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COSPLAYING LOLITA: AKINA FELLOWSHIP REPORT BY YOUNG DESIGNER LANG LEAV.

Akina, Gothic Lolita fashion designer Lang Leav from Australia. Winner of Churchill fellowship, cosplaying Lolita Japanese brand report.

Akina designer/artist Lang Leav of Sydney won a well-deserved Churchill fellowship to research fashion subcultures – particularly her main inspiration, Gothic Lolita. From July to August 2008, she was hurtled into the heart of the Tokyo underground scene, teaming up with photographer Tim Rudder and translator/model/musician Jimi Blumer (both of whom make cameos in my upcoming theme restaurants book). The narrative of her journey has just been released, and it’s as beautiful and haunting as her work. Some excerpts:

Award-winning young Sydney designer Akina, Gothic Lolita fashion clothing by Lang Leav of Australia. Streets of Harajuku, dark neon photography of Tokyo underground subcultures.

Lang Leav (above) on Tokyo Dark Castle: “I begin to make my way through the crowd. I walk past two Lolita, whose hands wander idly over each other’s bodies while they sway their hips in rhythm to the thumping music. On stage there is an orchestrated orgy as two leather-clad women simulate sex with a man dressed in chains.”

James Blumer, Jimi or Elec of Visual Kei rock band Laverite. Photo by Tim Rudder for Australian gothic lolita clothing designer Akina. Street lamp atmospheric photography.

What can I say – Man Heaven is the zeitgeist. “We make small talk in the elevator and exchange numbers. Later I will learn that he is James Blumer, a model from L.A. who holds the second highest certification in Japanese. He is also the only Westerner to play in a Visual Kei band, a genre of music that is synonymous with the subcultures of my study. On impulse, I ask him if he will be my translator. ‘I would love to,’ he smiles.”

French Gothic and Sweet Lolita girls, Rococo Marie Antoinette Versailles fashion. Models in streets of Tokyo, Japan, neon lights of storefront windows.

She met a proud, French Lolita. “The opulent lifestyle of the insatiably overindulgent Marie Antoinette makes it no wonder she is idolised by the growing number of modern day Lolita who wander the streets of Paris. ‘Marie Antoinette,’ says Valérie, confirming my thoughts ‘was the perfect Lolita.'”

Maid in meido cafe, cosplay costume in Tokyo, Japan. Candles, Victorian maid outfit worn by Japanese girl with pigtails and glasses. Akina, Gothic Lolita fashion designer Lang Leav from Australia.

Into the fantasy world of a maid cafe: “Boléro an orchestral piece by Maurice Ravel plays on repeat in the background. ‘I listen to this over and over again,’ sighs Mary. Outside, the sounds of wind chimes contribute to the symphony, as if vainly hoping to imprint itself into the orchestrated sounds. It makes me think of Mary and others like her, wanting to belong to this romantic aesthetic of yesteryear, an ambition made only possible beneath a shroud of fantasy.”

For more beauty, fantasy, and heartbreak, follow Lang’s adventure on the Akina website.

45 Comments

  1. Posted October 21, 2008 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    Man Heaven's from LA…?

    Ohh, I want to read her entire article on this, but maybe – just maybe – I should do it AFTER work and actually start working now…

  2. Posted October 22, 2008 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Man Heaven’s from LA…?

    Ohh, I want to read her entire article on this, but maybe – just maybe – I should do it AFTER work and actually start working now…

    • Posted October 22, 2008 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      Actually, he isn’t. Hahah, it’s all mythology ;)

    • Posted October 22, 2008 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      Actually, he isn’t. Hahah, it’s all mythology ;)

  3. Posted October 22, 2008 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Man Heaven’s from LA…?

    Ohh, I want to read her entire article on this, but maybe – just maybe – I should do it AFTER work and actually start working now…

  4. Posted October 22, 2008 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Actually, he isn't. Hahah, it's all mythology ;)

  5. Posted October 22, 2008 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Found your Blog by accident today online and, thanks to your journalistic skill, am now totally in love and fascinated with goth loli style. . kewl,

  6. Posted October 22, 2008 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Wow, she seems so awesome!!

    I'm currently reading a few parts from the PDF format of the book and it's just absolutely lovely.

    (^_^)

  7. Posted October 22, 2008 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    I know, the words and images are so beautifully rendered! Glad you're enjoying it.

  8. Posted October 22, 2008 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    He's actually from Atlantis but I thought L.A. was more believable. : P

    Thanks for posting this Carmen and thanks for all your lovely comments.

    x

  9. Posted October 22, 2008 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Found your Blog by accident today online and, thanks to your journalistic skill, am now totally in love and fascinated with goth loli style. . kewl,

  10. Posted October 22, 2008 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Found your Blog by accident today online and, thanks to your journalistic skill, am now totally in love and fascinated with goth loli style. . kewl,

  11. Posted October 22, 2008 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Wow, she seems so awesome!!

    I’m currently reading a few parts from the PDF format of the book and it’s just absolutely lovely.

