After last year’s mermaid frenzy, I can just sense that the world was headed for Unicorn Universe, at least trend-wise. What has all the same shimmer, glitter, and pop of the mermaid world but has a fresh, bright color palette for spring? Unicorn style, of course. I wish I could buy stock in these sparkly beasties.
When Starbucks says they’re releasing a very limited drink run of the unicorn frappuccino, I knew no matter what it tasted like, I had to try out anything that promised to give me that pastel-swirl look. (The life cycle of the unicorn frappe has already turned – sorry, Starbucks, but except for us Insta-happy pastelitas, apparently colors aren’t enough to make a gimmick hit. Caramel may be beige, but it’s still a fan favorite.)
To get my obnoxiously rainbow swirl drink, I had to put together a matching outfit (cause I am extra like that). Starbucks mermaid goes head to head with unicorn realness in the bright pop art graffiti of Starbucks’ home zip code, Seattle’s very own 206. I spent my summers kicking around Seattle visiting my grandmother up on Aloha Street and cutting my teeth on Capital Hill, so this outfit is also a homage to the colors of the Emerald City.
So okay – did I like the flavor? I was pretty skeptical about mango in this color scheme – mango to me says creamsicle orange or golden yellow, like in my favorite Korean Paris Baguette puddings. But yes, I did taste mango in the main body of the frappe, and I wouldn’t be surprised if mango makes a permanent resurgence onto the Starbucks menu. The sour powder that gives it the signature color was fun at first, but between it and the super-sugar content, it only survived about 1/2 way through the drink before all I had left was ice and colors. Verdict? It wasn’t terrible, but it definitely was a once-in-a-blue-moon hype stunt. Love it or hate it, you have to admit Starbucks did get us all excited to see a real soon-to-be legend.
I had a fun afternoon date with my friend Alice this past weekend to practice our Korean and she introduced me to a cute new Japanese teashop and bakery on New York City’s Upper East Side. I wear this comfy pastel pink Liz Lisa look a lot, but I think this is the first time I ever photographed it in an outfit shot!
This is actually two pieces, an underbust top and a matching dusty pink mini-skirt. They are both super comfortable, and pair well together to create the look of a layered onepiece. I even sneak this top under jumperskirts sometime to mix up my lolita style; it’s been really versatile for me.
Harbs is a Japanese bakery with desserts blending Asian sweets flavors with French traditional patisserie style, such as mille-feuilles and crepe cakes. Mine is cream cake with with layers of sweet potato (in Korean, we call this ggomuma) and sweet chestnut, both typical flavors in Asian desserts. It was incredibly creamy and smooth! If you’re in the area, definitely be sure to check out Harbs for a sweet afternoon treat. I’m considering going back in a few weeks for the spring, since they’re known for their cherry blossom-strewn sakura cake.
I’m working on a guide to the best teatime and cake spots in New York City in conjunction with Lolita and the City, so look for it! It’s great for both locals looking for a new spot or vacationers looking to see the cutest and most Insta-worthy places in the city to enjoy cute foods, cakes, desserts and bubble teas. It’s… becoming big… expect multiple installments, if it gets any bigger! What can I say? NYC is bursting with lovely tea shops and patisseries! If you have a favorite NYC teashop, be sure to leave it in the comments below or on the Parfait Doll Facebook page!
Thank you, Facebook memory reminder, for some random status update I posted from my younger self every time I log in. I love seeing year-old lunches I forgot I ate. But I’ll give you credit – occasionally this little wayback-bot digs up a gem. Like the other day, when it reminded us of a little Connecticut lolita meetup from back in 2010.
We pored over the pictures of our younger selves, with more than a little cringe and some wistfulness. Why did I think those Harajuku Lovers shoes went with everything? Where is that bonnet I always used to wear? Friends had come and gone from the scene, moved or changed styles or lost interest.
(I’m twenty here! I thought this outfit was the pinnacle of style, and now I am wondering what the heck I was thinking.)
“Remember this girl? I haven’t seen her in years,” comments one friend on a photo, “But I remember at that meetup I thought she was so fancy! She had that blonde ringlet wig and pink purse.”
“Nowadays, we’d think she was so plain!” I bemused. “Our past lolita selves would wet our pants looking at today’s lolita fashion. So over-the-top!”
Nineteen year old me peers back from the photo, and I imagine her reading this over my shoulder. If I could sit down with her and a stack of magazines, I wonder what she’d say. The lolita style has changed a lot since I started in 2006, over ten years ago! And even moreso since the style began in the nebulous 90s and early 00s.
