Friday, October 31, 2008

Gothic Lolita, Gothic style and Punk - Part I

Today is Halloween. A very well known holiday
most widely celebrated by Americans. Once a year,
everyone gets the excuse to live out their fantasies
and dress up as someone or something else.

In some countries like Japan, it is Halloween every
day. If you've never heard of the fashion movement
called Gothic Lolita, the picture above sums it up very
well. Think Gothic and frilly/girly together. Visions of rococo,
Victorian and old French styles can further give you an idea of
what Gothic style is like. It doesn't seem like any of these fashion
types would fit together but trust the Japanese to invent new
movements in fashion. It's actually a fascinating subculture and
it is commonto see people every day in Tokyo walking around
in costumes.

One may wonder why the Japanese are so creative in fashion,
animation and design. My theory is that their culture is so centered
around society rather than self, that there are few outlets for stress
and individual expression. And Voila! You see their expression in
outlandish fashion, outrageously beautiful packaging/design
and animation/stories that few can dream of.

Some of the Gothic fashion is related to punk fashion as you
see to the left hand side. I particularly love the juxtaposition of
the men's wear on this super cute little girl to the right.

The left side is a very classic definition of Gothic Lolita.
Gothic fashion is broad and often subdivided into more niche
trends such as Gory or Grotesque Lolita, White Lolita, Punk
Lolita, Elegant Lolita and more. Conversely you have such
male subdivisions such as Elegant Gothic Aristocrat. Funny
enough, all of the above genres look exactly as they sound.

I, myself actually prefer the men's gothic style rather
than women's gothic lolita style. I wouldn't be caught
wearing a lacy black poofy dress. However, I wouldn't
mind wearing some of these get ups above. They rather
look a bit fantastical or like a video game character in a way.

Here's an example of Gothic Lolita make up. The model
above is probably a man. They do like to cross dress in
Japan although they are not necessarily interested in the
same sex. It's simply the culture there - they view
androgynous looks as beauty. In the USA, a boy who is
beautiful would probably be termed a "pretty boy" and
it would not necessarily be a positive thing as it would
in Japan.

I once got it into my head that I wanted to streak my hair
blue like the model above. Of course I gave up when I
found out you first have to bleach black hair before you can
dye it what color you want. A bit inconvenient... I also don't
know how my hair would take it. I recently chopped my hair
and permed it. My hair is so straight that I had to have my
hair permed twice in a row for the perm to actually take.

Some Gothic Lolita fashions for a wedding ceremony.

When it comes to design in Japan, there are many companies
that specialize in niche styles. You can find almost any kind
of style or label there. The above is an advertisement for a
Gothic Lolita label.

This style is called "Dandy Gothic Style."

You can see on the left boy that he is wearing something like
a cravat. This is obviously inspired by eras past in England. I
quite covet the jacket on the left. I have a strange fascination
for skulls. I have a tendency to dress one of 4 ways...Casual,
Business, Very Girly, or what I call Bad Ass. Weird I know.
I think the jacket above appeals to my "Cool or Bad Ass"
sense of style.

The whole Gothic Lolita movement in Japan was started
and inspired but a genre called Visual Rock Bands in Japan.
Think alternative rock music but dolled up like this band
called "Versaille" above. If you can't tell, most of them are

So you know how I said every day is Halloween in Japan?
Here's an example above of a teenager dressed up on a

One may ask what one does dressed
this way. Having a picnic is a great idea.

Or you can have a lot of attention and get
your picture taken by strangers.

This is Carmen Yuen dressed in Gothic Lolita fashiong at
the famed San Diego Comic-con. If you're interested in
knowing more about Gothic Lolita, you must visit
Carmen Yuen's blog aka La Carmina. Her blog follows
all things Gothic Lolita and has a following of over 1 million
hits a month! It's astounding. She even has 2 book deals now
including one that will focus on themed restaurants in Tokyo.

What will you be doing this Halloween and
what will you or your children dress up as?

All photos from Carmen Yuen's La Carmina.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Traditional Chinese Dress - The Cheongsam or the Qipao

The Chinese traditional dress is what I consider to be one of the classics.
The modern day version of the dress is very sexy and feminine and can
be worn casually or formally depending on the length and the fabric used.
The mother above looks fabulous with her short and pink cotton cheongsam.
The terms of Qipao and Cheongsam mean the same thing in different dialects.

The original cheongsam was wide and loose, covering most of the woman's
body. The baggy nature of the clothing also served to conceal the figure of the
woman. With time, though, the qipao were tailored to become more form
fitting and revealing. The modern version, which is now recognized popularly
in China as the "standard" qipao, was first developed in Shanghai around
1900, after the Qing Dynasty fell. At that time, Chinese could freely wear
whatever they liked without the fear of penalty from the government (the
Qing government had strict control over their citizens' dress code down to the
way men wore their hair).

