Sunday, August 31, 2014

Print Watch - Week of 8/25/14

This week saw a good number of print releases like last week as well as some announcements regarding the exact release dates of prints which had previously only been seen in the pages of magazines like Spoon. In addition to new prints, this week sent the community into a flurry of activity as brands began to prepare for the months of cold weather ahead and brought out new and old designs alike.

Juliette et Justine released a new Make-To-Order dress called Robe de collage un château which will be available to order through September 5th. The dress is expected to ship out in December and comes in black. For more details on how to order this print, be sure to check out their reservation page.

Baby the Stars Shine Bright continued its momentum from last week with the release of their Autumn/Winter coat collection. Both new and rereleased designs were featured. Twelve cloaks, two capes, a beret, a scarf, and a muffler are currently on the reservation page which will open to online orders on September 12th, at 5pm JST. The items are expected to ship out in late October / early November and each come in a variety of colorways. To reserve your own coat to ride out the winter months in style, be sure to check out the full series of reservations available. 

A recent photo of Misako Aoki is rumored to show her modeling Alice and the Pirates' boystyle release of Starlight Carnevale. No other details have been released, but hopefully an official release with pop up within the next few weeks. 

Yesterday saw the release of Angelic Pretty's Brigitte Regimen series. Though the berets are sold out, many of the other pieces in the series are still available and can be found on AP's online store.

Innocent World released their Stradivarius series on their online shop (Japanese side) earlier this week for reservation. Two different styles of JSK and one skirt are now available in three colorways so be sure to snatch them up if you can!

Metamorphose temps de fille released the Musical Cat series in three colorways: black, pink & green. Though only a few of the series items are currently available, three JSKs and an OP will be making an appearance on the website soon!

Enchantlic Enchantilly announced a new dress which will be available at Atelier Pierrot in Harajuku's Laforet on Saturday September 6th for Fashion's Night Out. Photos of the dress were released on their official Facebook page earlier this week. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Ita to Lolita

When I popped over to the EGL community on livejournal this month, I found myself falling in love with the idea for this month's theme - ita to lolita. In the mod's own words: "It's the journey every lolita makes: changing from the dreaded ita into the beautiful lolita. This month, feel free to share any aspect of your transformation with us, from a timeline detailing your coordinates' improvement, to a post showing how you managed to salvage your worst lace monster." Fall is a transformative season in many ways beyond just the shifting colors of leaves. For fashion, it's the pinnacle of the new year and the beginning of a whole new world of trends. For education (at least in the United States) it marks the beginning of a new year full of entirely new classes and experiences which can be both incredibly fulfilling and incredibly challenging. Lolita fashion is also representative of a transformation - from the awkward beginner which all of us were, to the beautiful and refined lolita who creates stunning coordinates with ease and first begins to find her own sense of style within such a niche aesthetic.

I loved this theme so much that I felt I had to share my transformation from the early cringe-worthy shots to the latest coordinates I've put together. Upon searching back through my photo archives I came to the realization that I didn't take that many photos of myself wearing lolita when I first started, but the few that I do have are golden.

My very first lolita dress was the Red Heart Pocket Embroidery Pinafore Dress from Metamorphose temps de fille which I bought in the spring of 2008. The dress was on sale which made it extremely affordable. If I can remember correctly it was around $120 at the time sans shipping. I had originally fallen in love with classic lolita brands like Mary Magdalene, but found that the lack of international shipping coupled with the prices made the beautiful dresses I adored unattainable. At the time, Metamorphose had introduced international shipping which drew me to the brand. This particular photo was taken in the fall of 2009 when I was attending an in-person registration event for a local convention. I had a petticoat that was very deflated and opted to wear arm warmers to fight the autumn chill instead of a long sleeve blouse which would have been more practical and elegant.

