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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Baby, the Stars Shine Bright!

As we've mentioned before, we could not be more excited about Baby, the Stars Shine Bright's imminent U.S. flagship store opening in San Francisco. In fact, since they are recruiting salesgirls right now, I am tempted to apply myself...as if my current full-time job doesn't keep me busy enough already? Jeanne and I adore the BTSSB website, poring over it on a regular basis almost as much as we delve into the lovely pages of Etsy.

Why do we have such a deep and unabiding love for the Gothic Lolita/Sweet Lolita subculture? I (Karen) find it fascinating as a subculture reinterpreting Japanese femininity and the idea of privilege, luxury, Western fashion, fashion history, and the stark contrast--or blurred line--between girlhood and womanhood. Of course, loads of bows, eyelet, strawberries, miniature top hats, Victorian bustles, petticoats, a misinterpreted Nabokov reference, and rocking-horse shoes don't hurt. We love it because it is an amalgamation of beauty and girlhood as seen through the eyes of modern Japan. The return to a Victorian aesthetic reminds me of my brief fame via Erin's post on her blog, A Dress A Day, about Meiji-era Japanese fashion. (I felt so famous! Can you believe that was two years ago?) I came THIS close to writing my undergraduate thesis in Japanese literature and film on the Lolita subculture, mostly based on the works of Novala Takemoto and the film Shimotsuma Monogatari, or Kamikaze Girls.

There has, in the meantime, been a lot of work on Japanese literature and anthropology on Japanese girlhood and femininity--see the academic work of Eve Zimmerman, Anne Allison, and Jennifer Robertson for reference. Via the Journal of Linguistic Anthropology and the Society for Linguistic Anthropology comes this short, nine-minute film from sociolinguist Isaac Gagne. This is your basic visual overview of the Gothic and Sweet Lolita subculture:

(I find the part at 6:25 on hair color particularly interesting, considering the number of Lolita girls I have seen with hair color and style similar to mine: brown, big straight bangs, curls everywhere.)

So, to share our love of the subculture with you and celebrate the imminent grand opening of Baby, the Stars Shine Bright San Francisco, Jeanne and I dove into our favorite fashion medium: Polyvore. Below, we have a sugar-sweet spread of more practical applications of Elegant, Gothic, and Sweet Lolita style.

Jeanne: The focal point here is the pink BTSSB platform Mary Janes with the criss-cross straps. My challenge was to incorporate a thorough girly, princess style of shoe with items from my regular ol' workaday wardrobe.
bssb - pink shoes
bssb - pink shoes - by msjeanneb on Polyvore.com
I kept the blouses tight in the bodice and the skirts slimmer, but in keeping with the Gothic Lolita general shape and look. At its most basic, this screams, "CHECK OUT MY TOTALLY SWEET SHOES!"

Karen: Since officially becoming a corporate drone this past year, I've gone in spurts and starts trying to incorporate a more Sweet/Gothic Lolita vibe in my office clothing. Thus, I present two sets:

Let's go clockwise from the top right. Besides Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, Victorian Maiden is another of my favorite EGL brands--I spent many a hot summer afternoon exploring Laforet Harajuku's basement level, admiring and learning about all of the new brands coming out. This dress I would wear to work in a heartbeat, although people would ask me if I was headed to my pretty-pretty-princess birthday party...isn't that the goal, though?
Next, the ruffle blouse+full skirt combo is a more bohemian take on the darker Sweet Lolita look. A small flower pattern, a few modern/streamlined touches make this country-boho-Lolita acceptable for daily consumption.
Top right, much more conservative with the surprise in the bow necklace and classic Lolita pinked-edge patent-leather bow platform Mary Janes. I love the side-ruffle skirt, it's a bit of Spanish/flamenco flair!
Bottom right is closest to what I wear to work, in all seriousness. I wish I owned that skirt. It's a touch of ruffle, a little pinstripe, just one or two bows, in muted neutrals--only you have to know that secretly, in your heart, you are a crazy hardcore Elegant Gothic Lolita.
Our last EGL for the office look is a throwback to the original Nabokovian Lolita as interpreted through both films: Kubrick AND Lyne. You may recall the classic 1962 film poster with Sue Lyon wearing the big, heart-shaped sunglasses, or Dominique Swain's gamin mischievousness in the 1997 version. This is made for running around in flats, kicking your shoes off and playing with the folds of your skirt in the duller moments of the workday. If I could dress like this on weekends and look effortless, I absolutely would!

The second set,

Shows more versatility and an open interpretation of the EGL influences. You know we love the bow headbands a la Blair Waldorf, and we HAVE to give our girl Lynleigh at Sweet Rococo a big, juicy shout-out for her fabulous work on Sweet Lolita outfits and accessories. For my birthday last month, I went a little crazy buying fascinators and decorated hairclips to "cuten up" this new haircut, thus the whole top assortment of feathers, roses, bows, and flowers. LOVE IT ALL. These are understated enough to wear all day, or add upon leaving work for the wild nights out you all probably have without us.
On the left, I returned to a more classical Victorian menswear look, the patent spectators, the stovepipe leg slacks, the wide lace collar--a touch of whimsy and delicate nostalgia for the post-machine age.
The middle outfit is what I imagine Anthropologie would do to Gothic Lolita if it were to appropriate my favorite fashion craze completely. Add some impossibly high heels, crazy chunky jewelry, and oversized pattern, that's the Anthro-lita.
On the right is our last look, a structured Mod Lolita who may have lost her innocence and purity, but you'd better believe she is all business.

What do you think? Can you successfully incorporate a subculture or ethnic style into a largely homogenized "office" wardrobe without people thinking you're a complete loon? We'll see you in San Francisco Japantown for regular doses of EGL style and our favorite Japanese pop culture trends! Be on the lookout for more Japanese runway styles here soon.

1 comment:

Isaac said...

Dear Jeanne,

I am happy to see that my short film could be useful in some way. Thank you for including it in your blog. The comments on hairstyle are indeed interesting, and are part of what I try to explore in the longer paper that I wrote after I made this film. There is always a considerable degree of tension (both personal and social) in defining and "patrolling the boundaries" of what is acceptable within a particular group. It is a fascinating topic for further research, I think.


P.S.- Just a point of clarification: my field of research is sociocultural anthropology; I am not trained as a sociolinguist.

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