For starters, we didn’t wear wigs then! (You can now imagine me on my rocking chair, looking like Clint Eastwood in the Gran Torino, if you like.) Or very rarely. We wore skirts or jumperskirts of course, with knee-high socks or tights, and maybe a cardigan with an embroidered brand logo if you were fancy. Hairclips or Alice bands from Claire’s were enough for the head. A bonnet was considered very daring, and I remember specifically wearing mine to stand out of the crowd. I wore lolita fashion on a daily basis, to school, the grocery store, the doctor’s, or to hang around the house. I have striped pastel pink socks from Sock Dreams, a gingham Baby the Stars Shine Bright skirt entwined with roses, and a Victorian-styled coat with white fur trim and shoe-lace corseting. And I wore that stuff everywhere.
(images from FRUiTS magazine)
We were inspired by the girls we saw in magazines, like FRUiTS (which has recently gone under! Thus further ringing the ‘end is near’ bells of doom) and the Gothic and Lolita Bible, mostly in the street snaps. These were young people of Harajuku, getting dressed just to hang around downtown for an afternoon, or go shopping with friends, and defined the idea of ‘street style’. When asked what the heck we were wearing, the classic tagline response might have been, “This is a street style from Japan.”
The lolita style of today is no longer streetwear. Though we called it for many years ‘street style’, the street aspect no longer applies. I do not see lolitas on sidewalks or in parks, on subways or sitting alone in cafes. Lolita is now reserved for special occasions, for most, or at the least, toned down into ‘casual style’. When I first started, casual lolita could mean no petticoat, no hairbow, and a t-shirt on top rather than a blouse. Today’s casual lolita simply means that you’re only wearing one head-eating bow, one accessory like a single bag charm, and typically a simply-styled, naturally colored wig. Even our casual looks are what we used to consider complete lolita fashion, meetup-worthy and all.
(image from fyeahlolita.com via Style Arena, sourced below)
I saw this most of all at the last two Rufflecons I attended. Rufflecon, being a locale of like-minded fashion-influenced folk, was the place to go all-out with your inspired coordinates. Everyone aimed to out-fancy the others in crowns, tiaras, wings, gardens’ worth of flowers, increasing circumferences of petticoats and underpinnings, scepters and wands of all kinds. I even saw a girl who had her own portable chandelier to match her coordinate. I can’t really talk – I used the opportunity to drag out my dufflebag-sized stuffed unicorn purse. But this isn’t really fashion exactly the way we used to know it.
As I mentioned in my recent Halloween and lolita fashion discussion, lolita fashion did become mainstream in a way we didn’t expect. The streets and malls are still not awash with teenybopper lolitas, as we once feared, the source diluted from the original so much as to be unrecognizable. Despite its differences, lolita is still clearly descended from its forebears. The kawaii aesthetic did take off, in a more wearable, casual way that was more accessible. So what happened to give us the modern lolita look of today, something that is so more complex and show-stopping?
This is my pet theory: rather than going the route of diluting, lolita fashion sped in the other direction and has become runway-wear, special event wear, and reserved for the realm of photoshoots and increasingly expensive teas and formal parties.
Western fashion couldn’t accept the elaborate lolita as daily fashion, but it could accept lolita as a special event. Lolita fashion has always said it’s not cosplay, but we found ourselves most at home in the bubble of cosplay and its biospheres of anime conventions or photoshoots. As cosplay rose from homemade stitching to a higher and higher artform, the two looked less like cousins and more like sisters.
And it’s not wrong. I’m not here to condemn fancy, over-the-top, dramatic lolita looks! I love them myself. It’s amazing the kind of looks and styles one can create, not just as a designer or DIY-er but just by mixing and matching different styles and items to create a specific idea or aesthetic. I’ve always maintained that coordinating lolita is an artform of its own. But it’s no longer the one we live our lives in, as it used to be.
You can check out this article, where they proclaim the death of Harajuku in favor of the new reign of normcore supergiant, Uniqlo. This article proclaims that in Japan, the decline of street fashion is due to the commercialization of it – that the unique aquifer of creativity and invention we associate with Harajuku was the gift of art students, and that the buying and selling and overmarketing of of it is what lead to its destruction there. But here, where we see kawaii and whatever imports of Harajuku beginning to normalize, and as Japan now looks to the overseas wallet to support the market and brand houses it created, I think the diagnosis is different. Kawaii style is still alive and well; but the idea of lolita is no longer the lolita of the streets.
