In the 19th century, Paris put the spotlight on international marvels at its World’s Fairs. Last summer, the city joined forces with Harajuku to stage an event just as epic (at least in my eyes): a Gothic and Lolita runway extravaganza.

Gothic Lolita fashion show at Japan Expo in Paris, Black Peace Now and Emily Temple Cute
The show took place on July 7, 2007 and was deemed the highlight the 8th Annual Japan Expo. Laforet, the famous Harajuku department store that houses Gothic Lolita stores, selected thirteen Japanese designers to strut their stuff. Visual Kei singers Hakuei and Nana Kitade crossed the ocean to perform and model clothes.

Orient Extreme published an entertaining review of the fashion show (in French), calling it a vivid marriage of “du gothique, du romantique, du punk et du funky.” I’ve summarized the article and posted photos for you (and you can view videos of each collection on YouTube).

By 1pm, the amphitheatre was bursting with five thousand spectators. Then the lights dimmed; the music pounded; the models emerged under three giant screens that displayed the designers’ names.

Black Peace Now opened the show with indifferent, military-marching models clad in close-fitting satin and leather. S&M-tinged designs were paired with large early-20th century hats and bouffant skirts. Hysteria erupted when Hakuei came onstage in a long black skirt, and sang a song by his band Penicillin. The crowd roared whenever he flicked out his tongue like a reptile.

Emily Temple Cute provided a reprieve from the black-on-black with little girl/princess dresses in soft colors. The designs – described as “bonbon acidulé” or “acid-drop candies” – were accented with ribbons and frills, little capes and furs, and clear boots.

Sweet Lolita fashion show at Japan Expo in Paris, Sexy Dynamite, A mon avis, Super Lovers
Sexy Dynamite London and Super Lovers electrified the show with a punk rock assortment reminiscent of Vivenne Westwood. The models stormed the stage in thigh-high boots, leopard and plaid prints, berets, and chains, much in the spirit of post-punk London.

À Mon Avis’ collection was made up of baby-doll dresses with a maid-meets-boudoir attitude. Young coquettes showed off corseted dresses, leggings, and playful pom poms.

Gothic Lolita fashion show at Japan Expo in Paris, Algonquins and Putumayo
Algonquins referenced Pirates of the Caribbean, but with darker, classy cuts and black/red colors. Johnny Depp would have loved the velvet sailor vests with puffy sleeves. Alice and the Pirates (a punk-themed line by Baby, the Stars Shine Bright), offered a similar style, with equal beauty and quality.

With Putumayo came a fresh breath of youth: street punk clothes rendered accessible. Think frilled skirts, plaid, and metal rivets. “Le panda gothique,” tortured but always cute, marked his territory on ripped and striped T-shirts.

Lolita runway fashion show at Japan Expo in Paris, Baby the Stars Shine Bright and Alice and the Pirates
The show paused for a half-hour performance by Nana Kitade, costumed in a poofy princess dress. Baby, the Stars Shine Bright then presented its signature Sweet Lolita look. The models held heart-shaped purses and looked like lace-clad living dolls.

Stigmata’s clothes were the polar opposite with chains, leather, and fetish elements. As the article puts it, “Would you rather be bitten by a crocodile, or gleefully torture an innocent hamster by plunging it into a bath of boiling oil?”

Sweet Lolita fashion show at Japan Expo in Paris, dresses by Angelic Pretty and Atelier Pierrot
Atelier Pierrot’s presentation began with a surprise re-appearance by Nana Kitade. She modeled a strawberry dress and a handbag that resembled a basket for gathering fruits. Other cute and feminine outfits followed, paired with flower accessories.

The show wound down with two designers who aren’t as closely associated with Lolita fashion. Laforet Harajuku’s collection consisted of graphic-heavy J-rock styles. The authors were blown away by Casper John’s intergalactic superhero garb, described as “a gentle mean duck crossed with Darth Vader.” The event closed with Angelic Pretty, whose clothes recapitulated the maid and strawberries themes of the show.

The review ends with a prediction: “Without doubt, French fashion will not stay impervious to this little tsunami” known as Gothic and Lolita. I’ll second that!

Orient Extreme’s website contains more runway photos. And incredibly, you can find videos of every designer’s presentation on YouTube (click here, or search for “Japan expo defilé”). We’ve come a long way from the Paris World Fair of 1844, haven’t we?


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  1. di higherman
    Posted October 18, 2008 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    di higherman

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  2. di higherman
    Posted October 18, 2008 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    di higherman

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  3. di higherman
    Posted October 18, 2008 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    di higherman

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