This next photo comes in around the summer of 2011 and was a cosplay photoshoot centering around the idea of a doll abandoned in her untidy dollhouse. The dress however, was another lolita purchase made in the winter of 2009 from F+F. Though I didn't consider this photoshoot to be anywhere close to lolita, I had worn the dress before to a convention. It was utterly OTT and completely the opposite of my taste, but it was the style which was popular at the time. The dress was actually beautifully made and quite heavy to wear with all of the tiered ruffles, but it was the deciding factor in my jumping from the sweet bandwagon. I felt that the aesthetic of sweet didn't suit me at all, and yet I didn't get around to buying much in the way of classic pieces either.

After graduating high school in 2010, I took an extended break from lolita for the entirety of my college career until about the last 3 months prior to graduation. Even my 6 months of living in Japan (Kyoto and then Tokyo) weren't enough to reawaken my love for lolita, though I certainly still admired it from afar. I still loved the aesthetic of full skirts, and ruffles, but never felt like I could take the leap and reach into the depths of my wardrobe to wear out some of my most treasured pieces. After leaving lolita for a time, I didn't have much of a wardrobe to boast about and the only real pieces of note were my Rose Jail Bustle skirt in brown from Alice and the Pirates and L'Oiseau Bleu in red from Baby the Stars Shine Bright. Neither of them got much use or saw much sunlight.

After graduating college and moving to a new city for a job, I finally plucked up the courage to give lolita another shot. I started small by dusting off some older pieces and mixing them into very casual outfits while I browsed through second hand sales in search of a new wardrobe. Slowly I began to build from the ground up once more, but this time with a plan of action and the foresight which only comes with age and the experience of dressing in many different and varied styles.

My first debut into the community was the grand opening of Baby's NYC store where I dressed in full lolita for the first time in many years. I met a few local girls on the train in, and ended up getting a lot of positive feedback from so many of the lolitas there.

Finally my latest coordinate from a local CT lolita meetup in New Haven. I'm slowly amassing a wardrobe I'm proud of and recently obtained a dress I've been dreaming about for years and thought to be totally out of my reach. Things are looking up for this lolita, and I can't wait to see what other frilly adventures the future holds~

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Misako Aoki's New Lolita Show!

Header for CYTV's Be Lolita, Be Happy Episode 1
Head of the Japan Lolita Association, and famous lolita fashion model, Misako Aoki, started up her own weekly lolita show which was streamed online via CYTV for its first episode last Wednesday. Though the series is currently only available in Japanese sans subtitles, you can bet that soon it will be made available to a larger international audience through subbed videos on popular sites like Youtube. The show is called Be Lolita, Be Happy and will have its second episode airing on Wednesday August 27th, at 10pm JST. Though my Japanese is a bit rusty, I'll try to give a brief overview of the very first episode.

Misako started the show by introducing herself before proceeding to go through a short outfit rundown where she described what she was wearing and what kinds of makeup she had chosen to create her desired look. She then jumped right into a review of a recent tea party which was hosted in Q-pot Cafe in Omotesando (the neighborhood right next to Harajuku). A number of sweets accessories artists joined the thirty or so lolitas in attendance which made for a fairly good-sized group! Misako noted that Q-pot Cafe's staff uniform was especially cute before showing a picture where she had gotten to try one on. She noted that within the lolita community, Q-pot's accessories are quite popular so after the tea party was over the group headed over to the store so that the lolitas in attendance could browse the various wares. 

After the slideshow, Misako announced that she'll be traveling to Cambodia, Russia, and Taiwan next month with her work so she'll be quite busy spreading the message of lolita fashion abroad. She proceeded to introduce this week's special guest: Ran Oishi, a writer and illustrator with a love for Harajuku fashion who has had work appear in publications such as Spoon. When asked about her personal style, Ran described it as a kind of soft lolita as talked about in Misako's Lolita Fashion Book. Misako was especially impressed by Ran's beautiful nails and urged her to show them to the camera. At the mention of makeup, Misako noted that Ran's style was very natural kei and it looked like she wasn't even wearing fake eyelashes. The next segment was a 'what's in my bag' piece. First up was Ran who showed off her Jane Marple bag and its various contents including several books. Misako understandably marveled at how much the regular-sized bag could hold! The two then swapped roles with Misako whipping out her own iconic heart bag and showing off all of the cute things she carries everywhere. When Misako pulled out her wallet, she noted that Miu Miu's products are dangerous because of how cute they are and how well they fit the lolita aesthetic. Of all her everyday makeup products, Misako recommended her Chanel lip gloss which is an interesting color somewhere between red and pink. She also raved about her drawstring tote bag which she said was great when she was traveling in France because it had all the best qualities of a tote bag without making her an easy target for pickpockets. 

