This was to be my first international trip for an event within the western lolita community. I actually had made plans to go the year before, but my trip fell apart before it even began, which was a major bummer. I was supposed to travel with a good friend of mine but I ended up being too late at the airport, with a toddler in tow, and no way to get to the event even with a later flight. I vowed to never again ride that edge when it comes to timing and travel. Nowadays I make sure to get to the airport with plenty of time to spare.
So, I viewed this as sort of a do-over trip! It was exciting since it was to be my first trip to travel on my own. I’d traveled overseas before, but with others as my travel buddies. Japan with my partner, Paris with my sister… But this time I would have to be responsible to get where I needed to go without much help. The plan was to fly to London and then meet up with everyone at the AirBnB we had booked. We were a group of seven, traveling from various parts of the world to meet up for Enchanted; a Street Fashion Europe event. Out of all the people that were going I only knew one person (Jo/Octavekitten), which also added to the excitement (and absolute terror) of being someplace unfamiliar with a bunch of faces I’d seen online but never in person. Jo assured me that everything would be okay, and I put all my faith in her word.
Enchanted – lolita event of the year
Date: 5th April 2014
Location: Gibson Hall, 13 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 3BA, United Kingdoms
Street Fashion Europe – a collaboration between the biggest European lolita communities have successfully organized their first event – hosted by The Tea Party Club – with following special guests:
★Yuko Ashizawa, CEO and designer from Atelier Pierrot★
She’s very excited to visit London for the 1st time! Atelier Pierrot is famous for their beautiful gothic and classic pieces, especially their elaborate ruffled skirts and dresses.
★Minori, model and artist★
Famous for her unique and delicate looks and for popularising the shironuri (white face) style. Minori is an established and talented illustrator, as well as a skilled model and makeup artist.
★Hitomi Nomura, head designer and buyer at Grimoire★
Hitomi models on the Grimoire website, designs Grimoire’s unique items, scours the world for select vintage items for the Grimoire shop and oversees the staff at both Grimoire shops! She will be bringing tights from her new collection for you to buy!
★Kunika Ono, sweets artist★
She is an incredibly talented artist who has collaborated with Barbie, Grimoire, Lesportsac, Angelic Pretty and many more! Her work is in the next Angelic Pretty mook. Kunika will be selling fake sweets at Enchanted!
★ Hirokawa Yumi, one of the founders of Uplift Tokyo ( Lorina Lidell )★Enchanted. (2014, April). Retrieved from <http://streetfashioneurope.doomby.com/pages/archives/enchanted.html >
A multifaceted organisation, UT’s main projects at this current time are
-Lorina Liddell ( select shop for various brands including Excentrique and Triple Fortune )
-Overseas agent of fashion brand: Alice Auaa
-Fashion business consulting & agency
This trip also marked the beginning of my vlogging project. As I started I had no expectations as to how long I would continue vlogging, but the project would ultimately span through the next five years. The idea behind each vlog was simple: come up with a creative activity I could share with my daughter. At the time I was between jobs and I felt that having something like this would keep me engaged and give me additional skills to pad my resume with. I’ve always enjoyed documenting, recording, and cataloging my thoughts and experiences via journals and diaries, and vlogging seemed like a fun and challenging new extension of that desire.
successful get together
My flight to London! The vlogs in which I am starting my journey tend to be a little repetitive. I mean, there are only so many ways one could record video of sitting in a plane! Knowing I’d be spending a lot of time in my seat, I brought a laptop along to edit some of the clips I had captured.
The airplane meals were okay. Taste doesn’t matter much to me anyway because when I fly I am a huge jumble of nerves. Leading up to my travel date there would be nights where I’d have difficulty sleeping. I would fret about things like knowing where to go to and from the airport. Hoping that there are no delays or cancellations or what I might do if the worst were to happen. Then there was also the matter of knowing where to find my friend(s). What if I had done everything wrong and ruined the trip for everyone? What if I landed at the wrong airport and was unable to get back? What if my friends got tired of waiting for me and left the meeting spot?
Once the plane landed at Heathrow airport I managed to get through the airport and meet up with Jo (it wasn’t difficult and I was relieved!) and together we bought a couple of train tickets and made our way through London to the AirBnB. Besides being a close friend of mine, Jo is also an amazing travel buddy. She is knowledgeable in mapping out meet up areas, which modes of transportation we need, making sure that our flight itineraries are good to go, and always seems to generally know just about everyone in the lolita fashion community.
