I did an interview for website mycostumes.de with lovely Mari, I’m so happy and honored to be published on their website!
Check it out: “Interview mit Miyu von MyauMania“.
Sweet Punk. Ich trug früher entweder Lolita oder Punk oder Punk Lolita aber nur so, wie man es auch in den Magazinen gesehen hat, elegant und im Gothic-Stil. Ich hatte damals noch nicht den Mut, die Stile einfach zusammenzumixen.
Text on the website is German but you can also read the English version in this post.
When was your first contact with Japanese fashion and what made you fall in love with it?
It was around 2005. while I was on college, I studied sociology. Most interesting for me was sociology of subcultures and I decided to Google for subcultures in Japan, due to my love for anime than too. I found out about lolita and fell in love instantly. I’ve never seen something like that before and most interesting for me was that it is such a feminine fashion, worn mostly by girls (and few men dressed as women) and yet so rebellious. Since my teen years I was a punk, that music really shaped my way of thinking and was actually a reason why I decided to study sociology. But cute, girly side was something I always missed in it. I used to wear childish backpacks and a lot of pink color in punk. Than when I discovered lolita that was it for me, that other side of punk I felt was missing. Punk for me isn’t mohawk or tartan clothes, it is a way to think. Lolita has a punk spirit for me.
When you’ve started your own label? What was the reason you decided to start your own label?
I started it in Fall 2012. It was a long time dream for me. In high school I used to imagine having a fashion brand dedicated to punk and 80’s style, small shop where I would work and sell my designs. I would sketch my own designs and have them made by seamstresses. I wanted to go to fashion school but was discouraged by my parents, they were worried about my future. I had also convinced myself that I don’t have the talent so I also didn’t go to fashion college, mostly out of fear. But the wish never did go away, it just get stronger. On my second year of college I got an old sewing machine from my grandma, taught myself how to sew. Lolita was a major reason for that, my shy interest for fashion bloomed once I got into lolita style. So after graduating in 2012. I decided to follow my dream, it was now or never. I also want to have a formal fashion education so I will try to enroll in fashion college this Fall.
What inspires you as a person as well as during designing and making your fashion pieces?
I’m inspired by Japanese alternative fashion scene (styles like lolita, otome kei, fairy kei, cult party kei, mori girl), third wave feminism and riot grrrl movement, women like Poly Styrene, Cyndi Lauper, Wendy O’ Williams, pop culture and rock’n’roll music like 60’s garage, surf, punk, psychobilly as well as science fiction and horror novels, comic books and movies (especially dystopian and Bizarro fiction genre). My favorite motifs are zombies, sweet food and cats. Strongest inspiration I get comes from my contact with fabrics, just by touching and looking them images flash and I get all sorts of ideas, it’s a fun process. I like to create my own patterns by painting, bleaching, making appliques.
How would you describe your style?
As sweet punk. I used to wear either lolita or punk, or punk lolita but only as seen in magazines, elegant and gothic. Didn’t have the courage to mix and match than. Today I really don’t care anymore, I wear lolita and punk separately or just mix everything in my closet. In that case I don’t call my style lolita or consider it part of the subculture, it is just being me. I combine my favorite lolita substyles sweet and deco lolita with punk accessories and some guro kawaii jewelry. But I like to experiment with other styles too, fashion is a fun activity for me.
Do you always wanted to design clothes?
It became a conscious desire when I was 14 but since I remember I was always thrilled with clothes and fabrics. My oldest memories are all connected to it, trying out mom’s clothes, choosing clothes I would get in big bags from my cousins, clothes my mom made for me when I was little, I remember some of those items in details.
What does Lolita-Fashion mean to you?
I have two connections with lolita fashion. First one is aesthetic only, I just fell in love with intricate details and pure perfection of it’s designs and workmanship. It is truly a beautiful and very innovative fashion in all related substyles. Lolita fashion is the complete opposite of today’s mainstream fashion and it’s overproduction, ugly treatment of workers, endless copies, boring designs and poor quality.
My second connection to lolita is ideological, way to express my attitude, beliefs and character. It is a way to show my true vulnarable self. Punk clothes were always for me an armor, something I would feel confident enough in to be true to myself and fight for what I believe in. In those clothes I feel like they hide the fact that in reality I am extremely emotional person, on a verge of constant fight with pessimism and depression. Wrong things in the world really get to me, in my 28. year of life I still can’t comprehend the cruelty of human race. Only way to cope with this for me is to stand against it. Punk made me feel strong, angry and aggressive, I could rebel.
