Interesting Article from the NY Times

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Interesting Article from the NY Times

Postby shadow dancer » Mon Mar 28, 2005 8:33 am

This one came out recently from the New York Times, and I found it interesting. Rather than make everyone sign up for the website, I thought I would post it here.

Gothic Lolitas: Demure vs. Dominatrix
By LAURA M. HOLSON

IT did not take long for Twinkle Lam to realize that she had a problem on her hands.

For the past 10 months the 23-year-old Ms. Lam has moderated an online discussion group about Gothic and Lolita fashion, a style of dressing imported from Japan featuring Victorian-era calf-length skirts, bloomers, aprons, lace bows and ruffled petticoats that has attracted a following among high-school and college-age girls in the United States.

For the most part, discussion on the Web log (http://www.livejournal.com/community/egl), a forum of about 2,500 ardent adherents to Gothic and Lolita fashion that Ms. Lam manages from her home in Dallas, revolves around questions like where to buy chunky high-heeled Mary Jane pumps or how to fashion Bo Peep collars. But over the winter, the usually polite exchanges gave way to angry, often profane declamations.

At issue was Gwen Stefani's Alice in Wonderland costume in her "What You Waiting For" video. Alice, with her prim white collar, poofy sleeves and bell-shaped skirts, is an informal muse for many G.L.'s, as they call themselves, and the sense was that Ms. Stefani had bastardized the look by exposing blue ruffled panties and laced-up high heels, making the look more dominatrix than demure.

"That outfit looks nothing like Lolita," read one of the more restrained posts. "It's not even original, it looks like what Britney wore when she kissed Madonna."

Although petticoats and parasols are hardly mall-wear, Ms. Lam said the video was a sign that the Gothic and Lolita aesthetic, once fetishized by a few, might be moving out into the mainstream, where it could be co-opted and corrupted by the many. Just in the last six months, Ms. Lam said, Gothic and Lolita blog sites have been infiltrated by men seeking pictures of girls in sexed-up Gothic and Lolita fare "That never happened until recently," Ms. Lam said. "It's coming more into the spotlight, and it's only going to become more and more popular."

Not that Ms. Stefani was the first celebrity to call attention to Gothic and Lolita fashion; Amy Lee, the lead singer of Evanescence, wears black lace dresses favored by some G.L.'s, and last year Courtney Love was co-writer of a Japanese-style comic book about Princess Ai, a character based loosely on Ms. Love who dresses in Gothic and Lolita style. Neither Ms. Lee nor Ms. Love, though, has drawn the ire Ms. Stefani did. She has incorporated the style into her act, traveling with a troupe called the Harajuku girls, named after a trendy neighborhood in Tokyo where many girls who wear the style gather on weekends.

Gothic and Lolita got its start in the early to mid-1990's among Japanese schoolgirls inspired by the band Malice Mizer and in particular by Mana, the band's effeminate guitarist, who wore black and white ruffled dresses, elaborate bows, false eyelashes and heavy white makeup.

The look caught on as part of Japan's "cosplay," or costume play, culture, in which young people dress up like iconic pop figures, many of them popular cartoon characters. Soon teenage girls in Tokyo were stitching recreations of Mana's costumes by hand. Local designers followed, and ultimately Mana created his own line, Moi-même-Moitié, which is sold in Japanese department stores.

In 2000 publishers of the Japanese fashion magazine Kera started publishing the Gothic & Lolita Bible, which has grown to a circulation of 80,000. Part catalog, part fashion magazine, it has patterns for making costumes as well as recipes for bite-size chocolate cakes with powdered sugar crosses that Gothic Lolitas (or Goth-Lolis, as they are known in Japan) can serve at tea parties.

As the look spread, it inspired different interpretations, so that in addition to the traditional Gothic and Lolita look, which is heavy on the Goth with black or white dresses, clunky black shoes, and dark makeup, there is also Sweet Lolita, bursting with ruffles and pastels; Elegant Gothic Lolita, a corseted Victorian style; and Schoolgirl Lolita, favoring pleated skirts and knee socks.

Jodi Bryson, a consulting development editor for Tokyopop, a leading provider of Japanese style comic books in the United States, who has studied the trend, said that she first started noticing an interest in Gothic and Lolita in the United States about three years ago as Americans either visited Tokyo or learned about Gothic and Lolita online. "It was then we started seeing girls dress up, from teenagers to college-age and beyond," she said. "The attraction was twofold: there was the creative side, making costumes, and the escape of role-playing. It was a killer way for girls to express themselves."

