The Tea Party Club Presents: Revelry Q&A

interview - 10.16.2014 20:01

Do lolitas have to wear petticoats? Do designers ever run out of inspiration? What are the future plans of the Gothic and Lolita Bible? Find out here.

On 20th September 2014, the British lolita community The Tea Party Club, led by Kyra and Michaela, celebrated its 7th anniversary at Gray's Inn Hall in London. Among the highlights of the day were the Q&A panels with guests from Japan: Taira, head designer of leading Japanese lolita brand Metamorphose temps de fille, Toshie Mihashi, new editor of the Gothic and Lolita Bible, Hitomi Nomura, the creative head behind the indie brand Grimoire, Ayumi, designer for the indie brand Syrup, and Ai Akizuki, model and founder of the Japanese lolita community Gothic & Lolita & Punk no Kai.

Designer Q&A

Toshie Mihashi: I'm Toshie Mihashi from the Gothic and Lolita Bible. Nice to meet you. It is lovely to see so many people gathered here today - more and more people appreciate lolita fashion. Thank you.

Taira: I'm the designer of Metamorphose. My name is Taira. Nice to meet you. I'm surprised about how you are wearing the fashion and how you are coordinating things. Thank you and I look forward to meeting you and talking with you today.

Hitomi Nomura: I'm Hitomi Nomura from Grimoire. This is my third time here. (in English) Nice to see you. Initially I was bringing tights here - it is always tights, they are very popular - but this time round, it’s the first time that I am bringing dress designs and I am very happy to introduce them to everyone here. You guys are getting a sneak preview of sorts and I'm happy that they seem to be pretty popular, so thank you.

Ayumi: I'm Ayumi from Syrup. Nice to meet you. You can see my clothes of course - this is the style that we sell. Syrup has been going for five years. We do sell overseas, but this is my first time here, so thank you for checking out the clothes. (in English) Thank you!

Ai Akizuki: (in English) I will try to use English as much as I can, but this is the first time in over two years for me to speak English, so please forgive any mistakes. (laughs) I'm Ai Akizuki and I founded a lolita fashion community in Japan called Gothic & Lolita & Punk no Kai. My speech will be at 3pm, so please look forward to it.

This is a question for all three designers. How long does it take you to design your clothes? How long does the design process take?

Taira: Actually the inspiration comes as quickly as within five to ten minutes, but the actual production process takes about half a year to complete.

Hitomi Nomura: This is my first time making clothes, really. This time around, it is taking around half a month between the initial design, the silhouette and conceptualising everything and then the production, so please look forward to it.

Ayumi: My inspiration comes from looking at things. When I made this strawberry design, I was looking at strawberries and thought: "Oh, that looks delicious - I wanted my clothes and accessories to look delicious too!" So it kind of comes from there. I am quite visual.

This is a question for Hitomi. What made you want to go from tights to making dresses?

Hitomi Nomura: At Grimoire, we sell lots of tights, but Grimoire is really a clothing shop and I love clothes, so I was thinking: "Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could design a dress?” So this is how these prints came about.

This is a question for the designers. Do you sometimes experience "art block"? For example, do you want to make a dress, something really pretty, but you just can't think of anything?

Ayumi: Personally, this is not an issue because I'm very inspired by things around me. For instance, I want to eat strawberries, I would like to play with a cat or a rabbit, so that is how the ideas come.

Hitomi Nomura: I don't suffer from art block either. What I'm most inspired by are European and British ideas. For instance, I was very inspired by being here. It is a very beautiful building and I like to share these ideas, these sites and I like to bring this concept back home.

Taira: I love reading in general and I like fairy tales and stories. When I'm reading, I wonder if this would look pretty as a print or whether I could bring it to life, so that is where I get my inspiration from.

A lot of Western lolitas are inspired by what Japanese lolitas are wearing. What is your favourite thing that Western lolitas do that you haven't seen in Japan?

Ayumi: Back in Japan, everybody has cute hairstyles. It is more standard looking, it is what you expect. But here, I noticed that everybody styles their hair how they like it without even bothering to have one style. That is interesting and I like it. It is more antique – there is more of a Western view somehow, I guess it is cute and more elegant.

Toshie Mihashi: Back home, everyone dresses according to a theme, for example gothic lolita. Here, you mix it all up how you like it and that is very interesting to see. Is that right?

Lolita: Personally I like to mix classic and gothic lolita - sometimes more classic and sometimes more gothic and sometimes, it is totally mixed. I tend to buy either white or black accessories, so sometimes my coordinations are darker and sometimes more classic.

