Friday, October 1, 2010

Fashion : Harajuku

Harajuku, also called Japanese Street Style, is actually a conglomeration of extreme, costume-based apparel styles sported by Japanese youth. The Harajuku Station area of Tokyo is the most popular showcase for these wild and varied displays of fashion on Sunday afternoons.

The pieces used to create these looks are obsessively collected from thrift shops and name brand stores as well as created and altered by hand. The point is to NEVER look similar to anyone else on the street; to somehow, within your sub-genre – remain as shockingly unique as possible.

The genres spin off and evolve continuously, and are hard to pin down and define, but needless to say  - each participant knows exactly where they fit in and what their own personal fashion references are for their particular Harajuku niche. I’ll try to break it all down a bit……
Kawaii and Decora

Kawaii translates from the Japanese as “loveable”, “cute” or “adorable”. Quite frankly the Japanese invented cute. Beginning in the 1970’s Japanese school girls adopted a new “cute” style of handwriting – injecting hearts and bubble letters, swirls and rounded characters. Although it was banned in Japanese schools (because it was so hard to read) it became popular in comics and magazines and spawned an entire culture of cute for that generation. Hello Kitty, Pokemon, Anime in general….were all the result of the Kawaii underground movement.

Kawaii Harajuku requires layers upon layers of rainbow brights, silhouettes reminiscent of childrenswear, brightly dyed hair and plastic toy-like accessories. Decora is a sub-genre that requires massive amounts of bright plastic accessories be worn simultaneously – dozens of barettes, hundreds of pins, covering from head to toe in an explosion of cheerful color.

Punk Harajuku is a theatrical version of British or American punk. Lots of punk style - without any of the actual philosophy. So although they may be dressed to the punk-nines on Sunday, they won't be late for work on Monday.

Gothic Lolita
Gothic Lolita draws references from Victorian costume and Goth aesthetic, then puts a typical Japanese spin of cuteness on it. Despite its name, sex appeal is never the point of Gothic Lolita (or any of the Harajuku styles, for that matter). Frills, petticoats, over-sized mary-janes, miniature hats and parisols (usually in black and/ or white) are mainstays.

J-rock and Visual Kei

J-rock (or Japanese rock) is a musical genre derived from American glam-rock bands of the 80's. Also called Visual Kei, the music culture and apparel is intertwined. Big bright hair, dramatic make-up, 80's influence rock style and androgeny are key components.

Similar to the American version (with a dose of goofy Japanese thrown in) Rockabilly pays homage to the King and his hey day.


Ganguru (which translates as "blackface") attempts to emulate the all American, California-girl look. A dark tan (often make-up), bleached blond hair and Barbie inspired attire accompany a sunny attitude. White make up and dark eyeliner is used to recreate a Western shaped eye and pale lips. Prior to researching this blog I wasn't familiar with this look...and no sir, I don't like. It's pretty creepy.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Legendary Moleskine Cahier

Further planning for my European trip, I thought I might like to start a travel journal in the style of olden day- collagists…..just keep a little notebook in my pocket onto which I can record thoughts, sketches, photos and scraps of my journey. Something my kids might like to look at in the future, when they start to travel themselves.  
The moleskine cahier  (French for notebook) is stuff of legend.

The little rounded edge notebook, bound in black leather or brown paper, originally produced by small French bookbinders in the late 19th century, is often romanticized as the bohemian travel journal of choice.  Its mythos puts it in the hands of  luminaries such as Oscar Wilde, Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and Henri Matisse. 

 And, as stated in the blog Stuff White People Like (which lists moleskine notebooks at #122); “it’s a good rule of thumb to know that white people like anything that old writers and artists liked:  typewriters, journals, suicide, heroin, and trains are just a few examples.”….all of which I actually do like. Except the heroin (although, admittedly, I did write a rock opera about it). So? Shut up.

Although book binders in France stopped its production in the 1980’s, many companies (most notably the brand Moleskine) have picked up mass production in past 20 years.

It remains a favorite vehicle of artists' expression, both for their own use and to alter and sell for others to fill. finds: Global Domination and Noel Cahiers
Embroidery Cahier from Drawn Thread
Customized Cahiers by Shadow Pod
Journal Entries from Kathy McCreedy
Custom Cahiers from my Favorite Etsy Vendor Mulberry Muse
Cahier entries from a WWI French Soldier
Marianne Faithful and Bob Dylan Pages from Paul Bogaert's 1960's Autograph Collection
Rout 66 Travel Journals from Draw Daily
Customized Cahiers by Flying Colors
Entries for the "Me and My Moleskine" Project

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Artwork of Sylvia Ji

You may have already gathered; I only like pretty and girly and sweet when it is tainted and tempered with a bitter-torn undertone. I like broken dolls and ancient lace, dead roses and demented heroines.

 The artwork of Sylvia Ji  combines the required elements of vintage beauty and twisted melancholy.