24 Apr 2018

Trip to Harajuku Closet, Hamburg


Family commitments have brought me to Hamburg, Germany, last weekend. Very conveniently, not long before setting off there, I saw another Lolita Amino user share her experience from a shop in Hamburg that sells Lolita clothes. Given that I wasn’t particularly keen on going, this has completely changed my mind, so I packed a coord that wouldn’t wrinkle, along with a weather alternative (so I had an option for warm and chilly day) and off I went on Saturday.

| Alice and the Pirates Sheherazade ~ One Thousand and One
Nights ~
JSK I | Alice and the Pirates Lace-Up Ribbon OTKs |
Angelic Pretty Classical Petit Rose headbow | offbrand blouse |
New Look Flats | vintage brooch | Risu Rose necklace | Wicked
and Whimsy ring | Enchantlic Enchantilly Queen Cat ring |
handmade bracelets |

Kept hair and makeup simple since it was just a casual outing
to go shopping.

Extra selfie to capture some of the jewellery a bit better.

I was actually extremely lucky that these Alice and the Pirate socks arrived on the day we were leaving for Germany and I could ask my Mum to pack them for me while I was at work. They are a perfect colour match for this Angelic Pretty headbow – and we all know how rare even near colour matches are in Lolita! This print has so much green, but you kind of have to look into it to see it, it’s not obvious, so it was fun putting it with green and ivory. (Coincidentally, but not really, my cold weather alternative also used green as an accent colour, but of the dark variety.) The weather was fabulous the whole weekend we were in Hamburg, so although I had a matching bolero with me, I didn’t need it on the day.

Harajuku Closet storefront.
 
Harajuku Closet is part of J-Store, a typical otaku/weeb shop in Hamburg’s Wandsbek area (conveniently around a half hour walk from my grandparents’ place, just about 10mins’ drive). It was literally split in half, with the majority of the non-fashion half being taken up by manga, some anime/character goods with a handful of foods and T-shirts. The other side was much roomier and Harajuku Closet is an official reseller for Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, Alice and the Pirates and Liz Lisa. Their Facebook page also mentioned some clothes from Atelier Pierrot, but I couldn’t see any, so maybe that was a one-off in the past.

I love display mannequins with coords on!
 
While the interior looks like most BtSSB brand shops I’ve been to – simple, yet elegant – it soon became obvious that the shop carries much less stock than I had anticipated. Now, let’s be clear: Harajuku Closet is a reseller, not a branch, so of course they couldn’t have everything. They had several prints, notably AatP’s Alice and the Balloon World and BtSSB’s My Sweet Mate Kumya’s Baby Anniversary JSKs, a couple of blouses and Usakumya’s, but I found them quite severely lacking in accessories which I expected more of since they should be easier to ship. There were the matching headbows to the prints in stock, but other than this I spotted only one bit of jewellery, three OTKs designs and maybe 5 tights designs. That’s it. At least from BtSSB/AatP, there were a few little bits from some other indie brands that I never heard of, most of which leaned a bit more punk, but still. I had expected more stock and was fully prepared to drop my money on some little bits like that.

This display cabinet held all the accessories on sale.
 
Having said this, nothing compares to seeing Lolita pieces in life. While BtSSB/AatP at least take dozens of stock photos to show off the detail, some things are just difficult to capture in real life. I was captivated by the flecks of glitter on the sax colourway of My Sweet Mate Kumya’s Baby Anniversary JSK – although as I wasn’t fond of the royal blue satin ribbons, I was more drawn to the skirt which I discovered was fully shirred. There was also a gorgeous blouse, which I never looked at before online, assuming it to never stand a chance of fitting, which turned out to have back shirring and tempted me quite seriously. Thinking about it now, everything they had in stock, with the exception of maybe one blouse model, was shirred or stretchy in one way or another. That was a great move on the part of whoever’s in charge of stock, since this is more likely to sell and won’t alienate that many customers.

Brand always looks better up close. Even brand that you're
not keen on.

 
As far as price was concerned, this was pretty much the same price as Baby, the Stars Shine Bright Paris branch had before it closed. Or, for those who never had the chance to visit, comparable to prices at Angelic Pretty Paris. Given all the extra costs they have to take into account, it’s a fair markup, though the only tangible benefit it gets you is being able to try some of these cuts on before purchase. As much as I’d try to shop there if I was local, to show to Japanese brands that there is a demand for them in Europe, even with shopping service costs the prices are much cheaper buying directly from Japan and I’m not sure if I’d be able to become a regular customer at Harajuku Closet, given the combination of price and little stock.