Talk then turned to the Lolita Fashion Book and how Ran had been a contributor and collaborated with Misako. They also took at look at Ran's recent book which was a full length comic. Ran later presented a special illustration for Misako to celebrate the beginning of her show and Misako asked Ran what she focuses on when making illustrations of lolita girls! Towards the end of the general interview segment Ran plugged a few of her most recent projects and talked about where to find some of her work. At the end of the interview the pair responded to some questions from viewers on topics such as: the main points of their outfits, how to wear lolita on hot Japanese summer days, what kinds of things they like to do in the summer, how to keep healthy, the intersection between lolita fashion lovers and doll collectors, and Ran's time at Tokyo University.  

Overall the show was upbeat and fun with the two going back and forth and occasionally diverting off on tangents about different questions or topics which clearly made them excited. It was fun to watch Ran open up over the course of the show, and to see Misako's interactions with the show's crew now and again. This week's episode is set to feature the sweets accessories artist, Kunika who started her career as a chef! The show itself is set to air each week with a new guest who interacts with the lolita community in some way with Misako playing the ever-lovely hostess. Be sure to check out the first episode in full over at CYTV and don't forget to tune in to this week's show!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Diary of a Sweets Addict: Macarons Mall-Style!

While walking towards my usual break site one afternoon I spotted a brand new stand in the mall which immediately caught my eye - Macarons & Cookies by Woops! One pass left me wondering what flavors all of the brightly colored macarons could possibly be, and as a self-proclaimed sweets addict I felt I just had to buy a box to try a few of them out. At $16 for a box of 6, they were much pricier than the typical mall fare, but fairly standard as far as macaron shops go. The girl behind the counter was more than happy to offer her own recommendations and told me that the cookies & cream was to die for, while the plain vanilla was a classic. In addition to the two recommended flavors I opted to try out passion fruit, rose, Nutella, and raspberry to get a mix of different flavors (though you can tell I gravitate towards fruity ones). I was a bit overwhelmed when first choosing, but opted to get a mix of flavors that I'd had in macaron-form before, and others that I felt were a bit more adventurous. 

When I got home I whipped up a quick Cointreau Fizz to cleanse the palette and sat down to eat and review the absolutely adorable box I had gotten. First up was the staple vanilla which was - true to the sales girl's recommendation - an instant classic. The macaron itself was buttery and deliciously creamy in the center with just the right amount of shell-like consistency on the outside. The vanilla was like mom's vanilla sugar cookies in macaron form. I then tried the cookies & cream one which was black with a white cream filling. Not only did this macaron look like an oreo, but it was essentially the macaron equivalent of an upscale oreo in taste. Going right in a row I tasted the passion fruit flavor which was yellow on one side and orange on the other which I found to be entirely charming. This one was far more subtle, but distinctly passion fruit in flavor with a burst of sweetness in the cream filling. I was pleasantly surprised by how light and airy this particular one was as I had expected a much heavier and sweeter rendition. In the same vein, the rose flavor which I tried next was equally light in flavor and was reminiscent of chewing on a flower in the best possible way. There was a lovely balance of sweetness while still paying tribute to the original rose flavor. In stark contrast to the light and fruity flavors of the previous two macarons, the Nutella one was true to its name with a strong chocolate flavor and a that twist of hazelnut which can only belong to the popular dessert spread. Finally I got to the old classic - raspberry. After all of the cream-filled macarons I was overjoyed to find that they had used jam instead for this one. It was the most refreshing way to end my macaron flight and instantly became my favorite. The flavors were bright and fruity while the jam kept the whole macaron feeling light. 

