Neo-Japanesque (Wa-Mode)


In Art History, Japonisme refers to an era when Western artists took influence from Japanese prints and art works.

This intercultural exchange pops up today, especially in the realm of fashion, with styles such as Mori Girl and Lolita. One style often ignored, sometimes frowned upon as 'costumey', is Neo-Japanesque style.

For the sake of "Neo-Japanesque" being a mouthful, I'd like to call it 和モデ, Wa-mode.

The aesthetic is completely different from Lolita, which is booming with Western audiences right now. But if the theory is true, that aesthetics mix across cultures, maybe this style could also take off with a Western audience.

You might be surprised to know that when I opened up my very first issue of the Gothic and Lolita Bible, I did not see lolita on the first page.

On the table of contents, I saw Camila modeling a yukata by Despair.

When I was first getting into lolita, I saw Camilla in magazines, mooks and on the Victorian Maiden website. Researching and reading about this student-turned-model was like reading a fairy tale. In short, sixteen-year-old me wanted to be Camilla.

To me, she was a symbol that gaijin could be accepted into the world of Japanese fashion. At a time when Lolita was just starting to take gain popularity in the states, and I was doubtful about whether or not I could do it, that was important to me. When I opened up my old GLB the other day, those memories came flowing back out of the dust.

Camilla, gazing wantonly in her leather and furisode stirred up something else- maybe nostalgia for my first glimpses into Japanese fashion. I've always admired the "other" brands from afar- Alice Auaa, OZZ ON, Qutie Frash, Neko Mimi... but was never brave enough to try them. Mostly, I was afraid of being made fun of, for "cosplaying", or for being a "weeaboo".

Well damn it, I'm twenty and done with all that. If I really cared about what people said about my clothes, I never would have tried lolita and thus changed my life.

I've done a little bit of research for this introduction, taking a closer look at this style. There is wide range for this style, from delicate and lovely to adventurous and vibrant. Both ends of the spectrum are intricate, detailed and beautiful.

First, and closest to my heart, is gouk, a sub brand of h.Naoto. Like all S-inc lines, the brilliance comes from the range and layers of materials, and subtle but intricate print play.

However, this S-inc sibling stands alone, on a different level from the rest of the lines, which appeal to lolita and vkei audiences. gouk stands apart from the rest of the S-inc family, as a "collection which meets beautiful Japan".

The name of the line comes from the designer's name- Kunitomo Gou, or "Gou K."(pictured left, source).

I would wear gouk every day if I could. The clothes definitely allow for that kind of comfort and casual wear. The different lines, such as Hime, Hana, Sumi and Kikou, fit any occasion from daily wear, to something more dressy.

The best part is, everything matches so well. It's easy to mix up any of your gouk pieces with other ones, and they go well with your normal clothes too. On gouk's  Ameblog, I see many of his customers throwing Hime-line dresses over jeans.

Second, is Takuya Angel, made famous by... well, the designer DJ Takuya Angel (pictured left, source).

Takuya Angel has been an honored guest at several American conventions, where his collections were modeled by volunteer con-goers. (Raves follow, DJed by himself, naturally.) You're in luck if you're on the East Coast mainland- TA's scheduled to appear this year in Virginia at Nekocon 2011.

If you catch him at home in Japan, drop by one of his stores. In the past he's held private raves, with a 500 yen entry fee (drinks are provided). Reportedly, he's always after fresh DJing talent, so if you bring your work, he'll let you spin.

Since all Takuya Angel items are made by hand, they fetch a high price, and a long waiting time. Most items are sold through pre-orders. However, I've heard that their Lucky Packs are an awesome deal.

Some other cool brands worth checking out:

Qutie Frash, but their clothes err on the Visual Kei side. Besides their awesome cheesy flash graphics, their official website also offers a virtual interactive magazine with catchy techno BGM. They have shops all over Japan, and in Taiwan.

Angel Fish (photo below), an independent brand that also specializes in Lolita and Mori Girl. It's fun to click through all the archives and watch her seamstress talent blossom.

Despair. Founded in 2000, their famous clients include Hizaki and Kaya. They straddle two genres of fashion, offering wa-mode kimono sets, gothic lolita camisoles with wa print, and full lace OP's in the style of Antique Beast.

 They specialize in stage costumes, but also offer casual wear. They have shops in Japan,  as well as a shop in France.

Well, that's all the time I have to introduce you to this style. ^^ I'm not trying to create a style that doesn't exist, but noticed Japanese and Eastern influence as a reoccurring theme in clothes, just as 'vintage European' is in lolita. I thought it was beautiful, and worth sharing, so I hope that you liked it!

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