Gothic Lolita

"Gothic Lolita is a youth fashion among Japanese teenagers and young women. It emphasizes Victorian-style girl's clothing and often aims to imitate the look of Victorian porcelain dolls. The name and origin of this fashion is a combination of lolita fashion—appearing deliberately cute to the point of looking childish—and certain styles found within gothic fashion. The style started as a youth subculture sometime around 1997-98 and became a well-established genre available in various boutiques and some major department stores by around 2001." –

Gothic Lolita is a relatively new style for Japan, but even newer to the western world. But that hasn't stopped TokyoPop from printing an English edition of the original Gothic & Lolita Bible. At anime conventions all across the globe, you can find girls wearing frilly dresses, bonnets or headdresses, and stockings.

But what is Lolita? To many, the Lolita fashion movement seems to be entirely new. But Lolita has a long history.

Russian author Vladimir Nobokov wrote a novel in 1955 about a man in love with a twelve-year old girl – titled Lolita. Thanks to this man, the word "lolita" came to be used to describe sexually desirable young girls.

In the fashion sense, Lolita stretches back much further than 1955. The Lolita style of dress is inspired by romantic visions of the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Its influences go as far back as the Rococo movement in the 1730s.

But the Gothic Lolita styles of today differ greatly from its ancestors. The most notable figure in the Gothic Lolita movement today is Mana, of the band Malice Mizer. While being a man, he was able to dress convincingly as a beautiful Gothic Lolita woman and is not credited for helping to make the Lolita style more popular in Japan.

It was the 1990's that Lolita really gained a foothold. Visual Kei rock bands were gaining popularity in Japan. These musicians were known for their elaborate costumes and flamboyant styles. While experimenting with costumes, they began to incorporate elements that came to be known as Gothic Lolita, which was mostly all dark-colored clothing with innocent looking hair and makeup that held a definite feminine appearance.

And this is where Gothic Lolita flourished, at least at first. During this stage, clothing was handmade by the wearer and worn in urban Japan. It wasn't until stores carrying Lolita items opened that the style evolved. Now Lolita clothing was easily accessible to wearers willing to shell out large sums of cash.

With Lolita brands and stores like Baby, The Stars Shine Bright and Moi-même-Moitié, different categories came to exist. For example, BTSSB carries clothing of the Sweet Lolita variety, which aims for sugary sweetness in it's style. There is also Gothic Lolita, Elegant Gothic Lolita, Punk Lolita, Classical Lolita, Erotic Lolita, and much more. It's an evolving and expanding style even today.

Gothic Lolita had it's start in Japan and there it grew. With the English edition of the Gothic & Lolita Bible, the fashion may just make the jump to the western world and stay put. Already, stores in Europe and the US offer Lolita fashions and dozens of online stores ship overseas.

We may be seeing more Lolitas in the future.

References:

Gothic & Lolita Bible – English Edition of Feb 2008

EGL livejournal community

Wikipedia - Mana

JapaneseLifestyle webpage for Gothic Lolitas