Today I went as a sub-set of the Lolita sub-culture phenomenon. A subset derived from and inspired by traditional dress and the Kimono or Kosode as it was originally called. This is a style that I thought could mark my personal journey through my obsession and the culture and visual representation of the youth.
As I found the Lolita fashion to be the most uniquely Japanese and most interesting to me it was only fitting I delved into it again as my project draws to a close.Lolita began in Harajuku, Tokyo in the 1980s when Omotesando and Takeshita-dori, streets in the Harajuku district, were closed to traffic on Sundays. This closure allowed youths to gather in Yoyogi Park and the surrounding streets to listen to rock music performances, shop and socialize. Youths and street performers started appearing in wild, unconventional outfits which gradually developed into recognizable styles such as lolita, gyaru or kogal, decora and ganguro.(11)
Wa Lolita involves long 'sode' or, sleeves, and 'obi' or sashes that are taken from Kimono/yukata outfits, and fused with the bell-shaped skirt of Lolita. Wa Lolita fabrics are often very extravagant like most Kimono fabrics, involving detailed flower prints, and cranes. (13)
I had a new found confidence today. I don't know if it is due to my getting used to the stares and puzzled looks or whether its because other people are really getting into my intervention and seeking me out to see what i'm wearing or to hear about my choice and why i'm actually doing this intervention. I have surprised myself. And that is always a good thing.
Although this subculture (lolita) is often easily confused with a sexual fetish due to it's sharing the name of the novel by Vladimir Nabokov. Which is considered a classic and is based on the relationship of a grown man and a twelve year old girl.
Ironically the whole fashion is based upon elegance,modesty and youthfulness. The adopters of this fashion or sub-culture do so not to fulfill mens fetishes or fantasies but rather to their own desire to be young,cute and non-sexual. With some adopters of the style saying they were attracted to the style because of the modesty as so many of the other fashions adopted a "sexy beauty" aesthetic. Lolita is seen as a reversion to demure clothing which allows women to dress for themselves above dressing for male attention.
"A sociological perspective on dress requires moving away from the consideration of dress as an object to looking instead at the way in which dress is an embodied activity and one that is embedded within social relations." (Wright,1992)(12)
The Lolita subculture and its subsets is a rebellion and form of escapism from the societal roles women are expected to fulfill, the youth may have wider roles than their mothers but as i covered in my previous post they are still expected to be employed only until marriage and fill lesser positions in business compared to men. As well as the expected role of care-giver and mother. Thus Lolita is rejecting the expectations of society for their careers to take the backseat and homemaking the front seat by embracing the fantasy of fulfilling their own embodiment of beauty, elegance and escaping the mundane often pre-decided lives.
For me this is particularly interesting in terms of Wa-loli as it draws such strong reference from the traditional dress which carries the connotation of traditional values and ideals yet still forms part of the rebellion against exactly that. Does this make it in all actuality the most rebellious of all the Loli styles? I think so.
heres a video of all the different lolita styles.
And heres little old me: