See more photos in "Pacific Media Expo 2010."
Fans of Lolita fashion had a treat in store last weekend when Innocent World made it's first U.S. appearance at Pacific Media Expo Designer Yumi Fujiwara was on hand to show the label's latest offerings and meet fans.
Lolita, the Japanese street fashion style that gives a modern spin to old-fashioned girlishness (think full, below-the-knee skirts, puffed sleeves, lace trim and, sometimes even bonnets and parasols), is often divided into numerous subgenres, with different brands incorporating the style essentials into a variety of looks. Innocent World falls into the "classic Lolita" camp. The clothes aren't overwhelmingly cute, as some Lolita brands can be, and are less reliant on frills. If we can use an analogy based on our childhood reading and television viewing habits, Innocent World is more like Laura Ingall's best Sunday dress than Nellie Oleson's.
"There are cleaner cuts. It's not as flamboyant," said PMX attendee Liza Saguto, who purchased an Innocent World dress at the convention. "It's an elegant style, but it still has a lot of Lolita elements, like laces, detailed buttons, certain silhouettes of the dresses retain Lolita elements."
At Saturday's press panel, Fujiwara mentioned that she began her career working as a pattern maker. This background is evident in Innocent World's designs. We took a close look at the items available in the PMX boutique-- dresses, jumper skirts, skirts and blouses-- and noticed the quality of the construction. The clothes aren't just pretty, they look to be built to last more than a few seasons.
Fujiwara also noted that one of her signatures is the use of a subtle color palette. Where sweet Lolita brands often make bold use of pastels and gothic Lolita brands typically stick with lots of black (and maybe some dramatic shade of blue if you're rock star/fashion designer Mana), the Innocent World items we saw were heavy on brown, slate blue and burgundy.
"It was a lot different from what California Lolitas usually wear since everyone is really into [sweet Lolita labels] Angelic Pretty and Baby [the Stars Shine Bright]," said PMX attendee Alex Cifuentes. "All their clothes, they're a lot more toned down. They're more wearable, if you don't want to stand out way too much."
This "wearable" element might be what we liked best about Innocent World. The silky blouses with lace and ribbon trim could easily mix in with a work wardrobe, whether you're in a corporate office or a more casual, fashion-friendly environment. The skirts look good whether they're worn full or flat. Innocent World clothing manages to be versatile while creating a distinct look.
Until recently, Innocent World has kept a lower profile in the U.S. than other brands. Where other designers have made appearances at conventions and fan events in the States before, Fujiwara hasn't. However, she seems to be making up for lost time. At PMX, Fujiwara maintained an accessible presence. We saw her working both inside the PMX boutique and at one of the game booths at Saturday night's Starlight Fashion Festival, where guests had the chance to win an Innocent World outfit in the raffle, amongst other prizes.
At PMX's press panel, Fujiwara said through a translator that seeing the reaction at the convention has prompted her to consider expanding the Innocent World brand outside of Japan. This is certainly good news for fans of classic Lolita fashion.
Shannon Cottrell contributed to this report.
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More photos from Innocent World's PMX Fashion show on page 2.