This is a natural progression. Lolita fashion is not dead, not by a long shot; it’s not relegated to the corners of museums and old photo albums just yet. Even in 2014, we see this being called “artistic lolita”, shepherded in by the more extravagant Baby the Stars Shine Bright speciality dresses (now priced closer to $500 – $1,000 USD, where years ago the average lolita brand dress could still be got for around $180 new), and borrowing from other elaborate styles of the time like shironuri or the costuming of concerts like Brilliant Kingdom. The It Fashion Item in the past two years has been the large and stunning Triple Fortune bonnet, or the religious-trend inspired nun veil, illustrating the swing of the fashion pendulum.
For me personally, I no longer wear lolita fashion every day or even most days. While I still enjoy ruffles, pastels, frills and roses, I have a separate cute casual wardrobe rather than my daily lolita wardrobe that I used to turn to every morning. I might only wear lolita for the occasional photo, date with a friend or meetup, perhaps a handful of times a month. In a way, it’s sad. I miss it. Even more strange, I now find lolita fashion to feel less comfortable and familiar than it used to. Whether it’s because lolita is now too bold to wear in the real world or because I am living in it less, I’ve actually started to feel more self-conscious in it. This thing I have lived a decade of my life in, that shaped so much of me and my current world, suddenly felt foreign.
Is my answer to wear more lolita? To revive the simpler styles? To find the same sweetness and princess emotion in the casual styles that are popularizing? To force myself to wear lolita all the more and stake my claim on the every day world, until it feels like home again? The original magic in lolita – and indeed, as the above article states, in the spirit of Harajuku – was the daydreams brought to life by its young artists, models and visionaries, who created a world of their own by the denizens it resembled. It is the buzz and creation, the hum of living artwork that really nourishes the blossoms of Harajuku there and across the world, of which lolita is only one species among many. However you may choose to capture that feeling, in whatever form or flower, is up to you. But I hope you continue, like I will, to chase after that elusive otherworld through the transformative power of fashion.
Do you see changing styles and habits of wearing lolita in your community? Are you seeing more lolita being worn daily, or more fanciful styles taking hold? Feel free to comment below or on the Parfait Doll Facebook fanpage!
Lolita moodboards are the latest viral meme to pop up for lolita fashion, in emulation of the cosplay moodboards that quickly became popular on Instagram and Tumblr. These simple collages are a lot of fun to make, and great ways to showcase your coordinate, show off your personality or plan a future style. Consider them mini look books that are easily repostable and enjoyable from all your forms of micro-social media. I especially enjoyed posting them on Twitter (check me at @victoriasuzanne, btw!), which needs more visual loves to brighten up your texts and tweetstorms.
In the northeast, we just experienced two crazy extremes – a sunny spring like day of 60 degrees followed by a whopping fifteen inches of snow that night. The city shut down and I was left with a sudden snow day, an unforeseen excuse to mess around on my phone and tweet way too much. And I’ll warn you that making these lolita moodboards is addictive. Exercise this arcane knowledge at your own discretion.
You can use any kind of photograph you want to showcase – whether you’re drooling over a potential coordinate with your dream dress, wanting to showcase a past photoshoot or outfit shot, a cosplay you completed, a fictional character you love or even just your own selfies. Here’s the fail-self formula to easy, adorable moodboards!
Step One: Get Yourself a Grid
I’m an iPhone user, so I open up my favorite collage app PicFrame (it is also available on Android!). It costs $0.99 to download, but I’ve used it for years for many different projects, so it’s been a good investment for me. Plus, it’s ad-free and doesn’t add any extra watermarks to your photos. If you want to make them on your PC, you could try Canva, a free moodboard service with different grid layouts that also offers stock photos to play with for $1. PicFrame has the added benefit of making your final image square as well, so it’s easy to post them to Instagram if that’s your speed.
The most popular style is the three-by-two grid, or two columns of three images. So you’ll need six images. If you prefer you can do more or less, but too many may look confusing and too few may lack cohesion. I pattern mine every other – one stock photo, below it one personal photo, another stock photo, with the opposite pattern on the other column.
Pick three of your favorite photos on your chosen topic. I like to pick different angles or showcase different details of the outfit. A shoe shot, an accessory shot, a face or makeup shot, and a full body are a couple such examples. If you only have full body shots, you can zoom in and crop some of your favorite parts.