We weren’t the first to arrive at the AirBnB so it was nice to start meeting with the rest of the group immediately. The place we stayed at was so interesting and cool. One of the bathrooms was truly an experience; large and spacious with a claw foot bathtub, a shower adjacent and a fireplace. I can’t help but feel a tinge of regret now, having never made use of the tub.
The house had a number of floors and a variety of bedrooms. The entryway led to a middle floor with stairways up and down. The downward staircase led to another living space in with a kitchen and a living room. This was a style of house, taller than it is wide, is something I had never encountered in my life. As a California native the homes and properties I was accustomed to tended to be much more broad than narrow. At the very top of the upward staircase was my own room. Through my prior travel experiences I’ve learned that I function best on these trips if I have a dedicated space to myself. After being out and about and feeling the pressure to be ‘on’ I really need a quiet area to recharge for the next day.
Seeing as it was the start of our trip, the six of us housemates decided to celebrate by going out to grab some dinner and drinks. As I mentioned earlier, at the time I felt like the outlier of the group and that it was important to get to know them. They had all taken a big leap of faith to include me and I wanted to be sure that they had good first impressions of me. In the end it wasn’t difficult; we already had one commonality between us (the fashion) that we could all at least talk about but they were all wonderful anyway.
I was a little hesitant in telling them about my project that involve capturing footage. Would I sound weird and maybe perhaps creepy? I wanted to document my experience and wanted to avoid any sort of conflict with anyone. So I was super relieved when they said they were okay with it.
First full day + vivienne westwood
Twinning to the max! Quadrupling? Most of us decided to wear the Le Cadre du Chat/Lapin dress by Juliette et Justine. This is one of the many curious and amusing things about this fashion community; wearing the same dress isn’t considered a faux pas. There are even events planned around this concept in where it is encouraged to try to twin as much as you can with someone. To attempt to be as identical to each other from the dress, to the accessories, the makeup, hairstyle, down to the shoes. In our trip we brought the same dress but we stuck to our own aesthetics.
LE CADRE DU LAPIN ル カードル デュ シャ BY JULIETTE ET JUSTINE
I find this dress to be quite flattering and comfortable. The garment itself isn’t too heavy and the print is a wonderful combination of whimsy and a slightly proper flair. It easily suits a more casual look but maintains the ability to dress it up for the evening. In this case I went more for a casual street look with my spiked boots.
LE CADRE DU CHAT ル カードル デュ シャ BY JULIETTE ET JUSTINE
Only one of us actually had this variation on the print, the rest of us had the rabbit version.
We spent this day doing a lot of walking and general sight-seeing. I believe the only plan we had was to go take a tour over at the Vivienne Westwood studio. I was absolutely giddy in having the opportunity to visit a studio/atelier in person. What we didn’t know until at the time was that she was actually there, and were told that she doesn’t see visitors that often. When it came to the end of the tour we were milling about outside the building comparing our experiences, gossip, and hearsay (‘is it true that she doesn’t like lolita?’) when someone came rushing out to tell us that Vivienne Westwood wanted to greet us in person! Talk about wild! She did end up coming out to chat a little and asked if we wanted a photo with her (which of course was an unequivocal ‘yes!’)
We dropped by Worlds End to do a bit of shopping while still buzzing about our encounter. The shop itself is small, but packed to the walls with a variety of ready-to-wear items, making it a delight to peruse and find things that speak to you.
“Worlds End is the original Vivienne Westwood boutique, formerly known as; Let it Rock, Sex, Seditionaries, and Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die.
It has a triumphant history of creating ‘clothes for heroes’ – dandies, rockers, punks, and pirates.
It reflects the history of the Worlds End boutique and is made up of carefully selected designs from the archive; from the punk collections of the ‘70s to the Worlds End of the early and mid-eighties through to today.”Worlds End Campaign. (n.d.). Retrieved from <https://www.viviennewestwood.com/en/collections/worlds-end-campaign/>
Another highlight moment happened when we walked out with our purchases and we were approached by Ben Westwood, who asked if we would like to be featured in the Worlds End blog. He had us stand in front of the store for a couple of photos and then asked a few questions to accompany them. Here is the entry of us and a blurb from him.
mad hatter’s afternoon tea and some leisurely sightseeing
Starting off the day with some tea over at the Sanderson London Hotel for their Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea.
