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Right, I'm never listening to sounds again if that's true.
Spent some time at The Black Canary shop in Necrosis Noctis, Mr. Denimore's EGL shrine on the grid. He has a very limited line for dashing men and enthralling women who are drawn to monochromatic laces and bows. He also has a three-gingerbread-man hunt for the season, containing two outfits, and a pair of peppermint-stripe eyes. Lovely, and well worth your time (and the L$30 it will cost, total, for two seasonal outfits and the eyes. Unbelievable deal).
Conversing with him on new movements in the EGL world put me in mind of the 'what is Lolita' entry from 2008. I thought it might be a good idea to update that now with an overview of the current basics. Believe me, there are endless variations at this point on Lolita fashions and fads; and even more sub-genres arising nigh daily as the original fashion spreads to the West.
But this is going to be just the basics...with a quirky few up-and-coming variants.
It's taken many of us in the West far too long to figure this out, but "Elegant Gothic Lolita" has very little to do with "gothic"; what the Japanese mean when they say "gothic" is "historical".
And it's a very specific history, neo-Victorian, neo-Edwardian in general application, but with touches of dark fantasy here and there, echoes of high French court dress, and all of it updated to modern times. Even the word "Lolita" they picked not because of Nabokav's vision, but because of the understanding that it referenced youth.
Oh, for a really good Japanese/English translator and a time machine...it might not have become Lolita fashion at all.
On the other hand, this is Japan--it might very well have, because in terms of marketing, sometimes what a word sounds like is more important than what it actually means.
Gothic Lolita (Gosurori)
Gothic Lolita, or Gosurori fashion, depends on a monochromatic color palette. In the East this means black or charcoal grey, with touches of white; in the West and on the grid, this has been expanded to all white with touches of black or grey, or simply all white. What makes an all-white Gothic Loli outfit different than a sweet Loli outfit? The sweet Loli outfit won't have the skulls, or bat-winged black hearts, or shadowed crosses imprinted on the skirt.
If there is color in Gothic Lolita outfits, it generally will be one color, on the monochrome base, be it black or white. More than one, and the stark statement of elegance, refined nobility, and delicacy will not be retained.
When we understand that Gothic Lolita styles revolve around an appreciation for more refined times, while at the same time preserving the joy of 'dressing up' in fancy outfits, we understand Gothic Lolita better.
Notable mainstays of gothic Lolita fashion:
* Headgear. This could include headbands to keep long, straight hair back; head bows that tie to the side of the head for side curls to fall; ribbons and lace strips to tie into hair; in the West, fascinators; or small 'child-size' hats, beribboned and bowed.
* Crisp ironed blouse of white or black, pintucked, ruffled or yoked, with cap or puff sleeves, and perhaps a neck bow;
* Monochromatic full skirt, either mid-thigh length (in the West) or mid-calf length;
* Petticoat or crinoline that will fill out the skirt to the proper bell shape;
* Bloomers, preferably with lace trim, in black or white;
* Knee-high socks in black, white, or subdued patterns of white on black/black on white. Over-the-knee socks are better, or solid, non-sheer tights (try to avoid thigh-high stockings for pure Lolita styles);
* Classic Mary Jane shoes in black patent, black velvet, or matte white leather.
Remember, the look is not sexual in the least; think of dressing up antique dolls: the perfect pearl-buttoned shoes, the perfect bell skirts, the perfect look: from bonnet to lace gloves, bell skirt to Mary Janes, parasol and matching handbag if you're feeling the need for a change of costume, a refresh on your makeup, additional accessories...the look is not precisely child, but not adult either; it really is vintage doll.
A few years back, it was quite popular to add the "Alice in Wonderland" style white apron atop Lolita attire; this has since fallen out of fashion in Japan, and while the entire Alice in Wonderland style holds strong here, it seems to be fading as far as Western pure Loli followers go.
True adherents to the style will move in specified ways, as well--small, precise hand motions, demure head nods, small steps--these adherents are also sometimes called "lifestyle Lolitas".
I hear there are tea parties.
Candy Fruit used to offer more Lolita outfits; now they offer more maid outfits, which is technically costume work (though most of them can be worn by Lolita fanciers). Millefleurs still offers gothic Lolita outfits, as does Nocturnal Nostalgia (with an occasional PVC twist). Milk Pearl mixes gothic with sweet, to occasionally jarring effect. Moi-même-Moitié is still a gothic Lolita house.
Batty Chan's article on adapting Gothic Lolita patterns is good to peruse; it also includes bloomer patterns from an 1814 sourcebook.
Black Lolita (Kurorori)
Kurorori is just that--unrelieved black Lolita fashion. Generally it's reflective of a specific thing, there aren't that many variants in it. To wit:
* Unrelieved black outfit
* Black lace pettiskirt
* Black socks or tights
* Black shoes
If there are any additional patterns involved, they will nearly always be grey, silver, or brown, and range from clocks to architectural details, drawn either in simple, stark lines, or ornate rococo swirls. While there is crossover between kurorori and gosurori, they are distinct and different styles.
White Lolita (Shirorori)
Shirorori, on the other hand, is the complete photo-negative of Kurorori--to wit:
* Unrelieved white outfit
* White lace petticoat
* White socks or tights
* White shoes
And that's the basic separations in the main category: gothic Lolita as a base term refers to monochromatic color expression, nearly always. From there, things can--and do!--branch out wildly, but you can't go wrong in a black-and-white variant, most of the time.
