Diana Ching, a 22-year-old SUNY Plattsburgh student, shares her story of how she came to love wearing Lolita fashion. Overall, Ching hopes to inspire others to wear what makes them feel most comfortable and not care about what other people think.
APN: What is the fashion you’re wearing called?
Ching: It’s called Lolita but has no relations to the novel “Lolita.” It’s actually a chosen name because it sounded cute and adorable and pleasing to the tongue. It originated from the fashion in the novel “Anne of Green Gables,” but people wanted a fancier look of the style. I guess the “Anne of Green Gables couture” is the best way to say it. It’s based off of the Victorian era and the French Rococo.
APN: What’s the history behind Lolita? What country did it originate from?
Ching: It started between 1950s and 1960s in Japan when they started to explore Harajuku and other diverse street fashion. There was a street fashion called “Mori Girl” and a separate branch of “Mori Girl” called, “Anne of Green Gables Mori Girl”. It had the Anne of Green Gables/ Little House on the Prairie look. Then a brand called “Pretty” wanted to make a higher-end version of the dresses worn by characters in “Anne of Green Gables” and “Little House on the Prairie,” so they ended up adding frill and lace. Some people didn’t like the super-frilly Gables look. Instead, they found inspiration from “visual k” style inventor and singer, Mona. He was doing a more doll-like visual k, and he decided to call it “Gothic Lolita.” It was much more frilly, lacier and shorter than the visual-k outfits.
Pretty and Mona created the style based on the Victorian and French Rococo roots. At first, Lolita had a “Little Red Riding Hood” look because they were very simple dresses with a high neck lace and lace at the bottom, knee-high stockings and tea-party shoes. As the style grew, it added in more sub-style and more brands. The brand Pretty eventually changed its name to Angelic Pretty, then other big brands of Lolita formed, (such as) Baby Stars Shine Bright (and) Manifesteange Metamorphose temps de fille. When the brands started to realize there actually could be a market for Lolita, the outfits became much fancier.
APN: What made you interested in wearing Lolita?
Ching: I was actually really into cosplay (obsessed at one point). There was a trend going on in 2014 called “Calway May Cafe,” which consisted of short dresses in pink or blue pastel colors. Each dress had the “Alice In Wonderland” feel to it. They are super puffed out and short with knee-high socks and have a cute, lacy head band piece. I got into that when I went to a convention in Europe, where it was a trend. When I started to go to more conventions in the United States, I started to learn more about Lolita fashion, and I was like, ‘Whoa! I actually like this, and I actually want to do this.’ It’s kind of like cosplay, but in everyday form. When I did cosplay, it took me two hours to get into the full outfit. Also, I spent months slaving away at the costume. There was no way I was going to walk around my college campus in a huge victorian dress with full armor. When I found Lolita, I knew this was something I wanted to do every day and not just on a special occasion.
APN: You mention you wear Lolita every day, but are there some days when you feel like switching it up?
Ching: There are days where I don’t want to interact with society, which makes me not want to wear it, but I blame it on a sickness or that I’m tired. On those days, I just stay inside.
I do have a lot off different sub-styles within Lolita, such as gothic, sweet and classy. I’m not really confined to one sub-style, and if I had only one, I’d be done with this. Having a good amount of different sub-styles in my wardrobe allows me to pick and choose out how I’m feeling each day.
APN: How long does it take you to dress up in an outfit each morning?
Ching: It actually takes me about 20 to 30 minutes, which isn’t that bad. It was harder when I did cosplay because when you do cosplay, you’re supposed to look, like, identical to characters. I’d spend many hours trying to fit to the character’s body type. For example, if the character had a bigger bust, I would wear a corset. On top of that, I’d need to put makeup on to get the right facial structures of the character. I’d have to dig through all my materials to find the right accessories, put the shoes and wig on…This was a huge difference from just needing to get your petticoats, undergarments, wig and makeup on.
APN: Where do you buy Lolita?
Ching: A lot of stores that sell Lolita are online, but most stores are located in bigger cities, such as New York City. I know Baby Stars Shine Bright is located in New York City, and the next closest would be Houston and San Francisco. If there are people who don’t want to go to the stores, they would, like me, meet up and swap off outfits from each person. My goal by next year is to at least be able to start up a brand for Lolita.
APN: Do you want to have a future career that involves Lolita fashion?
Ching: In the future, I want to become a dress designer, and I want to open my own business. On the side, I want to become an author. From what my mother has told me (she originally got into fashion designing when she went to college), it’s very hard to make it as a designer. I know the market is great, but in order to enter the fashion industry, I would have to lower the price or lower my profit margin.
APN: Have you inspired others to wear Lolita?
Ching: I try to inspire other people just to be themselves. If they’re happy and they want to wear Lolita, I hope I inspire them to. You should wear whatever you want, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to dress a certain way in order to make someone else happy.