Thursday, 20 October 2011

Fashion spotlight: Lolita

So I've been doing some homework on a fashion style I previously knew little about. Last week, Elou posted a photo of some dresses on our tumblr. Now, when I saw them I thought, "Victorian style, New Look skirts, blue: I want!" I then went to find the designer, and discovered that the label in question, Mary Magdalene, is a designer of Lolita dresses and clothing. This intrigued me. When I thought of the Japanese fashion subculture that is Lolita, I (as no doubt do many of you) immediately got an image of pink bows, white lace, cutsey motifs and lots of ruffles. In fact, that image is only one part of the whole Lolita style.

Let me start at the beginning. Loltia as a fashion style started in the 1970s with the shops Pink House, Angelic Pretty, and Milk. The style became a fashion subculture in the 1980s, with the emergence of labels such as Innocent World, Baby the Stars Shine Bright (1988), Mary Magdalene, and Metamorphose Temps de Fille (1997), as well as the influence of "Visual Kei" bands such as Dir En Grey, Malice Mizer and Princess Princess. The lead singer of Malice Mizer, Mana, set up his own fashion line in 1999 called Moi-Meme-Moitie, and coined the term "Elegant Gothic Lolita" to describe his style.
Traditionally, Lolita is designed in a way to make the wearer seem as childlike and innocent as possible. There is an unfamiliar lack of sexualization; outfits are demure and preserve modesty. A traditional Lolita outfit avoids exposing too much flesh; the bell-shaped skirt is worn, at shortest, two inches above the knee, but usually just below. Dresses or blouses have puffed sleeves to cover the shoulders, and bloomers are worn under skirts and dresses to preserve modesty even more. Socks are worn knee-high to avoid revealing too much leg. Shoes tend to be of the Mary-Jane or platform boot variety, and a headpiece of somekind is nearly always worn. I also discovered that the sleeveless dresses that are sometimes worn are called "jumperskirts" instead; as they do not cover the shoulders, they are often considered not fitting to wear without a blouse, just as a skirt would be.

A jumperskirt:

In my research, I discovered that there are many different branches of Lolita. The most 'popular' or well known, and certainly the most extravagent, is the Sweet Lolita, characterised by the use of mostly pink, white or blue, or pastel colours, lace, ruffles, bows, cute motifs or patterns, a minimum of makeup, and girly or childish hairstyles such as pigtails or curls.

Then there's Goth Lolita, a style that is Victorian in its gothicity rather than cyber, and uses dark, velvety colours to enhance the black, and is combined with dark eye makeup and sometimes red lips.
Punk Lolita is another sub-style; one that is apparently difficult to master. The punk look uses the tartan or graphic prints of a typical punk style, as well as the rougher edges and shorter shirts, however it still retains a childlike feel and the traditional silhouette.
Aristocrat Lolita is slightly different from the other styles. It holds more maturity than the others, and tends to include floor-length skirts as well as the usual bell-shaped knee lengths. Aristocrat Lolitas tend to wear dark colours and use darker makeup, and lean more towards Victorian elegance than the more childish aspects of Lolita.
Hime, or Princess, Lolita is a take on Sweet Lolita and characterises (as you can imagine), the same pastelly colours enhanced by princessy or 'royal' accessories.
Kodana, or 'boy-style' or Dandy, is a male take on Lolita fashion. It is worn by both boys and girls, and uses young boy's Victorian clothing styles. It's often characterised by just-below-the-knee trousers with knee socks tucked in, or a Dandy-fied waistcoat and trouser combination. A hat of somekind is a often used accessory. Makeup is kept at a minimum, and hair is usually short or bundled into a bun under a hat.

Of course, these aren't the only sub-styles. Others include Casual, Country, Shiro and Kuro (white and black), Classic, Guro (Gore), Ero (erotic) which despite its name still retains demure modesty incomparison to Western 'erotic' styles, Wa and Qi (traditional Japanese and Chinese influences), Sailor and many more.
Lolita style is one that seems to have no parallel in Western culture, and although it has filtered through and been adapted and adopted by a select group of Westerners, I'm inclined to think that the Japanese are the only ones who can pull it off with such casual simplicity, despite the often extravagent outfits. Although, please feel free to correct me if you consider me wrong...

~ Sparrow

Shops or labels mentioned: Angelic Pretty, Metamorphose Temps de Fille, Innocent World, Moi-Meme-Moitie.

Sources include: lolitafashion, virtualjapan

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Inspiration: Lissy Elle

For this weekend's inspiration, I bring you another of my favourite photographers as I owe a lot of my own inspiration to them.

Lissy Elle is one of those addictive photographers who make you think it would be really fun to hang around with them. Her images are playful and remind us (well, me, at least) of what it's like to be a child again.