Though not necessarily as top-notch as the macarons of Ladurée, I was delighted with the quality and was surprised to find out just how many malls they are available in. The packaging was perfect for anyone on the go and ensured that all of the macarons would make it to their destination in one piece. I also found the box to be utterly charming with the design of little macarons in various colors in one neat row mirroring the actual contents. Overall I'd recommend this brand and hope to try more flavors sometime in the future. If you're interested, you can find out more about their flavors and locations at:

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Print Watch - Week of 8/18/14

This week was a bit of a whirlwind for print releases and the announcement of reservation dates. Baby the Stars Shine Bright, Alice and the Pirates, Innocent World, Haenuli, and Metamorphose temps de fille all made announcements which had the lolita community in a tizzy.

 First up was Baby the Stars Shine Bright which announced the release of a new print series entitled Full of stars "Bright Starry Night". The series will go up for reservation tomorrow (Monday August 25th) and comes in four colorways: ivory, lavender, wine, and navy.

Next up for Baby was the announcement of a new collaboration; this time with Kagerou Project which is a series of Vocaloid songs. The one dress released seems to be based on the character design of Kozakura Marry. This dress went up on reservation on Saturday the 23rd and is expected to ship in late September early October.

Alice in the Pirates made several new additions to the Le Petit Chaperon rouge series with pieces which resemble the clothes worn by the wolf. The boystyle additions include: pants, corset, blouse, and mantle all under the 'Loup-garou' title. In the print both the hunter (Gustave) and the wolf look to be competing for Red's affection so it's nice to see Gustave's foil series released. Additionally, the title 'loup-garou' means 'werewolf' in French and could be a play off of the wolf's new role as the dangerous wooer in AatP's rendition of the celebrated fairytale. Reservations for this series begin August 27th.

Metamorphose temps de fille announced the release of this year's Velveteen items in three colorways: black, bordeaux, and purple. Reservations will be made available on Friday August 29th for the two jsks, op, caplet, and various accessories.

Innocent World continued with the Anglomania trend we've been seeing with the announcement of their new print series Classical Coin which will come in three colorways. No other details about the series have been released yet, but the classic lolita community can most likely expect a reservation for early to mid September.

Haenuli announced via their Facebook that they will be releasing a new Stained glass design with completely different stained glass windows from the first release. No other details have been given, but one can expect more information within the next few weeks.

Overall this week was a particularly busy one for the lolita brands, but the clear winner of the powerhouse title this week was Baby & Aatp. With so many new releases and reservations one can only wait in anticipation for the next series to be announced. It is my sincere hope that should there be enough releases, Print Watch will become a weekly staple. Consider it your one-stop print release resource and feel free to suggest other brands for me to watch.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Burgher Life: Yale Art Gallery Meetup

