I own quite a few mooks, magazines and catalogs relating to lolita fashion, going back to 1998. And one thing I’ve seen in a few of them is timelines and histories of the fashion. However, I can’t read Japanese, so I can’t read them… and some of the publications are relatively hard to come by at this point. So I would like to share translations of the information for people who, like me, can’t read it normally. I was planning on painstakingly translating it all out with a chart and google translate, but I came across a link to an article on the Spanish blog, Noblesse Oblige, to an English article on a blog called “A Gothic and Lolita Grimoire” on the history of Lolita Fashion (no longer available on the live web, go wayback?) which also touches on the origin of the name. Apparently a movie about the book came out in 1998 and people started applying the name to the girls already wearing the fashion. Imagine that; our whole name would then be based on people shouting things at us in the street? It’s a shame there wasn’t an Alice in Wonderland or Cinderella or Little Bo Peep movie out instead; it would have been far less confusing!
Anyway, in the comments of that article the author sent someone doing a research project to a translation of “History of GOSULOLI” timeline in Rococo Vol. 1 by sumire. That translation is also no longer available on the live web. I feel that this is really interesting information (actually her whole old site is! as is this post on her journal) and I’d like to mirror the translation here because it doesn’t seem to be available from the author anywhere else and wayback machine isn’t always up.
So, just to be amply clear:
This is not my work. This was translated by Sumire. I am mirroring it for historic preservation ONLY.
History of GosuLoli Timeline
translated from the “History of GOSULOLI” [sic] timeline in Rococo Vol. 1
translation by sumire
(further notes and references under construction)
- 1983: Indie label “Nagomu Records” is founded by Kera, vocalist of “Uchoten”
- Spawned such bands as Kinniku Shoujo-Tai, Jinsei (later Denki Groove), Tama, Tomorowo Taguchi’s Bachikaburi, and Shine-Shine-Dan. Expressing something different from the rock that had been dominant up until that time, it causes a subculture movement. Nagomu-kei fans known as “Nagomu Gals” appear. They are connected to the later lolita fashion.
- 1984: Indie label “Trance Records” is founded.
- Represented by such bands as YBO2. The polar opposite of Nagomu-kei bands, they play dark, heavy music. Connected to the later goth fashion.
(NOTE: The bands’ fans were known as “Trance Gals.”)
HYSTERIC GLAMOUR is founded.
Kitschy, American-casual-style brand HYSTERIC GLAMOUR is founded by designer Nobuhiko Kitamura.
Vivienne Westwood first comes to Japan
She first shows her collection in Tokyo with Hanae Mori and others.
(Note: Calvin Klein, Claude Montana, and Gianfranco Ferre were the others.)
- 1985: The “Hoko-ten Boom” begins.
- Replacing the Takenoko-zoku, live street performances on Harajuku’s Omote-Sando Boulevard become popular. This led to the “band boom” that continued until 1995. Bands coming out of this scene include JUN SKY WALKER(S), THE BOOM, and BAKU.
- 1986: BUCK-TICK make their indie-label debut.
- Still popular with gothloli girls today, they make their indie-label debut with “TO SEARCH/PLASTIC SYNDROME2.” They set a legendary record for indies-chart sales at the time.
- 1987: Mandarake Inc. founded.
- They not only sell old manga and retro toys, but also spread the culture of cosplay and doujinshi into the world.
- 1988: X (Japan) make their indie-label debut.
- The now-legendary band X’s debut “Vanishing Vision” goes on sale. The costumes subsequently worn by X fans can be called a culture. Its history begins at the same time as the arrival of the Visual-kei band boom.
BABY, THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT is founded.
The brand now synonymous with “lolita” is founded.
- 1989: Audition program “Ika-Ten” begins airing.
- Brings about the debut of such bands as FLYING KIDS, BLANKEY JET CITY, Tama, JITTERIN’ JINN, and BEGIN.
Jane Marple’s first shop opens.
Having operated up until now without having its own shop, clothing brand Jane Marple opens its first shop in Laforet Harajuku Part 2.
- 1990: The “Shibuya-kei Boom” arrives.
- The last wave of the “Band Boom,” stylish bands like Flipper’s Guitar, Pizzicato Five, and ORIGINAL LOVE known as “Shibuya-kei” bands, become popular. Music fans change from the older style of ban-gyaru (band girls) to the “Olive Shoujo” (“Olive Girls”). Their keywords are stripes, berets, and Agnes B.
(NOTE: According to the accompanying article, the women’s fashion magazine Olive brought about the “natural-kei lolita” boom.)
(NOTE: In the character profiles of 1996 shoujo anime “Gokinjo Monogatari,” lolita-dressing character Pii-chan’s favorite style of music is Shibuya-kei.)
- 1991: Juliana’s Tokyo opens.
- In the last days of the “bubble economy,” large-scale disco Juliana’s Tokyo opens in Shibaura. It becomes a social phenomenon, spawning terms like “body-con,” “otachidai,” and “juri-sen.”
Were both the “kurofuku” who worked at the disco and the “kurofuku” worn by Visual-kei fans originated by Trance Gals?