Most pure style adherents will also accompany their looks with a matching handbag, a parasol, and elaborate headgear or bonnets. Makeup will be simple, if it is seen at all, and go towards that look of the perfectly preserved doll: slight pinking of the cheek, matte or gloss lips, simple eye work.
The White Peacock offers gothic Lolita styles, as well as shirorori and kurorori styles. Miho Matsuda offers nearly exclusively kurorori fashions.
Classic Lolita (curashikku roriita)
Classic Lolita is a so-called "mature" Lolita style; in that it is worn by more reserved adherents, not that it's never seen on the young and fashionable. It resists obvious classification primarily because of how it's structured: without the elaborate bows and laces of gothic Lolita, but dealing in darker color tones than sweet Lolita.
It's also harder to peg for most people, because this:
is classic Lolita, but then so is this:
See what I mean?
In general, the breakdown is this way: it's still gothic Lolita, but it's a little more reserved, more "grown up"--think adult vintage dolls (in the sense of not-children, not pornographic): deeper colors (or color at all), small repeating patterns (usually florals or muted plaids), much less lace, frills and ribbon, and sometimes, more of an A-line skirt effect, over the gothic Lolita's traditional bell.
Innocent World is a classic Lolita house, as is Mary Magdalene, Stocking Shock and Victorian Maiden. Fan plus Friend has branched out into Pirate Lolita and some gothic styles, but is mostly a classic Lolita house. Metamorphose temps de filles mixes classic and sweet Lolita fashions; In the Starlight mixes gothic with classic Lolita, as does Halo Noir.
Sweet Lolita (Amarori)
If gothic Lolita is an over-the-top reinterpretation of childrens' vintage fashion, then amarori is over-the-top for that. You've never seen so much lace and whimsical detail as when you're looking at a sweet Loli frock.
Amarori depends on "cute" to work; not only that, but it depends on lots of froth: from the nearly horizontally-fluffed petticoats on occasion, to the elaborate headgear, the festooning of ribbons and lace and buttons and pins on everything, and all of it cloyingly, saccharine sweet. Tones are generally pastel: with white, pink and blue seen most often, though any color will work if it's mixed with enough white to powder out.
Stuffed animals? Check. Plush cupcakes worn as hats? Check. Patterns using fruit (generally strawberries, cherries or apples)? Check.
Angelic Pretty is a sweet Lolita house in Japan; so is Baby, the Stars Shine Bright and Candy Violet. Sweet Rococo, based out of Los Angeles, is a mixed sweet/classic Lolita house.
Elegant Gothic Aristocrat
Elegant Gothic Aristocrat used to be the term used to describe the male version of Lolita; while it's still used in that sense, it's been expanded in recent years to cover the most formal, the most precise, of the gothic Lolita movement. Here you find skirts to the floor, suits, elegant vintage details drawn from rococo, Edwardian, and Victorian inspiration sources.
Moi-même-Moitié pioneered the style, and it still remains the chief elegant gothic aristocrat/elegant gothic Lolita house.
Pirate Loli, since last year, has gained in popularity immensely. Oddly, there still aren't a lot of stores carrying it, so it remains more a make-it-yourself fashion. Still, the frock coats, swag chains of pearls, brocades and silks, are quite popular, and show up now and again in fashion.
Fan plus Friend remains a good resource for pirate Lolita, as well as Milky Ange (who also carries classic and shirorori styles).
Punk Lolita (Pankurori)
Pankurori is generally the trickiest of all forms of Lolita to capture, because it operates by more specific rules. It's not easy; you can't shred your fishnets and wear it with a bell skirt and schoolgirl blouse and be punk. Which is hard to understand, because "punk" in the West doesn't generally conform to known rules.
The traditional Lolita bell skirt may be a bit shorter for pankurori devotees, but it's still not a miniskirt. Fishnets and mesh tights are appropriate, as are chains, studs, and metallic details. Layering is also big in this style, with skirts worn over skirts under belts over fishnets under knee socks.
There's some crossover between pankurori and pirate Lolita, in terms of pattern--lots of chains, pearls, and plaid are seen on both, but one side swashbuckles with grace, and the other favors really, really big stompy boots and black platform Mary Janes. Think...punk in the 1980s, in England, then toss in frilly party dresses and lace. That's pankurori.
Putomayo is the only store that springs to mind offering pure punk Lolita styles. Gloomth offers a little bit of everything, from punk to sweet.
Are we done? Hells, no. There's himerori (princess fashion), sailor Lolita (sailor blouses, nautical stripes), country Lolita (same as sweet, near as I can tell, save for an emphasis on gingham and straw baskets/straw hats), wan-Loli (or wa-loli, for Japanese-influenced Lolita: think kimonos and petticoats), qi-Loli (same as wan-, only with Chinese styles), and gurorori (injured Lolitas--think broken dolls, bleeding dolls, and yes, it's its own subculture)...and endless variations underneath. But these are the main and major styles.
There's a really great article on Lolita fashions in general, written a year ago; it covers a lot of the basics, and some of the subgenres, and encapsulates perfectly what gothic Lolita, as a style, actually is. And if you're ever in Japan, this article shows you where to shop. And the La Carmina blog covers a wide variation of Lolita fashion, Japanese style, food, furniture and trends. Finally, this is a massive list of practically every shop carrying anything to do with Lolita fashion.
Next up: who in world does these fashions for purchase.