After World War I, prostitutes from overseas flocked to Shanghai,
wearing their exposing and body-hugging dresses. This brought
pressure to local prostitutes, whom were still wearing the original
baggy qipao. Thus, high-class brothels in Shanghai redesigned the
qipao to be body-hugging with side slits for their prostitutes. However,
only high-class prostitutes could wear these redesigned qipao at that
time. Slender and form-fitting with a high cut, it contrasted sharply
with the traditional qipao.

This girl looks very pretty and
demure in her modern Qipao.

A photo from the past of women hanging
out in short summer Chinese dresses.

The shortened collar represents a more
modern style of the Cheongsam.

Formal portraits were taken
in a Cheongsam as well.

Here's a vintage advertisement with a model in a short Qipao.

Many period Chinese films also make use of
the traditional garment. Maggie Cheung in
the well known film "In the Mood for Love."

The higher collar represents an earlier
time in the 20th century.

It is also a favorite of singers and performers.

And also the choice of many
Asian movie stars.

A modified version of the Cheongsam with a halter top.
It's a great example of the melding of Eastern and Western design.

Nicole Kidman looks fabulous in this
more traditional take on the dress.

And even popular dolls in Asia are garbed with it.

Here's Blythe in a Cheongsam.

Don't forget to get your submissions in for
the Material Girl's design contest sponsored
by Swank Lighting! The grand prize is a pair
of these gorgeous lamps above in any color!
This is one contest you really don't want to miss.
Either of the links above will give you information
about the contest. I will be serving as one of the guest
judges for Swank Lighting. The submission deadline is
this Saturday on November 1, 2008.

Good Luck!

All photos from Flickr, Swank Lighting
and history bits from Wikipedia.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Colorful and Eclectic Decor at Home - Wary Meyers

This is the wonderfully eclectic home of John Meyers and
Linda Wary of Wary Meyers Decorative Arts in Portland,
Maine. Don't you just love all of the colorful pillows on their
vintage sofa? This dynamic duo have impressive credentials
including an education from Parsons School of Design and
Purdue University. John Meyers was the Corporate Display
Director for Anthropologie before striking out on his own
with Linda Wary who has an extensive background in graphic
design, advertising and served as art directory for several

They are not afraid to use bold
patterns and colors on the walls.

I love how they matched the tulip chair
seat cushions with their wallpaper.

Doesn't their closet look like a fun vintage
boutique store? The coat (front and center)
is actually one of their own designs and is
available for sale on their website.

A shaggy rug with midcentury
furniture in their sitting room.

A collection of pots in the kitchen.

A library of books on design including many vintage books.

The plants and blue chairs are
perfect in this room.

This office looks like a very comfortable lounging area.

This guestroom is a very eclectic but looks like a well
lived in room that has been there for a long time.

The wood floors are gorgeous as are
the fun stencils on the walls.

This is the area by the back door with a
retro phone and a handy subway map.

Wary and Meyers hanging out at the entrance of their
fun and ecletic home. Love the carpet rug they are
standing on!

All photos from Wary Meyers.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Feast your Eyes on these Wonderful Cakes!

What would you think if you received a birthday
cake like this? Tiffanys? I think a big YES!

One of my friends had a birthday over the last
weekend and his wife is a cake and patisserie chef.
She made this beautiful chocolate mousse cake
with a wine bottle on top of the cake because my
friend loves wine.

I was totally fascinated to find that you can really
make a cake in any shape you want. I discovered this
amazing cake place in London called Michelle's Cakes.

Michelle Wibowo is really more of an artist. She
graduated with a degree in architecture no less but fell
in love with baking and went back to study baking science.

Michelle has made cakes for celebrities all over
London. A jet setting friend? Here's the perfect
cake for her.

A sporty gal perhaps?

Or for the men...

Fan of the Simpsons?

I love the rocks around the pond.
Isn't the hedge hog just too cute?

I don't know any girl who would
turn down a designer purse...

LV? Roll out the red carpet.

Even mom would be happy :)

For the shop-a-holic? Never fear. The English
have Marks & Spencer while we've got Bloomies.

How about a sweet gift box?

Diet Coke addict?

A Chocoholic...

The bibliophile or book lover.
I think this cake is terrific!

Someone's been naughty...

This one would be great for grandma.

But this one is even cuter!

I hope this has sparked your imagination
for the next birthday cake your make or

All photos from Michelle Cakes.