What is Gothic Lolita Fashion?
If you are not familiar with lolita fashion, be sure to review and check out our Encyclopedia entry on the topic.
Gothic lolita is the dark side of lolita fashion. The unique look made a significant impact on Japanese pop culture during the 90s and 2000s, influencing fashion, anime, and music to this day. But what exactly caused this phenomenon? Today we’ll be diving into the history of Elegant and Gothic Lolita.
Gothic lolita is known for its A-line silhouette and primarily black styling. Common accent colors include white, deep blue, burgundy, forest green, silver, and deep purple. While it generally follows the typical lolita outfit styling, gothic lolitas often opt for A-line petticoats for a sharper shape.
Ruffles, high necklines, layers, corsets and corset lacing are often found in gothic lolita coordinates, while cute motifs such as stylized animals and candy are extremely rare.
Gothic lolitas usually opt for a makeup look that, while not as flashy as goth, is darker than the typical lolita look; Try using darker natural tones or colors matching your coordinate!
Many gothic lolitas opt for using their natural hair over a wig, although they carefully style it using curlers, straighteners, backcombing, and lots of hairspray.
While the exact origin of the original “lolita” name is unknown, it is said that Mana of visual kei band MALICE MIZER popularized the name “Gothic and Lolita” after his band costumes were referred to as lolita.
A Brief History
A VIBILE blouse and skirt, shown in a 1998 street snap.
While the first proto-lolita brands had opened in the 70s, gothic lolita didn’t come along until the late 80s and early 90s. Punk ruled, and many people suspect the gothic look to have partially evolved from the 80s trans-gal and nagomu-gal looks.
While Kansai was in love with lolita, the Kanto region was fascinated by goth. The first fusion gothic lolita brands, MARBLE and VISIBLE, were born in 1990 when the owner of the Tokyo-based gothic concession store, Atelier Pierrot, requested that VISIBLE recreated their items in black.
During the 90s, Visual Kei bands X JAPAN and MALICE MIZER charmed young people across Japan with their flamboyant gothic outfits. MALICE MIZER member Mana was famous for his feminine outfits, which he described as “Elegant, Gothic, and Lolita.”
While he denies naming the style, it was from then on that the shortened phrase “Gothic Lolita” became popular with young fashionistas, and the gothic lolita boom began.
The phrases “Gothic and Lolita” and “Gothloli” were first used in a 1998 issue of Harajuku fashion magazine KEROUAC (later KERA).
This gorgeous corset skirt coordinate shows how a simple blouse color swap can change an outfit.
Gothic Lolita at Present
While gothic lolita peaked in the mid-2000s and most of the iconic Visual Kei groups have split up, the style is still loved by lolitas around the world, the elegant clothing transports the wearers to a mysterious fantasy world
MARBLE and Moi-même-Moitié are still producing elegant and gothic lolita pieces to this day. Some of the brands have been forced into closing their physical stores, but their passion still runs strong, and you can find many of their items through their official online stores.
Existing gothic lolita brands include:
Alice and the Pirates: @alice_and_the_pirates
Antique Beast: Homepage
Atelier Boz: @atelierboz_osaka
Atelier Pierrot: @atelier_pierrot
H.Naoto/ Na+ H: @naplush_office
MIHO MATSUDA: @mihomatsuda_official
Triple Fortune: @triplefortune
Why not indulge yourself in the mysterious fantasy world of Gothic and Elegant Lolita?
Tatsumi Publishing. “ゴシック・ロリータ&パンク インタビューBOOK”, 2007, Retrieved 28 July 2020.
Nguyen, An & Mai, Jane. “So Pretty / Very Rotten: Comics and Essays on Lolita Fashion and Cute Culture”, 2017, Retrieved 28 July 2020.
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