Jean-François Millet's Starry Night (1850-65)
This past Sunday I had my first opportunity to meet the lovely ladies of the Connecticut lolita community. We had an outing to Yale University's Art Gallery in New Haven which is a hop, skip, and a jump away from Stamford via the train. I had convinced my S.O. to come along with me and spend the day at the museum (which is no small feat for an art history major) because partners in crime are always a boon. While we were waiting on the train platform we were joined by Alison who we had met on our way to the opening of Tokyo Rebel / Baby the Stars Shine Bright several weeks before. Though we hadn't had much time to introduce ourselves before, the two of us had a lovely chat on the hour-long train ride in to New Haven.
Alison and I  with our matching Angelic Pretty bags
After stopping at Starbucks for some much needed caffeine and sugar, we finally made it to the gallery after being misdirected by a pleasant but confused bartender. There we found a variety of frilly lolitas all in their Sunday best and eager to meander through the various wings the museum had to offer. Under the direction of our lovely hostess, Aly, we headed first towards the ground floor wing of ancient art before trooping through a series of galleries dedicated to 19th century art.
Looking at ancient Greek pottery
From an art historian's perspective, the museum was fairly small, but had a large number of excellent pieces from works by Picasso to Monet to Stubbs, and many in between. It was a playground for art lovers and an excellent resource for anyone interested in the history of art. I especially enjoyed the galleries dedicated to the decorative arts. The cases full of beautiful silver tableware reminded me of Innocent World's Antique Cutlery print.
After spending several hours immersed in the wonderful collections which Yale University had to offer, the group marched off to York St. Noodle house where we all gorged ourselves on delicious noodles and bubble tea. The table was raucous and all of the girls were entirely charming and a pleasure to talk to - it was like I had known the group for years instead of just a few hours. Though a few of us had to break off to catch trains, the day was not complete without a few outfit shots and heartfelt goodbyes. Thus, it's safe to say that I'll be seeing plenty more of these amazing young women in the future!
Full group shot

Outfit Rundown:
Blouse: Innocent World
JSK: Rose Fob Watch - Innocent World
Bag: Angelic Pretty
Other: Offbrand

Bonus Photo:
Outfit Shot Silly Pose

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Lolita Treatise: On Inspiration

"[Norman Parkinson] taught me to always keep your eyes open. You know? Never go to sleep in the car, or anything like that. Keep watching because whatever you see out the window or wherever, it can inspire you."
- Grace Coddington, The September Issue (2009)

It is one of my most firm beliefs that the key to being a good lolita, and perhaps the key to being successful in fashion of any kind, is to be constantly inspired by the world around you. Inspiration lies at the heart of all arts, and fashion is no different. One can easily leave the inspiration, the dreaming, and the whimsy up to the designers and models and photographers who feed us beautiful images in the pages of our favorite magazines every month. It is even easier to leave the inspiration behind an excellent outfit to the visual merchandisers in our favorite stores who go to great lengths to make each piece appealing to us in hopes of returning a profit. To be inspired is to be touched and to be affected. Truly great dressing and therefore truly great style is about taking the moments which have affected us the most and translating them visually to the world. I think that in lolita fashion today we are working more and more towards becoming a group of individuals who bring their own personalities and aesthetic sensibilities into the style which we collectively love so much. 

Dare to dream, lolitas! Take the decadence of the Rococo and meld it with the boldness of mod 60s color blocking. Have a viewpoint. The iconic are not those who follow the same trends, but those who take risks and make mistakes, but refuse to be told that their point of view is incomprehensible to the rest of the world. Lolita fashion itself may at times seem incomprehensible to the modern street's average Joe, but do not lose faith in your own ability to inspire, to be inspired. Fashion is one of the most personal forms of self-expression as it relies on the individual to cover herself in her own identity. Use that platform to scream to the world that you do find beauty in this flawed existence that we all share. There is nothing more inspiring than being an inspiration to others and presenting the world with a viewpoint it has not yet explored. Keep your eyes open to the world and it will look back at you just as openly. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Jump Into Fall 2014 - Royalty & Anglomania

With September fast approaching, the fashion world turns over a new leaf and prepares for the most prestigious season of the year. As the temperatures drop, people begin to bundle up under layers and layers of clothes which provide brands with ample demand to sell more of their most desired products. Lolita fashion houses are no different and this year we've already gotten sneak previews of the prints and designs to be released as soon as the leaves start to change colors. One theme which has permeated a number of the most celebrated brands' releases is an interest in royalty and British motifs. While sweets, fairy tales, and even musical instruments have become mainstays of each season of prints, a number of brands have begun to ring in the new fashion year with a celebration of the United Kingdom. If we were having another royal wedding soon, these prints would be much less surprising, but you'll hear no complaints here. Cheers to the Anglomania!