Next, pick three stock photos or sourced photos. I like to use Pinterest or Tumblr to search for images that will give the feeling I’m looking for. This is where your theme comes in to create the necessary aesthetic. In this theme, I chose galaxy to play up the galaxy pattern in the dress. It’s also a good idea to keep to a few key colors or a basic color palette. I think for the general cohesion of it, stick to one or two colors. And, if you’re working with a lolita dress with a print, you can also use the digital flat of the print from the brand’s stock photos.
Once you have your photos arranged the way you like them, you can adjust the border width or change the border color. I still prefer white, but you could always use black for darker themes, or pastels for a more delicate approach. Then, save your moodboard. For the finishing touch, I open up my favorite filter app (I like SelfieCity, available iPhone and Android) and apply one filter over the whole moodboard to make the photos look like a set with similar coloring. If you’re using a PC, you could consider tweaking the colors in Photoshop or using an after effects program, or a light filter.
And you’re done! If you decide to make some based on this tutorial, feel free to post them on the Parfait Doll Facebook page! I’d love to see what everyone is daydreaming about!
Welcome to a brand new year, dolls! Like every year, it’s the turning of a page, and the opportunity to reinvent yourself afresh. Okay, ‘new year, new me’ is the always awful New Year’s cliche, but when it comes to fashion, there’s no better time to start updating your style than today. To celebrate, here’s my favorite fashion trends, colors, and ideas to try out in 2017!
The Trend: Pastel Korean Normcore
This is a trend I’ve spotted in a lot of kdramas and kpop videos – the style of simple garment construction with cute motifs like fruit, hearts, or sweets, with pastel colors or pastel color blocking. The pastel Korean normcore (a pormanteau of the words normal and hardcore) aesthetic likes ball caps, pleated tennis skirts, sweatshirts, beanies and oversized sweaters. My main source for this look is Yesstyle, but you can try other smaller online retailers like Inu Inu for more pop art pieces. It’s a great look for casual style or every day wear. My wardrobe functions in two ways: cute, comfy basics that can be worn easily without much thought for daily style, and showy unique princessy pieces like my lolita wardrobe. Pastel normcore is a great way to bulk out your wardrobe so you can always feel cute, even on your off days.
The Trend: Breakfast Foods
While we still love the classic food themes of strawberries, sweets, cake and ice cream, the latest styles are all about breakfast. Toast, pancakes, eggs, milk and bacon can all be spotted on kawaii clothing and accessories lately. Gudetama, a lazy Sanrio egg, probably kicked off the fascination with all things oeuf, but breakfast cute has expanded far beyond his shell of influence. I’m still waiting for more lolita breakfast prints that just Angelic Pretty’s Honey Cake series!
The Trend: Larme-kei
Larme-kei is a sweet and classy offshoot from other bigger styles such as cult party and the ever-eternal gyaru. It’s a fluffy, feminine style in muted pastels or muted jewel tones (such as wine, black, or cream), with delicate dolly makeup. A lot of the style relies on texture to make a statement, such as fluffy knits, feathers, marabou, velvet or satin. It began with the magazine Larme, launched in 2012, but the style seems to be picking up steam in the last year or two. Another great daily or date style for “lolitas off duty”, with a lot of room to DIY and experiment within the aesthetic. Here’s a few key links if you’d like to read more about Larme style:
The Trend: Hair Ribbons Revamped
While the hairbow has been a popular motif in lolita fashion (duh), jfashion in general, and even good ol’ American hipster retro fashion, the more airy hair ribbon is making a resurgence. Using real ribbon of different fabrics, you can add unique bows or ribbon weavings into braids, pigtails, ponytails and more. Ribbon is popping up on the edges of sweater sleeves, chokers, or earrings and other accessories as well. The puffy, round shape of the hairbow has friendly competition from the trailing, freestyle ribbon form this year! This fits with a lot of the return to destructured, more simple and pure styles coming into play.
These are just some of the trends I’m excited to try out this year! It’s fascinating to watch fashion continue to evolve every year based on what’s in style and the current mood and needs of the youth and driving fashion generation and industry. Are there any trends you see riding into the new year, or any trends you’d like to try out for yourself? What does your 2017 fashion lookbook look like?
