Japan Fashion Now, Walking in The Reign


Age 6. Dear Japanese drag queens in rainbow-colored, over-the-knee suede boots in the Gay Pride Day parade…I was eye-level with the top of your swagger boots, mesmerized and vowing to grow up just like you.

Age 16. Dear Leigh Bowery, You will always be one of my first Harujaku lovers. Your i-D magazine covers kept my imagination alive after my first trip to London at age 16, whilst I bore my last two years of high school, in 6-inch platforms, Selfridge’s head to toe and lots of attitude.

Age 26. Dear Madame Butterfly. A hello to a Japanese girl in a hot-pink, long and very furry silk suit began our design collaboration through the 80’s and 90’s, which included dresses for the Cannes-bound starlet posse traveling with Chosei of the Plasmatics for his movie, “Tokyo Decadence.”

Age 36. Dear Ex-Boyfriend The Biologist, although I loved our modern Shinto-style solar-house, your big black Ford pick-up truck and our crunchy organic, Led-Zepplin-as-muse life, I missed the colorful people of New York City, but thank you, because I am forever…a Forest Girl at heart.

Ageless Pucks and Lolitas throng in Japan’s urban streets, Masters and Mistresses of trans-culture migration playing grab bag with time-based mythical expressions of style, they invent themselves to become Living Dolls who tell new stories. The Harajuki and Shibuya street-fashion cultures of Japan are one of the world’s most fertile style petri dishes as seen in FIT’s latest juicy and extensive exhibit, Japan Fashion Now, extended until April 2011, in New York City.

Herewith, the latest Street Heroines and Heroes of transformation in Japan and how these same archetypes play in America’s streets, celebrity rags and fashion tribes. The amateur mythologist that I am, is fascinated by the linguistic weaving of the word “anima” for soul and life, the animistic nature worship of Japan’s Shintoism religion’s influence on anime and the dressing in costume on the street like animated characters, called Cosplay. The Japanese word manga, literally translated, means “whimsical pictures.” For the Eastern animated-take, I’ve added the hottest words from manga in bold and anime plot synopsis in Engrish, in color text.

In honor of the Speed Tribes lineage, bikers whose Kamikaze motorcycle suits were at the root of Japan’s expressive street styles and a nod to racy style in the West, I’ve asked my favorite American Original-style, Nature-Worshipping Symbolist and avid motorcyclist, Avia Venefica to give us the Timeless Mythical Roots and Connect for these attitudes and styles. A black-leather clad Goddess with spiky hair dispensing the eternal wisdom of the mystical, who, of course, lives in upstate New York somewhere…she surprised me and went hog-wild, speaking in the original tongue of these myths!  (In Italics) (Bonus! Everywhere! Learn Japanese! Emporium and Reign of Sensory Overload About To Begin!)

GALISM     bijin- a beautiful woman. In terms of frequency and usage, it’s best likened to “babe.”

Galism is relatively new to the streets and I love it for its right-on pantomime of US girls..seen anyday in Soho or Rodeo Drive or that…whatever it’s called…that blingy LA mall. The name and look is based on the anime story, which is best described in Engrish…Japanese English.

Galism Plot Summary: Adventurist parents left three Ugajin sisters alone in house and now they are living in freedom paradise! But their parents adventure financer wants the sisters to protect the peace in Manten Academy from the shadows. This is the stormy stage as curtain opens. First volume of Mayumi Yokoyama high-tension school love comedy.

Put Nicole Richie, Paris Hilton and everyone’s pretty Prom Queens on steroids, into that real or fake Chanel bag called Galism. These gals are always in trouble but always shopping so its OK, smile. Love Supreme Sisters.

In the linage of the Sisters Pleiades…here’s Avia!…

All ears open to us now, as we pour our youthful inspirations into your listening canals until overflowing.  We are the Mousai Apollonides; the giggly girls born to Zeus and Mnemosyne of ancient Greece.  We three are drawn together for the sake of invigorating you down to your oogety boogety furry Ugg boots.  In sisterhood we frolic with abandon.  We know no fear in our self-expression because we are united. Our collective force is jump jiving, we got game. Watch us. You get game too.

GRIMOIRE   mahou- magic, magic spell.

On a trip last year to Ellis Island, the gateway island welcoming migrating refugees from the World Wars from Eastern Europe, I fell in love with the exhibit of clothing, housewares, embroidered linens and garments, books and ephemera of my Russian, Luxemburgian and Romanian ancestors and the villagers with whom they packed their lives into trunks, crammed unto ships and voyaged to A New Land. The name Grimoire means Storybook or Spellbook, and the look is Folkloric Fantasy with Dolly Kei plus Mori meets Harry Potter. Look here for picture-book images of the namesake headquarters, the Grimoire store, located in Shibuya, began by one costume-history student, which has turned Grimoire into a trend.  The Grimoire shop site and blog has in-depth inspirational sources from the travels of the three owners shown above.

