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Gothic & Lolita is a portrait photography book depicting Japanese street fashion styles. It's produced by Phaidon Press with a RRP of £19.95 and you can currently buy this from Amazon for £12.47. Gothic & Lolita will appeal to anyone with an interest in alternative fashion and is a fascinating piece of work.
Gothic and Lolita are both counter-culture trends that require a large amount of dedication to follow. Time and effort must be invested fully, and a passion for your image is a must. I will allow Wiki to explain the details and differences of both fashions...
+ Gothic... Gothic fashion is a clothing style worn by members of the Goth subculture; a dark, sometimes morbid, eroticized fashion and style of dress. Typical Gothic fashion includes black dyed hair, black lips and black clothes. Androgynity is common, with both female and male goths wearing cosmetics, skirts or high heels. Styles are often borrowed from the Punks, Victorians and Elizabethans. BDSM imagery and paraphernalia are also common.
+ Lolita... Lolita fashion is a fashion subculture originating in Japan that is primarily influenced by Victorian clothing as well as costumes from the Rococo period. Lolita has made this into a unique fashion by adding gothic and original design elements to the look. From this, Lolita fashion has evolved into several different sub styles and has created a devoted subculture in Japan. The Lolita look consists primarily of a knee length skirt or dress, headdress, blouse, petticoat, knee high socks or stockings and rocking horse or high heel/platform shoes.
And of course there is a cross-over emerged from combining both styles to form the Gothic Lolita style.
+ Gothic Lolita... Gothic lolita is a combination of the Gothic and Lolita fashion. The fashion originated in the late 1990s and has been speculated to be "the social backlash" in response to the Japanese fashion Gyaru; however, many adherents of the Gothic Lolita fashion are inspired by music, especially visual kei, "the visual rock genre" in which musicians combine rock music with visual effects and costumes.
The point of this book is to capture images of street fashions worn by regular people as part of their everyday life, as well as showing night time scenes with people dressed up in their extravagant clubbing gear. This gives lots of opportunity for creativity and playfulness when creating a look, and this book covers a wide range of styles and outfits.
"The Japanese Gothic and Lolita movement first started in the late 1990s in response to the outrageous styles of a new breed of rock band that wore heavy make-up and theatrical outfits. Centred in the streets and underground clubs of Osaka and other Western Japanese cities, the movement quickly spread to Tokyo and has now become a countrywide phenomenon. In this volume by the cult photographer Masayuki Yoshinaga, we catch a glimpse of Japanese Gothic & Lolita street fashion at its most creative."
Along with a few paragraphs on the front and back inside covers, there is only one full page of text in the entire book (which is 1" thick by the way!), and this comes in the form of a foreword from Katsuhiko Ishikawa, an expert on fashion and subculture. The photographs are all the work of one man, Masayuki Yoshinaga, a photojournalist famed for documenting underground movements. In all honesty the names mean nothing to me but they appear to be important figures in this particular scene.
Each page contains a full colour, high quality, glossy portrait photograph. At the bottom of the page there is a brief profile about the people in the photos, containing the designers of their outfits, point of fashion, and their current obsessions. The writing is printed over the photographs, and with the text being a small font in green and red colours, it makes some of the bios incredibly difficult to read and I had to really strain my eyes to see the words properly.
The photographs cover a wide range of people aged between 13-34, but mostly focuses on those in their late teens and early 20's. The Gothic portraits showcase a fairly even number of male and female subjects, however the Lolita fashion is one that applies only to women, so overall the book is slightly more heavy on the coverage of women's fashions. That said, the men's fashion is just as dramatic and flamboyant as the women's, and they give us a good run for our money! The looks are all hugely creative and individual and are a delight to look at. For anyone interested in these scenes there is a lot of inspiration to be gained and it can give you a good overview of how to compile a full outfit and match it with appropriate accessories, make-up, and hairstyles. One point that I picked up on from this book is something that I haven't come across before (well, you don't see a lot of alternative street fashion in the West Country anyway, just outrageously bad high street rubbish!) is the practice of "twinning". Twinning is having a co-ordinating look that matches your friends outfit, so you become a matching pair. This can include wearing the same colours, matching accessories, or even going as far as having identical outfits. I found this odd to follow such a unique style and then just copy your twin partner exactly, in my opinion these fashions should allow you to express your individuality.
Through viewing the portraits you begin to pick up on the familiar details that form the basis of the fashion trends. The individuals then build upon these and create their own unique looks. Common elements that I spotted are:
+Gothic - black!! (of course) - corsets - brightly coloured and/or patterned hosiery - large jewellery - buckles - chains - tactile materials e.g. leather, fur, lace
+Lolita - pinafore dresses - candy and pastel colours or monochrome - hair ribbons and bows - statement handbags
+Both - ruffles and lace - stripes, especially stripy socks and tights - armwarmers / gauntlets / gloves - the key is in the detail!!
I really love reading through this book and often flick back through it to gather ideas for when I'm experimenting with new make-up looks or combining pieces to make an outfit. It's colourful, fun and an interesting look at the fashion scenes in Japan. One of the best things I discovered when reading the bio's is that a lot of the outfits include handmade pieces that are made by the person wearing them. It's an exciting idea that you can have something specifc in mind that you want to wear, and then just go and make it yourself. This is what street fashion really excels at, and if you have made the piece yourself you can be sure that no one else will be wearing the same thing! It's the perfect way to create a unique style within a certain fashion trend.
Here are some of my favourite pictures:
-Masao, 20, with her dark futuristic look.
-Rosa Iwa, 22, and her white princess look.
-Marin, 20, and her beautiful dark twist on the Lolita look. (She also has a gorgeous haircut!)
-Dosanko, 20, for use of colour and sheer extravagance.
I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the Gothic or Lolita scene, or if you are learning about fashions and street trends, or Japanese subcultures. It's a pretty specific interest book but would make a wonderful present and is a fabulous book to have on your coffee table (it leads to some interesting conversations!).