The display had the latest addition to Harajuku Closet's stock.
 
The J-Store part of the shop was also meant to have a purikura machine, but I had completely missed it. My Mum said she saw it further in, but it was in an area that I had assumed to be the back room with some extra stock, so if you visit and are keen on purikura, make sure to not miss it like I did. The shop is also a few doors down from a sushi place, so while I can’t comment on whether said sushi is any good, it’s a great location and would be great for a casual meet to browse some wares and then eat. While the fashion section may not be great for regular meetups, you could always go to the other side to get some latest magazine or manga, maybe a bottle of Ramune and some cute stationary. So if any one of you is ever in the Hamburg area, Harajuku Closet and J-Store are still great places to visit. Like I said, I’m all for keeping resellers like this in business and showing Japanese brands that we do want their stuff to be more accessible to us, so the more foot traffic places like this get the better!

Massive Usakumya looking out at all the potential customers and calling out to them!


20 Apr 2018

Difference of Dynamics of the Online Comm from LJ to FB


As a platform, Livejournal is long past its heyday, although it still has a few dedicated users, the majority likely being in Russia since the portal is Russian-owned since 2007. To many new Lolitas it’s a bit of a mystery: figuring out its mechanics, working out what Elegant Gothic & Lolita (EGL) Livejournal is and why there are so many people reminiscing about it with so much nostalgia. So while my journey in this fashion started way after EGL’s decline, I’d like to have a go at comparing the online comm dynamics on Livejournal versus Facebook.


17 Apr 2018

Love from the North: A Great Northern Tea Party

Saturday March 10th was the first ever Great Northern Tea Party entitled Love from the North. Organised by two wonderful admins from the Leeds and North-West comms, this event has brought back some of the Tea Party Club spirit, got people from across the North of England – and beyond! – together and put together one incredibly fancy tea party for a more than affordable price. There was no way that I could’ve missed that!

| Mary Magdalene Paulina JSK | Infanta overblouse | Jeshii Doll bonnet | offbrand
tights and flower clip | replica heels | Peacockalorum wrist cuffs | vintage gloves |
Brightlele wig |
Photo by the amazing Anh Binh Photography!

I tried to go for a more Marie Antoinette inspired makeup and I liked it!

That wig looks different every time you change the lighting, so
difficult to photograph accurately.

A closeup of some of my accessories

Although the event had a very loose theme of White Day – so you could’ve done white, chocolates, love, hearts, celebrating women and all other associated things – I opted to simply wear what I wanted. There was no way that I wouldn’t wear Mary Magdalene Paulina JSK to this, so you could say I was representing narcissistic kind of love. My original plan was actually very similar to this, same look but in sax and ivory with Metas Shirring Tiered Ribbon JSK, so the outfit was pretty much ready and I only needed to buy the flower for my hair. It's a much simpler look than I normally would’ve gone for, choosing for each piece to speak for itself, and I absolutely love it to bits! Honestly, I live for this dress, I die in it, then will be resurrected, so that I can live for it again, I love it this much!

The tea party was set to start at 3pm on the Saturday – a very smart move on the part of the organisers, as we didn’t have to compromise on beauty sleep or travel time to get ready – but still I had opted to stay in Manchester the whole weekend. It was refreshing to be able to lazily roll out of bed, take your time with things like breakfast and putting on the makeup and clothes, and then walk to the venue which was only one tram stop away. To me sharing a room with Lolita friends is as much a part of the whole event experience as the event itself, it’s absolutely great fun, I’d recommend everyone do it at least once.

Love from the North was held at the Midland Hotel, a truly beautiful building from the early XXth century in an Edwardian Baroque style. The building is impressive from the outside and highly elegant with a modern twist on the inside. As we arrived just a touch early, we had time to get our photos snapped by the photographer, the incredibly talented and lovely Anh Binh Truong of Anh Binh Photography, before making our way to the separate room just for us.

The view that greeted us upon arrival.

Queuing up to go inside.

Let me say here: the Midland Hotel staff were truly outstanding. Whether I’m going individually or at the previous TPC tea parties, often the waiters serving afternoon tea are just there to get the food and drinks to your tables – anything else stumps them and they have to call their supervisors. The waiter serving our table not only was incredibly polite and helpful, he also knew his stuff and was able to offer advice on things such as tea choices. When a friend couldn’t decide, he asked her about her usual taste and preferences before offering suggestions from the menu – that level of knowledge is not common these days and it speaks volumes about the establishment and the care the staff put into their job. Well done, Midland Hotel!

I still dream of that tea...

So many sandwiches...