    (^_^)

    • Posted October 22, 2008 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

      I know, the words and images are so beautifully rendered! Glad you’re enjoying it.

    • Posted October 22, 2008 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

      I know, the words and images are so beautifully rendered! Glad you’re enjoying it.

  12. Posted October 22, 2008 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Wow, she seems so awesome!!

    I’m currently reading a few parts from the PDF format of the book and it’s just absolutely lovely.

    (^_^)

  13. Posted October 22, 2008 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    He’s actually from Atlantis but I thought L.A. was more believable. : P

    Thanks for posting this Carmen and thanks for all your lovely comments.

    x

    • Posted October 23, 2008 at 3:05 am | Permalink

      La-la-land is more of a figment of the imagination than Atlantis, IMO!

      <3

    • Posted October 23, 2008 at 3:05 am | Permalink

      La-la-land is more of a figment of the imagination than Atlantis, IMO!

      <3

  14. Posted October 22, 2008 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    He’s actually from Atlantis but I thought L.A. was more believable. : P

    Thanks for posting this Carmen and thanks for all your lovely comments.

    x

  15. Posted October 22, 2008 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Hey! my name is Thally and i wanted to thank you, you are my lolita inspiration!!!!!! I love ur blog so much i was just getting to research wat exacltly is lolita and you helped me a lot! Oh and if you haven't heard of The Gazette (visual kei band) you should check them out i love their style i think you might too!

  16. Posted October 22, 2008 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    I just discovered u 2nyte but I look forward to checking out your many projects ^-^

  17. Posted October 22, 2008 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    Amazing!

  18. Posted October 22, 2008 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    La-la-land is more of a figment of the imagination than Atlantis, IMO!

    <3

  19. Posted October 22, 2008 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Hi Carmen, thanks for posting this. I can't believe of never heard of Akina, when I'm from Sydney too! We must use her stuff in a shoot for the mag I'm with.
    Hey, a question: if you had to choose between going to Alamode Night, Tokyo Decadance or Tokyo Dark Castle, which would you choose?

  20. Posted October 23, 2008 at 3:01 am | Permalink

    Hey! my name is Thally and i wanted to thank you, you are my lolita inspiration!!!!!! I love ur blog so much i was just getting to research wat exacltly is lolita and you helped me a lot! Oh and if you haven’t heard of The Gazette (visual kei band) you should check them out i love their style i think you might too!

  21. Posted October 23, 2008 at 3:01 am | Permalink

    Hey! my name is Thally and i wanted to thank you, you are my lolita inspiration!!!!!! I love ur blog so much i was just getting to research wat exacltly is lolita and you helped me a lot! Oh and if you haven’t heard of The Gazette (visual kei band) you should check them out i love their style i think you might too!

  22. Posted October 23, 2008 at 3:02 am | Permalink

    I just discovered u 2nyte but I look forward to checking out your many projects ^-^

  23. Posted October 23, 2008 at 3:02 am | Permalink

    I just discovered u 2nyte but I look forward to checking out your many projects ^-^

  24. Posted October 23, 2008 at 3:02 am | Permalink

    Amazing!

  25. Posted October 23, 2008 at 3:02 am | Permalink

    Amazing!

  26. Posted October 23, 2008 at 3:27 am | Permalink

    Hi Carmen, thanks for posting this. I can’t believe of never heard of Akina, when I’m from Sydney too! We must use her stuff in a shoot for the mag I’m with.
    Hey, a question: if you had to choose between going to Alamode Night, Tokyo Decadance or Tokyo Dark Castle, which would you choose?

    • Posted October 23, 2008 at 6:30 am | Permalink

      That’s awesome!! You can contact Lang through her website – she’d be happy to speak to you.

      Alamode was at StudioCube in Tamachi, which is about 30 min from Shinjuku on the JR Yamanote line (the green one that goes in a circle). It’s harder to find, but the StudioCube website has a great map. I wrote down where all the Lawsons are and had no problem.

      The parties have different vibes, although the same DJs (Chihiro, Sisen, Takuya Angel) tend to spin the music. Alamode is more cosplay/anime-ish, and doesn’t feature the more prominent Goth bands (such as Blood, Candy Spooky). I like Midnight Mess better than Tokyo Dark Castle; both have fantastic music/performances, but MM is less packed and douche-y. Both are in Shinjuku.

      Tokyo Decadance is large and cyber/fetish-y flamboyant… this Saturday’s TD is at the huge Christon Cafe in Shinjuku.

      Gothic Bar Heaven is a smaller but very fun all-nighter at Club Hoop in Shinjuku. It’s a D’s Valentine event.

      Finally, I love The Fashion Ramone’s parties – they’re doing a Halloween bash and have regular Narzib events. Lots of over-the-top outfits!

