Friday, November 21, 2008

Australia's Gift to the World

Yukari Iwatani Kane is telling us...what, exactly?

Japan's Latest Fashion Has Women Playing Princess for a Day
Part Marie Antoinette and Part Paris Hilton, The Style Affords Pricey Stress
The Wall Street Journal

TOKYO -- When Mayumi Yamamoto goes out for coffee or window shopping, she likes to look as though she's going to a formal garden party. One day recently, she was decked out in a frilly, rose-patterned dress, matching pink heels with a ribbon and a huge pink bow atop her long hair, dyed brown and in pre-Raphaelite curls.

Ms. Yamamoto is a hime gyaru, or princess girl, a growing new tribe of Japanese women who aim to look like sugarcoated, 21st-century versions of old-style European royalty. They idolize Marie Antoinette and Paris Hilton, for her baby-doll looks and princess lifestyle. They speak in soft, chirpy voices and flock to specialized boutiques with names like Jesus Diamante, which looks like a bedroom in a European chateau. There, some hime girls spend more than $1,000 for an outfit including a satin dress, parasol and rhinestone-studded handbag....

What in Amaterasu's name would make a curl "pre-Raphaelite"? Or are we being treated to such nonsense because of the Millais exhibition that was at the Bunkamura?

How many these stylized, hyper-feminine, budget-blasting fashion waves are going to be featured in non-Japanese newspapers before the papers realize they are being played by the boutiques selling these goods?

Arrrghhh!

And what is this article doing in The Wall Street Journal?

Double Arrrggghhh!

Which is not to say that princess fantasy is not fascinating. One of the truly astonishing free street spectacles (on par with the hip hoppers who practice around the Sonpo Japan Building in Nishi Shinjuku at night or around Nakano Zero on Saturdays and Sundays) is the Friday night hairdressing scramble visible through the giant windows of the salon D-COLOR on the southeast side of the Ichinohashi intersection in Azabu Jūban. Watching the stylists transform young women into hostess-bar-ready confections is terrific, if somewhat terrifying, free theater.

Later - Do follow the link in the title to the full article. The featured photo is half the fun horror.

6 comments:

Janne Morén said...

I'm sure the WSJ is a top-class source for economic news. But for most anything I know anything about they've long been a rather sad joke. They're publishing empty puff pieces and credulously repeating complete bunk from cranks without bothering with any such frivolities as second sourcing or checking any claims with third parties.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible you are missing the point of this article?

It seems to be more about the men in Japan than about the women. These "princesses" are married or have boyfriends. What kind of men like women like this; what is missing in these women's lives that they need to dress as little girl princesses?

In the midst of a world economic crisis where Japan is smugly lecturing the West, the WSJ may wish to point out that these are the men who think they can tell the West how to run its economies. The schoolboys at the editorial desk must have found this most amusing.

And what are you doing leering into a beauty shop's windows?

MTC said...

Anonymous -

The two specimens of womanhood--the bar hostess and the wife-princess--are not interchangeable. The bar hostess dresses in a manner so as to entice patrons into parting with the contents of their wallets. The wife-princess extracts the cash from those closest to her first, then purchases clothing and accessories in order to please herself.

As for the accusation of leering, I would prefer my incidents of looking in through the brightly lit windows of D-COLOR as having resulted in "staring on in fascinated horror."

Anonymous said...

But MTC,

The fact remains that these men willingly part with their cash to support these women. These men seek out these women and encourage these fantasies. The men are far from being victims.

www.japaneconomynews.com said...

Don't forget about the hip-hoppers at Nakano Sun Plaza! They represent the North side!

Anonymous said...

The make-up/hair is pretty intense (as are those giant bows), but some of those dresses in the WSJ's slideshow are pretty cute. When reading the story, I was expecting the hoop-like skirts, bonnets, and frills of the lolita and goth-lolita fashion. It does read like a commerical for that store/brand.

There was only one housewife who seemed to be interviewed, so I wouldn't guess that her need to buy those dresses (including accepting food from their parents so she and her husband have more money for shoppping) would qualify her to be the main example of this "movement". I would be curious to ask if she had sunken deep into another fashion trend prior to eight months ago when she started on this one. Also, only other lifestyle reference was her part-time job- no pesky children to get in the way of the princess life.

As someone who is not in Japan at the moment, is Hime-gyaru really that big or does it just float alongside the other fashion trends fighting for some Sunday stroll spotlight?