It's all about satin and lace

It's all about satin and lace

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Edmond So
Photo: Edmond So

Homantin Government Secondary School student reporters look at the strange world of Lolita fashion

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By Emily Law, Vivian Yip, Berriee Yuen, Sharon Tang, Donald Wong and Anubis Lok of Homantin Government Secondary School

There's cosplay ... and then there's Lolita. The Japanese cute-girl fashion that sees teens - and even adults - dressing like Victorian dolls often raises an eyebrow, or provides a smile.

For 15-year-old Lolita fan Sharon Man, other people's reactions don't matter. 'I always wear Lolita outfits when I go out, but sometimes, people stare at me as if I am a freak,' she says. 'But clothing is very personal, and I am just wearing something I find comfortable.'

For others though, it's a way to have a little fun. Utako Hara, a Lolita lover at Homantin Government Secondary School, says she's in a good mood when she is dressed Lolita-style.

Most fans say dressing this way gives them confidence due to the exquisitely beautiful designs.

But the outfits are not cheap.

'I am totally obsessed with Lolita outfits,' says Sharon, who admits that a Lolita dress costs from HK$120 to HK$1,100. 'I usually buy the ones that cost about HK$500.'

The style has it roots in Japan in the 1970s. It only became mainstream at the turn of the millennium, when so-called visual kei Japanese rock band Malice Mizer became famous for their costumes and silent theatre pieces, initiating a style that spread to their fans. In fact, guitarist Mana is responsible for popularising the Gothic version of the Lolita fashion.

While other cosplay costumes may be racy, Lolita enthusiasts try to show as little skin as possible. They prefer to decorate every available surface in toffee-sweet bows, bells, ribbons or lace.

Most of the dresses are knee length and emphasise the bell shape. The best way to obtain the shape is with numerous petticoats. Because the bell will swing as the wearer walks, frilly bloomers are a must-have for any Lolita. Their hair is usually tied up with bows or Alice bands, and shoes can range from rocking-horse ballerinas to Mary Janes.

Thigh-high white stockings, preferably with bows - complete the look.

In recent years, the Lolita trend has swept Europe, the United States and Hong Kong. Lolita fans are from many walks of life. They like to hang out in costume, read the latest fan magazines - and, of course, shop for the latest in frills and frippery. But why?

School psychologist Betty Yip Wai-yee says: 'Some teenage girls are still clinging to their bygone childhood. They think they can psychologically live in their memories forever when dressed as a Lolita.'

But, most Hong Kong children have never experienced such a childhood. Perhaps it is simply a show. As psychologist Lin Siu-fung points out, it's a developmental stage of egocentrism, in which girls seek attention.

But, perhaps this trend has more to do with escaping the pressures of modern life. 'I feel relaxed and forget all my worries when I am in Lolita fashion,' says Utako.

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