Those cakes! Also, spot the photobomber ;P

And our organisers have pulled off an absolute marvel of a tea party too! Each attendee received a pen and a zine (more like an activity book for the event), two bingo cards which we played later for some prizes and a specially made Love from the North badge, which on top of being pretty and commemorative was also to be used at the afterparty venue for extra discounts. Not just that: for this event only Peacockalorum, a UK-based Lolita brand who specialise in accessories, but also design and create clothes, have created a bespoke JSK with a border print of Manchester architecture, as well as tights and a headpiece. This was the main prize in the bingo, but attendees could also place preorders for this unique piece. As much as the dress wasn’t my cup of tea, the fabric was incredibly soft pearskin, which would be perfect for summer should we have a heatwave, the print was crisp and the pink-and-grey gradient was just stunning. I don’t know how many people have placed a preorder, but I know a few have and for anyone on the lookout for unique, one-of-a-kind pieces and indie brand supporters, this was truly a feast!

Each table was elegantly set out.

That pin was a raging success - as was the bingo, but if
bingo isn't a success, are you really up North?

We were all cracked up by the zine from page one!

Elegant and versatile.

The whole event was a raging success. Everyone was fed some delicious food – the hotel did a marvellous job catering to various dietary requirements – and drank some truly stunning tea (I’m still gutted that I forgot to ask the staff whether the blend I drank was for sale anywhere). The photographer worked his magic and the queue to get your outfit snapped by him was going across the whole room at one point. The two intense rounds of bingo got us all as quiet as can be, to try and follow the numbers being shouted out quickly one after another and congratulations to the lucky winners – the prizes were truly amazing, including not just a specially designed for the event limited edition Peacockalorum dress, but a Shinku Rose overdress, a Shinku Rose set of two headdresses and a Madillustration brooch amongst other. Since the raffle tickets didn’t arrive, the organisers drew our names of attendees for the remaining prizes, which was a lot less confusing (no need to listen out for anything but your name or misreading the number). I was lucky enough to win at that no-raffle raffle: a magnificent OTT Classic handmade headdress in rich shades of wine, ivory and gold. It just has my name on it.

The photo does not do justice to this gorgeous, soft
pearskin fabric!
Photo by Peacockalorum.

The matching tights had bees, the symbol of Manchester (it's a worker bee
symbolising Manchester's working-class past during the Industrial Revolution).
Photo by Peacockalorum.

I tried to do justice to this dress, but don't think I managed...

The bingo was so intense - but great fun!

You've already seen it here, but this is an absolute stunner, can't wait to wear it!

While I wish that the tea party lasted a little longer, it probably was the right amount of time, especially given that except for the bingo and raffle there were no other scheduled activities, it was all pure chill and socialise time. There seemed to be roughly 60 attendees at the event, which was intimate enough to feel like catching up with all your friends (and without the feeling like you’ve missed someone out) and still big enough to feel like something more than your regular ILD tea party. And while the majority of attendees were from the Yorkshire or North-West comms, we also had people travel from the Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Scotland and Ireland (I think I spotted some German Lolitas too? Would make sense as the photographer is German).

Since the Tea Party Club announced its end, we’ve all felt a void and needed something to fill it. The thing is, the void wasn’t just about an event where Lolitas could see a fashion show or buy from various vendors, although that was always nice. The void needed filling with a feeling of companionship and togetherness, of staying together in this fashion and enjoying it with others, of providing a place to meet other Lolitas who otherwise you wouldn’t have met because they aren’t local enough for that. And Love from the North delivered on that. I have met some new people, made some new friends, as well as reconnected with those I already knew (even despite people not recognising me in that wig lol). The event truly sent, and received, a lot of love from the North and we’re all hoping that it received enough love back from us to continue into the years to come.


13 Apr 2018

1 Dress 4 Looks Take 20


The tricky thing about Meta’s Polka Dots Shirring Pinafore JSK is that I can’t use the usual go-to base colour, white, unless there’s a perfect colour match – it just looks odd with mismatched whites. It took me a while to figure out that the key is to use bold contrasting colours instead, forcing me to think outside the box a bit more. After all, with this one you can’t do the usual “white blouse, white socks and the rest in colour because the blocks of white will make the shades appear to match even if they aren’t” gig. But once I figured out how to successfully make actual Lolita coordinates with this dress, I had a blast putting the outfits together! Please excuse the funny lighting, it was either this or weird shadows.

