Ouji Trends: Alice and the Pirates Then and Now

Nov 18, 2018

Japanese lolita brand Baby, the Stars Shine Bright celebrated its 30th anniversary last month with a tea party and fashion show showing off their designs of past and present. Baby, the Stars Shine Bright was founded in 1988 and the Alice and the Pirates started in 2004. The origin of ouji fashion is unknown, but I consider Alice and the Pirates the brand to popularize the style. Like all brands, the image evolved with trends throughout the years. Let's take a look at how the brand has changed over the years.

First we're taking a trip down nostalgia lane. These designs range from 2005-2009. When I first became interested in the fashion, this is the style that I fell in love with, so I'm quite fond of this era. Alice and the Pirates's original designer was Mitsuba (三叶). In the Baby, the Stars Shine Bright e-mook published in 2012, Hiroko Okumura (奥村浩子) and Tomomi "Cathy" Nakamura (中村友美) are listed as two additional designers. The mook states Okumura's 10th year with the company and that she was originally working on the BtSSB side and eventually switched over to AatP.
Models: AKIRA, Sugiura Ayaka, ROOT, KANAME (photos by fashionsnap.com)
During this era, AatP's iconic looks were vampire and pirate themes. Cotton and velveteen were primarily the main textiles. The top hat was the essential hat with the occasional tricorn or bicorn released for pirate looks. Mostly everything was black and undoubtedly gothic. Red or bordeaux were also common to see with both gold and silver accents. The casual releases were also more punk inspired with many asymmetrical releases and use of bold stripes.

Mitsuba left Alice and the Pirates around 2013. Alice and the Pirates was recruiting new designers for at least a year. During the grey period, Cathy was bumped up to AatP's head and only working designer, so many pieces were re-releases with slight changes. There is a steampunk phase since steampunk became trendy very late in Japan. It is unknown when Okumura left the company though it is estimated shortly after Mitsuba left. It's during this shift that Alice and the Pirates starts looking a lot different.
2014 Time Travel Station (photos by BABY)
Honestly, 2014 had nothing going for it. Their priority was just keeping the brand afloat. Ouji doesn't sell as well as lolita, so ouji was not at the top of the list. This year does introduce cuter elements such as ears and bow ties in more OTT ensembles. Alice and the Pirates starts to drift away from the pirate image with lighter themes. Navy makes a comeback. There's a lack of metallic trim they're most known for. They stopped using chains sometime in this era as well; probably because they broke very easily speaking from personal experience.
2015 Pop Up Labyrinth (photos by Mantan)
In 2015, the designs started taking more inspiration from fairy tale princes. I call this the start of AatP's classic ouji era. Velveteen is rarely used since it is more expensive to produce according to a statement one of Angelic Pretty's designers stated. The gold trim is back, but silver is nowhere to be seen. The aiguillette becomes a common accessory with more military-inspired looks. Green and ivory are new colors for AatP.
2016 Dreaming of Little Lover (photos by Mantan)
In 2016, the collection mixes old and new themes. More blues are made. Purple is also new. The clown theme made a come back after not being seen since 2009 with the Y-Clown series. Pirates also make a comeback.  The OTT standard is now fairy tale prince instead of edgy vampire lord. AatP starts using more textured fabrics like jacquard, gobelin, and tulle instead of just solids.

I talked about the 2017 fashion show collection in a previous post I wrote last year. This year primarily focused on textures with gobelin, tulle, fur, feathers, and chiffon. Prices definitely increased. 2017 was pretty lackluster.

Now we'll look at the new collection. Alice and the Pirates supposedly has 3-4 designers currently. These sets are slated for 2019 and will be up for reservation either late 2018 or early 2019.
Models: Sugiura Ayaka, Oni, ROOT, AKIRA (photos by fashionsnap.com)
Alice and the Pirates is definitely prioritizing classic and sweet ouji in light and bright colors. This is the most colorful collection of runway looks with not one black outfit in sight. The gaudy OTT stuff is probably in demand by the Chinese lolitas to match their multi-thousand dollar wedding dresses. The designs are very royal looking with epaulettes bringing slight militaristic feel. They are playing with more experimental hats. Flowing chiffon (butt)capes are trendy. Chains are seen again. Seeing is a full pink set is a strange feeling; if you told me Alice and the Pirates would release something pink 5 years ago I would have laughed in your face. I predict they're going to try to incorporate more prints.The two sets on the right probably cost an arm and leg and will be priced much higher than what most of the western community would be willing to pay. I don't completely hate it and I think this may be the comeback of AatP (hopefully).

Do you like how Alice and the Pirates has changed over the years? If you miss how it used to look like me, then get over it because it's gone. I highly preferred Mitsuba era designs, but I don't deny that the Cathy era brings a fresh palette of colors and themes to ouji style. In recent years, shirring is more common now accommodating more sizes. They still don't make salopettes in men's size, but at least pants are larger than 68 cm waists now. One can hope they release casual and goth items again. From 2004 to 2019, Alice and the Pirates is now 15 years old. Ouji style is evolving and it will be interesting to see how it will look in upcoming years.

Birthday Haul 2018

Oct 16, 2018

It's my birthday month, 10/27 to be exact, so here's a totally self-indulgent update with everything I bought for myself.

h.NAOTO Dragon Birdcage JSK
MALICIOUS.X Creature Bag
Nike Air Jordan Wmns RE LO NS NRG Black
Unintentionally I bought a whole coord. I've been interested in MALICIOUS.X products since they are very artistic and look well-crafted. Of course, right after I ordered, they announced they are having a Halloween sale for 10% off. Unfortunate timing for me. Then I saw h.NAOTO make one dragon version of their iconic birdcage dress. The bird cage dress is my all-time favorite design of Naoto's and I never owned one. I had a variation the skirt, but it wasn't quite the same. Plus I am a sucker for dragon leather anything he puts out. Two of my favorite things in one item, how could I say no? The sneakers were a complete accidental find though. My sister wanted to go to the Nike clearance store I stumbled upon these. It's so funny because they match h.NAOTO's dragon stuff perfectly. The retail price is ~$160 and I copped them for $28! They're really comfortable.

This post didn't really have much, but need to tell myself that not every post I write needs to contain a significant amount info. I believe that's why I've been burned out on blogging for the last 1.5 years. Remember to take it easy with your hobbies otherwise they stop being fun!

My Gothic Ice Cream Is in a Contest!

Jul 26, 2018

Hey guys, if you have been following me on Instagram, then you might have noticed I started a food blog earlier this year in January. My foodstagram handle is Eating With Stephano.

One of my photos was selected to be a finalist for a contest! I entered the contest thinking I wouldn't actually get selected for the final round, but to my surprise this morning, here I am. I'd appreciate it if you could give me a vote by liking the picture via Instagram.
When I saw the black sesame flavor paired with the dark cone, I knew I had to capture it in its goth food glory. Using h.NAOTO's Dragon Vest as a textured background, I think it accentuate the ice cream's smoothness.

It's quick and easy to vote. Just head over to @aquas_us and like Picture #3!

Your help is much appreciated! Voting ends this Sunday 7/29/18.

Oni-Con 2017 Things That Go Bump in the Night Tea Party

Jul 20, 2018

Oni-Con 2017's lolita tea party was titled "Things That Go Bump in the Night." Oni-Con usually takes place on Halloween weekend, so a spooky themed tea party is a perfect fit for the season. Featured brands included Royal Princess Alice, designer and manager Aito, KawaiiHolic, designer and KERA model Kimura U, and Puvithel!
Skulls, spiders, and plenty of witches, oh my! The decor was on point with the theme.
The dim lighting enhanced the gothic aesthetic. That made photography difficult, so unfortunately I didn't get many pictures.
Each attendee received a goodie bag. There were more items inside, but I carelessly forgot to take my bag home!
There were a ton of prizes donated by various indie brands for the raffle. Aito-san and Kimura U both drew a shikishi signboard featuring their original characters.
Royal Princess Alices's Okitsune-sama print was the crowd favorite of the party; five is a crowd. This print is a collaboration between Royal Princess Alice and watercolor illustrator Tama and was also featured in the fashion show. Tama's vivid watercolor style is a perfect match for wa lolita.
Puvithel wore her original Slaughterhouse 413 print. The story of this print is about a girl who wandered into a butcher shop and fell into a meat grinder. The names of the colorways, Pallid (white) and Bruised (black), even match the theme. It's really a unique take on guro lolita! Both colorways were also featured in the fashion show. I won another Crystal Heart Brooch from Puvithel from the raffle, so now I own three of them!
The guest traveled table to table interacting with every attendee. The designers had such positive energies. It was very easy to communicate with them even with the small language barrier.
Personally, I loved themed parties because creativity reaches peak levels. I love seeing the handmade and personalized pieces. That's it for my photos, so here's a few group photos of my table. Skeleton-kun was our MVP.
photo by Lightningsavage Photography
photo by Lightningsavage Photography
Oni-Con has already started announcing their line-up for the 2018 event. This year Oni-Con will take place on November 9-11, 2018. So far, Lovely Lor, AKIRA, and DISACODE have been announced. I'll look forward to seeing which brands will be featured.
Oni-Con also revamped their website for this year; it's super sleek now. You may recognize who's photo is used for the header. Hint: it's by yours truly!

Read my other Oni-Con 2017 posts: Royal Princess Alice Fashion Show | KawaiiHolic Fashion Show | Puvithel Fashion Show | Baby Ponytail Fashion Show | Sakurako Hoshina Concert

Follow Oni-Con on social media: OHP | Facebook | J-Fashion Facebook | Twitter

Oni-Con 2017 Sakurako Hoshina International Debut Live Concert!

Jul 19, 2018

KERA model and musician Sakurako Hoshina held her first international live show at Oni-Con 2017. Her concert took place right after the fashion show, so she definitely had a busy day. Sakurako went from modeling outfits from both KawaiiHolic and Royal Princess Alice to diving straight into rehearsal.
At the time, Sakurako was new to the music scene and only had one PV on her Youtube channel. To my surprise, I learned that Oni (ex-GANGLION) writes all of her music. I really liked GANGLION before they broke up (R.I.P.) and was lucky enough to see them in 2014, so I was glad to hear that Oni was still making music.
For the concert, Sakurako changed into a wa lolita coordinate featuring the Nostalgic Candy Bar Ribbon Shirred JSK and 3/4 Sleeve Chiffon Blouse by Metamorphose. The accessories are from Metamorphose as well. Unlike the official release, her JSK has a cute ribbon embellishment along the hem. The headdress is also a custom item.
Sakurako played 5 of her original songs. The majority of her songs can be categorized as pop-rock. She even played 2 anisong covers of Moonlight Densetsu from Sailor Moon and A Cruel Angel's Thesis from Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Despite being a little nervous, she put on a great show! It was only natural to be nervous playing in a foreign country for the first time with the little rehearsal time she was given.
Sakurako held her second concert last weekend at Animex 2018 which reminded me to finish up the rest of my Oni-Con photos. Also, keep your eyes out for my interview with her once I find a translator. Sakurako also wrote a KERA article about her experience!

Follow Sakurako Hoshina on social media: Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | Blog

h.NAOTO's Newest Model Is a Frog. Literally.

Jun 4, 2018

Meet h.NAOTO's newest model Argar! Argar is a witch living in Japan. Pill bugs are her favorite food. She likes gothic clothing and her favorite brands are h.NAOTO and Prada. Her favorite time of the year is October around Halloween time.

Argar made her modeling debut late May 2018. She's been seen rocking her custom h.NAOTO lace witch hat sometimes paired with a chiffon cape for special occasions. Her poise has completely enamored me and now she is one of my favorite models. Follow Argar's career either on her blog or Instagram!

Classic Lolita Sighting in The Lies She Loved (2018)

Apr 10, 2018

The Lies She Loved (嘘を愛する女) is a Japanese romance mystery film that was released January 20, 2018 starring Masami Nagasawa, Issei Takahashi, Kotaro Yoshida, DAIGO, and Rina Kawaei.
Story summary from TOHO:
She was the ideal to which women aspire. Yukari Kawahara (Masami Nagasawa), a career-focused woman who works for a beverage manufacturer, has been living with her boyfriend Kippei Koide (Issey Takahashi),a dependable medical researcher, for 5 years. One night when she is waiting for his return, she instead receives a sudden visit from the police. “Who is my boyfriend?” Kippei had collapsed from a subarachnoid hemorrhage, at which point it was discovered that his driver’s license, and medical license were falsified, and that even his profession and name were mere lies. Shocked at having been deceived and unable to hide her doubts as to the man’s true identity, Yukari makes up her mind to consult with a private investigator, Takumi Kaibara (Kotaro Yoshida). The search brings them to a 700-page novel that had been written by Kippei. In it are hints alluding to someone’s hometown, and the vision of a happy family. With help from Kaibara, Yukari learns that it is located somewhere along the Seto Inland Sea, and goes seeking Kippei’s secrets...Why did Kippei create a manufactured life, deceiving Yukari? Can she arrive at the true identity of the nameless man who remains unconscious in a hospital bed?
Former AKB48 member Rina Kawaei, now actress, plays the role of supporting character Kokoha. She's seen wearing a few classic lolita outfits in the promotional media, namely Enchantlic Enchantilly's Secret Study Print JSK and Metamorphose's Swan Cameo Embroidered Bag.

From what's available, the scenes move too fast for me to to able to identify her houndstooth coat, navy coat, bordeaux blouse and headdressses.
The Lies She Loved (嘘を愛する女): OHP | Twitter | Instagram