It has been a week since we have suffered the blow of the American election, and despite the overwhelming push to stay calm and trust in the American system, Things Are Not Going Well. In the first week, we have seen the corners of the Internet previously relegated for Internet trolls summon those trolls to life on the incoming White House staff. We have seen completely unprecedented calls for racism, white nationalism, hate crimes, and the evil foreboding of deportation and concentration camps.
So why am I discussing this with you adorable readers, in your pinks and pastels and frills and laces? Well, because I believe there is something we can do about it. There is something we can all do about it, whether you have access to a fancy computer or simply apps on your smartphone. Okay, here is my advice to you: goshdarnit, make some damn memes.
Okay, stay with me here. This is not just armchair activism at work. I’m going to explain why memes matter.
When I wrote my original article on kawaii subversive, I talked about how pastel and kawaii subversive text wrapped feminism, trans and LGBT rights in the lovable aesthetic trend of kawaii, femme and soft grunge. Did these memes change the world? No. What they did do was foster an environment of tolerance, acceptance, defense and normalization of these topics. They made these topics cool, and trending, and at the very least, got you to share support for your fellow women, sisters and LGBT folk on your blog or Tumblr and Twitter feed. For every person who stands up, the culture shifts a little closer to where we would like it to be.
This election has been changed by Internet culture and millennial involvement more than we ever could have imagined, even since Barack Obama’s run in 2008 and 2012. What we saw in this election cycle is that social media has risen above that of standard journalism. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Tumblr are all at the cutting edge of how we communicate; the President-Elect’s Twitter has been the subject of more news scrutinizing than we ever could have imagined. (Read this article on how Facebook’s algorithms helped promote radicalized spaces during this election.) Fake news sites, hoaxes and false quotes spread with the strong power of the meme, an easily shared and digestible bite of information. I remember seeing false Hillary information about late-term abortions being shared through nothing more than a photograph with text. I remember the deluge of Bernie memes that fired up his base and encouraged a strong millennial presence. Even after the election, Biden/Obama bromance memes soothed the collective American psyche as we all made in-jokes at the expense of our new President-Elect.
Memes can spread information for calling your senators and state representatives. Memes can shame public figures, such as they were used to make sure no one forgets the name and face of rapist Brock Turner. Memes of celebrities and public figures can either lampoon them or celebrate them, cause relatability or distance. If memes gain enough popularity and interest, they can garner national attention, such as Pepe the Frog, or the Ice Bucket Challenge. Millennial communication through memes and social media channels does not make our voices any less valid by our chosen venue.
What we need, and what the kawaii and youthful Internet culture can give, is pro-resistance memes. Where the mainstream media urges normalization and acceptance, we the Internet culture has no such filter. We need memes that call out white supremacy for the Voldemort-come-to-life it is. We need memes to remind everyone that Japanese concentration camps are not the model for America moving forward. We need memes that speak out against hate crimes. We need memes not to accept the normalization of a corrupt president and Nazi and KKK platform in our country. We need memes that rally the base, that do not settle for complacency, that foster the idea that we can do something, even as the doors of democracy slam shut in our faces.
In looking back on this, what Hillary needed was more memes to change her public perception. Remember Wendy Davis memes after her stunning Texas filibuster to protect women’s healthcare? I wanted floral crowns and Photoshopped Khaleesi dragons for you, Hillary. But let’s focus on the future of what memes can do for the resistance now.
To Donald, the victor, go the memes, in this election. His supporters made countless memes and shareable images to bolster and incite his base to victory. They will continue to make more memes. While the “liberal elite” continues to swap articles and fact-checks, the fascist right will continue to make memes, political cartoons, and images. And I hey, I love articles. They’re a great resource. But they do not have the instant impact given over to memes.
This is not to say we do not have enough anti-Donald memes. He is great meme fodder; the man is the darkest joke we have ever seen. In part, I think gallows humor has much to play here, but we also need to look critically at how the humor surrounding his portrayal has underestimated him. If anything, I think we need fewer anti-Donald memes and more pro-resistance memes. Normalizing Donald as our wacky oh-shucks leader is the most dangerous game we can play. He is not just the idiotic orange cheeto-in-chief; he is a deeply racist, misogynistic leader who is threatening our most basic freedoms and way of life.
