Juliette et Justine Tea Party in London: Q&A
On Saturday September 8, the UK played hosts to the first ever Juliette et Justine overseas brand tea party at the Tea Party Club 5th Anniversary. The event drew attendees from far and wide, not only from Europe but as a quick show of hands at the beginning of the day demonstrated, from locations as diverse as Singapore, the US and Australia. They were all in London for a very grand day, as head designer of Juliette et Justine, Nakamura Mari, was joined by Suzuki Mariko, the editor of the seminal Lolita magazine, the Gothic & Lolita Bible as well as dollmaker Koitsukihime and make-up artist, Akira Tanaka.
The day began with a Q&A session, as the many assembled lolitas got the chance to ask the four guests any questions about their work and their opinions on the spread of lolita fashion.
Answers provided via translator
I have just started my own lolita brand and I was just wondering how difficult it was for you to start your own lolita brand?
Nakamura Mari: It wasn’t too difficult, but I wish you all the best of luck
Mari Nakamura you originally started at Victorian Maiden, what inspired you to make your own brand?
Nakamura Mari: I had a fight with the head designer.
So now we have Juliette et Justine!
To Nakamura Mari: Is there a particular period of history that inspired Juliette et Justine more than others?
Nakamura Mari: I like the 16th and 17th Centuries the best.
To Koitsukihime: What are you inspirations? Have you always liked dolls or did you come to like them later in life?
Koitsukihime: It has been 30 years since I started making dolls.
Koitsukihime, You collaborated wuth BTSSB, do you have any other plans to collaborate with other lolita companies?
Koitsukihime: I am thinking about it, and they (NK and K) are hoping it will be a JetJ collaboration.
This question is to all four of you: what is your favourite style of lolita?
Nakamura Mari: I like classic.
Suzuki Mariko I can see charm in all of them.
Akira: As a make-up artists I like doing the makeup for sweet the most, so I like this best.
Koitsukihime: I like gothic lolita.
To Suzuki Mariko: Except for Juliette et Justine, what is your favourite lolita brand in the Gothic & Lolita Bible?
Suzuki Mariko I cannot choose as I think I like them all.
To everyone, what is your style in everyday life?
Nakamura Mari: I mainly Juliette et Justine clothes.
Suzuki Mariko I usually wear victorian style blouses and one-piece dresses.
Akira: I usually wear a suit that is easy to move around in.
Koitsukihime: Normally because I make dolls I have to wear normal clothes or white clothes, but when I go out I wear gothic style clothing.
This is a question for Nakamura Mari: When you choose artwork for your print how do you choose it? Is it your favourite art?
Nakamura Mari: Usually I pick an artwork depending on the inspiration I have. I usually never have a problem picking the artwork.
How did you come up with the name Juliette et Justine?
Nakamura Mari: It is taken from a French novel [the novels “Juliette” and “Justine” by the Marquis de Sade]. I also had an image of an ideal woman in mind and those names came out.
This is a question for Suzuki Mariko. I wrote in my thesis about the Gothic & Lolita Bible and about the rules and culture shown in the Gothic & Lolita Bible. Now there are 45 issues and there are still many rules in there – how important are these rules for lolitas?
Suzuki Mariko: Personally I believe you can make up your own rules for the fashion.
For Koitsukihime, I noticed that some of your dolls are happy while others look sad and tortured, and I was wondering on what the thought process was behind the different moods or personalities you put into them?
Koitsukihime: I get that question quite often. The dolls that I make are not really play things, they are not something you can give to a child so I think these dolls should express the soul more, so I have put an expression on them that will gain some sort of emotion or evoke an emotion from the person looking at them, so it is better if they look less happy.
69: This is to Nakamura-san, you told us which eras of paintings you like, however what influenced you to use paintings as part of your lolita designs to begin with?
Nakamura Mari: I feel that clothing is the umber one thing to cover your soul, therefore if you have a masterpiece around your body then that is something that can make you feel more beautiful and elegant.
This is a question for everyone: how often do you have opportunity to use original Victoriana or Edwardian clothes in your shoots, with the original clothes and the brand items?
Nakamura Mari: I do use vintage products in my shoots, but as my clothes are still gothically tailored it may clash a bit, but I do use some.
For Nakamura Mari and Suzuki Mariko: Is one ever too old to wear lolita?
Nakamura Mari: Yes there probably is, but however I like to think that my brand is for older people and I want people to wear it for a longer time, and after all romance and elegance are the main points of lolita aren’t they? Therefore my designs are made with people who are older in mind.
Suzuki Mariko: No you aren’t too old.
Suzuki Mariko, what is your favourite part of the Gothic & Lolita Bible: the street snaps, the tutorials?
Suzuki Mariko: Because my job is as the editor, I put everything together and therefore the whole product is my favourite part.
For everyone but particularly for Akira: what is your opinion of how lolita has spread to the western community and do you feel it is important to note that we have different features when you are styling people?
Suzuki Mariko: About 7 years ago I realised there were lolitas outside of Japan and I was very shocked to find that. But I am extremely happy that people are interested in this fashion. Actually, lolita is a fashion where Japanese people are pretending to be western, therefore actually I think that everyone here who is not Japanese is probably far more authentic.