In addition to spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars on Gothic and Lolita fashion, American followers of the trend join online communities, scour Japanese bookstores and eBay for issues of the Gothic & Lolita Bible (they can buy it for anywhere from $20 in a bookstore to as much as $50 online), and meet for tea parties at which they dress up and eat cake. Many, she said, also go to anime conventions, where people celebrate all things Japanese.

Michelle Nguyen, 22, lived in Japan for five months in 2003 and became a regular reader of the Gothic & Lolita Bible there. Now a senior at Penn State University studying English, advertising and Japanese, she buys Japanese-made skirts and dresses on eBay and has taken up sewing so she can make her own outfits. She has four parasols, various flouncy pastel skirts, and plenty of floppy lace bows. She and friends organize Gothic and Lolita outings for which they dress up and have tea or go to movies like Lemony Snicket's "Series of Unfortunate Events," in which the costumes evoke the Gothic and Lolita style.

She said she sometimes gets stares from students on campus. "I used to wear big frilly skirts out to classes, but it's hard to do," she said. "You have to function sitting at a desk and, in a ruffled skirt, you just can't do that."

Ms. Lam, who attends college and works for an oil and gas company in Dallas, has more than 10 full Gothic and Lolita outfits, on which she has spent thousands of dollars. She said she wouldn't even think of wearing one to work. "Half would have a heart attack, and I don't know about the other half," she said of her co-workers. "My mom, when she first saw me dressed up, said, 'Why didn't we just save your baby clothes?' "

As for her boyfriend, she said: "He really likes to see me in the sweet stuff, all white. I'm like, can't I wear something more practical?"

Ms. Lam predicts that the hullabaloo over Ms. Stefani will subside, although it has changed the nature of the conversation among Gothic and Lolita fans forever. A hopeful sign, she said, is that some fans are warming to the idea that the trend is not solely theirs anymore.

"We should all be flattered that the style is reaching mainstream," read one recent post online. "Fashion is a free right."

Also, Ms. Lam pointed out, the more mainstream the look becomes, the more available the clothes will be, and more affordable, too.


Sorry for the long post, but I thought some might want to read it.
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Postby karlaBOO » Mon Mar 28, 2005 11:38 am

Thanks for posting that. I read that group on LJ, and completely missed the furor over Gwen Stefani. As a fan of Loli fashion I was pleased by that video. Granted, I am NOT a hardcore Goth Loli chick. If I were, I could possibly understand what they were so upset about.

"She has incorporated the style into her act, traveling with a troupe called the Harajuku girls, named after a trendy neighborhood in Tokyo where many girls who wear the style gather on weekends. "

I don't think her girls look Loli at ALL. They look a look more like the girls in Fruits magazine.

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Postby Onibubba » Tue Apr 05, 2005 9:45 am

That was an interesting read. I was expecting some sort of hullabaloo steming from the Lolita portion of the name from concerned busybodies thinking it had to do with underage sex.

Ah well, no style if it's good will ever remain sacred. Just remember, you can never have to many hats, gloves, and shoes.
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Postby B_Ko » Tue Apr 05, 2005 4:01 pm

This had better not get mainstream. If those damn hot topic drones at my school take up gothic lolita, i'm officially killing them.
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Postby karlaBOO » Tue Apr 05, 2005 10:12 pm

B_Ko wrote:This had better not get mainstream. If those damn hot topic drones at my school take up gothic lolita, i'm officially killing them.


It might have come and gone, which is FINE with me. About three years ago you could find ass loads of Loli at the mall. Express was farking thick with it, as was the larger, high end department stores. I think I picked up some shirts and skirts at Target even, post-holiday.

Granted, with the Gwen exposure it could come back. But, jesus, not many "mainstream" people around here dress like rock stars. The closest I can think of would be maybe Guess carrying it. But, they tend to do the trickle down thing from runway shows. Check style.com, and what's coming out for spring or fall will be at Guess, or bebe, or some shit.


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Postby Onibubba » Wed Apr 13, 2005 7:28 am

Why do I think of this when I see the new Splenda commecials?
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