Friday, 22 September 2017

Lolita Blog Carnival: Difficult Things to Deal With in the Fashion

This is an interesting writing prompt! Until I sat down to write the post, I hadn't seriously considered all of the difficulties associated with this fashion. It's kind of shocking seeing it all laid out here, but to me it's 100% worth the struggle.

1) Lolita is a shopaholic’s worst nightmare.
I’m impulsive by nature and I’ve always had the attitude that there’s no point in hoarding money when you could be using it to enjoy life (within reason of course!). I also love bargain hunting , so lolita can be a dangerous temptation. I deal with it by keeping a strict list of items that I want, divided into tiers based on how badly I want them and how much I’m willing to spend on them

Another thing to help curb impulse buying is by holding items in your cart for a long time before purchasing them. This is especially useful when ordering off of Taobao, where it's easy to amass a huge cart of inexpensive items only to be unhappy with them by the time they arrive months later. Now, I keep my items in the shopping cart for at least a week and carefully consider them before making the decision to purchase. I often find that by the end of that week, I've dumped most of the items from my cart.

2) Lolita fashion can promote consumerism.

I can think of a LOT of more useful things I could have bought with the money I spent on lolita.
I wouldn’t call myself frugal, and I don't have any problem with enjoying shopping and collecting items in themselves - but I try to be mindful of advertising and consumer culture, and how it affects my psyche and behaviour. Lolita is interesting because it is an underground (but brand-focused) yet expensive fashion subculture with a high prevalence of thrifted, secondhand, offbrand, and handmade items. Like traditional luxury fashions, having a large collection of name-brand items and owning coveted, rare pieces is a status symbol. Lolita itself is an expression of decadence.

On the other hand, lolita is an indie, slow fashion with a thriving secondhand shopping and handicraft culture in a conglomerate brand, fast fashion world. I think that the craftsmanship and quality of the average lolita garment has given me a greater appreciation for well-made clothing in general. I find myself doing a lot more secondhand shopping and making alterations than I did before, and buying fewer quality pieces instead of heaps of poorly made items that I won't get much use out of.


I am eternally grateful that most of my wardrobe is machine washable, because I wear lolita a few times a week and it's just way too much to handwash. Laundry sucks. I don't even want to devote a full writeup to laundry because it doesn't deserve it.

4) Meeting up in public spaces attracts a lot of unwanted attention.

Toronto is a big city with a huge alternative scene so it isn't at all unusual to see lolitas, punks, goths, or other weirdly dressed people hanging out in public. The response from locals varies from total apathy to candid photos and awkward questions, but it's usually not too bad. I love taking out my phone and snapping pictures of them in return! Most people are curious but harmless, and some are nice enough to ask for photos instead of just taking creepshots.

Going into a touristy area is almost guaranteed to turn into a paparazzi shitshow of harassment. People have tried to get me into their cars, asked me if I'm a prostitute or a dominatrix, touched me without permission or tried to look up my dress, and all sorts of incredibly inappropriate things. I've lost count of the number of times someone comes within spitting distance of me and starts filming or chatting me up while I'm eating a burger or on my phone or something. They wouldn't do that to someone dressed normally so I'm not sure why wearing an unusual outfit waives my right to sit in peace...

My local comm has a lot of girls who are too shy or afraid to defend themselves when someone is getting out of line. Thankfully, most of the older members are good at politely defusing the situation and asserting themselves, but it doesn't always work on people who are really persistent. I'm...less than polite to say the least!

5) The media depicts lolitas in the worst light possible, making it difficult to explain our hobby to others.

Anyone remember this debacle? This poor girl was misled about how her photo would be used, resulting in this movie poster that associates lolita fashion with ageplay and pedophilia.
If I had a dollar for every shitty, badly researched """""documentary""""" (using that term extremely loosely here) I've seen about living dolls or every cringeworthy ita making an embarrassment of themselves on one of those TLC makeover shows...well, I wouldn't be rich but I could buy a fancy bottle of liquor and that's almost as good!

It's incredibly rare to come across a media depiction of lolitas that is realistic,
falls into one of these categories: A) we're all depressed, emotionally damaged girls using babyish princess clothing as a way of escaping real life or B) we're all perverted fetishists who dress as children (or worse) for the kink.

It doesn't help that these documentaries almost exclusively focus on sweet lolitas who love cutesy, pastel weeby stuff. I personally have no problem with that, but many westerners conflate liking sweet childish things with being immature, or wanting to be an actual child. I feel like if they interviewed a gothic lolita it would be similar to those really bad 90s-era news reports about how goths are S&M maniacs who believe in literal vampires - still bad, but less damaging than potentially being viewed as someone who has a fetish involving children.

The filmmakers seem to go for the easy targets - people who are willing to talk about themselves at length on camera and expose themselves to public scrutiny are usually the absolute LAST person you would want to represent lolita fashion to the world. In short, they seem to pick people who are total itas or people who are a, instead of choosing the 99% of lolitas who are completely normal functioning adults who happen to like dressing up.

6) Sizing is a royal pain.

Lolita is notorious for running too small for most western body types. We're just bigger over here than the average Japanese woman, even at a healthy body weight. Height, bone structure, and bigger busts are usually the culprits. I think it makes people feel insecure and unhappy with their bodies, which is really sad. Thankfully many brands do custom sizing now and there's lots of shirred pieces available. But there's only so much you can do - if your ribcage is too big for a bodice, you can't do a whole lot short of sawing them off.

I have long limbs and broad shoulders so finding things that fit properly is an adventure. Blouses and OPs are a crapshoot - either the shoulders are too small or the sleeves are too short. For instance, my ladies' size Atelier Boz Roland jacket fits my chest and waist with wiggle room to spare, but it's so tight on my shoulders that I can't raise my arms properly. I own a lot of JSKs and skirts because it's just easier to deal with than having an OP that I can't cram my shoulders into. .

Some brands are much better for me than others - Moitie and Millefleurs fit me perfectly, longer dresses from AatP/Baby and JetJ make me look stumpy, AP is too big in the waist...basically, if a dress doesn't have waist ties or corset lacing, I won't buy it. Of course, it doesn't help when manufacturers' measurements aren't accurate. I'm looking at you, Moitie.

I'm trying to give you money, Mana. Why you lying?

But despite all of the annoyances and heartache that come along with the fashion, I'm never going to stop wearing it. I've met so many amazing people and had some wonderful experiences all because we bonded over these ridiculous dresses. I don't think I could have picked a better subculture to call home!

Check out what these other lolitas had to say on this week's LBC topic!

Monday, 21 August 2017

Review: Krad Lanrete's Transilvania Moonlight Skirt

Transilvania Moonlight is finally in my hands, 2 years after it was first revealed on Krad Lanrete's Weibo! I wasn't a fan of either JSK cut, so I decided to go for the skirt in the red colourway - I was feeling some nostalgic AatP Vampire Requiem/Vampire Prelude vibes. I preordered the skirt for $138 USD through Clobba. Here's my quick review!

However, I had some reservations about purchasing this dress. For those of you who don't know, Krad's customer service has always been questionable but they were involved in some major drama back in 2015 when their Constellations of the Zodiac series was released. The Etsy reseller set up to serve overseas customers had astronomical markups and horrifyingly bad customer service. When I say horrifyingly bad, I mean that they stopped communicating with customers, closed their Etsy store without warning while people still had open orders, and took months to ship out orders. Dozens of people filed Paypal claims to get their money back. Eventually, it came out that the Etsy reseller was operating separately from Krad and things continued to go off the rails.

Ultimately, this culminated in a huge shitstorm resulting in Krad only accepting overseas orders through the Taobao shopping service Clobba. Unfortunately, this means that overseas customers have to pay Clobba's SS fees as well as Krad's markup. While Clobba has excellent customer service, many people would prefer to save money by using an SS to order from Krad's Taobao shop (which they no longer allow). In addition, the dresses shipped out after the preorder date and as far as I'm aware, Krad didn't explain the delay. I do think that customer service is an important part of the shopping experience, which is why it's included in the review. So in summary, buying from Krad is a royal pain in the ass.

Clobba delivered pretty good service as usual, although there were some long delays in communication. Krad was a couple of weeks later than their estimated delivery date, as expected. I have to admit I was a little salty seeing reviews from Chinese customers on Taobao who received their dresses weeks before Western customers (and I'm not including the shipping time which was super fast)...with absolutely no comunication from Krad whatsoever. Thanks!

Onto the actual review! Peep my badass Sailor Moon blanket.

Firstly, let's go over the appearance of the skirt. The skirt is made from a beautiful textured fabric, just like the AatP Vampire series dresses. The waist is trimmed with a cute chiffon ruffle, while the hem is trimmed with a simple cross lace. I've seen this lace on many Taobao pieces so it isn't unique, but it's well-made and very pretty. The stock photo is a bright crimson red while in person it's got a cooler, almost purple undertone. The print is very crisp and clear with no pixellation or blurry spots, although again the colour is slightly cooler and bluer than in the stock photo. There's actually a lot of teal in the print, and so many other details that are not visible in the stock photos. It's a real treat to look at!

Now for a quick rundown of the construction quality and structure. The skirt is fully lined with a smooth red polyester. The seam on the inside of the skirt's hem is serged, and the lace trim is sewn neatly along the seam with no uneven spots or lumps. All of the finishing on the inside of the skirt is done very cleanly. No pockets, sadly.

The corset waist has decorative lacing with silver grommets in the front and functional lacing with a shirring panel in the back. The lacing is your standard high-quality satin double-sided ribbon. The plastic boning in the corset waist is very soft and flexible, so it doesn't add a lot of structure and you don't really feel it putting pressure on your waist. It's mainly used to maintain the shape of the widow's peak on the corset.

The back has partial shirring with a good amount of stretch (maybe 2-3 inches) with corset lacing overtop. The corset loops are just loops of fabric sewn into the inside of the corset, so even though there's a decent amount of shirring the pressure on the loops might rip them out. I say this because I managed to rip a loop out on the second wear and I'm well below the max measurements for the skirt. It was an easy fix but still...I have no idea why brands use grommets as decoration in front and crappy little loops or lace on the actual functioning corset lacing. WHY?!

Ahem. Overall, I'm pretty pleased with this skirt. The design is beautiful and I appreciate the more mature take on the vampire theme - a lot of brands' Halloween prints are too sugary sweet for my tastes. The construction quality is quite good and feels roughly on par with my Vampire Prelude skirt. It doesn't really suit my personal style, though - I prefer simple prints and solids rather than detailed, multicoloured illustrations. I have since sold it.

Shopping Experience: 3/5
Quality: 4/5
Overall Score: 3.5/5

Here are some coordinates!

I love horror and guro themes in lolita, so I had tons of fun making this coord!
Blouse: Moi-même-Moitié
Headdress: Antique Beast
Tights: Triple Fortune
Shoes: Angelic Imprint
Bag: Killstar
Accessories: Moi-même-Moitié, Restyle, offbrand
I went for a more elegant, aristocrat-inspired styling this time. I love the subtle grey print on these socks and how it matches the grey in the skirt!
Jacket: Atelier Boz
Blouse: Offbrand
Bonnet: Elpress L
Socks: Moi-même-Moitié
Shoes: Vivienne Westwood
Bag: Killstar
Accessories: Moi-même-Moitié, Restyle, offbrand, handmade

This picture is from my Instagram, so the quality is hot garbage and you can't see the cute red print on the socks. Just a simple comfortable coord that I happened to wear to a vampire-themed escape room. Did I mention I love vampires?
Blouse: Offbrand
Capelet: Ecailles de Lune
Headdress: Antique Beast
Socks: Alice and the Pirates
Shoes: Bodyline
Accessories: Moi-même-Moitié, Restyle, offbrand

Thanks for reading!

Friday, 14 July 2017

Lolita Blog Carnival: Plans Derailed! 5 Things In My Wardrobe That Just Didn't Work

In today’s edition of the Lolita Blog Carnival, I’ll be discussing a few pieces in my wardrobe that didn’t work out quite as planned!

I’ve had my fair share of duds in my wardrobe over the years. To be completely honest, I can’t even remember all the things I bought and ended up selling. But I’ve noticed 2 patterns: I sell all of my Taobao/indie dresses after only a few wears, and I’ve literally sold every AatP item I’ve even had. I feel like my problem is that I fall in love with a print’s illustration, only to find that the cut is not flattering on me or the print does not translate very well into a life-sized dress.

1) AatP - Vampire Prelude
I have a love-hate relationship with AatP’s Vampire series….and with AatP in general. I’m a huge vampire fan (again, surprising no one) and the illustrations are beautiful. I just don’t feel like the illustration translated very well to the dress – it looks a little too full and busy, especially with the ivory areas on the black background. I prefer prints to be a little more muted, I guess. I’ve settled for using the print as my phone wallpaper. If I were to try it again again, I’d buy the ivory version. It’s still too busy for my personal taste, but I think it’s less jarring than the black version.

2) Ista Mori - Nameless Poem
I really love the whole gothic nun aesthetic (surprising absolutely no one), so I snapped up this dress as soon as I could. It’s gorgeous…but it’s not gorgeous on me. I’m short and slim with broad shoulders, and the dress just didn’t suit my body shape at all. I guess I’m going to have to just wait until I see another Moitié Nun OP on auctions…

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3) Sweet Pirate Addiction Rose
Yet again, I fell in love with a print in a cut that didn’t look good on me. The dress also had some sewing quality issues and I wasn’t a huge fan of how the print looked in person. They released a cut with corset lacing about a week after I bought mine, but I decided to just let it go.
I actually found an old floordinate photo I made! This was such a long time ago…I have so many more accessories now!

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4) Moi-même-Moité Holy Stained Glass JSK
Something about this dress is just distinctly unflattering on me. I feel like the bodice is just a tiny bit too long and the hemline is a little too low. It’s not terrible, but it just looks…off. I truly love the print and the cut of the dress is lovely, so I’m really determined to make it look good. I’ve been on the fence about selling it for a few months.

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5) Écailles de Lune Black Goat of the Woods
I bought this dress to twin with a friend of mine. It looks amazing on her but it’s a bit goofy-looking on me. The bodice is very…tube-like on me because my bust is pretty small. You need a little bit of boob to fill out the bodice properly. I covered it up with a corsage but it definitely doesn’t look right. I’m also 155 cm tall so even in heels it comes down below my knees. It’s such a beautiful dress but I feel like it was designed for someone a few inches taller with actual boobs.

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Check out these bloggers' take on this LBC topic!

Monday, 3 July 2017

New Moi-même-Moitié Release! Neo Gothic Arch

I’m a little late to the party reporting on this exciting news because I was on vacation when the release dropped. But for those of you who don’t know, Moi-même-Moitié recently released a new print series Neo Gothic Arch on CDJapan and their webshop. Look familiar?

Unlike Angelic Pretty or Baby the Stars Shine Bright, MmM does not re-release old items – once they’re gone, they’re gone. However, this isn’t the first time that the brand has “refreshed” an older piece: for example, 2012’s Royal Gate print series is clearly a spiritual successor to the iconic 2006 Iron Gate. The cuts, colourways, and materials changed but the print details and overall feel are very similar. Likewise, the classic bat handbag has been released many times using different materials and colourways.

Neo Gothic Arch is available in 3 cuts: JSK (33500 JPY), long JSK (36000 JPY), and OP (37000 JPY). It features colourways that are more in keeping with MmM’s newer releases, and none of the original colourways have returned. All 3 cuts are available in Navy x Silver, White x Gold, and Black x Silver.   

For comparison, the original Gothic Arch came as a JSK, skirt, midi skirt, and long skirt in 3 colourways: Black x Navy, Black x White, and White x Black. The matching handbag came in Black x Navy and Black x Silver.

The new colourways are interesting…I don’t like the two-toned navy in the Navy x Silver colourway, but the Black x Silver and the White x Gold are absolutely gorgeous. I fell in love with MmM’s metallic prints on black ever since I saw Silent Moon and Divine Cross. I would have liked to see a Black x Gold colourway, too! I'm torn on the cuts. I don't like the OP as much and I don't think it would suit most girls very well because of the sleeves and bust....I can't quite put my finger on why but I think it would just emphasize any broadness in the shoulders and chest. The JSK cut is lovely, it reminds me of the Royal Gate OP and is looks like it'll be more flattering.

Overall, I prefer the original cuts and colourways but the new print is way better. You can really appreciate the small details, and the larger print just looks more balanced compared to the smaller border print on the original release. It's practically twice the size of the original print!

Gothic Arch is one of the most expensive, coveted, and recognizable MmM prints (second only to Iron Gate) so it makes sense that they would choose to remake that print series. It’s a great opportunity for newer fans of the brand to get their hands on an iconic gothic print, while maintaining the exclusivity of the original. I'm curious how this release will affect the price on Gothic Arch, if it all. The JSK currently goes for ~$600-800 CDN and the skirt for ~$350-400 CDN, so it's not nearly as expensive as IG but still pretty pricy.

What do you think of this print series? Do you prefer the old or the new?

