Check out more of our PMX coverage in “Pacific Media Expo 2010” and “Innocent World Makes U.S. Convention Debut at Pacific Media Expo.”
By: Liz Ohanesian and Shannon Cottrell
One of the first things that you will learn when you ask someone about Lolita is that it isn't cosplay. However, the distinction between the two may be a little blurrier since Baby the Stars Shine Bright head Fumiyo Isobe announced at Pacific Media Expo that the Lolita brand, as well as Baby's pirate-themed line Alice and the Pirates, are collaborating with Gainax on the forthcoming anime Dantalian No Shoka. Isobe said through a translator that she cannot reveal too many details yet, but Baby would be dressing the female “princess” characters while Alice would provide the attire for a lead male character.
Merging fashion with anime and manga isn't a brand new concept. Fans of Ai Yazawa (Paradise Kiss, Nana) often note the artist's keen eye for fashion details in her work (Vivienne Westwood was referenced several times in Nana, for example). At the press panel, Isobe mentioned that Black Butler creator Yana Toboso has said that Alice and the Pirates has influenced the popular manga. Several years ago, Gankutsuou, a futuristic retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo, featured costume designs by Anna Sui. This project, however, will be different. With Dantalian No Shoka, the characters will be wearing clothing that Baby and Alice have produced. As Isobe added in the press panel, if people want to cosplay these characters, the fashions will be in existence.
It's an interesting idea, particularly considering that Baby doesn't need much help in the branding department. Named after an Everything but the Girl song, the label, which launched in the late 1980s is revered amongst fans of Japanese street fashion. Their pretty, frilly dresses were an integral part of the must-see film Kamikaze Girls and Baby is the first Japanese Lolita brand to open up shop in the United States.
Needless to say, Baby and Alice both have devoted followings across the globe. Baby, the older of the two brands, has a history of solid sweet Lolita designs. Alice, which Isobe said was inspired in part by Adam and the Ants, is a young, but strong label with designer Miki Nohmoto now at the helm. As Lolita fashion enthusiast Liza Saguto told us, both lines can actually increase in price on the resale market.
“The famous one is the Alice and the Pirates Vampire Requiem series from last year,” said Saguto. “That one has almost doubled in price in the after-market. People end up in bidding wars to get those prints.”
Part of the popularity of the two brands is in the prints they use. Each collection features a few unusual, and quite detailed, printed fabrics that will not likely be repeated. At this year's PMX fashion show, Baby showcased La Lac des Cygnes Odette dress, which features silhouettes of ballerinas. Alice closed the event with a jumper skirt in the Vampire Forest print, which references last year's smash hit. There is more to the labels than prints, though. One popular Alice item from a few years ago is a pair of white platform boots with buttons on the front and black trim. We spotted a PMX attendee wearing them last weekend and drooled a little.
Alice in particular isn't just for girls. Last weekend, we met David Klingbeil who had mixed an Alice and the Pirates with pieces from several other Japanese brands. His style is what is often called “kodona” or “prince.”
“I like to dress more like the prince side, frills, more like you're younger but like an aristocrat,” he said.
The prince look often revolves around knickerbockers, waistcoats and ruffled shirts. It's a style that Alice does well. One of the particularly striking looks from Sunday's fashion show was a pair of black just-above-the-knee pants with ribbons on the bottom and ruffles in back worn with a ruffled white shirt, black waistcoat, black-and-white striped tights and a mini Mad Hatter headpiece.
Neither Baby nor Alice is for the fashionably timid, but if you're looking to embrace
your inner storybook princess, or your inner Adam Ant, then you might want to check out these lines.
See more photos on page 3