The trends become the fodder of commercialism, quickly spawning shops, clothing lines and even TV commercials picking up the elaborate hairstyles, making up new trend names to sell anything…not too different than Western athletes selling car insurance, sneakers or Foreman grills.

Shakugan no Shana S. Plot Summary: While searching through the hunters nest for a particular treasure, Shana and Yuji encounter some unforeseen difficulty when their minds end up being switched into each others’ bodies, due to the effect of Friagne’s treasure device. They try to overcome the situation secretly, but…

Grimoire! Ascend! to my heavens and let me wrap you and your imagination in the timeless vintage of starlight.  I am Ishtar of ancient Mesopotamia, and my power pulsates to voluptuous Venusian vibes.  Blow off the dust particles, crack the spine of my leather-bound, golden-paged ancient grimoire spell book- you know the one – Ishtar’s Cookbook; replete with recipes for concocting your own vintage vivaciousness.  Dance wildly in my veils of colors. Adorn and Pose yourself with my precious planetary gems and shimmery golds.

MORI  森 (mori) means forest.

Kaori Shoji, in the New York Times article from February, “The Cult of the Living Doll in Tokyo,” speaks about the contrast between “Mori,” or Forest Girls, who have their own Manifesto declaring themselves chaste, thoughtful and Self-Realized and the “Ageha,” or swallowtail butterfly girls who look like blow-up dolls. The styles morph with individuals, but the Morigirl blogs, thinks, writes, ponders like their Anthropologie sisters on Western misty shores.

“Forest girls are wary of all forms of aggression or self-assertiveness. They’re just too fragile, or they would like to be that way.”

“They don’t want to live so much as to exist, preferably on a metaphysical level.” adds Midori Yokokawa, an editor at the fashion magazine Forest Girl. Aesthetic Lolita blogger, Sniper Nyan, sums up her style, a morphing of the etheric Mori Girl when she meets Grimoire with her music taste, “One of my favorite bands of all time ever, Аркона, is a Slavic pagan folk metal band. Their lead singer, Masha, routinely poses in the carcasses of slaughtered foxes and sometimes carries these epic ancient swords in snowy forests and yeah, I would probably go gay for her in about five seconds.”

Intellectual jazzy music may be as sexy as it gets for Morigirl…since most of the animals are fur pieces or hidden deep within Sensitive Mori girl skirts. The closest American girls get is the Boho Chic Goddess look care of the Olsen twins, a wee bit woodsy, all schlumpy and introspectively Starbucks caffienated.

Squint your eyes and peek between my erect arboreal armies.  Can you see my soft does eyes?  I am nestled thoughtfully amongst my legions – forested trees, attentive blades of grass and softly shifting soil.  I am Mari, the great and wild goddess of Basque.  My ways are simple. Do you see how I transform with Nature’s visage?  Shapeshifting is fashion’s highest attainment.  Dive into my Natural realm and find yourself transmogrified – you and I are rivers carving through the face of the world.  We are arboreal allies, tap-rooted in solidarity.  We are rainbows poised to moistly kiss our Earth.

GOTHIC LOLITA   Kowaii! translated as either “Scary thought!” or “I’m scared!,” depending on the context.

Gothic, Rock-it, Punks, Dreads, Gothloli…to rage against the machine is to push its symbols into realms where sacred and scared are re-ordered for fun, shock, schlock, rock and even marketing strategies to sell more Hello Kitty dolls.

Some say the band, Malice Mizer’s operatic gothic tech view from underneath the ground was a launching point for the lifestyle.

The pop singers Hangry and Angry that the Japan Fashion Now exhibit curator, Valerie Steele, chose to represent as an expression of the style, are a total marketer’s fabrication, as the band serves to sell toys and products even with their own namesake store…and yes, they did collaborate with Hello Kitty. Their own plot summary is that they come from the H44 Star Nebula in order to save the world from global warming. They arrived in the present in their time machine dubbed “LOVE MACHINE.”

