maki by Angelic Pretty and Kira Imai Exhibition Combines Sweet and Strange
Running through August 20 at Asakusabashi’s parabolica-bis event space is the combination of maki by Angelic Pretty and Kira Imai print and coordinate exhibition. There is also a special collaboration Pullip designed by doll customizer Hiroko (Daisy-D), making the show a sweet treat for lolitas, art-lovers, and doll fans.
The show is divided into two floors, the upper level holding Imai’s work and the lower level the Angelic Pretty gallery. The upper floor has the feel of an old manor house, the preserved butterflies, old books, and skulls providing a perfect atmosphere in which to display Imai’s sepia-toned prints. The show’s title puns on starfish and star signs, and Imai’s trademark waifish lolitas chasing stars, constellations, and lunar motifs are a major theme. Yet Imai isn’t afraid to go past the cute and into the dark side of lolita, as shown by prints such as one featuring an antlered lolita mounted on the wall along with trophy heads and another that has girls trapped under glass, literally on display. The second portion of her display is sweeter, designed around the Pullip collaboration. The doll sits in a display of a tea-party attended by cats, the tiny details of the animals and desserts demanding close examination. The prints surrounding the doll are a pastel wonderland of sweets, with lolitas wearing outfits designed after cupcakes and cookies.
Downstairs, you would be forgiven for thinking you had accidentally wandered into an Angelic Pretty store, albeit one with all the merchandise roped off. The gallery has meticulously recreated Angelic Pretty’s signature “little girl’s bedroom” look with bright pink walls and racks, candy and toys everywhere. Festive flags made from fabric samples criss-cross the ceiling, and in between the store-style racks are custom coordinate displays of some of Angelic Pretty’s popular prints, such as Holy Night Story, Chess Chocolate, and Star Night Theater. Those who have been following the brand for a long time may feel a bit nostalgic as they look through the racks, where older dresses from a more restrained era of design are tucked in between outlandish prints.
Upstairs near the front desk is the mini-shop where prints, stationary, and limited edition exhibition items can be purchased. Most exciting for lolitas is the special collaboration outfit designed by maki and Imai, “Neko no Ochakai (Cat’s Tea Party).” The artworks displayed in the gallery are also for sale, however they seem to be selling fast, with most already claimed.
At only 500 yen to enter, the exhibit is well worth a visit for those interested in lolita fashion. The only problem with the exhibition is the arrangement of the space. While a sign on the door requests (in Japanese only) that you go to the desk to buy a ticket before entering, it’s possible to miss and even once you read it, it takes a moment to figure out exactly where “the desk” is. When walking upstairs, the exhibition hall is seen before the desk, which is tucked at the back of the event space’s own store in a separate room. Likewise, the first floor exhibition hall has its entrance right off the street, so it’s entirely possible someone might go through the whole thing without ever realizing there’s a charge to view the exhibition. Another point to note is that the building isn’t air conditioned and the visitors are mainly lolitas, so if you want to avoid being crushed in sweaty ruffles, aim for visiting on a weekday when you’ll likely have more room to maneuver.