Sunday, 31 January 2016

What is Summer Lolita Fashion?

Hi all...

After realising I had difficulty making a Lolita-fashion outfit that felt summery I have endeavoured to do some research to help me to create a Lolita fashion coordinate for the summer. I'd like to share what I have found.

If there's anything I've learnt from this research it is the idea of "evocation". One of my favourite fashion books My Basic Note by Naho Mihirogi states that "Clothes show what our inner-selves and our life style is like on the outside. Clothes are the film that connect me to society." What you are doing with fashion is creating an image that is interpreted by your audience. In other words, there is no specific summer lolita fashion and only images that evoke the idea of summer. 

Historical Summer Fashion

Lolita is said to be based on historical fashions from the Baroque,  Rococo and Victorian period. This is roughly the period from the 15th century right through to the turn of the 18th century. That's around 300 years of skirts and sleeve sizes billowing and contracting and waist lines going up and down much like a hot air balloon attached to a carousel 1, 2. Of course, one cannot begin to pigeon hole the thoughts and fashions of the whole world over this period of time so please take what I say with a grain of salt and your own research.

It seems from what I can glean that although fashion changed it was not as bound by spring, summer, autumn, winter seasons back in those times. In fact, in many places with relatively milder weather, women were expected to stick it out most of the time in the same type of clothes they would wear other times of the year 3, 4. Of course, coats and shawls etc. could be added in winter if required. Clothing appears to be split up into morning, afternoon and evening wear as well as occasion wear such as mourning and wedding clothing.  Other places, such as Virginia, had a less forgiving climate so in summer less layers were worn or different materials, such as lustring, silk and light wool were utilised 5. In general, accessories seem to change from heavier fabrics such as velvet in colder months to straw or linen in warmer months 6, 7, 8. 9.

Here are a few portraits from the period to give you an idea of the changing fashions throughout the times. I've tried to include ones with accessories as much as possible. 

Portrait of a Lady - Gabriel Metsu (1667)

Left: Portriat of Marquise de Pompadour - Francois Boucher (1759)
Middle: Portrait of a Noblewoman - Donat Nonotte (1760)
Right: Portrait of the Marchioness Angela Maria Lombardi - Unknown (c.1710)

Left: Unknown Portait - Howard E. Gray (c. 1885)
Middle: Portrait of Josephine Bowes - Louis William Desanges (1858)
Right: Portriat of Countess Daru - Jacques Louis David (1810)


As a general rule in fashion, it's thought that the lighter the colour is, the closer it is to summer and the darker the colour is the closer it is to winter. This, however, this doesn't mean a person is only able to wear white in summer. It means that a lighter version of a colour will be viewed as a "Summer Colour". This particular video, featuring Yoshimasa Hoshiba from B.R. Fashion College, explains this concept quite well using a navy jacket as an example 10. As there are no subtitles I have made a few screen caps below.

"As you increase the amount of white in a colour it approaches a summer colour" - 11

"The navy [on this jacket I'm holding] is more of a Spring/Summer navy
and the navy that I'm wearing at the moment falls more on the side of Autumn/Winter navy." - 12

According to Lolita Fashion Book

I happened to get a hold of the Lolita Fashion Book by Misako Aoki when I was in Japan in 2014. As well as information about the lolita fashion basics as well as make-up and hair tutorials, it has this to say about Lolita in Summer. 
"The trick is to use accessories made with natural materials..."

  • Go for less petticoats to make your clothes more breathable
  • Use natural materials for bags and hats etc. to evoke summer
  • Pair short sleeves with wrist cuffs for cuteness right down to your hands

Summer Lolita
Scan from Lolita Fashion Book by Misako Aoki

In Summary

To summarise the above, wearing the same type of clothes in every season can be an option as a personal preference or even from a historical perspective. There are also methods that can evoke a summer-feel to an outfit. These include choosing light or natural fabrics that breath well such as light cotton, chiffon or linen; choosing colours that are a shade brighter such as a bright navy, light brown and rose and choosing accessories made of natural materials, particularly straw or cotton. 

My Idea For Summer Outfits

Personally, I think single colour pieces in cotton finished with white lace could really come into their own in summer outfits. I like the idea of "breathable" not only in the use of materials and outfit but in an evocative sense as well. What I'm talking about is spaced out prints: prints that give the impression that the wind could blow through the space between them. This, I believe, will be the corner stone of my personal summer style in lolita fashion. This as well as Marine themes that evoke the seaside, which is a popular summer activity.