And again, why do I appeal to you, the kawaii culture reader? Because the kawaii culture has skin in the game. Kawaii culture has always been a place of diversity, religious, ethnic, racial and LGBT and gender fluidity alike. We have always said, from the words of Novala Takemoto, that lolita fashion is a princess with the soul of a punk. Punk is a prime example of how aesthetic was used to make a political statement in previous decades. Fashion has power because we live our lives in it; it and aesthetic encapsulates us as fish to water. Lolita fashion has always stood against the patriarchy, to make a statement of who we are, despite what society tells us to be. It is time to put our fashion and aesthetic where our mouths are.
This doesn’t just apply to sweet and kawaii fashion lovers. I appeal to all Internet youth cultures to flood the social media outlets with memes encouraging protesting and resistance. If you are a Harry Potter fan, make memes. If you are an anime fan, make memes. If you are pastel, grunge, Dr. Who, Supernatural, neogoth, vaporwave, make memes in whatever aesthetic you prefer. If you cannot protest, you can choose to network by sharing information and spirit and support across social media. Even if you are not American, if you are against fascism and racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia and hatred in all its forms, you can make memes. We do not need to manufacture fake news to garner support; the real news is dark enough. Quote your favorite activists and journalists. Quote real statistics. The truth is on our side. Love still trumps hate.
I am going to be working on creating #KawaiiResistance memes and concentrating them on a Tumblr and Facebook page, and I am accepting submissions, but I also encourage you to create resistance memes of any aesthetic and share them across all social media platforms. This blog has always stood for positivity, personal empowerment of women and girls through kawaii aesthetic, and it will continue to face the onslaught against these freedoms and its intersectional marginalized groups without ever. backing. down. If you would like to collaborate on this issue further, feel free to contact me on my Twitter @victoriasuzanne or by private message on the Parfait Doll Facebook fanpage.
In the aftermath of the American presidential election and the dark days that lie ahead, I am here to do what I do best: write. As always, I will focus on survival. My entire life has been about survival, whether minute to minute or week to week. I have spent years under the knowledge that every good day I am given is a gift. And now, I hope I can impart some of this wisdom I have hard-won and wrested from my hardships – chiefly, my chronic disease – onto you.
A friend of mine, even before the election die was cast, was going through a pretty tough time. She is, without a doubt, one of the sweetest people I know. Incarnate angel has never been a truer description, and I am proud to symbolically refer to her as my ‘other mother’. She has stood by me when I could do little more than watch the pattern of the sunlight fall across the drapes in my living room day by day. I hope, too, that I can give her a little of what she has given me.
Anyway, she is having it a tough right now – medical, family, the works. Over tea the other day, I hear her talking to her best friend, my mom. The weight of her struggles gray her voice over the speaker. After an outpouring of emotion, there is a brief pause in which both she and my mom exhale. Mom is mustering up some kind of pep talk. “Well,” she says finally after a deep breath, “You just gotta keep sloggin’ through.”
My ears prick up over my coffee cup. I disagree.
“No. You do not slog through.”
She laughs bleakly.
“What should I do, prance? I’ll get my tutu.”
“No,” I said. “You won’t prance. You will have bad days, yes. It will be awful, and hard, and you’ll wonder if you can do it for even one more day. You’ll wonder if you can even continue being in this body, in this time and space, for another minute. But that’s not all that will happen.”
The white noise of a heart listening over the fuzz of a speakerphone.
“There will be bad jokes. There will be good cups of tea, and there will be sunny spots on kitchen faucets. You will pet dogs on the street. You will be with the people you love. The will be songs you like on the radio. You’ll do your best, and they will be hard days, but in each hard day there will be a few brief moments to savor. It’s up to you to hold onto them tight, and never let go. Those are the moments you are fighting for.”
When I was in the hospital, growing up as a kid, I collected my share of horror stories. I met a little four year old girl who had been operated on so many times she no longer had a belly button. I have gotten such bad news from a quavering attendant doctor that I have screamed and cried for him to get the hell out while I mourned my broken body. I have felt a complete physical paralysis from a bad drug cocktail, late at night, while my bedmates groaned and shrieked around me. American Horror Story has nothing on my childhood.
But in the deepest pit of places, places I try to scrub from my mind, even there I had my tiny golden moments. Stupid jokes with my dad over piped-in hospital reality TV. Wheelchair rides from my big sister up and down the corridors, even more treasured now that she’s no longer with us. Praying with my little sister in the thick silence of a hospital atrium studded with stargazer lilies. Microwaved tea straight from the warm hands of my mother.
This is not to downplay or trivialize the very real fears and pain we, the marginalized of the United States, feel right now as we look straight into the faces of our friends, neighbors and family and realize they do not see us as quite as human as they are. The hate crimes against the people I love and cherish are already here. But if we are to survive this, it will not just be on blood and fire in the belly.