You have just taken over as editor of the Gothic and Lolita Bible and I was just wondering, what it is that you personally want to bring to the Bible to make a difference?

Toshie Mihashi: I would rather ask you all what you would like to see! The current theme is "witch" and it is inspired by the Halloween season, and the next theme’s going to be "stars". So for that, I would like some hints from all of you.

The Gothic and Lolita Bible of course caters to Japanese girls. Have you ever considered making a Western Bible in English?

Kyra: Like the Tokyopop Bibles that were a whole different edition aimed at the Western market?

Yes.

Toshie Mihashi: A long time ago there was a GLB in English, but right now, rather than having two copies of the GLB, I would prefer a lolita event where Japanese and Western lolitas all have a big party together.

Have you ever considered making an online version of the Gothic & Lolita Bible?

Toshie Mihashi: We have very few staff - we just take the photos and put the Bible together. So if anyone wants to help make an online Bible, perhaps an English version as well, that would be nice.

Kyra: I would just like to thank everyone. I have been into lolita fashion since 2005, so a long time, and I remember that Metamorphose was one of the first brands to ship overseas. So thank you very much to Metamorphose for starting that. Thank you so much to Hitomi who has come for the third time, and to Syrup for her wonderful, beautiful accessories and clothes and thank you to the Gothic and Lolita Bible. It's really good to have these parties and it means so much to us because we are separated from Japan, so thank you very much and everyone else please thank them by buying their wonderful products!

Michaela: And thank you very much to Ai for helping to translate.

Ai Akizuki's Q&A

After delivering a presentation about the activities of her lolita community Gothic & Lolita & Punk no Kai, Ai Akizuki also held a Q&A.

You told us about the isolation you experienced in school. Would you say that is typical?

Ai Akizuki: I'm not sure. I guess it's not always the case. There was a lolita girl in the next class and she was fine, so I guess it's my personal problem. (laughs)

What do you think about Western lolita fashion and accessories, for example the things that are being sold at this event?

Ai Akizuki: People in Japan and here in England have so many things in common. I was really impressed.

If you saw a lolita and you could see her knees peeping out from underneath her skirt, what would you think? (laughter)

Ai Akizuki: Oh, it happens in Japan as well. (laughs)

Here a lot of lolitas don't want to be associated with cosplay, anime and manga. What do Japanese lolitas think?

Ai Akizuki: It really depends on the person because some lolitas really love cosplay. Some lolitas don't want to mix them up, but others do.

Up to what age can you wear lolita?

Ai Akizuki: Forever! (loud cheers and applause)

Out of all the different places you've been to and all the experiences you've had, which was your most memorable one?

Ai Akizuki: Can I talk to you about my worst memory? We went on a trip to a castle in Japan and we were about to go inside when we were stopped by an employee who said that they don't accept people in cosplay. (the audience boos) I was really shocked and explained that this is not cosplay, it is just ordinary clothes, and after about 20 or 30 minutes I managed to persuade him to let us go inside. When we got back to the entrance afterwards, he apologised to me and said "we were totally wrong, we thought you were going to take lots of photos and bother the other people, but we were totally wrong." That was another shock for me! Maybe that is my worst memory.

Do Japanese lolitas follow strict rules when they put their outfits together?

Ai Akizuki: Some people do and some people don't.

Do Japanese lolitas go all out or do they dress more casual as well?

Ai Akizuki: It depends on the circumstances. For example, when I go on a train I usually wear a casual lolita outfit because if I put on many panniers, it gets very big and I bother other people and some people can get angry about it. So it depends.

In the Western Lolita community girls are sometimes criticised when they are partying and drinking lots because it doesn't fit with the lolita lifestyle. Do Japanese lolitas think that you shouldn't be out partying and drinking in Lolita? Do you shun those girls?

Ai Akizuki: In my opinion it is just a fashion. It is the same as wearing Chanel or GAP or Forever 21 or H&M. It is all the same. It’s not necessary to be strict.

Which do you prefer: a petticoat or a wig?

Ai Akizuki: Usually I don't use wigs because I use my real hair to dress up, so a petticoat.

And do lolitas always have to wear a petticoat?

Ai Akizuki: Well, not always. Sometimes I don't.

___________________________________________________________

The questions and answers have been transcribed as faithfully as possible. Please accept JaME’s apologies for any misunderstandings, misquotations or omissions.
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