Below are some prints from different brands, which I feel could work well in a summer coordinate. I've tried to chose items from different years and in light and darker colours.

Alice and the Pirates
Left: Alice's Wonder Marine Treasure JSK (Navy) 2014
Right: Ansie Princess OP (Dark Pink) 2015

Angelic Pretty
Left: Sugary Gingham OP (Pink) 2014
Right: Fairy Marine Skirt (Navy) 2014

Baby the Stars Shine Bright
Left: Lilly Rose Basket Bag (Pink) 2013
Right: Alice Brudges OP (Pink) 2012

Innocent World
Left: Peter Rabit Just Waist (Sax) 2016
Right: Carousel of Paris (Ivory) 2014

Summer is almost over and I'm still in lock down in terms of lolita purchasing I don't feel I have the right items to create a good summery lolita outfit so I will have to wait until next year to make an actual summer lolita coordinate with my wardrobe. I hope this article will give you inspiration to find your own summer-style for lolita fashion. If you have any summer lolita fashion coordinates you've done I would love to see them too!

Until next time...

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

If Brands Made Australian-themed Prints - Australia Day 2016

Hi all... 

January 26 is Australia Day, the country's national day, and to tie in with that I have been working on some original Lolita-fashion dress designs in the style of three of the most popular lolita fashion brands.
I really enjoyed thinking about how the different brands would style their dresses and I want to share with you, not only the designs, but my thought process as well. 

Teddy-Bear Coat of Arms

Brand: Innocent World
Colour-ways - Wine, Green, Beige
Inspiration for the print - Commonwealth Coat of Arms
Inspiration for the design - Innocent World Union Jack

Notes About The Inspiration

I love the bold design of Innocent World's Union Jack so I wanted to make a similarly body design incorporating a heraldic symbol of Australia. I chose the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, which is the formal symbol of the Commonwealth of Australia. The focus is the escutcheon (the shield) that contains six compartments representing the Australian states and territories. The supporters are a kangaroo on the left and a emu on the right, which some say were chosen because they're animals that find it difficult to walk backwards. The background is the golden wattle, which is a native Australian plant and the motto written on the scroll is "Australia". 

Notes On My Design

I designed this Innocent World-style print to have a removable yoke; a feature I often see on their designs. The yoke also features gold star buttons, a symbol featured in the Commonwealth Coat of Arms. The background on most of the print is an ermine pattern, which featured around the escutcheon (sheild). The bottom half of the skirt features a large border print of a coat of arms with a horizontal stripe pattern featured on the bottom and belt design and a diagonal stripe pattern on the yoke and closing off the border pattern. For the coat of arms, I kept the wattle background and the main layout of the design but the compartmental design of the escutcheon has been replaced with the iconic IW logo. The scroll also reads "Innocent World". Although initially I featured the kangaroo and the emu next to the shield I chose to change to teddy bears, which is a common theme in Innocent World prints. The left teddy bear wears a top hat and sash and the right teddy bear wears a cape and crown.

Saint Mary of the Cross - the Children's Garden

Brand: Baby the Stars Shine Bright
Colour-ways - Navy, Black, Off-white
Inspiration for the Print - St Mary Mackillop
Inspiration for the Design - Maria's Catholic Nun OP

Notes About The Inspiration

Baby seems to be releasing designs that make use of light fabric, layers of lace and religious themes. I tried to incorporate all of these into my own design. I wanted to marry the "nun dress" with a print and took inspiration from the tile design on "Recipe for an Endless Dream" and the prints that feature black and white photos such as Sister Maria's Humming Birds. I chose to feature Mary MacKillop in my design, who is formally known as Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop and is Australia's first and only recognised saint. Mary MacKillop was a Catholic nun who helped to found Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, which established a number of schools focusing on educating the rural poor. 

Notes On My Design

The design features a high-collar and square yoke, similar to that of Maria's Catholic Nun OP. The centre of the yoke has two pin tucks and is finished off with a gold braid and lace. The sleeves are chiffon and in a princess sleeve design to mirror the long sleeves of the habit worn by Mary MacKillop. The other features mirroring the habit include corset lacing in the front and a rosary, which hangs from the belt of the dress. The background of the dress features a quote from Mary MacKillop "We feel our crosses hard at times but our courage should rise with them" (1882) speaking of enduring hardship along with responsibility. I imagined the border print to be drawn like a black and white photo, with a scene of a school building with children holding gardening tools and featuring Mary MacKillop at the centre, the brick wall of the building creating a textured background evoking the harsh circumstances of Australia in the earlier days.

