ELABORATE DRESSES THAT FORCED WOMEN TO BECOME LIVING TROPHIES

On the contrary, according to Yohji Yamamoto, when he began creating clothes, his only thought was to provoke women wear what was thought of as men's clothing.

By Balthazar Malevolent

ELABORATE DRESSES THAT FORCED WOMEN TO BECOME LIVING TROPHIES

The style’s origins remain largely undecided. Some believe Lolita was first practiced by the fans of Visual Rock singers to impersonate their favorite stars. On the other hand, Mariko Suzuki argues that Lolita may have been modeled on children’s dresses, attracting girls and young women dissatisfied with the lack of frills and lace in mainstream fashions, or those who appreciated gothic subcultural elements and wished to dress in frilly clothes.

Nineteenth-century women's costume

This fashion, when practiced in its full-on form, is often accompanied by demure mannerisms by the wearer, such as walking in a ladylike fashion sporting a lace-trimmed parasol. Such behavior may also be partly due to the physical restrictions the style imposes on the wearer. Akinori Isobe, the owner of the renowned Lolita fashion brand Baby, once admitted that the opulent use of lace and frills makes his garments both heavy and impeding. Echoing this impression, actress Kyoko Fukada, who wears Lolita garments in Kamikaze Girls, commented that they were not as physically impeding as she had expected.

Women’s elaborate dresses in nineteenth-century Europe, by which Lolita style is partially inspired, have been perceived as symbolic of feminine oppression largely because of the restrictive nature of the garments. Some have argued that such dresses forced women to become living trophies of the peculiar strength of men, who (financially) clothed them, while also making them submissive to a male (sexual) gaze. However, assuming these dresses merely endorsed feminine oppression is rather simplistic as clothes, whether men’s or women’s, may never have been completely functional or “natural”. Moreover, the agency of the women concerned, in the act of dressing in such garments, should be considered. It has also been suggested that the large physical size of women so dressed may have also given the wearers a degree of power, visibility, and an awareness of their existence in society. Besides highlighting the important issue of fashion and gender, arguably, these points are equally applicable to the case of Lolita style and its wearers at the turn of the twenty-first century in Japan.

On the contrary, according to Yohji Yamamoto, when he began creating clothes, his only thought was to provoke women to wear what was thought of as men's clothing. In those days, Japanese women wore, as a matter of course, imported feminine clothing, and he simply detested that fact.

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