Shooing the Fit

Batsu went to a couple of gothic and lolita fashion exhibits at Parabolica-bis.

The first was billed as “Sawada Tomoko & Baby, the Stars Shine Bright.”

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The upper gallery was covered by photos of Sawada Tomoko, taken by Sawada Tomoko.  For those unfamiliar with her artistic vision, Sawada makes digital collages of herself, altering her make-up, hair, and clothing styles to give the impression of multiple individuals.  Quite a few of the goth and loli types that I met as a maid at @home cafe seemed to fit into a snide, self-important mold, so seeing this sort of drama reenacted just struck a note of irony.  Though I respect both Sawada and Baby, it’s like the Louis Vuitton of lolita fashion.

Having visited the lower gallery many times and growing accustomed to the dark and somewhat somber air of the space, it was quite shocking to open the door only to be bombarded by an explosion of pinks and pastels.  It had been made-over to resemble a Baby shop, complete with wide full-length mirrors and mock dressing areas.  Every wall was lined with clothes racks, upon which every Baby design dress, skirt, shirt, bloomers, and pannier hung snugly together.  A show case displayed all accessories ever made.  Intermittently stood mannequins modeling various fashions, paired with matching shoes.  Every inch of the wall space was taken, draped with fabrics, spotted with hats, or strung with night wear.

My personal favorite areas were the dolls and stuffed animals.  I can’t list them all, but they included Super Dollfie, Blythe, Dal, Koitsuki Hime, and even a Living Dead Doll in Baby, the Stars Shine Bright fashions.  There was also a table laid out for pretend tea (all Baby cups, etc.), stacked with books.  Some of the books were just general fashion history, but others included fashion sketches and ad shoots.

Let me just say that in my experience, it’s best not to touch anything at an exhibit, ever.  There are signs everywhere, even if there are no people.  Being foreign layers on an additional paranoia for me, as I’m often targeted for doing things everyone around me is doing, even things that seem legit.  So, walking into this “shop-like” showroom I was too paranoid to touch anything.  On the way out, after a visit to the gallery shop, other visitors had assembled in the gallery.  I watched as girls hanger-modeled dresses in front of the mirrors and thumbed through the literature on the table.  Only then did I find the confidence to examine some of the pieces more closely, but I felt a bit cheated, really.

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However, that was soon rectified at the next exhibit, “Victorian Lolita: Takemoto Novala and Baby, the Stars Shine Bright.”  Again, I visited at an unusual hour, having the gallery to myself, only this time all of my favorite dresses from the Baby collection were displayed together.  Indeed, a fortunate coincidence.  This also provided ample opportunity to flip through the various scetch books and fabric samples.

Trevor Brown, an idol of mine who mentioned he sometimes takes the time to read my rantings, will be pleased to know that his “My Alphabet” book lie in the middle of all the frilly lolita goods available for purchase in the gallery shop.  On the other hand, the “component tarot” cards produced for the second exhibit were absolute rubbish.  I purchased Miura Etsuko’s “Bride Doll of Frankenstien” and a couple TB Alice series postcards as a gift for a friend.  Seeing the other related goods for sale at seemingly ridiculous prices just fueld the fire to make my own stuff, though the exhibits alone were inspiration enough.

Garden of Good and Evil

Batsu was in the Akiba branch Don Quijote, moving up the series of escalators that snakes along to a 6th floor arcade when all of a sudden, something caught her eye.  It was a large poster facing the opposing escalator bearing definitive Junko Mizuno art.  There was no mistake about it, I could even make out a bubbly font reading “Mizuno,” somewhere opposite the bubbly font reading “condoms.”

“Wow,” I escaped my lips in astonishment, as I slowly turned 180 degrees in a fixed gaze until the poster was out of sight.

After ranking in the arcade at Drum Master and being humiliated by Mr. A in the Jubeat area, it was time to see the poster again.  “Mizuno Garden – Condoms and Lotions.”  Wow.  It was inappropriate to go shopping with the company at hand, so I postponed further curiosity until browsing the interwebs at home.

Just to make one thing clear, this isn’t a product review – suffice to say that I bought it.  If anything, living in Japan has taught me how to appreciate good packaging, and in extention my own consumer gullibility when it comes to good packaging.  I’d buy almost anything with Junko Mizuno art, even if the product was disposable.  No, especially if that product was disposable.  I could take it all over town and feel cool showing others that I use it.  Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those kind of products for me; but I encourage you to casually drop them at parties and local bars to show other people how classy you are, if that’s your thing.

The condoms… are a box of condoms.  And the lotion…  is packets of lotion.  All of the packaging is covered in art specially designed for Mizuno Garden.  Each box also contains a random trading card, or apparently, sometimes even a free product gift card.  Am I lucky?

You can read more on their English site, but they’re not shipping internationally at the moment.  The art and animation on the page are both great, a very Mizuno styling of cute yet dark, and very suggestive.

*Update:  As of 7/31, the online Mizuno Garden shop has closed.  However, products are still avaialable at participating retailers.  For now, at least.