New York and the international fashion world is full of gothic rock takes from Diane Pernet, with her “Shaded View on Fashion” to a Let’s-Play-Dress-Up downtown culture alive and well, as evidenced by the Paper magazine anniversary party I went to earlier in the year hosted by Lady Fag.  Downtown NYC will always breed rare beauties like my friends, The Blonds to Lady Gaga, (who still shows up at the local downtown NY bars where she found her fame) to next-uppers like my friend, designer, Mario Barton…one in a million, but one of millions of underworld Persephones, flinging open their closets, dressing up and turning the Star Light of mobile and video cams onto themselves and the rest of the world.

In gorgeous Goth and the latest expressions of its style, legends rule and a perfect marriage is here as Lady Fag stars as the Russian Imperial daughter Anastasia, (one meaning of her name is “the breaker of chains” or “the prison opener” in this movie.)

Kamikaze Girls Plot Summary: Momoko is a girl who cares for nothing but frilly lace dresses and wishes she was in 18th century rococco France rather than dorky Shimotsuma. It’s a backwater to which her Yakuza father has fled, and populated by small towners with no sense for elegant fashion. What can a girl do but dismiss everybody around her as not worthy and instead indulge her whims in Tokyo’s specialty stores… Then biker girl Ichiko arrives like a barbarian at the gate and does her confused best to turn Momoko’s life upside down. Despite professed indifference both are curious about, even a bit jealous of, the other’s lifestyle. Slowly a bond starts to form between them but when tested it is less than clear if it has grown strong enough to tear down Momoko’s frilly fence.

Hide your apathy and lukewarm nonsense from us.  We amputate the trite and uninteresting at the knees.  We are Valkyries, goddess governors of both the battlefield and Valhalla.  We see righteous fairness within the folds of darkness, where others know only fear.  This is a one-time invitation only (and we are exceedingly picky about whom we select) to join us in dark fury.  Don the shadowy shroud and fly into the black hearts of men.  Obliterate the unworthiness and base boringness from their black, unbeating hearts.  Join us, the royal Valkyries as we partake in penetrating pleasures of releasing mankind from all his one-dimensional tripe, and inject electric quickening into his soul.

SWEET LOLITA, DOLLY KEI kawaii- cute. More than a mere adjective, kawaii qualifies as an aesthetic and an obsession in Japan

Growing up, my sister and I had three resplendent and intricate Geisha Doll figurines which always were kept on the highest shelves while we gave bad haircuts to our Barbies before forcing them into sex with Ken on the floor of our bedrooms. As hot and passionate sex with Ken was, the folded newspapers in the inside of the fanny-pack of her kimono and the shellaced hair and hair combs of my Geisha dolls is what really captivated me.

Antique Dolly Kei or Sweet Lolita style, can be a morph of Lolita, Visual, Dolly Kei or Grimoire, but a highlight is to render adults into mythical, forever-a-child status. Peter Pan and Wendy are welcome here. The root is undeniably the Geisha tradition, with its choreography, tea ceremonies, make-up and mystical details which paints-on youth, beauty and life as preciousness and unbreakable. Cute.

Lyn Yaeger, New York journalist, was one of the originators of this style. Seeing her on the street is like a kawaii flash vision of the Yeti, she so exists in her own pool of existence and power.

I took this picture of my friend, Tziporah Salamon, a much-photographed NYC Style Icon, dressed perfectly, about to hop on her bike and take her soiled garments to her Chinese Laundry.

Way back when, when Project Runway was pre-zygote stage, I ripped out a street style image from Time Out magazine of the then-unknown Austin Scarlett, wearing a huge fur bonnet, a Barbie hatbox as a purse and a folkloric sweater posing like Rita Hayworth. A doll-like icon then, his porcelain skin is key to his look and his sweet gentlemanly ways reveal that the outside is not artifice, even now as a recognizable personality. Raise the eyebrow and ditto the sweetness in person for Icon Patrick McDonald, a true warrior of Dandy-style, comparable to Doll-style in Japan, equalling largesse of whimsy, originality, character and grace in New York.

Zhinu is the name, Love is the loom upon which I spin diaphanous threads for the finest garments.  I am ü, the immortal Weaver Girl of the Silver River.  My fingertips fastidiously weave together fibers of bright adoration.  I craft infinite love in every stitch.  My weaving is my heart’s passion, second only to the love of my Herdsman.  I spin and mix divine threads for clothing while channeling my supreme love as I wait for the seventh day of the seventh month to be reunited with my true lover, Ni Lang.  Before and after that sublime moment of union, you can find me winking back at you from the Vega star, cheerfully weaving layers of love into every warp and weft of your robes.  My ardor sustains my youth.  My craft insures my immortality. My beloved herdsman feeds inspiration to my cloth-creations.


PRINCESS LOLITA     hime- princess.

