frighten people with her stealth.  It’s still a work in progress, but that was definitely one of my favorites.
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From Steampunk Illumination Society

My favorite J-fashion look for 2014 was the ouji ensemble for my birthday photo safari, which was one of the highlights of the year.
The colors and make-up were inspired by Loki from The Avengers.  He’s one of my favorite characters so of course I enjoyed that bit of inspiration, and I think the androgyny is just something that is more my thing.

Thus my style resolution for 2015 is just to continue to do what works for me but don’t be afraid to explore.  I’d love to step up my ouji game and have fancier clothes, but I like being a bit rough too.  Maybe I can amp up the androgyny. We’ll see what happens.

Listening to: “9lives” by Shoko Nakagawa

2013 J-fashion adventures

2013 saw me cutting back on the J-fashion exploration.  I am still enamored with Japanese steampunk, especially after watching the video of the fashion show at Design Festa.  However, it feels too appropriative for me to attempt it so I stick to Western (as in British/American, not Wild West) and Chinese steampunk.

Unexpectedly I’ve become more interested in pin-up and rockabilly fashion.  I was excited to see Style-Arena list psychobilly as a new tribe since that fits my aesthetic more.  I haven’t had much luck finding Japanese pin-up fashion with the exception of Hime Carat in their “Body Rockabilly” PV:

I never got around to trying to do gyaru, and I’ve definitely stepped away from lolita. However, that didn’t stop me from having fun with my fellow lolis in a kodona outfit (yes, I know the shorts look way too short, but they kept riding up my thighs).

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By Stereometric (http://www.flickr.com/photos/hikikolife/)

My favorite Japanese fashion-inspired outfit of the year is probably what I called “Neo-Victorian Vampire Knight”. I knew I wanted to do something gothic and more costume-y for the Steampunk Illumination Society Halloween meeting so I combined pieces of my Zero cosplay with more aristocrat style clothing. For 2013, I really wanted to do more androgynous and masculine looks, and in that aspect, I was successful.

I don’t have any style resolutions for 2014 beyond wearing whatever makes me feel good. Even if that means moving away from J-fashion completely, I can focus on just being myself.

Listening to: