Thursday, 22 October 2015

Goth is Dead: The End of Moi-même-Moitié



Mana-sama bless this long-ass post.


I’d been planning on writing a blog entry about this for a while. This document had been sitting half-finished on my desktop for weeks until I had a conversation with some other nostalgic Moitié fans. Brace yourself, it’s a long one.

Gothic lolita isn’t dead yet, but it’s definitely on life support. The slow death of Moitié (and gothic lolita in general) reminds me of what’s currently happening in the goth scene.
As any real goth would tell you, goth is dead. The heyday of goth is long gone – most people have moved onto a new scene, leaving behind an ever-shrinking number of hardcore (and rapidly ageing) devotees. The younger newcomers to the scene are starting to redefine what it means to be a goth, causing splintering within the subculture. 

Admittedly, I don’t know jack about Japan, but I don’t think that Mana or Moitié (or gothic lolita/aristocrat/visual kei music and fashion) are as influential and popular anymore. There’s still a base of hardcore older fans but there’s not much new blood coming in.  
Plenty of Japanese gothic brands have disappeared or wound down – BPN is a good example (RIP). Outside of the usual suspects – Atelier Boz, Atelier Pierrot, Moitié, h. Naoto, and a few small Japanese indie brands – gothic is pretty much nonexistent.

People just aren’t really interested in goth anymore…even though old school is starting to come back, old school gothic is pretty much nonexistent on this side of the pond. I hear that in Europe, especially Germany and France, gothic lolita has maintained a strong presence. I’d probably attribute that to the fact that goth subculture and schwarze szhene in general are much bigger in Europe, since almost all of the big-name bands, stores, and festivals are based there. Wave Gotik Treffen, Whitby Goth Weekend, and M’era Luna are still on my bucket list.

Online, many of the coords I see that are described as gothic aren’t very gothic at all…they’re usually sweet with a gothic motif, or classic coords that capture the elegance/opulence of gothic but not the…well, gothic part. Or you’ll see coords that are kuro sweet marked as gothic just because they’re black. I guess people forgot that gothic lolita goes beyond wearing black (just like with proper goths!) and has more to do with cuts, fabrics, motifs, etc. 

Cute af.

I’m not trying to bash on that at all – for instance, the black Holy Lantern zippered JSK is one of my dream items. It’s a perfect example of sweet with a dash of gothic. I cried a little when I saw that the MTO release didn’t include this colourway, and my wallet sighed with relief. But overall, it seems like the original spirit of gothic is being lost and replaced with hybrids of sweet-gothic or classic-gothic. So, where does that leave Moitié?

For the past couple of years, Moitié seems to have been running out of steam. The indidivual brand stores have closed as far as I know, so they’re only sold online and in other retail shops or catalogs. A lot of people have expressed that they’re disappointed in the newer releases, and I almost never see any hype over them. It’s pretty rare to see someone wearing Moitié that’s not one of their old classical prints.

Back in the early 2000s when I was a fledgling babybat goth weeb, I was hooked on anything and everything Mana: Malice Mizer, Moi dix Mois, and Moitié. Mana inspired my interest in EGL/EGA.  To this day I’m still a huge fan – I buy the merch and I try to buy new whenever I can afford to. I even dyed my hair royal blue to match my coords! 

Moitié is probably being held up by the hardcore fans who buy everything they possibly can and go to every Moi dix Mois concert. Sometimes I buy stuff directly from them, but as much as I love Moitié I can’t always justify spending $300-500 on a single item when I have student loans and car payments, you know? 

The secondhand market is a mixed bag – the classic prints are still incredibly expensive despite their age, but a lot of non-print stuff is reasonably priced and I’ve found some great nonprint pieces for under 10k yen. Lacemarket has pages and pages of beautiful items sitting unsold. I remember seeing a black x blue Silent Moon OP for $150 on Lacemarket just sitting there unsold for weeks and weeks. Same story on Japanese sites – it’s just not selling the way it used to. So even though there are plenty of affordable older gothic pieces out there, people don’t want it.

On a side note, I feel like Iron Gate has become a status item rather than a piece that people buy out of love. Royal Gate is relatively inexpensive and in my opinion, it’s even more beautiful and luxurious than Iron Gate. The prints are extremely similar, but I think people just want to be able to say they own a rare, valuable dress. I dunno, maybe I’m just being a salty-chan because I still don’t have IG.

Écailles de Lune, kicking ass as usual.
On a more hopeful note…I think that the sudden explosion of lolita in China might revive gothic. Even if Japanese brands aren’t really interested in making gothic lolita and aristocrat stuff anymore, Taobao brands like Ista Mori and Écailles de Lune are absolutely killing it with new releases. These releases are more affordable than Japanese brands and have a wider range of sizing (a common complaint with older gothic pieces) so I hope that the Chinese brands can revive the true spirit of gothic once Moitié kicks the bucket for good.

Until then…




Saturday, 29 August 2015

August Coordinates

Like I mentioned in another post, I didn't actually get a full coordinate together until July, but somehow between then and now I managed to get a sizeable collection of pieces (R.I.P. wallet). Now I can actually wear lolita or aristocrat reasonably often! I'm so excited. I'm looking forward to wearing it at least 2-3 times a week.

That said, I was not excited about it being August. As a goth, I'm already used to the suffering that is a Toronto summer, but not while wearing layers of frills. Granted, it hasn't been too unbearable this year, but still...

Anyway, onto the coordinates!

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JSK: Moi-même-Moitié (Frame Cross Lace-Up JSK II)
Blouse: Ista Mori
Socks: Metamorphose
Bag: Offbrand
Shoes: Antaina
Beret, Hairband, and Jewellery: Offbrand

This is my first-ever coordinate! I still feel like it could use some work, but for the most part I'm pretty happy with it even though I could use some more gold accessories on top - maybe I'll wear gold hairpins or something.

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Jacket: Atelier Boz
JSK: Sheglit (Gracious Flare Underbust JSK)
Blouse: Ista Mori 
Socks: Moi-même-Moitié
Bag: Moi-même-Moitié
Shoes: Antaina
Jewellery: Offbrand
 
Just a simple, comfy outfit for walking around town. It was strangely cold even though it was the middle of August, hence the jacket. I feel like the jacket works best with long layers, but I like how it looks with a shorter skirt.

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Skirt: Moi-même-Moitié  (Gothic Arch)
Blouse: Offbrand
Socks: Moi-même-Moitié
Bag: Moi-même-Moitié
Shoes: Bodyline 
Jabot: Marble
Fascinator and Jewellery: Offbrand

I had a lot of errands to do that day, so I put together a simple, comfy coordinate. Skirt coords are so underrated - a lot of people hate coordinating skirts because it's a little trickier than coordinating a JSK or OP, but they're also more versatile.Way more comfortable in summer, too. It was pretty hot out so I couldn't stand wearing a JSK.

Side note, I love it when my hair matches my outfit! As a sign of devotion to our lord and savior Mana, I've dyed it Moitié blue. Mostly because it was purple before and it kept clashing with my outfits.

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Bolero: BPN
OP: Moi-même-Moitié (Royal Gate)
Tights: Offbrand
Bag: Moi-même-Moitié
Shoes: Antaina
Hairband and Jewellery: Offbrand

Had an awesome meetup with my comm that day! We rented a photo studio and practiced posing and taking photos. I've never been very photogenic so while I definitely improved, I'll still never photograph well. Who knew it was so hard to pose? Jojo poses, while awesome, are not exactly the most elegant/humanly possible (or comfortable in 4 inch platforms).

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Thank you for reading~ and of course any constructive criticism is welcome! I'm still new to lolita. It's one thing to lurk comms and look at outfit photos, but putting together a coordinate on your own is something new entirely and I'm still not that good at it yet.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

On (im)patience, or why I have two bat bags and two identical coats.



Lolita is a waiting game, but sometimes I don’t want to wait. The secondhand markets for my two favourite brands (Atelier-Pierrot and Moi-même-Moitié) are really, really slow. So when I see something uncommon, I get way too excited. 

A few months ago I posted about the untimely death of my leather bat bag and losing out on an auction to someone who doubled my max bid. Naturally, when I saw a reasonably priced auction on Y!Japan, I jumped on it. I asked my SS to put in a fairly low bid, only to see 6 other bidders immediately join in. Welp. I just went to bed at that point, fully expecting to have my max bid tripled by the next morning.

The next morning, I happened to find a super cheap one posted by a small-time seller. For some reason it wasn’t tagged with the brand name or anything, which would have made it less likely to be found.  Two bat bags listed in less than 24 hours?!  So I did what any idiot would do: I bid on that one too.

Long story short, I am now the proud owner of two identical bat bags. Now you’d think I’d have learned my lesson then, but a pattern is emerging here.

I saw a gorgeous Atelier-Pierrot winter coat was kicking around on Maiden Clothing for a while. I mulled it over for a few days before sending in an email order – the cheap price eventually won me over. After a day or two there was no confirmation email, and when I checked the item page it said sold out. Noooo! I was convinced I’d never see that coat again.

Strangely enough, that very same day someone on mbok put up a listing for the same coat in mint condition! Clearly, I was meant to have that coat. Providence in action…

…Maybe a little too much providence.  I got an apologetic email a few days later from Maiden Clothing saying that they couldn’t find it at first, but they’d finally located it in another store and had arranged to have it sent to me. They’d clearly gone through a lot of trouble trying to find the damn thing and had already sent it, so I couldn’t really say no at that point.

...Anyone want an Atelier-Pierrot winter coat?

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

A Gothic Lolita Soundtrack

Hello bats! I thought it would be fun to do some more lifestyle-related posts, so here's one about music.

As a western goth, music has always been an incredibly important part of my subculture. So even though lolita is strictly a fashion style, I still like to think about what kind of music would suit what substyle. When I think of EGL/EGA fashion, the ideas that come to mind are elegance, drama, romance, and darkness. So I tried to come up with some artists that fit the bill.

And just to get it out of the way, here are the same (excellent) artists everyone always recommends when the topic comes up: Ali Project, Die Milch, Malice Mizer, Kanon Wakeshima, Moi dix Mois, Kokosyoku Sumire, and every baroque composer ever who has ever existed. There.

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Lacrimosa


Lacrimosa is a gothic orchestral band. Their albums are pretty varied, but Elodia has a wonderfully sinister, aristocratic sound. I would describe this album as one-part film score to a Victorian period drama, one-part gothic metal, one-part 90s visual kei. It's excellent for days when I'm feeling exceptionally ~* dark *~ and dramatic.

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Stillste Stunde


Stillste Stund is an experimental darkwave band. They're very unique...hauntingly beautiful vocals, simple backing tracks, and a really nice creepy atmosphere.

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Cross Vein


 And now for something completely different. Cross Vein is pretty much the unholy lovechild of Versailles and Kokosyoku Sumire, which is precisely why I love them. It shouldn't work, but it does.

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GPKISM


GPKISM's music is an interesting mixture of dark electro and visual kei with orchestral elements and dramatic vocals. The video is worth watching because the potato-like video quality and goth cliches say 1999, but the timestamp says 2009. Also, "Barathrum" sounds like "bathroom." Tee hee.

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The Birthday Massacre


The Birthday Massacre is a flawless example of when spooky-cutesy goth meets 80s synthpop, which makes them a pretty accessible to your average gothic lolita. Let's just say they're more Paramore than Killing Joke. Also, they're based out of Toronto. Gotta rep my hometown!

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Kaya


Kaya (a former member of Schwarz Stein) is sort of in the same vein as GPKISM with a blend of visual kei, orchestral, and electronic influences. And impeccable fashion sense.

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Rose Noire


Rose Noire is all about creepy backing tracks, spooky violins, quirky (read: bizarre) gratuitious English. Winning combination! This is the only Youtube link I could find, so I hope you enjoy Spanish subtitles.

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Lacroix Despheres

 

Lacroix Despheres features lovely male vocals that are much more operatic and less nasally than typical visual kei vocals. They also have beautiful orchestral backing tracks.

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Elend 


Neoclassical darkwave meets chamber music. Beautiful, dark, and very sombre. Honestly, it just sounds like some kind of funeral music, or the score for a horror movie. Perfection.

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That's it for now. I hope you enjoyed this post! What kind of music would you associate with EGL/EGA?

Monday, 18 May 2015

Falling In (and Out) of Love with Lolita

I first discovered lolita fashion around 2005-ish (I think? That was a while ago), when I was a fledgling weeaboo babybat and LiveJournal was still cool. I was looking up stuff about Mana and Malice Mizer when I stumbled across EGL on LJ. I was immediately hooked.

I'm not sure what attracted me to lolita fashion in the first place. I loved seeing the street snaps of Japanese girls in these antique gothic doll clothes, while talking on their cellphones and hanging out on the sidewalks. I was so fascinated by the idea that lolita fashion was rebellious just by being extremely feminine - on our side of the pond, it seemed that rebellious fashions always involved spiked battlejackets and mohawks. It opened up my world a little bit.

For the next decade or so, I scoured EGL and snapped up any photos and tidbits of information I could get. Grainy scans of GLB, Fruits, and Kera, and a few fansites were all I had to go on - social media other than blogs wasn't really a thing yet.This was when lolita was slowly beginning to take hold in the west. I just remember the excitement of finding something new and unusual, and sharing that excitement with others.  

I was a teenager working crappy odd jobs in the summer at the time, so I contented myself with just admiring the photos and chatting with all sorts of people about everything lolita. I figured if I couldn't be a lolita now, I could in a couple of years when I had money.

I couldn't afford to put together a proper wardrobe until quite recently...by recently, I mean this year. I bought my first piece in April, and finished buying pieces for my first full coordinate a few weeks ago. Thank goodness, because I would have looked ita as all hell if I'd bought all the things I thought were ~* KAWAII DESU ~* at age 13.  

The first time I put lolita clothes on was awesome. After wrestling with my petticoat for a bit before managing to jam it into my skirt, I looked myself up and down in the mirror. I'd never felt so elegant and pretty in my life. Slightly ridiculous and a bit itchy, but pretty. So, I was finally ready to dive headfirst into lolita for real! But...

I hadn't really noticed it so much until I started wearing the clothing, but over the years there'd been a shift in the subculture (can we call it that?). Lolita was moving away from being a wearable daily fashion and was steadily becoming more costumey and OTT. Social media emphasizes pictures over content, and that community spirit I got from reading blogs and EGL posts was largely replaced by posting photos to get likes and Tumblr notes. Fighting over who has what brand and how much. It feels like a lot of lolitas treat it as a costume for conventions and photoshoots

I miss reading blogs about lolitas who let their style bleed over into the other aspects of life. I miss the talented people who sewed their own dresses. I miss the days when people didn't feel afraid to post their lolita outfits for fear of being nitpicked to death. I miss simple coordinates!

Was it always this much of a popularity contest? It seems like earlier lolitas wore the fashion for themselves, because it was fun and appealing to them, instead of worrying about being gossiped about online. They had less focus on having insanely OTT outfits that looked photoshoot-ready and more emphasis on wearing the clothing as daily fashion. People didn't seem so anal about following a strict set of style rules instead of just following the general guidelines to the fashion.

There is just so much damn pressure to be perfect. Don't people enjoy the fashion for the sake of fashion anymore? Maybe I'm getting nostalgic for something that never existed...


It sounds silly, right? How could I have fallen out of love with a community that I wasn't truly a part of until...well, now? But even though I didn't actually wear the fashion until later, there's no doubt in my mind that it helped to shape who I am. Before then I had a passing interest in fashion, but lolita turned that interest into a strong passion - fashion is my hobby. My artwork was inspired by the artists I saw in GLB. Through EGL on LJ I made so many friends and discovered music that I still enjoy.

I realized I'd kind of lost touch with what attracted me to lolita in the first place. I loved how elegant and frilly I felt when I put on my lolita clothing, that carefree feeling of being able to wear stuff without caring what other people thought or if anyone else liked it. I wore it for myself because it made me happy, and I loved injecting little lolita touches into my everyday life. And ultimately being happy is way more important than getting lots of notes on Tumblr or being validated by strangers on the internet.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Review: Loris Cross Bat Bag Review (Moi-même-Moitié Replica)

Hello bats! Today I will be reviewing the Loris replica of Moi-même-Moitié’s iconic bat-shaped handbag. Originally, I wanted to do a comparison between the replica and the authentic bag. I purchased the real bag last Christmas, but it recently had a tragic accident involving a large dog. No survivors. And now the bag is sold out…so…yeah.

