Loli-POP! Brings Kitty and the Bulldog to Life at the V&A
It is a common sight in London to see visitors musing around artworks until late on Friday nights and many of the museums and galleries hold special themed events to tie in with the exhibitions on show. The V&A Museum in London is no stranger to such events and on August 31, the Kitty and the Bulldog exhibition in the Toshiba gallery was celebrated with a whole evening of Lolita fun.
Unaware visitors were taken down the rabbit hole to a wonderland of frills and cuteness where the strains of visual kei and jpop from Japan Underground DJ Tom Smith filled the John Madejski courtyard and make-up artists from Shu Uemura performed make-up miracles for free.
British lolitas were inevitably drawn to the event, becoming as much an attraction as the museum wares. Unlike your average museum exhibition, Kitty and the Bulldog showcases a Japanese trend that is currently gaining followers in the West and so rather than simply viewing the mannequins behind glass in the gallery, visitors could engage with actual wearers of the fashion. Curious visitors asked the girls many questions about their outfits, their love of the fashion and the roots of lolita. The Loli-POP! event brought the exhibit to life, giving it context not only through the lolitas wandering about but with talks by Philomena Keet, author of “The Tokyo Look Book” and the Q&A panel. In addition to this academic side of the evening, there were fun activities planned with a games room containing a live link-up via Skype to a parallel event taking place in Paris and the ever-popular puri-kura photo booths (decorated sticker-photos). However, there was perhaps too much to do and with so much crammed into a short period of time, it was impossible to see everything. In fact, the events were quite spaced out within the museum and as they were not so easy to locate it made for a lot of rushing.
The highlight of Loli-POP! came with the Grand Finale: a beautiful ballet performance based on Alice in Wonderland. To a dulcet violin played by a girl portraying the ‘White Rabbit’ in an unusually gothic Alice and the Pirates dress, the ballerinas danced gracefully through the museum, moving around the antiquities of the Japanese and Chinese galleries into the entrance hall. There, the Mad Hatter read the Jabberwocky poem before a flautist joined the violin in performing a duet of Poupee Valsante by Kreisler. In the small space of the entrance hall, the ballerinas continued their dance. Three wore dresses by Baby the Stars Shine Bright, while the remaining two were attired in tutus – a popular motif in Lolita designs. The mix of ballerinas in lolita and ballerinas as lolita designers imagine them made for an interesting contrast.
The evening rounded off with a performance of ‘Summer’ by Vivaldi played by the White Rabbit on violin which finished to rapturous applause. It was a night where art, music, art history and real-life fashion came together to show the world the beauty and elegance of lolita.