Monday, 26 September 2016

Brand Spotlight: Atelier Pierrot

Hello bats! This is the first entry in a series of blog posts I wanted to write about some of my favourite lolita brands. Today we’ll be taking a detailed look at the mainstay gothic brand Atelier Pierrot. All of the featured images are from their Facebook page and social media (click to enlarge!).

Brand Info 
Atelier Pierrot (sometimes styled Atelier-Pierrot) is a small Japanese gothic brand headed by lead designer and CEO Yuko Ashizawa. Their pieces have been featured in the Gothic & Lolita Bible from the very earliest issues right up to the present. While the brand is known for their distinctive bustled corset dresses and ruffled blouses, they also design hosiery, jackets, corsets, petticoats, and headpieces.

Atelier Pierrot isn't afraid to experiment. Many pieces are available in a range of unusual fabrics and textures that aren’t seen frequently in lolita: iridescent organza, shiny satin, brocade, and crinkled polyester to name a few. Many of their pieces are in unusual colours like dark purple, ultramarine, or bright green, but their signature colours are simple black and white. The few prints that they do release are range from simple, single-colour designs to technicolour cats.  Their dresses vary in length from ero miniskirts to calf-length dresses better suited to EGA, making it a very versatile brand.

Even though gothic seems to be experiencing a decline in populartity, Atelier Pierrot has been going strong for 30-odd years and shows no signs of stopping. Furthermore, they support the growth of other indie designers by carrying their lines in their store and webshop. Even if gothic dies out completely someday, I have no doubt that they'll still be around because of the good quality and versatility of their pieces.

Of course, we can't discuss any brand without mentioning their staff. These ladies have amazing taste and coordination skills.

Signature Style

Atelier Pierrot’s designs are very recognizable – no other brand makes anything quite like they do. You can almost always tell one of their pieces by the oversized details, drapey bustles with ruffles, chiffon underskirts, and heavy layers of lacy ruffles on hems and sleeves. Big, frilly, and OTT is their trademark style. However, unlike other gothic brands, they aren’t known for their prints. Most of their pieces are solids or simply patterned (often with stripes or harlequin diamonds).

The most popular Atelier Pierrot piece is their bustled corset skirt design, which is released every season. The standard design includes a plastic-boned corset, front and back lacing, several adjustable bustles, and a ruffled chiffon underskirt. The variable details are usually ruffles, peplum flounces, and trains. The design is incredibly versatile as you can lift all of the bustles for a poofy OTT look, let them all down for a more classic look, or lift a single one and for an asymmetric look. It’s easy to see why these skirts have been re-released for years and years!

They’re also well-known for their luxurious princess-sleeve blouses, which are also released every season. They typically feature layers of ruffles and often rows of shirring up the sleeves for that old-school Michelin Man kind of look. A nice thing about their blouses is that they’re often shirred and loose-fitting with elasticated necklines, so they’ll fit both petite and plus-sized people.

Shopping Info

The Atelier Pierrot store in Laforet carries not only their own brand, but other smaller indie brands such as Sheglit, Enchantlic Enchantilly, Pina, and Abilletage. If you can’t get to Japan, the webshop has fantastic service - they waive taxes on purchases over 5k yen and offer free EMS shipping for purchases over 20k yen. They have English-speaking staff who have very kindly created a shopping guide to help you purchase through their store, and they are prompt and available by email if you need help. It’s wonderful to see a brand really making an effort to reach out to international fans!

Previously, AtePie was available through the Lorina Liddell webshop which unfortunately has been closed indefinitely. It’s a shame because Lorina Liddell also carried indie brands brands like Excentrique, and offered similar support for international buyers. Additionally, sometimes they had items that had already sold out on Atelier Pierrot’s webshop and vice versa. Hopefully we see them open again soon!

One of my favourite things about this brand is that if you miss out on buying one of their trademark items like a corset skirt or princess blouse, never fear – in a few months, they’ll release something very similar. These staple items are always going to be available.
Secondhand prices for most AtePie pieces are quite reasonable. Their signature corset skirts frequently auction for under 10k yen (I bought one for 5k yen) and corset OPs can easily be found under 15-20k yen, depending on the colour and cut. However, if you’re looking for a specific item they can be very difficult to find (especially prints) because they are such a small brand and they don’t manufacture many. If you do see a piece you like, you might as well jump on it because it may never pop up again.


That concludes my writeup on Atelier Pierrot. I hope you enjoyed reading it, and I’ll be back soon with another brand spotlight! Until then, stay spooky~