WHAT IS GOTHIC / LOLITA FASHION?
It is hard for those of us outside Japan to make sense of Gothic Lolita and its variations, especially since we do not see and experience it firsthand. The various terms and categories associated with they style only complicate matters.
We Westerners are familiar with Goth fashion: head-to-toe black, crosses and skulls, veils, general ghoulishness. Lolita, in contrast, conjures up a child decked in pastels and over-the-top ruffles. Gothic Lolita is not so much a combination but interplay between the two aesthetics. The resulting look is unique and very compelling.
Achromatic colors, bell-shaped frilled skirts, high-collared Victorian blouses? Looks like Goth Loli to me. DESIGNERS: Moi-même-Moitié, Black Peace Now, Alice Auaa, MA/MAM, Visible, Miho Matsuda.
Gothic Lolita fashion is widespread in Japan and considered the dominant Lolita variation. The less popular but associated styles incorporate Gothic (and) Lolita elements to different extents. Often, these sub-genres focus on a specific historical influence or theme. After Gothic, the three most popular Lolita styles are Sweet, Classic, and Punk.
Sweet Lolita outfits are distinguished by cutesy prints, baby colors, and frills galore. Country Lolis incorporate straw hats and gingham. DESIGNERS: Baby, The Star Shine Bright, Metamorphose temp de fille, Angelic Pretty, Mary Magdalene.
Classic Lolita is a more subdued look that falls between Sweet and Gothic; it is less girlish, less ghoulish, and uses colors such as blue and red. Aristocrat Lolita is an elegant, mature version with Victorian/Edwardian accents and a streamlined silhouette. The above image is a stunning Aristocrat Loli look. DESIGNERS: Innocent World, Victorian Maiden, Juliette et Justine, Atelier BOZ, A Lidel.
Punk Lolita softens the Johnny Rotten look (chains, plaids, torn fabrics) with girly-girl touches (poofy sleeves, lace trimmings, bell skirts). DESIGNERS: Stone Angel, Sex Pot Revenge, Putumayo, h.NAOTO, Union Jack, Sexy Dynamite.
Other imaginative Lolita styles are:
Ero Loli clothing is slightly more revealing and inspired by old-time fetish: lace-up corsets, shorter poof skirts, garters. DESIGNERS: Antique Beast.
Inspired by broken dollies, these “injured Lolis” make morbidity cute with slings, eyepatches, bandages, and fake blood.
If Jack Sparrow raided Elizabeth Swann’s boudoir… you get the idea.
Another subset with nautical themes, particularly sailor tie-collars and caps.
Qi and Wa Lolis combine ancient Chinese and Japanese styles, respectively, with Lolita elements.
An extravagant variation that brings back the Rococo and tops it with a tiara. <
Boys like to play dress-up too. Kodona (a.k.a. Ouji) boys have closets full of knickerbockers, spats, frock coats, and jabots.
Other mentions are Schoolgirl Lolita (pleated skirts/knee socks) and Deconstructed or Neo-Goth (close to Western Goth but slightly ruffled and layered). Pretty mind-boggling, eh?