10 Apr 2018

Tea at Ippuku Meet


I’m not sure what the situation is like where you live, but we’re finally seeing some spring. Not that anything is certain in April, however, it’s amazing to have some warmer weather that doesn’t require wearing fifteen layers just to survive. Even if I were to freeze, I’m going to wear everything that I wanted to through those winter months and force spring to stay here!

| Bodyline L249 JSK | Angelic Pretty Sealing Border OTKs | Cutie Creator
headbow | Sosic Shop shoes | New Look blouse | Madillustration brooches |
Bubblegum Emporium necklace | GlassesLit glasses | handmade bracelets |

It's not warm enough for the off-shoulder look, but damn it,
I will summon spring weather and warmth in any way I can!

This meant going for an off-shoulder look at the meetup last weekend. Well, it actually started with me wanting to wear this JSK – since it’s a lot shorter than I would’ve liked, it doesn’t get the wear it deserves. Having said that, this is my favourite coordinate with it that I’ve done so far. It plays off the Sweet-Classic vibe really well and allowed me to wear all my macaron accessories. At the last minute I decided to put on pink tights underneath my OTKs, which meant that while they slid down more, there wasn’t as much of a contrast above the sock line, which helped with the length a little. It will be difficult, given that this JSK is discontinued, but I think I’ll try to get a hold of another one and get it altered to be longer in the bodice? I think that’s what I need.

For the meet itself we went to York to check out a new(ish) Japanese café called Ippuku. When it first opened, all of Facebook was sharing the latte art on the matcha lattes and generally it looked like a place with Instagram-perfect food. Naturally, as Lolitas, we had to try for ourselves. Although it rained a bit when I was leaving the house, I literally didn’t need my umbrella for all of the rest of the day – which was annoying in that I still had to carry the damn thing with me, but I’m happy to not be getting rained on for once.

Ippuku is right in the city centre, opposite McDonald’s, although since it’s small be sure to look out for it as otherwise you may miss it. But it’s absolutely worth the visit! Or, to put it in other words, from now on, whenever I start craving Japanese food, I won’t go to Little Tokyo in Leeds, I’ll go to Ippuku in York. Yes, it’s further, but the food is so much nicer and substantially cheaper, plus the service was much nicer. While I went for a few side dishes: veggie gyoza, bowl of rice and an aubergine and sesame dish, everyone else who had full on meals was just as happy, and all of our portions were sizeable enough to fill us up. The café also has a selection of thing to sell, from food from their kitchen on the go to things like condiments and Japanese plates and bowls. Definitely a must place to visit for anyone into Japanese food in any way.

Look at them gyoza! They were scrumptious!

More gingery than sesame-y, but still nice.

After we ate and recuperated a bit (that genuinely was a lot of food) we ventured out for a wander. Said wander took us to Imaginarium, a fantastic shop with various bits and bobs, mostly homeware, all of which are incredibly aesthetic in either a mystical or slightly creepy kind of way. It’s also fairly reasonably priced, from what I witnessed, with an assortment ranging from really small things like stationary and greeting cards to home décor. It’s seriously cool and while I didn’t try to take any photos myself, others who did didn’t seem to be bothered by the staff in any way, so they must be used to people coming in for extra aesthetic photography – though as always it’s best to ask.

We then continued to the York Museum Gardens for more photos actually of ourselves. The meet’s organiser brought her fancy camera so we could get some nice shots. And while we obviously attracted a fair bit of attention from the public, the good thing about York is that no-one was rude or trying to take sneaky photos. When people interacted with us, they were politely curious – although some fantastic answers to the classic “what’s the occasion” questions were dished out, my favourite of which was that we were celebrating a friend’s divorce!

These kinds of photos seem to be trending now, so have our most opposite
meet attendees doing one.

Some flowers are already here, others are only just
coming out.

It actually wasn't too cold to be out with my shoulders out after all. Though it
wasn't comfortable for long.

This is where the meet officially ended, although a handful of us stayed on for a bit. We ended up at the tent where you could hold owls for a small charge, then in Lush (where I’m proud to say I did not buy anything for once, I’ve enough Lush stuff accumulated already that’ll take me a while to use up) and then finally back to the train station to catch our respective trains.

It was a very fun meet. It just goes to show that the company you’re in matters more than what you do at the meet since I’ve had just as much fun just eating, talking, shopping and taking photos as I did at some of the themed activity meets (like crafting) or ‘touristy’ meets involving visits to local landmarks or galleries. Although I guess that’s mostly a lesson for me to learn since I’m the one constantly trying to get something different to happen and it’s only in my head that we need more than just food and space to chat and photograph ourselves.

How’s the seasonal weather change where you are? Are you enjoying it? What’s the main piece it took you several attempts to get a coord you were really happy with? Any favourite meetup activities or are you happy with anything as long as the right people are there?


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