Perhaps the most obvious British-themed release has been the Union Jack dress series from Innocent World. Featuring the unmistakable British flag along with a coat of arms complete with roaring lions enclosing the famous 'IW' logo, Innocent World kicked down the door on the Anglomania theme of the season. The print's expected release date is early September and comes three colorways: bordeaux, chocolate, and navy.

Not far behind is Baby the Stars Shine Bright's Kuma Kumya's Royal Kingdom series which plays host to liveried bears in tricorns and their royal guard counterparts complete with bearskin hats. The background of the print is done up in bright regimental stripes which are dotted with Baby's royal crest. The series is expected to ship out in mid to late August and comes in three colorways: pink, blue x red, navy, and brown.

Regimental stripes - a pattern originally hailing from the UK which was used to tell to which regiment, school, etc. one belonged - have been especially popular recently. Angelic Pretty included a pattern entitled Bridget Regimental in Spoon vol. 55 which then cropped up on Facebook and Tumblr. The print has yet to be officially released on the website, but is anticipated to arrive sometime in the fall. Victorian Maiden also created a series with regimental stripes which is expected to arrive in September or October and has been on reserve for quite some time. Victorian Maiden's sets come in a variety of colorways including: cinnamon x bordeaux, cinnamon x dark green, bordeaux, and dark green. Though unconfirmed, the two dresses shot for Spoon of Bridget Regimental came in two colorways: blue and pink.

Finally, Angelic Pretty's latest release: Loyal Rosette pays homage Scottish tartan in red, blue, green, and brown. The series features equestrian style rosettes, and a variety of motifs alluding to royalty such as the fleur-de-lis, a coat of arms, and medals of crowns.

Whether or not you buy into the Anglomania, it's safe to say that some of the top lolita brands have latched onto the nostalgia associated with royalty and the British empire. The colors used in these prints lend themselves to the fall season and the patterns of tartan and stripes are all the more appropriate for layering with warmer thicker pieces.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Historical Frills: Funeral Procession of Rose

Recently released for reservation by Alice and the Pirates, Funeral Procession of Rose pays homage to the rituals and fashion of Victorian mourning. After the death of her husband, Queen Victoria wore black for the last forty years of her life and sparked a new trend which quickly trickled down through all the social classes in England. Especially for the upper classes, the etiquette surrounding mourning rituals and fashions was particularly strict. Well-to-do women in particular were under the close scrutiny of their peers and often had to wear mourning garb for years after the death of a husband or close family member. The closest relationship with the longest mourning period for women was by and large a wife dressing after the loss of her husband. In etiquette books the period of 'First Mourning' would last for 1-year and 1-month with the widow in question dressing solely in bombazine fabric (a mix of silk and wool) with an overlay of crepe. 'Second Mourning' picked up where First Mourning left off and lasted about 6 months wherein less crepe was worn, but the bombazine and all-black clothes remained. Next came 'Ordinary Mourning' which lasted another 6 months and removed crepe entirely. Bombazine was usually replaced by silk or wool, and in the latter half of the period came the reintroduction of jewelry and ribbons (though only jet jewelry would suffice). The final stage of mourning was 'Half-Mourning' which also lasted - you guessed it - 6 months, and saw the reintroduction of somber colors. Grey, lavender, and mauve all became acceptable to wear in addition to black. Though it was natural for women to shorten some of these periods and break the rules somewhat, those who sought to wear black and mourn for longer often grew in status and were better respected by their peers. Long-lived mourning was seen as a sign of devotion, and  as Queen Victoria mourned for the rest of her life, her subjects became just as enamored with the idea of a love which continues to affect the survivors long after the deceased had been buried.