I think that photography should evoke something in its viewer and Lissy Elle definitely succeeds. She's the kind of photographer I look up to. Not only is she the queen of concepts and an expert at pulling them off but she's so young! Such talent in someone so young can only lead to brilliant and wonderful things. 

I think Lissy's work speaks for itself so I will leave the final two pictures without words. To find her around the net see the bottom of this post.

Places to find Lissy:
365 Tumblr

Friday, 14 October 2011

Devonshire haven.

I have discovered a few things while in Devon, the land of (for me anyway) no internet. With this blog and general personal styling inspiration in mind, I kept my eyes open for the curious or different. I realized this:
- Devonshire clothing style, in the area I was based at any rate, is sadly unimaginative.
- Totnes is a wonderful place. Hippy central - one day I'll take you there via camera.
- My Grandmother's house is a haven of old-time oddities.

When you grow up with something, or around something, or in something (I'm thinking more house/area wise, rather than in a musical box or picture frame, but who knows), you come to accept it as normality. It's part of life, just another thread in the fabric of your existence. But when you look properly, you can discover that the objects you've been living around for as long as you can remember are actually incredibly beautiful, or intriguing, or inspiring. One day I want to bring my partner-in-crime, Elou, to show her my Grandmother's house, because it is just _full_ of such things.
I have for you just a couple of photos, so you get see what I mean. I think the gorgeous antique telephones are my favourite old-timers.
Elou, the keys are just for you ;)

~ Sparrow

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Inspiration: Brooke Shaden

I suppose I should introduce myself slightly: I am Elou, collector of keys and ideas. I will be bringing you mostly inspiration.

I don't think it would be possible for me to write my first post without it mentioning the ever-talented and wonderful Brooke Shaden. So, with that in mind, I decided that I should probably leap on to that train of thought and embrace it. And so I did.

I'm not even sure how I found Brooke, it might have been through a trawl of Facebook photography pages but that's not important; the important part is that I found her. I've been hooked ever since. There's something about her photography that tugs and pulls and clings on without even hinting at the thought to let go.

There's magic in each and every photo she creates and it is little wonder that she inspires so many. I think everyone wants to visit Brooke's world and have tea (or hot chocolate in my case) with the characters that she creates. I know I do. It's a world I think I'd be able to spend years walking around and find myself not even close to seeing it all. I wouldn't ever want to leave.

It's not just her images that draws me to her, however. She has so much passion for what she does that it's hard not to want to do it too. I am an avid reader of her blog and would definitely recommend it to anyone. Even if you're not a photographer. Her words are inspiring no matter who you are or what you do. Her book is one that I am desperate to have on my shelf - a dream for the more financially secure future. If you like what you see here in this posting, on her website, on her flickr, what you read on her blog: buy it. Even without having it myself, I know it will be worth it.

You can find her here:

Monday, 3 October 2011

A little patch of hometown heaven.

So every Thursday in Gloucester Green, Oxford City Centre, a market is held. And not just any market. Flaunting their wares to the world, one can find stalls selling old coins, antique perfume bottles, vintage clothing, polished wooden boxes, shelves of tattered hardback books, and piles upon piles of bric-a-brac. The colour and diversity seen in this space is remarkable. Last Thursday I spent four to five hours in Gloucester Green, browsing and taking photos. Take a look:

A beautiful old dress-maker's dummy that I fell in love with. Sadly it was already sold - but the guy it who was selling it has many more in store, and I now have contact details! Watch this space...

The man running this stall selling old coins was lovely - he told me how the tiniest circles of silver were used as coins in the British Protectorate in India. When I asked to take photos, he graciously allowed me to. Apparently he has a bucket of water under his table for the cameras of people who don't ask permission. I'm not sure I believed him, but I'm glad I asked all the same!

Yes, this is a wedding dress! Hanging forlornly between jackets and waistcoats.. It was the drift of white netting spilling out onto the pavement that caught my attention.

I'll admit that when I entered the market I was determined not to spend any money. However, by the end of my time there, my purse was about twenty pounds lighter. Some things just must not be walked away from! I found a beautiful, tissue-paper thin ruffled shirt for a fiver.

And then at a stall selling rails of vintagy clothes (my favourite stall, as you can imagine) I picked up this gorgeous jumpsuit. It came with a belt of the same pattern, also. The lovely man who owns the stall had no problems with me taking the jumpsuit to try on in the nearby cafe - on the contrary, he stuffed it into a bag for me, and handed it to me with a "See you later, then!" That's one thing I love about this market - although you get a few stick-in-the-muds who don't like having photos taken of their stalls, or overprice their items (as in every market) - most of the people there are friendly and happy to go out of their way and help, in exchange for a smile and a brief chat.

I feel kind of pirate-like in it, it's wonderful.