Koala's Marching Band 

Brand: Angelic Pretty
Colour-ways - Brown, Pink, Ivory
Inspiration for the print - Toy March
Inspiration for the design - Women's Land Army

Notes About The Inspiration

Initially I thought about creating a simple jumperskirt with a koala-eared hood for my Angelic Pretty-style design but when I thought about what I like about Angelic Pretty the jam-packed designs, chocolate and military style came to mind.  I love the way that Angelic Pretty puts a cute spin on military style items so I worked in this direction and looked for old-style female army uniforms. I discovered the Women's Land Army (WLA), a civilian organisation initially created by the British. The Australian Women's Land Army, formed in 1943, was modeled on it's British counterpart but the aim was the same: to meet the shortfall in rural labour. Women were taught agriculture and then undertook farming work in rural areas. The hat and tie of the uniform including the design on the tie really caught my eye so I worked to bring them into the final design.

Notes On My Design

This design features very strong military taste with a jacket with epaulets and is cinched in with a ribbon topped waist belt. The collar and sleeves have lines of lace that peek out, softening the stark regimental design. The tie and the background of the skirt features a diagonal stripe pattern which contains the brand name "Angelic Pretty" in gold lettering. The bottom of the skirt is a border print with the image of koalas in marching band including ribbon twirlers, a band leader and other instrument players. The border print is topped with a sash that appears to be pinned up with rosettes and the bottom of the dress is a border that reads "Angelic Pretty" and "Marching" separated by a star symbol. This hem also has lace peering from it like the sleeves and collar.

I hope you enjoyed my designs in the style of popular lolita fashion brands. If you've made your own brand-style designs let me know! 

Until next time... 

Sunday, 17 January 2016

The Unexpected Thank You Gift

Hi all...

On Friday a parcel arrived from my family in Japan. Inside was a Japanese food stash and a thank you gift for the Christmas presents I sent had over. 

The gift I never expected - Don't you just want to eat it!?

Look at this gorgeous pair of Kumya-Kuma-chan socks and choker from Baby the Stars Shine Bright! I was only expecting the food stuffs so I was so surprised when I saw them. None of the family in Japan have any interest in alternative street fashion, so for someone to specifically go to a Baby the Stars Shine Bright store to get something for me must have taken some courage. Well, as soon as I had my next day off I was putting together an outfit.

BABY the Stars Shine Bright - Kumya-Kuma-chan Socks

I was so thrilled with the socks. They're perfect for Kumya Kuma's Sweet Chocolate. I put together this outfit using my Innocent World bag and shoes, the socks I received as a gift and BtSSB's Caroline blouse in gold, which is the closest colour I have to beige.

Kumya Kuma's Sweet Chocolate in Dark Brown x Mint
Caroline Blouse in Gold
Kumya Kuma Socks
Shoes and Bag - Innocent World
A closer look at the accessories.
I got a French manicure done with blue tips on Friday. It went perfectly. 

I couldn't be happier with this outfit. I might have to take it over to Japan in April. 

BABY the Stars Shine Bright - Flower Choker

Then I paired the flower choker with Angelic Pretty's Happy Garden. I went a slightly different route this time and layered the dress with the mint Pattissier blouse from BtSSB. Pairing Angelic Pretty with a soft chiffon blouse topped with frills and lace is one of my favourite things to do at the moment, I feel it balances the starkness of the patterns and colours making it easier for me to wear. 

Angelic Pretty - Happy Garden in Pink
Baby the Stars Shine Bright - Patissier Blouse in Mint, bag, choker
Shoes - Dream V

A closer look at the accessories...
I tried a number of different ways to wear the choker, mostly as a head dress. It's really versatile and I hope to use it in many different outfits from now on. 

I am planning on selling most of my pink things sometime in the future but Happy Garden (and coincidentally the Snow Crystal Bolero, winner of worst purchase 2015) is going to be one of the few pink items I'll keep. It's easy to wear, simply designed yet so full of colour, which makes coordinating so easy.

Next time I will be putting up a special lolita-fashion-related Australia Day post. I've decided to upload it on the actual day of Australia Day. Come back on Tuesday, January 26th to see what all the fuss is about!

Until Next Time...

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