Welcome to part 2 of our epic Q&A with the Baby, the Stars Shine Bright and Alice and the Pirates designers!
Baby, the Stars Shine Bright is one of the most popular Lolita brands the world over, and one of the founding brands of the Sweet Lolita style. The release in 2004 of the film adaptation of Kamikaze Girls (Shimotsuma Monogatari), which featured the brand and its clothing heavily throughout, brought in an entire new generation of fans from both inside and outside Japan. Alice and the Pirates is a second brand from the company that focuses on darker Gothic and pirate-themed clothing, allowing for new designs that wouldn't fit under the original BTSSB brand.
Below, five of the company's designers from both brands give us their answers to the questions you've been dying to ask! This is a big one, so we've posted it in two parts! See part 1.
BABY, THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT
ALICE AND THE PIRATES
Many of the questions below came from you! If you'd like to be involved in our next Q&A, watch our blog for future announcements!
Q. “Kamikaze Girls” is still a big reason why some girls first get into Lolita fashion in the west. What do you think of Momoko? How do you feel the book and movie represents your brand?
UEHARA: Until “Kamikaze Girls” came out, “Lolita Fashion” seems being thought by many people not as fashion but as sort of "costume play" or, although it’s a sad thing, I think that it was considered a little crazy.
However, after the movie came out, I was very impressed by Momoko because she wears Lolita fashion not just as cosplay, but to carry out her own style as a girl who has strong self-esteem inside.
I appreciate very much the writer Novala Takemoto-sensei who made BABY appear in "Kamikaze Girls."
Because of “Kamikaze Girls”, not only inside Japan but also the outside world accepted Lolita fashion, although I never thought Lolita Fashion would become so popular outside of Japan.
KANOU: The best part of the movie is that Momoko not only wears Lolita fashion but is also a woman with a strong will who won't give up her favorite things.
I believe that Lolita fashion became more recognized as one genre of fashion because of Momoko and the movie “Kamikaze Girls”.
Although the fashions seen through "Kamikaze Girls" are not all Lolita, I think it is great if the movie spreads through the world to make more people understand existence of such a fashion.
TACHIBANA: I sympathized with Momoko’s feeling towards Lolita clothes and desiring to become someone whose lifestyle fits the clothes very much.
And her life in which she believes what she likes and is able to grow despite her troubles is attractive.
I think the movie shows the charm of BABY fashion. It is an irreplaceable work that made Lolita fashion a recognized fashion to people not only inside Japan but also among people all over the world.
MITSUBA: No matter which country or where we live, loving Lolita Fashion is wonderful.
NAKAMURA: I think people could be easily influenced by their environment in a good way or bad way, however, in spite of that, being able to keep one's own style is such a great thing.
Q. Can you explain for our customers the concept behind having Alice and the Pirates split off as a separate brand? What was the reason for creating an entirely new brand?
MITSUBA: It started as a brand that develops new styles, such as a men's style and Gothic style, that were not in conventional Lolita fashion before.
Q. “Vampire Prelude” seems to fit in with "Vampire Requiem" and "Vampire Forest" somehow. Is there a story behind these three prints, and does it form a trilogy or can we look forward to more in the Vampire theme?
MITSUBA: These express the story of a princess who is caught in a mansion, and a vampire.
"Vampire Requiem" shows the scene of kidnapping a princess from the mansion, "Vampire Forest" shows the story afterwards of the life in a quiet forest, and "Vampire Prelude" expresses the story of an encounter between the two during childhood.
If you imagine a great story, this one might be continued.
Q. Can you explain the concept behind "St Mephisto's Cathedral" and "The End of Immortal Eden"? Our customers have wondered about the story behind these breathtaking prints!
MITSUBA: The "St. Mephisto Cathedral" print is expressing the tale of the girl who lives at a quiet church surrounded by roses.
The half-read Bible and characters to write have the role of the storyteller that advances the tale.
The "The END of Immortal EDEN design" has the print that makes you imagine whether the one who took off from the bird cage was a bird or angel… and which place makes happiness, the inside of the protected bird cage or the outside world…
Q. For Tomomi: You've said before that you like steampunk, if there was more of a market for steampunk in Japan would you design a steampunk print? What would it look like?
NAKAMURA: It is still kind of a minor genre in Japan, so it needs to be recognized by more people first but if there is demand, of course! Something like a gear motif could be arranged for PIRATES and it could be very lovely.
Q. A&P in particular releases a lot of kodona style clothing in men's sizes, but in all the publications like Gothic and Lolita Bible you see women wearing them. Is there a reason why girls are also used to represent the mens’ side of the fashion in Japan?
A&P: It may be because in Japan, many women admire cool women, as you know how popular Takarazuka is. However, we will consider using great male models from now on!
(Editor's note: the November A&P KERA ad features a male model!)
Q. For Tomomi and Masumi: Both of you designed the costumes for the main characters in the Takarazuka show “Alice's Lover.” How did that collaboration between you and Takarazuka come about?
NAKAMURA: It was a design that existed already and Takarazuka liked it and decided to use it.
KANOU: BABY’s dress was also designed previously, they seemed to like the saxe color, which matched to Alice, and the dressy design.
Q. At least one of our customers attended last year’s Magical Tea Party at the Four Seasons Hotel and she described it as a wonderful experience. She wanted us to let you know that all of you made her first visit to Japan truly magical. Are there any future plans to have such an event once again, in which foreigners are invited to experience Japan in a purely lolita fashion?
BABY: We are very happy to hear that overseas customers had a wonderful time. We are hoping to continue to make such an event.