(NOTES: “body-con[scious]”: the fad of tight, short, spangled, tank dresses to show off one’s body; “otachidai”: tiered platforms for dancers to stand on at discos; “Juli[ana]-sen[su]” (“Juliana fan”): a feather-trimmed fan held in one hand while one dances. “Kurofuku” (“black clothes”) had two different slang meanings at this time: a) a disco staff member or other service-industry employee, usually clad in a black suit, and b) the all-black, body-covering outfits favored by Visual-kei fans.)
- 1993: JUDY AND MARY debut with the single “Power of Love.”
- Lolita punk clothing modeled after vocalist Yuki’s outfits becomes popular. English duo Shampoo are also symbolic. Harajuku-kei brands like MILK and HYSTERIC GLAMOUR become popular.
- 1994: Laforet Harajuku is wildly popular.
- Crowds of 2-3000 people, including some who camp out all night, line up for the New Year’s bargain sales. Harajuku-kei high-brands, decidedly not cheap, are popular. Customers swarm stores like Jane Marple and BA-TSU.
- 1995: Vivienne Westwood Tokyo opens in Hibiya.
- Designer Vivienne Westwood comes to Japan for the grand opening. She presents both a floor show and a talk show.
Tomoe Shinohara, last of the Nagomu Gals, makes her debut.
Her eccentric fashion, spastic movements, and unique way of talking become popular. “Shinollers” who imitate her appear in Harajuku. Producer Takkyu Ishino describes her as “the future ten years of Nagomu Gals turned into a marketable product.” Clothing brands SUPER LOVERS and Betty’s Blue experience a boom.
- 1996: MALICE MIZER debut.
- MALICE MIZER debut with their first single “Uruwashiki Kamen no Shoutaijou. They make a sensational entrance with their medieval European concept and aesthetic worldview.
The late-night program “BREAKOUT” leads to a revival of the Visual-kei boom.
MALICE MIZER is at the head of the list that includes bands like SHAZNA, La’cryma Christi, FANATIC CRISIS, SOPHIA. It is at this time that gothloli is born.
Metamorphose is founded.
Classical, romantic lolita brand Metamorphose is founded by designer Kuniko Kato.
- 1997: Ura-Hara-kei “individualistic” high brands are very popular.
- 20471120, MILK, MILK BOY, Vivienne Westwood, Christopher Nemeth, Takuya Angel, and other unconventional brands with a strong individual style experience a boom.
- 1998: The remake of the movie “Lolita” is released.
- Adrian Lyne remakes Stanley Kubrick’s 1961 “Lolita.” It is based on Vladimir Nabokov’s novel “Lolita,” which is the origin of the terms “Lolita complex” and “Lolita fashion.”
- 2000: The movie “Battle Royale” is released.
- Directed by Kinji Fukasaku. The violence of this story of classmates killing each other earns the film an R-15 rating and status as a societal problem. The uniforms in the movie are designed by popular brand BA-TSU. They are sold in stores, and some fans attend the movie in costume.
h.NAOTO’s first collection.
The brand h.NAOTO is created by designer Naoto Hirooka. His strong sense of design earns him the esteem of musicians both within Japan and abroad.
Novala Takemoto debuts as a novelist with “Mishin” (“Sewing Machine”).
Novala Takemoto, whose essays and writings have made him a charismatic figure among young girls, makes his debut as a novelist.
The movie “Sleepy Hollow” is released.
Directed by Tim Burton. Its beautiful images and costumes express a gothic worldview similar to that of a Western fairy tale.
(NOTE: They’ve neglected to mention the publication of the first Gothic & Lolita Bible, since they’re a rival publisher.)
- 2001: 2001 TOKYO GOTH & DARKWAVE 01 is held.
- The first occurrence of the largest gothic event in the Kanto region. The event continues to be held until the seventh and final time at Shibuya DeSeO.
The movie “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” is released.
Based on the bestselling novel that caused a worldwide sensation. Around the world, young people gather at sneak previews dressed in costume as the characters.
- 2002: MALICE MIZER breaks up.
- After continuing in the face of obstacles like Gackt’s departure and the sudden death of KAMI, MALICE MIZER finally ceases activity. The early 2000s see a rush of Visual-kei bands breaking up.
- 2004: Concept-kei bands become popular.
- Kishidan, Psycho le Cemu, and other conceptual bands that ignore genre become popular. Their concerts are overflowing with cosplayers.
Many solo artists debut.
As Visual-kei bands continue to break up, solo artists become popular. DAIGO STAR*DUST, Miyavi, and others bring about a revival of Soft Visual-kei.
Kendzi Otsuki’s “Rocking Horse Ballerina” goes on sale.
A slightly silly and lovable coming-of-age story about a punk band and a lolita girl traveling.
The movie “Shimotsuma Monogatari,” based on a novel by Novala Takemoto, is released.
Lead actress Kyoko Fukada, dressed head-to-toe in Baby, the Stars Shine Bright clothing, draws mass media attention. This dissolves the conception that gothloli equals Visual-kei fan, and gothloli is recognized as fashion.
The movie “PEEP “TV” SHOW” is well-received around the world.
This movie about a gothloli girl, with a script collaborated upon by Karin Amamiya, is highly praised at international film festivals, leading to articles introducing the term “gothloli” in magazines and the New York Post. With this, the spelling “GOTHLOLI” changes to “GOSULOLI,” as it is pronounced in Japanese, and gains worldwide recognition.
I’ll follow this up at a later date with the brand timeline from the Gothic Lolita and Punk Brand book I have at home (which I’m working on translating out).