china Close-Ups design fashion

Close-Up: The Lolita Diaries… Will They Ever Grow Old? 特写:洛丽塔-装扮.

The tale of a love affair between a group of women and their dresses tailored for 12-year-olds. No judgment here whatsoever, only fantastical fascination!

Sweet, Gothic, Classic, Punk, Black… What do these seemingly unhinged descriptive utterances have in common? A certain dainty Delores created by a certain voracious Vladimir: Lolita. No middle-aged men in view here, though, just the tale of a love affair between a group of women and their dresses tailored for 12-year-olds. Make no mistake, though: There is no judgment here whatsoever, only a fantastical fascination for this still-thriving cultural subgroup of fashion. We ask: Lolita, teenybop or fashion hobnob?

One very serious fashion subculture with a devout global following, “Lolita” is one highly niche and fitted clothing trend that seemingly has been drinking from the fountain of youth.

China Fashion Collective is a new talent platform created by Manhattan-based communications firm HAN Media, which selects innovative emerging Chinese fashion designers to show during New York Fashion Week (NYFW). China Fashion Collective shows bring together New York’s crème de la crème from various industries to celebrate the selected labels, all the while supporting them with everything from brand positioning to show production and PR. HAN Media on September 11, day four of the S/S17 New York Fashion Week, presents a China Fashion Collective runway show initiative featuring the works of four emerging Chinese designer labels at Pier 59 Studios. The theme? Lo ‘n behold: Elle s’appelle Lolita!

MANA: Moi-même-Moitié.

One very serious fashion subculture with a devout following around the world, “Lolita” is one highly niche and fitted clothing trend that seemingly (and befittingly so) has been drinking from the fountain of youth. The NYFW show’s labels — Souffle Song, Krad Lanrete, Lolitimes and BMOST — will show off nearly 50 looks from their S/S17 collections, each putting their unique spin on the “Lolita” theme. Nonetheless… Aside from a classic novel — “surprisingly” titles such as “Lolita” and “Junkie” can do no wrong in my book – and visions of Japanese girls skipping through Tokyo et affiliates…

Who actually is “Lolita”? That well-known image of the Lolita style (hashtag #lolita装扮# on Chinese social media) in reality mirrors England’s Victorian and Edwardian styles and its connection to that “adult male attracted to sexually precocious young girl” phenomenon in fact remains unconfirmed. In Japanese, the term refers to the basic practice of dressing up in gothic and old costumes. This kind of clothing is generally based on the early 19th Century Western dolls dressed in lace inlay skirts, but not exclusively so. The skirt length varies according to the desired Lolita look and its stipulations; one permanent option is to add the occasional petticoat to achieve the desired length.


Han Media and China Fashion Collective

Who is the instigator behind the Lolita dress trend? Artist Maki Kusumoto appears to be the biggest contender here. She in the 1980s created the “KISSxxxx” manga series about a rock band. One band member’s groupie girlfriend always dressed up like a darling doll, being a 24/7 cutie-pie and making sure the band’s live performances went down without a hitch or glitch. Rainbows and butterflies for all! Many visually inspiring (in the Japanese visual kei trend) artists nowadays have concocted and crafted their own unique style, e.g. MANA (the artist formerly known as MALICE MIZER) and his “Elegant Gothic Lolita” and” Elegant Gothic Aristocrat ” creations derived from his favorite horror and vampire movies. MANA also owns his very own clothing brand called Moi-même-Moitié, but — just to spark the eyelids — does not claim credit for the Gothic Lolita substream.

谁引起Lolita装的潮流?漫画家楠本まき是让lolita装流行的最大功臣。她在80年代创作的《KISSxxxx》是讲述一个摇滚乐团的漫画。乐团中一个成员的女朋友老是穿得象个洋娃娃。她很可爱并且照顾这个乐队的演出。 很多视觉系艺人都有他们自己的风格,比如MANA(前MALICE MIZER),他的风格就是”Elegant Gothic Lolita” (EGL)和”Elegant Gothic Aristocrat” (EGA)。他也有自己的服装品牌 Moi-meme-Moitie。他的风格是来自他喜爱的恐怖电影,吸血鬼电影。尽管这样,他也没有创造Gothic Lolita服饰。

They need to find themselves and therefore uninhibitedly and wildly rebel against all that is considered “traditional”.

How deep does it run? Lolita clothing everywhere goes well beyond your seasonal street trend; it is a way for numerous (young) people to express their emotional needs or a way make up for a lack of confidence, even serving as an armor for self-protection. One developmental psychologist, hereby referred to as “Allison”, has pointed out that when people go through a stage of “self-understanding and confusion”, they may try to grasp onto a level of innocence and desire, a dream to get rid of reality’s restrictions. They need to find themselves and therefore uninhibitedly and wildly challenge all that is considered “traditional”, expecting to gain people’s attention, understanding, approval and genuine acceptance. Thank you, Allison Freud.


Han Media and China Fashion Collective

Whatever the underlying reasons may be, eye-catching this fashionable subculture surely is. Sunday’s bold young Chinese designers of the four labels, all in their 20s and having perfected their design insights at schools across Europe, including London’s University of the Arts and Parisian ESMOD, do not confine themselves to those conventional Victorian or Edwardian Lolita silhouettes, yet instead choose to capture their kooky spirit by infusing a personal touch. The designers’ inspiration include Turandot, Madame Butterfly, Marie Antoinette and visual references to China’s ink painting and classic cheongsam (qipao), as well as Japan’s Shiromuku wedding kimono style. Just to name a few.

This very first China Fashion Collective runway show boasts the support of Pier 59 Studios, Vienna-based luxury jewelry company FREYWILLE, noted professional studio Make-up Pro, as well as NYChina Style. As one of the premier NYFW venues, Pier 59 Studios provides the staging, lighting and sound. Pier 59’s fashion Programming Consultant Christina Neault, a former IMG executive who this time around also serves as show director, has drawn inspiration and stamina from her years of experience at IMG overseeing NYFW. September 11 will visualize before our very eyes the future of a subculture. Lolita and street style will always hobnob.



In response to this Close-Up, one anonymous comment had the following to say :

“The fashion has no relation to Nabokov’s novel, and because the clothes are expensive high-fashion goods, most Lolitas are age 20 and above. Very few people have heard of the “Kiss XXXX” manga that was cited as a possible source of the Lolita fashion trend– manga often borrows from existing street fashion trends, so it is more likely that this manga was depicting an existing street style, not a source for the fashion. MANA is not “the artist formerly known as MALICE MIZER” — Malice Mizer was a visual kei band with five members including MANA. The paragraph about psychology was interesting, but talking about ‘challenging conventional expectations’ feels incomplete without mentioning the recent decades’ trend for women to wear tight and revealing clothing– to me, Lolita fashion has always seemed like a reaction against the tight and revealing fashions of today.”

Duly noted.


Photos: MANA — Moi-même-Moitié.