EROTICISM AND INNOCENCE IN JAPANESE FASHION

Although stylistically different, wearers of Lolita style outside Japan, particularly in Euro-American cultures, are well aware of the sexual meanings people might infer from the name Lolita and from infantile fashion aesthetics.

By Balthazar Malevolent

EROTICISM AND INNOCENCE IN JAPANESE FASHION

Euro-American “Lolita” is not an established style, but a descriptive term for young girls who dress in a highly sexualized, mature way, or adult women looking infantile with such items as a short, high-waisted dress, known as a babydoll and a barrette. What is striking about this Euro-American “Lolita” look is that it not only includes the eroticization of preadolescent or adolescent girls, but also the infantilization of adult women. These effects are perceived as two sides of the same Lolita coin. For instance, the trend for mature-aged women to dress like prepubescent girls is perceived by some as operating exclusively for an unhealthy, objectifying male gaze. Consequently, these authors articulate the possibility that fashion such as Japanese Lolita style might be read as signifying the objectification and infantilization of women.

Japanese Lolita Fashion Style

Stylistically different, wearers of Lolita style outside Japan, particularly in Euro-American cultures, are well aware of the sexual meanings people might infer from the name Lolita and from infantile fashion aesthetics. This point is highlighted in a newspaper article about the increased appreciation of the fashion in Brisbane, Australia (Dorfield 2010). While the twenty-three-year-old interviewee claims that the style has its own aesthetic standard of feminine beauty that allows the wearer to appear attractive without “being revealing,” some of the comments posted to the story online offered opposing views. For example, one individual left a comment saying that Lolita fashion is a “fetishist” style, as provocative and sexual as young women who dress “like strippers” (Dorfield 2010).

Although the fashion industry in the country started to gain international attention in the 1980s, with the arrival of higher-end fashion designers such as Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake and Rei Kawakubo in Paris, Japan's one-of-a-kind and trendy street fashions entered a whole new form of customer.

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