We will need music more than ever. We will need art more than ever. We will need prayer, in whatever way you choose, more than ever. We will need, in the face of so much hate, kindness. We will still need those tiny moments to feed the softness inside us, the very thing we protect. Love. Equality. Faith.
Tomorrow the sun will rise on this world again and you will have a choice. Be angry. Be grieving. Be fighting. And through that grief, find those tiny moments throughout your day. They are there, buried in even the darkest places. Make those moments for others. Speak with more love to the people we care about. Speak with more kindness to the strangers next door. If you can genuinely ask someone how they are, and really listen to the answer; and if you have a spare dollar, give it.
There is no election inside your heart.
Do not slog, America. The tutu is optional, but if you like, I’m happy to lend you one of mine.
There is magic here, in the woods. The settlers thought it was the Devil, but there is nothing darker than humans can imagine. Though that may be very dark indeed. For those who know, who dare, who will, and who would be silent, you can hear the many voices of the trees.
This photoshoot features a few things near to my heart – one, the autumn leaves and New England landscape I grew up in, marked still by the rumors of witchcraft and spirits since its early colonial days – and two, my own folk magic heritage. This broom was actually my very first broom as a little beginner witch, over ten years ago now. I remember placing it on the front porch Halloween night and asking it to make friends with the local sprites and goblins, or symbolically sweeping casting glitter from my circles. It has been my stalwart companion beside the firestones ever since.
Thank you to Xin Pan, my wonderful photographer who happened to be traveling through my hometown on his way back to Brooklyn. His ability to play with the light and colors of a perfect fall morning is certainly a magic of its own.
Have a magical Halloween this year!
Since Halloween is very fast upon us, my article ‘Can I Wear Lolita on Halloween?’ is getting plenty of hits and comments. Upon re-reading it, I realized there was more to the lolita-costume debate than there was a few years ago. In the past, I said that one cannot dress ‘as a lolita’ for Halloween, anymore than one can dress ‘as a schoolgirl’, for example, because it is a fashion, not a costume. But things have changed since 2012 (when I wrote on this topic last!) and this Halloween, in 2016, I have a new edict for you.
Wear whatever you like this Halloween.
Why the change of heart? Well, in a microculture like ours, a lot can change in four or five years. The world of lolita culture and fashion, our state-of-the-frilly-union, so to speak, is no longer what it was. We used to want mainstream acceptance in the way American goth has had acceptance – some eye-rolling, a little weirdness, but accepted like a quirky second cousin you really can’t do anything about. I’m sure the classic American goths raised on Trash and Vaudeville will have their own input, but in general, no one is confused by goth anymore. There’s Abby on NCIS, everyone has tried out black lipstick, and Doc Martens are made in kiddie sizes. As the goth generation grew up, it settled in.
This was what, I think, we wanted as a community for lolita fashion. No more weird cat calls on the train, no more strangers saying they ‘just HAVE to ask’, or if there was a play or circus in town. Lolita fashion could not be diluted! We would cry out. The public cannot get the wrong idea if we are to finally show our culture to the mainstream. There could be no weird costume portrayals at Halloween, labeled ‘Harajookoo girl’ or ‘Living Dead Dolly’. Some even latched onto the ‘culture, not costume’ message, which is beyond the pale – the fashion is not at all oppressed in the same way as racial stereotyping, as I stated in the original article.
Something happened since then for lolita fashion that we did not expect, exactly, but now in hindsight seems inevitable. Lolita fashion did not mainstream as we all sometimes would dread back on the old EGL Livejournal days – could you imagine, we would lament, seeing every teenybopper wearing cheap, Hot Topic styled lolita dresses? But that’s not what happened. Lolita fashion did not mainstream. But what did mainstream was kawaii culture. Lolita fashion, with its attention to detail, deeply layered culture and guidelines, did not dabble easily. But the general aesthetic of kawaii, brought on the wings of all the subgenres we had never imagined – pastel grunge, vaporwave, living doll style (Is that a thing? How do you do, fellow kids?), and the endless, endless flower crowns for basically everyone. I went into my local Claire’s yesterday, and it looked like Tumblr had regurgitated a tween paradise of cute trends, everything from Pusheen iPhone cases to pastel-and-pentacle chokers for any budding pastel goth. At Hot Topic, gone were the scenester clothes of my day, replaced with punk-ish Disney and Totoro t-shirts. What we had pioneered and considered fringe, when Anime Club showed Miyazaki films, it was all finally a household name. Much like geeks, who consider themselves outside pop culture, but are actually at the heart of it – who hasn’t seen Suicide Squad or Star Wars or Star Trek now? – kawaii has become digestible.