Lolita on the other hand represented an image of ideal, pure world for me. Pastel colors of sweet lolita which I like the most bring out the happiness, comfort, you can feel pretty and nice. It brings out who I really am inside. It is such a positive fashion and by wearing it in public this positivity is spread. Many people adore lolita style when they see it and praise it. There are of course others who hate it and shout nasty things. Reactions are very much connected with breaking the dominant cultural norms. In today’s world of sexualized aggressive images of women lolita as a romantic, feminine and asexual style is an insult. Mostly for teens and men.
For me lolita style is primarily something I wear for myself, private or in public, because it makes me feel happy and pretty. But learning the reactions of others and the way lolita image communicates in public space I must say that I also wear it as a form of subversion. For me it is a small everyday performative feminist act. First few years were really hard because in lolita I have no armor yet I am rebellious, whether I am conscious of that or not. Lolita is that kind of style, no matter what it’s wearer personally thinks or want to achieve with it, it is different than mainstream. And public reactions are really hard to cope with for every lolita. You soon learn that you can deal with it and insist on your right to dress as you like (which is subversive act by itself) or just give up on the whole thing or wear it only in your room. Second solution was never an option for me, since I was a kid I’m too stubborn to be myself.
When you’re on a gig with your Band Distopia you’re wearing Lolita-Fashion! How do people react to you wearing Lolita Fashion while being in a punkband?
I do wear lolita dresses but I wouldn’t personally call it lolita because in my act I combine it with very aggressive and masculine behavior and this is really not something lolita subculture is. What I do is a performance of clashing gender roles, putting together opposite images to make people think. Riot grrrl movement is a role model for that. I can maybe wear any other dress instead of lolita on stage but I put my real identity into it, what I do it’s not a lie or a good stage performance for a band to succeed, it is a way of speaking my mind publicly and that is the sole reason for my music act.
Songs are written by my guitarist Ines and me and they are about our own personal experiences or written from a point of view of characters we criticize. We speak about street harassment and beauty stereotypes. Audience has all sorts of interesting reactions but it is mostly love or hate. People like the fact that there is a feminist all girl band out there. Those who react negatively mostly react on the provocation we set deliberately, they are shocked by the breach of gender roles, pink clothes, un-punk look and females present in masculine punk scene, our feminist stance and the fact that we mock stereotypes of what those people think punk is, we don’t like their quasi revolution while they mostly drink in parks, play act to be poor and abuse people different than themselves.
What is your all-time favorite piece that you’ve designed?
This is a really hard question since I have more than one. All my designs are like my children, I let them in the world and miss them, often think where they end up and are they loved. Silly but I feel really connected with things I make. I can name my all time favorite collection, it was Summer 2013. titled „Surfin’ Kawaii“. Two items from that collection are really truly me, a pink and red guro kawaii lolita onepiece with strawberries and apples (massacre of fruits) and a pink and blue mermaid lolita skirt with matching choker.
You have your own label, you play in a band, you write books about fashion, you’re the administrator of Lolita Croatia, you give workshops and and and…! What do you do in your leisure time if there is any left?
I guess that’s it lol. There is still so much I want to do, there are so many wonderful and interesting things in the world. Day always seems too short. But I do take a lot of time off, I’m not organized well so either I work my brains off or rest too much. In my free time I drink a lot of coffee on my terrace with my husband Alen, cats Luna, Grizzly and Momo and my two best friends Akira and Marina. I also love to read, especially Carlton Mellick III novels lately, as well as consuming anything of zombie genre. Lately I have also discovered gardening, it is very relaxing.
How would you describe the Lolita Fashion Scene in Croatia?
Currently non-existing unfortunately. There are some people but I can’t really say there is a scene. A lot of people who were into lolita style before gave up on it. I used to do a lot of meetings (not just for lolita but Japanese fashion in general) up until this year. People did come but mostly just interested in fashion and few really wearing the styles. Lolita seems to be less popular now. Many don’t have the will to really get the looks right, I guess they are too afraid of public opinions and many don’t want to spend that much on fashion. But pastel goth seems to be the new hype and cosplay scene is growing strong.
What would you tell the people who also want to wear Japanese fashion style?
Just be true to yourself and do what you want. You don’t have to get it right at the very start, style you choose might turn to be not right for you or you grow out of it, but it doesn’t matter, just try it out. And always do it for yourself and have fun in it. Too many people are frustrated for not having expensive clothes or the „right looks“. These styles aren’t about being rich, thin or beautiful by society’s standards. It is about creativity, happiness and being yourself. Never be afraid to experiment and brake a few rules. Learn to sew and make stuff, have the courage to be dressed like that in public and forget what people think, ugly comments come from ugly feelings people have about themselves. Cherish diversity in others and put a smile on your face, people will smile back.