      In sum: I recommend Midnight Mess, Tokyo Decadance, and Gothic Bar Heaven for you…

    • Posted October 23, 2008 at 6:30 am | Permalink

      That’s awesome!! You can contact Lang through her website – she’d be happy to speak to you.

      Alamode was at StudioCube in Tamachi, which is about 30 min from Shinjuku on the JR Yamanote line (the green one that goes in a circle). It’s harder to find, but the StudioCube website has a great map. I wrote down where all the Lawsons are and had no problem.

      The parties have different vibes, although the same DJs (Chihiro, Sisen, Takuya Angel) tend to spin the music. Alamode is more cosplay/anime-ish, and doesn’t feature the more prominent Goth bands (such as Blood, Candy Spooky). I like Midnight Mess better than Tokyo Dark Castle; both have fantastic music/performances, but MM is less packed and douche-y. Both are in Shinjuku.

      Tokyo Decadance is large and cyber/fetish-y flamboyant… this Saturday’s TD is at the huge Christon Cafe in Shinjuku.

      Gothic Bar Heaven is a smaller but very fun all-nighter at Club Hoop in Shinjuku. It’s a D’s Valentine event.

      Finally, I love The Fashion Ramone’s parties – they’re doing a Halloween bash and have regular Narzib events. Lots of over-the-top outfits!

      In sum: I recommend Midnight Mess, Tokyo Decadance, and Gothic Bar Heaven for you…

  27. Posted October 23, 2008 at 3:27 am | Permalink

    Hi Carmen, thanks for posting this. I can’t believe of never heard of Akina, when I’m from Sydney too! We must use her stuff in a shoot for the mag I’m with.
    Hey, a question: if you had to choose between going to Alamode Night, Tokyo Decadance or Tokyo Dark Castle, which would you choose?

  28. Posted October 22, 2008 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    That's awesome!! You can contact Lang through her website – she'd be happy to speak to you.

    Alamode was at StudioCube in Tamachi, which is about 30 min from Shinjuku on the JR Yamanote line (the green one that goes in a circle). It's harder to find, but the StudioCube website has a great map. I wrote down where all the Lawsons are and had no problem.

    The parties have different vibes, although the same DJs (Chihiro, Sisen, Takuya Angel) tend to spin the music. Alamode is more cosplay/anime-ish, and doesn't feature the more prominent Goth bands (such as Blood, Candy Spooky). I like Midnight Mess better than Tokyo Dark Castle; both have fantastic music/performances, but MM is less packed and douche-y. Both are in Shinjuku.

    Tokyo Decadance is large and cyber/fetish-y flamboyant… this Saturday's TD is at the huge Christon Cafe in Shinjuku.

    Gothic Bar Heaven is a smaller but very fun all-nighter at Club Hoop in Shinjuku. It's a D's Valentine event.

    Finally, I love The Fashion Ramone's parties – they're doing a Halloween bash and have regular Narzib events. Lots of over-the-top outfits!

    In sum: I recommend Midnight Mess, Tokyo Decadance, and Gothic Bar Heaven for you…

  29. Posted October 23, 2008 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    wow love the girls dress in the first photo and the one who was a french lolita

  30. Posted October 24, 2008 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    wow love the girls dress in the first photo and the one who was a french lolita

  31. Posted October 24, 2008 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    wow love the girls dress in the first photo and the one who was a french lolita

  32. Posted October 28, 2008 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    I must say,James Blumer looks beautiful in that photo.Even without makeup he looks angelic.

    *sigh*

    And,I really liked the cats on the hem of the dress of that French Lolita.

    (Speaking of cats…..I happen to collect Maneki-Nekos and I hope to buy more of those when I hit New York City next week.I am in search of a gold Maneki Neko charm to wear around my neck.Aaaah one day,when the price of gold goes back down……)

  33. Posted October 28, 2008 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Le sigh…. ;)

    Awww I love Maneki-Nekos!

  34. Posted October 28, 2008 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    I must say,James Blumer looks beautiful in that photo.Even without makeup he looks angelic.

    *sigh*

    And,I really liked the cats on the hem of the dress of that French Lolita.

    (Speaking of cats…..I happen to collect Maneki-Nekos and I hope to buy more of those when I hit New York City next week.I am in search of a gold Maneki Neko charm to wear around my neck.Aaaah one day,when the price of gold goes back down……)

    • Posted October 28, 2008 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

      Le sigh…. ;)

      Awww I love Maneki-Nekos!

  35. Posted October 28, 2008 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    I must say,James Blumer looks beautiful in that photo.Even without makeup he looks angelic.

    *sigh*

    And,I really liked the cats on the hem of the dress of that French Lolita.

    (Speaking of cats…..I happen to collect Maneki-Nekos and I hope to buy more of those when I hit New York City next week.I am in search of a gold Maneki Neko charm to wear around my neck.Aaaah one day,when the price of gold goes back down……)

  36. Posted October 28, 2008 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Le sigh…. ;)

    Awww I love Maneki-Nekos!