Akira: The main thing I think, is that I am asked to make girls look very doll-like and I think if you aim to look very doll-like then that is the best way to do your make-up.
Nakamura Mari: 40% of my customer base is actually overseas, which is nice.
Koitsukihime: The expression on my dolls is often from Western artwork so when I see everyone looking very beautiful it is wonderful.
I have a hair and makeup question for Akira, when it comes to the application of makeup, would you say that makeup creates the look or that it enhances that created by the dress? Secondly, do have any recommendations for putting in curls that will stay there?
Akira: When you put the curling irons in, keep the curling irons there then spray with hairspray and then take them out slowly. As to the second question, the clothes make the look, so you have to coordinate your makeup to go with it.
We were saying how lolita is an international phenomenon and as an Asian lolita it would be nice to see lolitas or other ethnicities but there are only very fair skinned lolitas on website or on dolls. Would you think about appealing to the international market by having different skin coloured models and dolls?
Nakamura Mari: I do have every intention to use people of darker skin however it is usually the case that models who come to Japan are caucasian and very pale. If I find the right model then I will.
Could you describe in one phrase what lolita fashion really means to you?
Nakamura Mari: Work!
Suzuki Mariko To me it is destiny.
Akira: As a man it is something about politeness and something very soothing to look at.
So Juliette et Justine may be a bit of an exception given that 40% of the customer base is western, but I would like to know generally how Japanese perceive the western market and whether there is going to be any movement towards expanding in the west?
Nakamura Mari: I do not know for sure about other brands but seeing Japan Expo where a number of brands do attend there and so there may be some movement to expand.
Nakamura Mari, this is something that has been asked a lot on your webpage as we are are very different sizes. Would you consider making a size 0 and a size 3?
Nakamura Mari: I am considering it and I will think more about people’s sizes from now on to accommodate more people.
Nakamura Mari, would you consider setting up a shop or outlet for your clothes in the UK?
Nakamura Mari: Could you ask the buyers of all the shops? I want to do it but I need to find someone who can carry my dresses. If you want to I will let you.
I am curious about what your partners think of the fashion and lifestyle?
Nakamura Mari: I am single but if they like me then surely they should like me as long as I am cute.
Suzuki Mariko: My husband often looks like he wants to say something about it.
Akira: As I said before, I find it soothing and beautiful to look at so I think there is no problem with girls pursuing cuteness.
Koitsukihime: I would like a boyfriend that will suit lolita.
Japan has got any styles, are there any other styles you like in the streets beyond lolita such as mori or dolly?
Nakamura Mari: Not really.
I have a question for Akira: do you think it is better to use wigs or natural hair with lolita?
Akira: You get more volume with a wig and it will change your whole face.
Even if it doesn’t look natural?
Akira: Well, these days wigs look natural.
To Suzuki Mariko Recently the publishing industry has been facing many challenges with e-books and the like. Is this something that Gothic & Lolita Bible are moving into or thinking of moving into.
Suzuki Mariko No, we are not thinking about it.
To Nakamura Mari: you mentioned earlier doing a collaboration for ball-jointed dolls, have you ever considered working on a design for the dolls and doing a photo-shoot that way?
Nakamura Mari: If there was an order I may do so.
Are there any major differences between Western lolitas and Japanese lolitas?
Nakamura Mari: I think that western lolitas coordinate differently and colourwise they stand out more.
Did our appearance surprise you?
Nakamura Mari: It is exactly as I imagined, everyone looks really cute.
Is there anything that as a lolita you should never do or never wear?
Nakamura Mari: If you don’t like it then don’t wear it. However please don’t cross your legs and smoke at the same time.
How old were you when you got into lolita fashion?
Suzuki Mariko I got into the fashion in about 1998 when I first saw lolitas.
Nakamura Mari: When I was 15 or 16 I started to see lolitas on the street and got into it that way. 5 years after that I made my own company.
Koitsukihime: Before gothic lolita was invented, I had always been wearing very gothic and black clothing. But I can’t tell you how old I am.
[The compere, Kyra, then turned to the guests and asked them if they had any questions for the attending lolitas. The answers were quite interesting.]
Is there anything you would like to ask us?
Nakamura Mari: How did you guys find out about lolita?
- I discovered ball-jointed dolls in 2006 and through them I found lolita fashion.
- My brother got me into the fashion. He told me about it when I was 12 or 13, recently he told me about it again and so I looked into the fashion and got my first lolita dress.
Nakamura Mari: You have a good brother.
- I got into it through my best friend, she came to my house dressed in wa-loli so I kind of got into it through that.
Nakamura Mari: I am extremely impressed with all of your make-up and coordinates today and I was wondering how long it took you to get ready?
- 3 months! (laughter)
- 2 hours!
- I woke up at 8am and I left at 11am.
- I got up at 7:30 and I spent several hours yesterday preparing my accessories so probably in total about 10 hours.
Nakamura Mari: Can anyone guess how long it took us to get ready today?
[A variety of guesses were shouted out from 3 hours to 5 minutes]
Nakamura Mari: I just threw on my dress and put some stuff in my hair, and it took about 15 minutes!