For the past three days the cavernous space of Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre has been transformed into a cutesy-quirky pink’n’fluffy sweet and cuddly fantasy kingdom. Welcome to kawaii-land, home of lacy petticoats, furry animals and rainbow hair. No, it’s not for children, it’s for grown-up girls who like to dress up like Alice in Wonderland with added bling.
If you saw my earlier post on the Lolita fashion exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum you’ll already know what I’m talking about, but for new readers, Lolita is a Japanese street style from Harajuku in Tokyo that has spread around the world. Forget Nabokov’s underage temptress – Lolita fashion is squeaky-clean. It’s all about dressing like the doll you got for Christmas when you were eleven – hyper pretty and mega-cute. Go for ribbons, lace and frills, a gathered skirt with lots of petticoats and rainbow-coloured hair. Then tour the Hyper Japan stalls and stock up on cuddly character toys and DVD’s of cute animes (Japanese cartoons) while the boyfriend is safely parked at the Dragonball stand.
Kawaii is japanese for sweet and cute, and Japan is where this colourful and zany street style began. At Hyper Japan, there was kawaii fashion everywhere you looked and it was real people wearing it. Like the lady said: ‘the show is not the show but they that go’.
The girls from Roxie Sweetheart – ‘a dressing up box of colourful, creative and cutesy accessories with unique illustrations and quirky prints. Accessorise with pick’n’mix shapes, textures and trinkets…for the beautiful girl who wants to be noticed and create her own fairytale harajuku style! Kawaii!’
Kiss Me Kill Me by Magical Ulala. ‘My work speaks particularly to Futuristic Lolita/Magical Girls or to any other creature owning eccentric tastes’.
Rilakkuma is a bear who enjoys relaxing.
Lolita dresses are often decorated with themed prints, such as fairytale characters, imaginary creatures, candy or pastries.
The bag shaped like a biscuit adds a nice kawaii touch.
Marie Antoinette style.
This Sweet Lolita outfit is by Tofu Cute.
Pikachu, a character from the Pokémon anime series.
Not strictly Lolita fashion, maid outfits echo Tokyo’s maid café culture where the waitresses dress as an extreme version of French maids.
This outfit mixes Punk Lolita with French maid.
The schoolgirl look is another extension of Lolita style.
Classic punk Lolita.
Kigurumi dress up as animals like the girl in this spectacular outfit.
Animal pyjamas – full-body animal pyjamas with hoods or hats styled after animals or cartoon characters – were a popular look. You could buy them while you were there if you had forgotten to bring your own.
Totoro, from the Studio Ghibli anime My neighbour Totoro. According to the Financial Times ‘Totoro is more genuinely loved than Mickey Mouse could hope to be in his wildest – not nearly so beautifully illustrated – fantasies’.
So, my verdict on Hyper Japan? Kawaiiiii!