Steel Angel Kurumi Plot Summary: The story follows a young boy named Nakahito Kagura. He is pushed by a group of classmates to go into a house rumored to belong to a mad scientist. Inside, he comes across what seems to be a life-like doll. At the same time, the Japanese Army carries out an attack on the house. During the attack the “doll” falls over and Nakahito accidentally kisses it, causing it to awaken. The doll turns out to be the Steel Angel Kurumi, who is being hunted by the military for mysterious reasons.

Japan’s sugar pop, fluffy yet tightly laced princesses may parade higher hair, a thousand more frothy layers, while their cousins, the Western virgins, oops versions, are more fantasy send-ups of a Degas ballerina. New Yorkers, Tinsley Mortimer, Sarah Jessica Parker, Beyonce and Paris’s Lou Doillon play Princess with sheerness, fur, shine, lots of skin and smiles for the cameras for their You-Can’t-Touch-This doll personas.

Aloha, I am Hina, princess goddess of the Pacific seas.  Enter into my Oceanic mysteries for rich illumination.  My journeys have revealed the banalities of existence.  Men have relentlessly pursued me for a mere moment to taste my skin and enter my holy, feminine gardens.  How carnal.  How base.  Slip off the shabby clothing of carnal trash and cheap gratification.  Don the regal garments of Moonlit enlightenment.  Ascend with me beyond common ground, Life is meant to tickle from tip to toe. Dip your rouged tootsies in my twilight raiments. Step into my lofty layers. Topple me with your luminous laughter and I shall embrace in luxurious delights.

CEREBRAL CONSTRUCTIVISTS   totemo- very, extremely. pronounced tottemo to indicate extra enthusiasm

Perhaps the most commercial of all, Rei Kawakubo’s Comme in the Black Empire, Comme des Garcons, was worth about $4.7 million in 2008. In Japan Fashion Now, FIT’s Valerie Steele put on a historic parade of the Pre and De-Constructivist pillars of Japanese fashion, every piece a wearable classic. The conversation between runway and street may yet be in sync, but for me, I can see myself in Tao Kurihara’s history of costume encompassing statements of flesh and fancy paired with Pumas for a jaunt to the supermarket, my personal best version of Cosplay as a 21st century Geisha.

Women playing with the fashion constraints of men deconstructs beyond a mere gender switch and bequeaths the wearer membership in a style tribe of Intelligensi who extend the conversation of the age. Of Yohji Yamamoto, Julie Gilhart, fashion director of Barneys New York, once said that he is ”probably the only designer you could name who has 60-year-olds who think he’s incredible and 17-year-olds who think he’s way cool.”

Stairway to the Stars in this realm for me includes Reigning Originals such as Isabella Blow and Alexander McQueen, who crafted the armor of story and myth to new realms of power and possibility.

Saint Seiya Plot Summary: is series of group of five mystical warriors called ‘Saints’ who have star constellations as totems of power, taking place in the XVIII century, 250 years before original manga. Tenma, the Pegasus Saint and his beloved friend, Alone, who would eventually become his greatest enemy, Hades, are given the task to protect Saori Kido, reincarnation of Athena (the goddess of wisdom and war), and to fight against evil forces.  In Saint Seiya, warriors wear different armours fashioned by smiths working for competing Gods, to be used by their own warriors to defend themselves or attempt to conquer the domain of other Gods: Stronger than normal armour made of regular metals, and, if wearer has lucky awakened the cosmic energy, it serves to amplify it several times over.

For those individuals with quiet power and the mythical sensitivities such as Ophelia, Lady Shallot and the Isabella Blows..the armor of the Tottemmo! Designers is a choice that evolves humanity.

Take heed.  Only those of keen wit can follow in my stiletto steps.  I am the weaver of white-webbed knowledge, lacing every iota of life.  Some know me as the Thinker.  Others know me as the Creatrix.  My children of the Pueblo and Navajo call me Spider Woman, and I rather like that title. Take in my visage – I am both dark and light.  Cagey and bright.  Replete with both fright and delight.  There is no end to the sides I show.  If I keep you guessing, it’s your own damn fault, if my intelligence intimidates you… I shall devour you and use your bones for a toothpick.  But if you amuse me, I’ll wrap you up in an afternoon of ravishing; seducing you with cerebral brilliance.”

The FIT Japan Fashion Now exhibit guard said, “No pictures allowed”…but please forgive me!  Style happens every minute in the real world with personal, tangible expression…and how could I really not preserve this ephemeral, “whimsical picture” moment for myself and for you, my blog readers, Japan Fashion Now…right outside the exhibit? Kawaaiiii!

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