Fairytale Shop Grimoire is Part Playhouse, Part Stephen King
In a nondescript building in Tokyo’s Shibuya sits a fairytale come to life, the dolly-kei and vintage store Grimoire. It’s okay if you’re a little overwhelmed upon entering: the circus music is loud, and the room is packed floor to ceiling with vintage dresses, unsettling puppets, Western antiques, and examples of the grotesque, including a real human skeleton that was once a Victorian medical teaching tool. Part little girl’s playhouse and part Stephen King’s Needful Things, Grimoire is not to be missed.
Shop clerk Miyoshi explained a little about the store’s concept: it’s “a costume shop from a theater in a European forest.” They import antiques and vintage clothing from Europe and America, creating an eclectic collection of unique items specifically chosen to suit their customers.
The store also dabbles in original goods, notably their tights with patterns such as tarot cards and vintage photographs inspired by the store’s wares. Each pattern is limited and sells out quickly. Grimoire is popular with girls who subscribe to a number of fashion styles, and is best known for “dolly kei” (doll style). When asked to describe what doll style is, Miyoshi explains, “It’s all about getting the look of a doll. The long curls, the big, stand-out eyelashes.” Unlike many other Japanese subculture fashions, specifics of clothing color and shape are less important than achieving that “doll in grandma’s attic” aesthetic, whether the inspiration is pulled from the 1860s or the 1960s. Like the shop itself, dolly kei takes a “more is more” approach and encourages heavy layering and accessorizing. To that end, Grimoire’s clothing runs from high-collar gowns to square-dancing dresses to art deco inspired pieces and has an assortment of gloves, hats, and jewelry to compete the look.
Goths and lolitas have also found a lot to love in Grimoire, especially their unique accessoriesthat incorporate natural elements like flowers and butterflies encased in glass, a potent combination of beautiful and dark. Though their primary customer base is women in their late teens and 20s, the fact that most of the antiques in the store are also for sale gives the shop wider appeal. The owner often scouts overseas for new pieces to bring back, making Grimoire a place also for antique collectors and home decorators, even those with no particular interest in fashion. History buffs will find something to interest them as well, from military memorabilia to postcards written more than one hundred years ago that provide a fascinating look into daily Victorian life.
A few things to be aware of in Grimoire: because of all the imported vintage clothing, the sizes are small and the prices are high. If you’re looking for something unique, however, this is the place, whether you’re interested in decorating your body or your home. For those in Tokyo, the store has Christmas and anniversary parties where customers can meet and compare styles.
Grimoire is located just a little ways past Shibuya’s Tower Records on the 7th floor of the Terrace Jinnan Building. There is a sign out front but it’s easy to miss, so look for the Chinese restaurant on the first floor. They also have a newer sister store, Almandel, located a few blocks north.