Moi-même-Moitié's original bat bag in leather

Moi-même-Moitié Black x Blue bat bag in leather

Loris's Black x Black replica bat bag

Firstly, the materials are obviously very different. The Moitié bags came in several versions: leather, pleather, suede, and nylon. The leather gives it a very smooth glossy look. The Loris bag is decent-quality polyurethane (aka, pleather) with a slight grainy texture to it. It isn’t soft or smooth at all, but it’s pretty durable – even though it was squished at the bottom of my shipping box for 2 weeks, it didn’t get scratched or dented.


Coffin-shaped zipper pulls on the Moitié bag and blue detailing on zipper fabric


Stamp and zipper compartment on the back of the Moitié bag

The coffin-shaped zipper pulls on the authentic Moitié bag are engraved with the chandelier insignia and the logo. The fabric around the zipper is also coloured depending on the colourway of the bag - blue on the Blue x Black colourway, and black on the Black x Black colourway. The zippers are sturdy and moved smoothly. The back of the bag is stamped with the chandelier insignia, and has a small zippered compartment.


Cross-shaped zipper pull on the Loris bag's main compartment

Back of the Loris bag - no insignia or zippered comparment
On the Loris bag, the zipper pull for the main compartment is a silver cross. All of the zippers feel a little cheap, but fairly sturdy. One odd thing is that the zipper for the main compartment is super long, going way past the end of the bag. And for some reason the back of the Loris bag is totally smooth, with no stamping or a zippered compartment.

Cross detailing - nice straight seams, no lumps!

Stitching along the bottom of the bag

Both the authentic bag and the Loris replica are well-constructed. All of the stitching on the outside is even, and the cross is straight. There are no uneven or lumpy areas in the bag itself. Both bags stand upright on their own, and feel stiff and sturdy. The wing tips on the Loris bag are a bit less pointed, but that happens to authentic bags over time as well.

Inside compartment of the Loris bag

The inside lining of the Moitié bag is satin in the trademark royal blue, with a logo tag sewn inside. There are 2 small zippered compartments. The Loris bag is lined with cheap bordeaux polyester, which isn’t pretty but at least it’s durable and easy to clean. It feels extremely flimsy, though. The tag is a simple paper hang tag attached to the zipper that can be removed.

The inside is quite small and the bag isn't very flexible. I can also fit a sunglasses case, wristlet, keys, mp3 player, and a small makeup case inside. I can also fit my phone (Galaxy S3, so it's not very big) into the inner pocket. I'm afraid to put anything too heavy in it because the straps don't feel super strong. If you're a pack rat like me, you're probably better off getting a roomier bag.

So...what are the other positives of the Loris bag?

Well, the Moitié all-black leather bag originally retailed for ~46 000 yen! The newer versions, such as the 2010 Blue x Black, were much more affordable at around 24 000 yen. It’s highly sought-after in both Japanese and Western markets, so authentic secondhand bags are expensive and uncommon, even if they are nylon or polyurethane instead of genuine leather/suede. I remember bidding on a really mangy-looking one that ended up selling for 40 000 yen. Gone are the days where you could find this bag cheap on auctions.

The Loris bag is a very affordable replica, retailing for about $25 CAD on Taobao. For the price, the construction is surprisingly good. Another plus is the fact that the Loris replica comes in a variety of unique colourways: Black x Red, Black x White, Black x Silver, and Black x Gold. While the materials obviously can’t compare, it’s hard to argue that this isn’t a good deal.

Overall, I was impressed with the replica. It looks like Loris has stepped up their quality control a bit! I wonder if this one would stand up to a dog attack, though…
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Our regular wigs can be styled up to 200°C or 390°F.
However, to be safe, we advise to style our wigs no higher than 150°C or 300°F.
Wigs, just like real hair, can be damaged by heat styling so please do it carefully and use high quality tools. - See more at: http://lockshopwigs.com/lockshop2/home/14-mermaid-beachy.html#sthash.AXkmYOrD.dpuf
Our regular wigs can be styled up to 200°C or 390°F.
However, to be safe, we advise to style our wigs no higher than 150°C or 300°F.
Wigs, just like real hair, can be damaged by heat styling so please do it carefully and use high quality tools. - See more at: http://lockshopwigs.com/lockshop2/home/14-mermaid-beachy.html#sthash.AXkmYOrD.dpuf