Aside from the blue, all of the colorways available from Alice and the Pirates adhere to the colors allowed for widows in the period of half-mourning. While the inclusion of grey is rather an obvious allowance by the etiquette books, lavender and mauve seem much odder to include. It is thought that these were allowed as transition colors from mourning to regular dress because they were used in the Christian tradition by both Catholic and Anglican clergy to represent the Passion of Christ at funeral services. These colors were worn as stoles and due to their religious ties were seen as the only truly acceptable colors for a mourning woman to wear. 
OP in blue
Moving from colors to the actual design of the dresses, JSK I is probably the closest to the earlier Victorian silhouette with a cinched bodice at the natural waist and a full skirt. The early Victorian period moved strongly away from the empire-waists and column-like dresses of the Regency and focused upon the full-bodied crinoline dresses so often associated in America with the Civil War. The bustle periods did not come until later when the crinoline styles fell decidedly out of fashion. The use of the lace overlay on the bodice recalls the use of crepe worn over bombazine in the first two periods of mourning, while the ribbon at the natural waist seems to be an allusion to the reintroduction of ribbons during the last three months of ordinary mourning. While JSK II does not fit with the Victorian silhouette, it is somewhat reminiscent of the informal tea gowns which made appearances starting in the 1870s. By this point, women were beginning to loosen their stays at home, and un-corseted tea gowns became appropriate for informal entertaining within one's own home. Finally, the OP's high-collared neckline is particularly iconic of the late Victorian silhouette. The sleeves are also reminiscent of Victorian fashion of the 1890s which was moving towards the leg o'mutton sleeves which billowed out from shoulder before tapering down to a tightly cinched wrist. The length and shape of the OP's A-line skirt is also in accordance with the trends of the later Victorian period which had moved far away from crinolines and was quickly moving towards the hourglass silhouette which would be popularized by Charles Dana Gibson and the Gibson Girls.
Wine/Bourdeaux colorway which is reminiscent of the color 'Old Mauve'
As if the colorways and silhouettes weren't homage enough, the print itself is a wonderful rendition of a late-autumn or early winter funeral procession. Nearly all deaths occurred within the home and the journey from house to church to grave was done in the morning. The coffin was pulled through the streets in an ornate carriage which, depending on the wealth of the family, could have been accompanied by a large host of mourners. Interestingly enough, the women of the house did not attend the funeral and instead remained at home after the deceased was carried out. Though the host of mourners is absent in the print, there is a sense of peace in the composition. While the horse-drawn carriage trots smartly away from the church which looms in the background, a host of leave-less trees bear witness like mutes (hired mourners) to the last journey of the deceased. A single crow perches in one of the trees with its head turned towards the carriage - its beak closed in a silence that stretches through the top half of the print and which is only broken by the metronome-like clopping of hooves on cobblestones.

"1890s in Western fashion." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 10 Aug, 2014.
Mitchell, Sally. Daily Life In Victorian England. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2009. 164-167. eBook Academic               Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 10 Aug. 2014.
"Victorian Fashion." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 10 Aug, 2014.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Importance of Knowing Your History

Wedding dress advertisement for  which makes reference to 17th century Dutch interior paintings
(Magazine: 25ans Wedingu Spring-Summer 2013 p. 59)
One of the most recent realizations I've made since getting back into lolita is the community's lack of knowledge surrounding the historical periods which inspire so many designers and brands. While the extensive chronicling done by the online community has vastly simplified gaining access to information on the history of lolita fashion, there are very few resources suggested to newer lolitas on fashion history in a broader sense. This is startling once one realizes that even the designers themselves are constantly digging into the history books for inspiration - although classic lolita designers may be more inclined to this than most. Innocent World's designer, Yumi Fujiwara, noted in a recent interview for Kawaii Pateen that she goes to Europe twice a year just to find material off of which to base her designs. I believe that when wearing a fashion so obviously linked to the iconic silhouettes and and designs of celebrated moments in fashion history, extensive knowledge of these periods is key to putting together elements of past and present into one concise coordinate. You can rest assured that the editors at Vogue are well aware of their history when putting together pieces for each month's major shoots. So too should lolitas learn more about not only the more obvious Victorian and Rococo periods, but also the eras which precede and follow. Like any history, the history of fashion is sequential such that each new trend is simultaneously a reaction to the past and a hope for the future to create an image of the present. Admittedly, there are multiple ways to coordinate every garment, but a healthy dose of historical costuming know-how only serves to augment a coord's subtleties.
Example of Brandenburg buttons in portrait of Alderman Sir Charles Tertius Mander

