MARUIONE Individual Fashion EXPO IV
Report of the fashion event featuring a display of over twenty alternative fashion brands, guest model appearances and shows by Kanon Wakeshima, jealkb & Plastic Tree.
Before the doors were opened in the early afternoon, JCB hall was surrounded by crowds of young people, dressed quite extremely, ranging from cute lolita dresses to dark goth and punk clothing; and many foreigners, dressed as fashionably as the Japanese public, could be seen.
As the enormous public took their place in the hall, loud music blasted from the speakers and big screens on sides of the catwalk showed pictures of the brands to be shown during the expo.
Opening the show, the stage lit up to show a dozen girls, most of them sitting on swings, wearing sweet lolita dresses from the popular brand Baby, The Stars Shine Bright. The audience's eyes followed the girls as they came down the catwalk with smiles on their faces. Suddenly, the screens announced that one of the "girls" with curly blonde hair in a puffy pink dress was actually HIZAKI, the guitarist of the visual kei band Versailles-Philharmonic Quintet-; he managed to fit in so perfectly with the adorable models that it was hard to believe that he is actually a man.
A parade of similar but more unusual styles by ALICE and the PIRATES followed, concluded by the appearance of KAMIJO, the vocalist of Versailles-Philharmonic Quintet-. KAMIJO donned an elegant, black cloak and feathered hat, and walked slowly and theatrically while swinging his walking stick, and ended his walk by kneeling on one knee and bowing to the audience. The display of fellow sweet lolita brand Angelic Pretty was opened by one of its adorable designers, maki, swinging a magic stick as if casting a spell on the audience to transport them into a fairy tale. After Angelic Pretty, metamorphose temps de fille showed, continuing the sweet lolita theme, although with less conventional dresses, and the models threw little presents into the crowd as they went down the catwalk.
The show continued with shorter displays of five brands, representing KERA Shop Angel. The first brand was Princess Doll, whose models appeared on the stage stepping through painting frames; then the more outstanding and somewhat "childish" brand Nile Perch. Next was the more mature classic lolita brand Victorian maiden, followed by the reserved gothic aristocrat label ATELIER BOZ. ATELIER BOZ sent out their models in shockingly high platforms and heels, and one unfortunate girl lost her balance and nearly fell over. To conclude, the models from the last walk went out to display bags by the brand artherapie, and exited the catwalk via the audience.
As the lights went out and left the hall in a complete darkness, a piano melody could be heard. Kanon Wakeshima was announced as the first live act of the day, and, as the stage lit up again, an empty chair and the artists's red cello could be seen. Kanon walked out onto the stage looking very feminine and beautiful in a magnificent white dress. She sang still doll with a high, clear, and a very pleasant voice, dancing along slightly to the tune, before taking her place at the chair to switch to playing her cello. The song was very symphonic, resembling classical music, and created a magical atmosphere that sent chills down everyone's spines. Fittingly, the set finished with a sound of a musical box, leaving the audience mesmerized.
Kanon is both a wonderful singer and a skillful cellist, and the atmosphere of her performance was very strong and capturing. Her music is very individual, in fact she seems to be one of a kind on the Japanese music scene and if there is a chance to see her performance, it would definitely be an unforgettable experience.
The fashion show started up again following Kanon's captivating performance with more punkish looks from HANGRY & ANGRY, one of h.NAOTO's sub-lines, and many of the models came out with the brand's toy mascots. In contrast to HANGRY & ANGRY's style, Emily Temple cute followed with more simple but nonetheless cute ensembles, displayed by very distinct models with large spherical hairstyles.
Next up was a performance of jealkb, a half-joking, half-serious visual kei band made up of popular comedians. Sakura, the "sub-member" of jealkb, as he introduced himself, appeared by running onto the stage, filling the hall with laughter and applause from the audience. He urged the audience to stand up and introduced the band by explaining, for example, that the violinist Hideki was the guy who did virtually nothing other than showing the fans dancing moves - therefore, the audience should follow his lead and dance along. Sakura practiced some a dance to warm up the crowd for the "main" members' appearances that was received with delighted screams from the audience. The seven men ascended from the audience and onto the catwalk, greeting the fans, strutting and posing like models, and providing the audience with some "fan service" eye-candy, as Mofto and Ediee even gave each other a little kiss.
Starting jealkb's set was Chikai; the energetic vocalist haderu ran around from one side of the stage to another, while hideki danced around with the audience following along, and the keyboardist chaos sang along in a surprisingly pleasant voice. snatch was a heavier song, and some members of the audience could be seen headbanging, holding on to their fashionable little hats and wigs, as haderu came down the catwalk to join the excitement. An MC followed, during which mostly the vocalist and the keyboardist entertained and even talked to the crowd before them, introducing their "world's most disgusting visual kei performance." As expected from comedians, they managed to send everyone into fits of uncontrollable laughter. They also announced that, in accordance with the event's style, they were wearing clothes by brands like ATELIER BOZ and HIDEROCK. Following the MC was another heavy song Mousou Ameri, that the audience headbanged and screamed to while the band dashed about the stage.