Besides the normalization of kawaii culture, another trend once considered weird has become mainstream – cosplay. When I was a teenager, cosplay was still barely a thing. I remember having delusions of making a Yu-Gi-Oh cosplay for the movie premier at twelve year old out of white duct-tape (don’t judge, we’re all young once). Now there’s Heroes of Cosplay. Now you can buy quality cosplays on the Internet, and read dozens of tutorials. Costumes are no longer just for Halloween. Costumes are not necessarily the over-priced, scratchy, flammable things they used to be when your only choice was going in your dad’s old clothes or shopping at your big box pop-up Halloween store. Costume once meant cheap, poorly constructed plaything, a connotation we wanted to stay far away from. Today, the line between costume and fashion had blurred. And isn’t that a good thing? The world of fashion is expanding to ever more fantastical heights without the trappings of the word ‘costumey’, looking down its nose on the unusual.
So what does this mean for lolita fashion on Halloween? It means the pond is too big to worry anymore. There is no lolita fashion homeland to protect. The styles of Japan, once so rigid, have burst into a myriad rainbow of colors and styles in the East and West both. It has blossomed here overseas in ways we would never have dreamed of when all we had were Gothic & Lolita street snaps. Lolita fashion is not dead. But lolita fashion has reincarnated to the world at large.
In short – dress up on Halloween. Wear pastels, or darks, or jewel tones, with your Baby the Stars Shine Bright bunny ears if you like, (like Kate Beckinsale, who sources tell me hit up BABY NYC a few weeks ago!), or with your handmade unicorn horn, or with the mermaid scale tights you got from Hot Topic. Wear your best lolita dress, maybe with a horror mask, or fake blood dripping from your chin, or a galaxy freckling your face. It’s a night for magic, and mischief, and being whoever you want to be. Save the serious and sacred for November 1st.
Celebrate Halloween by wearing… Anything. You. Like.
Oh, and PS – Halloween themed lolita and kawaii fashion? Not only perfectly acceptable, hello, it is CUTER THAN EVER. Long live witch lolita! I mean, check out the cuties above. Slay, ladies – on the runway, and an errant vampires you might run into!
I am so excited to introduce you all to a new indie designer I met at the convention this weekend! I spent all weekend chasing after my dream of owning these pink, fluffy angel wings! After frothing at the mouth from backstage, I dropped off my business card with one of the Crystal Isis associates and continued glimpsing them from afar during the weekend. Finally on Sunday the designer (Crystal Isis herself! and yes, like me, that is her real name!) caught up with me, plucked these heart-shaped wings off her head, and handed them to me. I died.
When I managed to resurrect myself from the fashion-dead, I hurried home to write a review and spotlight of her label to introduce my readership to! So in sum: readers, meet all your pastel, neo-goddess aesthetic needs.
I was so excited to try this fascinator out with a lolita style this week, so I paired it with my Innocent World powder pink Creampuff dress and my rose Triple Fortune tights. Here’s the finished look:
This hairpiece can remind me of a very vintage feel when viewed from the front, or a more whimsical style when tipped forward to show off the heart-shaped pinions and flight feathers. It actually reminds me most of the lovely centaurs from Fantasia, when doves curl up on among their plush tresses. Another reason this appealed to me was my general winter aesthetic this year, which so far can be summed up with just the word ‘fluffy’ (I’m not apologizing for this phone case, like, ever. Here’s some more fluffy tech on velvetcaviar.com, if you gotta have your fluff.)
Here’s a closeup of the design, both from the front and from an angle. I tried my best to bring as much pinkness to this outfit as possible, mostly by piling on pink accessories to match.
Here’s a group shot of the Crystal Isis models post fashion show, to illustrate their wide range of style.
And yes here’s a mini cameo of the designer and me at the moment she presented me with these angel wings! I’m way too excited in this photo, haha. Make sure you check out the Crystal Isis Facebook page and Etsy shop to see what new fantasy designs she’s coming up with next!
(And yes, she’s also making the beautiful crescent moon chokers she’s wearing in this photo! I definitely need one of those next.)