A&P: We would be glad if we could continue to have events from now on that everyone enjoys and make us feel glad.
Q. What movies, books and music do you personally like?
UEHARA: I like the movie and photograph book that use the rococo era as the motif. Just seeing clothes makes me feel very happy.
Of course, “Kamikaze Girls” is my favorite too and I keep watching it so many times!
KANOU: I like old classic things such as the movie “Death in Venice” and “Roman Holiday”.
I also like works in which which one can be allowed to immerse themselves in the reverberation of beauty rather than films that use various colors or innovative expression.
And it is indispensable that the heroine is overwhelmingly beautiful.
I believe we cannot talk about Lolita Fashion without the story of Lewis Carroll. Other than that, I prefer to read things that make me feel and think rather than fiction stories.
Although I've only read a part of the collection yet, Pascal’s books are very attractive and I would really like to complete them sometime.
TACHIBANA: I like fantasy movies. I like beautiful images and clothes to see. I like books very much too. I read anything regardless of genre.
MITSUBA: I often read old Japanese mystery novels. I like the expression of quietness and transiency in fear.
NAKAMURA: I like fantasy fundamentally. I often listen to classic music too.
Q. What kind of Japanese food do you like?
UEHARA: I like chocolate. Although chocolate is a foreign sweet, I think the tastiest one is made in Japan♪
KANOU: I like rice crackers as Japanese food. I usually like light and simple tasting food. So, I prefer Japanese sweets with Japanese tea better than a cream sweet with western black tea.
TACHIBANA: Since I used to learn the Japanese tea ceremony, I like Japanese sweets.
They are very delicate and make me feel the four seasons that is the character of Japan.
MITSUBA: I like Japanese sweets, especially black beans.
NAKAMURA: I love sushi.
Q. Is there any American movie that you like? If so, which one?
UEHARA: I like Disney movies.
KANOU: I like Vivien Leigh of "Gone With the Wind" because she is very beautiful. Since classic movies have an ultimate beauty and atmosphere that does not fit to present standards, I think they're wonderful.
TACHIBANA: It is Disney's "Beauty and the Beast." I like the beautiful images and music. I have been watching it so many times since I was small, so I can remember most of the lines.
MITSUBA: I love "Sweeney Todd" directed by Tim Burton.
NAKAMURA: I like “Sound of Music” especially “My favorite thing,“ so I still listen to it often.
Q. What do you think of Lolitas outside Japan? Would you like to see more Baby stores in the west?
UEHARA: Regardless whether it's Japan or a foreign country, I feel very glad to know that there are many people who love Lolita fashion. The time Lolita fashion started to be known outside of Japan, many people were wearing more black color Gothic style, but year after year, the same as Japan or more than Japan, people became more colorful and fashionably wearing clothes, so I feel like I have to work harder to not lag behind. I am glad if it spreads in the world more and more.
KANOU: Since I was fortunate to have some opportunities to meet overseas Lolita customers, all of them were stylishly dressed with their sense, and just looking at them made me feel very happy. Although I think that overseas customers are sometimes inconvenienced for buying and taking care of dresses, since I felt so much feeling of Lolita fashion by them, meeting them stimulated me to have the strong thought to create and send many greater things to you.
I think it’s wonderful if there are more stores, then the customers’ inconvenience would be reduced and also more people would know about Lolita fashion.
TACHIBANA: I feel very glad to know that the lovely heart feeling has been transferred all over the world.
Yes, I hope that many people actually could see, choose and enjoy shopping in the store.
MITSUBA: Since people who like Lolita fashion are increasing more and more outside of Japan, I think that’s great if more stores open abroad.
NAKAMURA: I think it’s wonderful to carry out your own original stylishness with understanding very well the concept and story of the background of the clothes. I feel glad if it spreads further abroad.
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring Lolita fashion designers?
UEHARA: First of all, I want you to always have the feeling of loving the Lolita fashion. Otherwise, you cannot work as a designer. If you work your best without forgetting this feeling, you should be able to become a designer of the Lolita fashion! Hang in there☆
KANOU: Taking care of your feeling inside of what you think is lovely and great, and carefully collecting those things into the treasure box in your heart, your treasure would pile up little by little. Then, those treasures would be digested and scrutinized and that creates inspiration and your own design.
I would like to always keep my box with lots of beautiful treasures that I really love.
TACHIBANA: Please pursue uncompromisingly what you believe is lovely.
MITSUBA: I believe that a dream would certainly come true. Please do your best!
NAKAMURA: Sometimes a detour may become your power. Even if it is not the way as you thought, don't close your eyes. Thinking with a broad view is very important .
Q. Do you have any message for foreign Lolitas?
Thank you so much for always loving BABY.
When I joined the company, I never thought that Lolita fashion would become a fashion loved by many people in the world.
It is a really delightful experience.
I would work with my best as much as possible in order to fulfill a girl's dream from now on, please continue to enjoy BABY Lolita fashion!!
Thank you for always supporting BABY.
I hope the lovely world of BABY would extend more and more, and from now on I would like to work my best to send more lovely and great clothes to you.
Please enjoy your own Lolita fashion.
Thank you for many messages always.
It encourages us very much.
I would like to keep creating products that can be made only by BABY and makes everyone feel fortunate from now on.
Thank you for supporting PIRATES always. I would like keep creating the design that impress all of you from now on, please continue to love PIRATES!
Thank you for your support always. I hope we would keep creating the "story" the clothes of PIRATES describes with you in the future!