Have you heard of Lolitas?I had in the past couple of years, especially when pop culture started using them in videos – that’s when everyone started paying attention to a little street in Tokyo, with a huge personality.
This year in June I got to experience Harajuku when I went for this assignment.
Back then, all I could do was watch the strangely dressed Lolitas (in their frilly petticoats, short bangs, funny looking parasols and dainty pantyhose) and the gangsta-looking blonde leather-clad teens, a complete opposite of the Lolitas.
Like many tourists walking the street, I took pictures of them. It was only last month, when I started to read ‘Kamikaze Girls’ by Novala Takemoto that I understood a little more about the Lolitas and Yankis.
Kamikaze Girls centers around two students, Momoko Ryugasaki and Ichigo “Ichiko” Shirayuri, who are from completely different backgrounds: one is a Lolita girl, the other a Yanki who belongs to a motorcycle gang. The Yanki are more often than not, delinquent-type youths.
In real life, a Yanki would never be seen with a Lolita, which is what makes this book interesting – it makes you think of the ‘What If?’
When you see them on the street, you can’t avert your eyes. They’re just fascinating – especially the Lolitas. There are different kinds, but the sweet lolitas and gothic lolitas stood out the most when I visited.
They look like dolls! Clad in frills, lace, ribbons and buttons, these girls don’t leave the house without petticoats, and their bangs must fall at a specific point on their brows. They must wear knee high socks and platform/rocking horse shoes and sometimes carry parasols.
To the best of their ability(Lolita clothes can be expensive), they emulate Rococo styles as well as Victorian and Edwardian clothing. Gothic Lolitas, as the name suggests, use dark colours like black and purple, wearing heavy dark makeup like black eyeliner and dark red lipstick.
To outsiders, it just looks like weird fashion. However to the lolitas, its a lifestyle. In the book, Kamikaze Girls, the protagonist, Momoko, doesn’t just dress like a lolita, she listens to Bach and music from the classical period. She is polite and demure, and keeps to herself.
Thanks to pop culture, this interesting lifestyle isn’t just practised in Japan. People all over the world get involved in Cosplay, an avenue where you can go dressed as anything you like, and many choose to take on the Lolita look.
Maybe its that little girl in all of us struggling to get out.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Japanese fashion and Lolita culture, its googleable. But for a more personal feel to it, check out the book. Its easy to read and really gives you an idea of what this weird fashion is all about.
Psst.. if you’re not into reading, let it be known that there is a movie version as well.