Paris and Tokyo are the fashion capitals of the world – so it’s no surprise that a French juniors label has sprung up that’s heavily inspired by Gothic Lolita. Designer Corinne Prose created Kawaïko (Cute Girl), a juniors brand based on styles she observed on her frequent trips to Harajuku.
The “ambassadors” of Kawaïko are four anime-style teen girls who attend a Parisian fashion school. Kima and Elea are French, Miio is Japanese and Lina is Brazilian (pictured above). The official website describes the girls’ personalities, dreams, and fashion tastes; they even have individual MySpace pages! With this stylish quartet, Kawaïko is poised to be an entire lifestyle brand. Already, the company is working with a Japanese studio to produce a short anime and full-scale series, to be broadcast in France and Japan.

Kawaiko boutique that sells clothing for teen girls.
Concept store Kawaïko
146 rue Saint Denis, 5002 Paris
Phone: 01 42 60 66 94
Hours: 10:30am to 7pm (7:30pm Saturdays)

Kawaïko has also opened up a flagship boutique in Paris. The store sells the brand’s clothing, as well as platform boots, accessories, manga, and J-rock CDs. If there were ever a Gothic Lolita hangout, this would be it; check out the bat-mobiles hanging from the ceiling!

I sent designer Corinne Prose a few questions in French, and she kindly responded. Here is the translation of our interview:

† How did Gothic Lolita fashion inspire the Kawaïko collection?
Whenever I visit Japan, I always take lots of photos, and I also bring back clothing. The Kawaïko collection is inspired by all of this, but it’s not a copy. I aim to create an original brand, a mix between Japanese style and European punk rock.

Harajuku and J-rock fashion by Paris designer Kawaiko.
† Is one of the four “ambassadors” a Gothic Lolita?
In the story, Kima (above) is the girl whose style is closest to Gothic Lolita. But she mixes this with her own designs; since she doesn’t have much money, she tinkers with her clothes!

† Have you visited Tokyo?
Yes, I’ve been there over twenty times. In fact, I’ve been going there to shop since 1984, when I began my career as a stylist.

† Do you have any stories or anecdotes about Gothic Lolita culture?
The style originated about fifteen years ago in Japan. In the beginning, there was only one label, Pink House, which made very romantic dresses, with flower imprints and tons of pinks and reds. Today, this brand has disappeared. It’s the singer Mana [actually, he’s the guitarist –ed.] of the band Malice Mizer who really popularized this fashion in Japan. I think that some Japanese people think that young French girls always wear clothes like that!

† Are your clothes made by hand?
Our clothes are made in Paris, in clothing ateliers near us. We make small samples, allowing us to run styles past our clients. Our boutique is a sort of laboratory, with a basement atelier to develop prototypes and patronages.

† How have girls responded to your products?
Girls love our products, and they are selling well! It’s very encouraging to see that they appreciate what we do, and that on Saturdays, they visit our boutique dressed in Kawaïko!

Click here to read my Q&A with Corinne en Français. And if you’re keen to get your hands on these clothes, you can order items from Kawaïko’s website.


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