The tea was amazing! The food was great and the tea was lovely. Before this trip I was never a big tea drinker; I typically don’t like my drinks hot and I’ve always felt that waiting for my drink to cool down would take too long. But the variety of flavors of tea made it incredibly appealing to give it another shot, and I’m glad I did.
I would definitely recommend trying out this place if you want a bit of whimsy.
DAY DREAM CARNIVAL TIERED JSK ティアードジャンパースカート BY ANGELIC PRETTY
For this day I decided to wear Angelic Pretty’s Day Dream Carnival tiered JSK in black (my usual favorite colorway,) and, having intentionally selected reusable accessories for the trip, wore the same coat and boots.
It made for a comfortable, yet sort of dressy look. Combinations of bumper bangs with a pair of victory rolls and low pigtails became my go to hairstyle.
jeffrey campbell kravitz boots
I have worn these throughout San Francisco, all around Paris, and now London. I love my pair; the oversize and slouchy look combined with spikes and rivets gives it a bit of punk rock flavor. They are fun to use with dresses if you want a look with a bit of an edge.
Our group spent most of the day split up and doing our own things. I had gotten to know Abby a bit during this trip and we decided to hang out. She had been in London before and she became my unofficial tour guide, taking me around to museums and the iconic Big Ben, among other locations of historical interest.
I was grateful to have the day to relax before the event, as I always need some time to recharge in order to socialize comfortably.
I think this was the only day in which I had ‘officially’ planned an outfit. All of my other outfits on this trip were impromptu combinations of dresses, jewelry, and shoes that I knew could mix and match well, which I’d packed intentionally to save suitcase space. I kept things fairly casual and wearable, things that I would be comfortable in walking around in and didn’t have a lot of fussy bits.
Theatre de l’ erreur～失われた楽園～柄ワンピース by Alice and the Pirates
This was the dress I specifically brought for this day. When this was first released it was sold out within minutes, and my shopping service was unable to grab one. Normally she is pretty successful in acquiring popular dresses on their release days, but there was absolutely no chance with this one.
I ended up finding a listing in an auction site, but got into a bidding war in which I lost. I had just about given up but another listing popped up and I was able to purchase that one, with the bonus that I had gotten it at a lower price than the final bid on the first!
Prior to this event it had sat in my closet unworn. Partly from some sort of reverence towards this dress; I wanted to do it justice in an outfit. There was also the fact that it was white and I wanted to keep it pristine, especially after the amount of effort required for its acquisition. I spent more energy trying to get this one over Angelic Pretty’s Puppet Circus JSK, which was more of a windfall.
I didn’t have a solidified idea for an outfit based on this. Maybe a look paired with gold and cream, something maybe sort of ethereal but not taking that too literally. I think there were a lot of religious iconography looks and shoots going around at the time and that heavily influenced me. So these were the additional accessories that I had settled on:
I found it pretty ingenious to use zip ties to create a halo. It works so well with the iconography look. It’s pretty affordable and I would definitely recommend. This Mary Halo Crown Headpiece is lightweight which makes it comfortable to wear and the materials are durable since it’s made with plastic zip ties and a metal headband. Makes for a great accessory that can handle traveling.
While putting together accessories, it was happenstance to stumble across this designer. This headpiece is pretty massive and has so much going on. I was drawn to the various textures and analogous colors. I liked that this was something different from the religious iconography look because it wasn’t a theme that I wanted to go all in on. This also doubled as a way to keep the headband in place.
Verum ASTRONOMY IN CASTLE Tights – grimoire
I have little in the way of cream and whites, and I was racking my wardrobe for anything that would work with the dress.
These tights only come in one size, and it might be a gamble to purchase without some research. I am 5’5″ and it fit me fine.
*I was unable to find their online store but maybe there is still some stock left over at Mullberry Chronicles.
This event was such a sight! It felt like a lucid dream; seeing people you’ve known for years online, finally meeting them in person, the wide variety of brands represented, an array of indie brands to peruse through, the never-ending assortment of creativity everywhere you looked, all within the grand setting of Gibson Hall. Coming here was like being transported to a world of j-fashion, and going back in time to some sort of Victorian era with a rococo twist.
the final day
The continuation of this event carried on to the next day in the form of a tea party held at the Rubens Hotel in Victoria. My fellow guests pulled out all the stops these two days, which was marvelous to behold! My friends went all out and it was so inspiring to see. What I also enjoyed during this trip was that we were so incredibly supportive to one another. We helped each other get dresses, fix wigs, put on accessories, and made sure that we were all adorned accordingly. It was such a positive experience that this trip pretty much solidified my desire to travel more.
The tea party was also a great way to chat with others. During the event it can be difficult due to lots of running around; trying to make it to panels, the fashion show, and needing to man the booths. But here there was a feeling of relaxation and kicking back (at least, as much as one can when so heavily embellished).
Puppet Circus ジャンパースカート by Angelic Pretty
This was the dress of the day. There was a plan to have a bunch of us who owned this particular print to take a group photo.
Earlier I mentioned the amount of effort I’d spent on the previous look and acquisition of the dress. Contrastingly, this Puppet Circus dress just happened to be floating around the market and I was able to buy it pretty easily. I assume this was also partly due to the fact that this particular colorway wasn’t as popular as its sisters.
I had focused most of my energy for the event so for this day I wanted to do something kind of easy. Jo had brought up the idea for us to wear matching sashes and I made two; one white and one in black. I never quite completed the white one so it doesn’t have the matching bow that I usually make to accompany it.
There was a lot of borrowing for this one; the wig, hair accessories, etc. At the time I didn’t have much in the way of matching this dress as it is an outlier in my wardrobe. I took Jo’s lead when it came to the accessories and I did my best to follow.
Within our group we were able to have one version of each colorway and style. After this I was able to acquire the black version but I’ve held on this salmon pink one. Partly due to the fond memories and also because it is not as highly sought after. So it lives on with the rest of my family of dresses.
The food was delicious! Jo had turned me onto clotted cream and I believed we devoured a whole bowlful between the two of us.
The tea was wonderful and also a great setting to start saying our goodbyes. It was bittersweet, but also exciting feeling that I’d had the taste of traveling to these events and knew I wanted to participate in more. I was able to meet old friends and new ones, talk to others about their experiences in this fashion, our lives, and our hobbies. It was a way to bring depth and dimension to people I had known for years online. And for someone coming from the US, I was delighted to have others share a glimpse of their culture with me.
As a last hurrah, we had some photos taken by Perception Crisis Photography. I felt extremely fortunate to have had this opportunity. I love their style of mixing in surreal elements to their work, and their background in understanding this fashion. The twin photo of Jo and I is a great one to have; I love the framing with the candles and the way our outfits are highlighted.
The one with me and the stairs harbors something slightly sinister with the mood and the placement. Falling down stairs is something that I think about when I am around them; I live in a single story home and the idea of breaking a bone or something equally serious is scary. In addition to that undercurrent also lies a bit of mystery that feels otherworldly. Their work shines particularly well within this niche. A good balance of fashion photography with a sort of dark bent.
A sort of bookend to this trip. At the end of an Enchanted illusion we all must return back to the world of the living. We were all going home one by one. When this first began I was pretty scared on how I would be received; if this trip would be a success or a disaster. As it turned out I was very fortunate to have these people become my friends. It can be a total crapshoot if personalities clash or don’t get along for whatever reason. They all provided great, positive examples of what friendship can be in this fashion, supporting one another without feeling like one needs to fend for oneself.
Eventually only Jo and I remained in this final leg of our journey, preparing to return home. I am forever grateful to have her as a friend. It is always with her encouragement that I feel the strength to go out and do something I have never done before, or travel to a country I’ve never been to. We live hundreds of miles apart but always only a message away and I have reached out to her out of the blue to ask about this thing or that.
But all good things must come to an end, and this was no exception. From a sort of traveling socialite to being back to mama. Having to change from this to that is also something I greatly need. My family is my foundation and my center and I absolutely look forward to having my world turn back to play dates and work. Without them I wouldn’t have been able to find it within me to do things incredibly out of my comfort zone. Their love and their constant support is what makes this all possible!