Looking at daily coordinate communities such as Facebook's Closet of Frills, one will no doubt encounter a number of fellow lolitas who will make suggestions surrounding a historically-based coordinate which break down the visual allusions the wearer has attempted to make. For example: to suggest pairing a bob with a jacket complete with Brandenburg buttons would make the coord jarring as the jacket's fastenings from the late 18th, early 19th century do not correspond to a hairstyle that became iconic in the 1920s. While this is not to say that it is impossible to mix iconic pieces, one has to be mindful of which pieces are the most attention-grabbing in an outfit and actively not pit pieces of equal volume against one another. A bob, though simplistic it may seem, is so often associated with the flappers of the 1920s that it would fight the Brandenburg buttons for dominance as the eye is torn between the blunt cut of the hair and the sharp lines of the embroidery on the jacket. I will be starting this blog with a series of segments entitled "Historical Frills" which will explore different points of fashion history and how they pertain to the prints and designs of our most beloved brands. The first piece will arrive later this week as an exploration of Victorian mourning fashion in relation to Alice and the Pirates' recently release of Funeral Procession of Rose. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What Is A Burgher? And Why Is It Having Courtly Dreams?

Young Woman Playing a Guitar - Johannes Vermeer

               If you’ve arrived here looking for a food blog, I’m sorry to say that you’ll be sorely disappointed by the content here. No, I did not misspell the great American fare that is enjoyed at every grill-side party here in the States, rather I’m an old-fashioned girl who spent her college years immersed in art history and discovered the world of Dutch burghers through the brushstrokes of the golden age masters. Though the middle class in the Netherlands and elsewhere are no longer called ‘burghers’ I consider myself to be a modern day equivalent. When Rembrandt, Rubens, and Vermeer were painting pieces of and for the rapidly expanding middle class, the burghers themselves were dreaming of luxurious fabrics and vast estates upon which to spend their earnings. After throwing off the governmental yoke of Spain, the Dutch were without a ruling nobility, and although the House of Orange established itself quite nicely in the Hague, the time had come for the burgher elite to become just as courtly and noble in spending and mannerisms as the landed classes of Europe. The courtly burghers were born.

The Caterpillar’s Question

               My name is Eileen and I’m a recent graduate who is currently living in Connecticut and working for a fashion retailer. In college I majored in art history and minored in East Asian studies. I spent 6 months living and interning in Japan – two months in Kyoto as a curatorial assistant for the Kyoto Costume Institute, and four months in Tokyo at Sophia University. My focus within my major has always been textiles so it does not come as a surprise that fashion and clothing will take up as much of this blog as it has my life.


               My hope is that this blog will chronicle my fashion and lifestyle as it relates to the clothes I choose to wear. After taking an extended nearly four year absence, I am slowly but surely becoming enamored with Lolita fashion once again. For those of you unfamiliar, Lolita fashion hails from the fashion-forward Tokyo neighborhood of Harajuku and essentially modernizes and celebrates the romanticism of Victorian and Rococo clothing and textiles. The bodices are form-fitting and occasionally corseted, the skirts are cut to the knee and volumized by layers of petticoats, and the motifs are often whimsical or nostalgic in nature. There is something about wearing beautiful clothes which have been made with the utmost care and from the most sumptuous of materials that I think appeals to the little princess in so many women. We all dreamed those fairy-tale dreams, and sometimes it’s the best medicine to bring those magical moments to life on the most ordinary of days. As a student it was hard to find the funds and the occasions to wear such an alternative fashion style, but as a graduate I find myself loving the challenge of incorporating my favorite pieces and my favorite style into something which is at once beautiful and relatable to the everyday.