Meet Noriko and Kokoro, two Japanese girls dressed in the Gothic Lolita style that’s popular among the cosplay fashion subculture in Japan. I met them by Jingu Bridge in Harajuku where groups of Gothic Lolitas and other cosplayers gather at the weekends to socialize, show off their elaborate outfits, and occasionally pose for photographs taken by the growing number of tourists who visit the area to see them.
Emerging in the 1980’s, the Gothic Lolita style was, in part, inspired by the theatrical outfits worn by members of Visual Kei rock bands who were in turn inspired by the British Gothic Rock scene. In Harajuku, where the fashion is said to have started, one Gothic Lolita told me that the style is and eclectic blend of old-fashioned elegance, gothic fashion, and childlike innocence.
Neither Noriko or Kokora spoke English, so I wasn’t able to learn where they took their fashion inspiration from. However, cosplay influenced street fashion is very popular in Japan where it’s not at all unusual to see young people dressed in quite elaborate and ornate costumes. As well as the Gothic Lolita style, one might also see examples of cosplay fashions that take on the styles of popular manga and anime, comic books, and video game characters, with individuals adding their own interpretations and tweaks to those styles.