In the next MC the band announced an upcoming single that would be released on the October 22, which will also include a PV. Ending their set was Nageki no endless, the new single's title song; it was a catchy tune that made audience and the band more and more energetic - and, not to mention, hot in the crowded room. The performance ended on a happy note where the band and audience made a final jump together. Waving and bowing, the band members thanked their fans and exited, leaving behind a hall full of smiling faces. As comedians, jealkb are a very unique band in the visual kei scene, and although they were not initially musicians, their musical skills are very good and their music pleasant and catchy, and the combination of comedy and music in their shows makes them a great experience for any member of the audience.
Nageki no endless
The show continued with a parade of five brands from the KERA shop arena, the first to show was the unique brand SUPER LOVERS. After SUPER LOVERS was Qutie Frash, which showed off beautiful designs that combined traditional Chinese clothing with dark ultra-modern elements. Next was bright and punkish LISTEN FLAVOR, followed by the harder, more Western-style punk brand HIDEROCK; one of HIDEROCK's models was the young musician NHEIRA. The last brand in the series was Hypercore, which showed clothes reminiscent of Western emo that moved away from "traditional" Japanese alternative fashion.
Another one of h.NAOTO's sub-lines, Sixh. began the new series, and was opened by Gou, the bassist of Megamasso, who did a little dance before coming down the catwalk, wearing a black outfit accented with white fur. Following him was another musician, Amaterasu's leader Daishi, donning a dark outfit with glitter and chains. As the two young men appeared, the very pleasantly surprised faces of happy fans could be seen in the audience. Next was OZZ CROCE, which looked less edgy than the previous brands. During PEACE NOW's display that followed, it "snowed" on stage before changing into falling red petals for the more sophisticated and moody label BLACK PEACE NOW.
The curtains closed and scenes from the anime "Kuroshitsuji" were shown on the big screens, announcing that the ensembles to appear were designed by OZZ CROCE, ATELIER BOZ and BLACK PEACE NOW. Coming out from the audience and onto the catwalk was once again, Daishi wore an elegant costume as cosplay of the anime's main protagonist, and his behavior changed in accordance with the character. Following him was another cosplayer, whose appearance visibly left some girls in the audience breathless; Makoto of Doremidan, who went down the catwalk squirming occasionally; and several more cosplays.
As they left the catwalk in pairs, My Bloody Valentine's Only Shallow came blasting through the sound system, and this time the public didn’t need any encouragement to stand up, as everyone knew that coming was the last and perhaps most anticipated performance of the evening by Plastic Tree. The audience cheered loudly and the band members - dressed quite modestly in contrast to the outfits that had been shown before them - took their places and the set started with Irogoto. Tadashi and Akira were quite static on their low stages, dancing a little bit here and there; meanwhile, Hiroshi swung his arms around and energetically thrashed his head from side to side. Ryutaro’s soothing, calm voice enveloped the audience, creating an unreal, magical atmosphere.
In a short MC, Ryutaro introduced the band before continuing the show with Replay, a more energetic song that the members more actively moved along to, and Ryutaro released all of his energy and danced wildly. The audience screamed as Melancholic came on and started pumping their fists; in response, the band gave it their all and enjoyed the song more as much as the audience, coming to the front and encouraging the fans to continue giving them their energy. Eventually the pace of the song increased more and more and Ryutaro's voice crescendoed into a near scream, as the band and the audience united together in their passionate and feverish energy.
During the MC that followed, Ryutaro asked the hall whether they were enjoying themselves, and amused the audience when he forgot what he was going to say. He urged them to scream, and as they did, the band continued with Hate red, dip it, during which Ryutaro went down the catwalk, singing closely to the audience, while the other members danced on stage. Upon finishing the song, the band announced that for their final song they had a guest: the rock singer Ohtsuki Kenji. Silver ribbons shot out into the air, and they played a cover of Romantist by THE STALIN, during which Ryutaro and Kenji sand together, impressing the hall with an aggressive energy unusual to the band. Plastic tree gave their best until the very end, leaving a strong impression with their powerful performance.
The live line up for the show could not have been any better and even though they were all very different, the three live acts all created their own special atmospheres and deeply moved the audience.
Hate red, dip it
Romantist (THE STALIN cover)
The fashion show returned again with Sexy Dynamite London, and in consistence with its name, the clothes used a good deal of Union Jack patterns. Notably, one of the models presenting this brand was Shiratama, the designer of the sub-brand StiGMAtA. The last brand shown was the eccentric ALGONQUINS, incorporating several styles shown in the show into one collection.
The time came for the finale, and all of the models appeared for the final walk in a long line from one end of the catwalk to another and onto the stage, where they remained. After them came the guest models who took part in the show, including musicians, who greeted the audience, each behaving as they normally would (not as a model), and, at last members of jealkb, Ohtsuki Kenji, and Ryutaro, who changed into something more suitable for the fashion show, appeared on stage. A red firework of petals shot up, and as everyone left the stage clapping and waving, the guest models remained, saying good bye to the audience in their own ways, whether it was flirting with the audience or striking funny poses. With a dramatic swing of his cloak, KAMIJO ended the show in a most spectacular way.
The Individual Fashion EXPO was a grandiose event that featured everything and anything loved by visual kei fans: popular alternative fashion brands featuring a multitude of different styles, well-known models, guest musicians, and unique and powerful live acts, and it is certainly a show that will stay in the memory of everyone who was present that day.