WARNING! This post contains much more kawaii photos than these cute bunny shoes that I bought on Takeshita St in Harajuku before I went for my Lolita experience. If you can’t handle this, stop reading now.
The last time I went to Japan was way back in 2007 – not long after Gwen Stefani’s ‘Rich Girl’ came out and Harajuku Girls became a HUGE thing. Did anyone else have one of the Harajuku Lovers perfumes? Go around singing “if I was a rich girl – na na na na na na na na na na na na na na naaaaa” (if you are in your late twenties/early thirties and didn’t just sing that in your head I know you’re lying). If you need a little refreshing of your memory, you can listen to the song again over here. The point is, the whole crazy costuming that was popular with young Japanese people had just broken onto the world stage in a huge way. I remember going to the bridge in front of the Meiji Shrine in Harajuku where they were all supposed to hang out for photos and being so disappointed that there were only a hand full of people there. Boo.
This time, ten years later, I wasn’t going to take any chances. Instead of waiting around to snap a cutely dressed Lolita/Cosplayer/Amazingly Creatively Dressed and Gives No Fucks Japanese person, I decided to take matters into my own hands. After some research, I found that there was a small shop in the LaForet Department Store in Harajuku that sold a ‘Lolita Experience’ where you would be dressed up in the Lolita style and be able to take photographs. I was sold!
It was quite difficult to navigate the Japanese site to go through Maison de Julietta themselves so I went through a third party and booked my session with Go Voyaging! The session was quite pricey and you will pay in Japanese Yen so it would be dependent on the currency exchange rate. If you don’t speak/read Japanese, you will have real difficulty booking any other way. Anyhoo, I rocked up to the Maison de Julietta at the designated time and was met by their staff all decked out in their Lolita costumes. They helped me choose a dress with matching socks, shoes and blouse. I chose a pale blue ‘Alice in Wonderland’ themed dress then let the lady suggest shoes (gold – perfect!) and a blouse. Then she led me through to the makeup room. Here, I chose a wig and relaxed as they did me up with false lashes and rosy cheeks. At this stage, I was a little worried as under the bright lights the pink tinted wig I had chosen looked more orange and the makeup looked quite garish. However, I had faith in their expertise and went through to the studio. This was the super fun part!
The photographer spoke no English but that didn’t matter. She had a huge smile and mimed all the Lolita poses that I should do for each shot. She was so enthusiastic and chose props and poses and directed me as if the language barrier was no problem at all. I loved this part of the experience! She also stopped at various times throughout the shoot to show me how the photos were looking. This made me feel much more confident. Everything that looked a little off in real life looked pretty slick in the photos. From that point on I could really relax and enjoy everything.
Afterwards, they let me have some of time to take some selfies – which I guess is a thing because they left me for a loooong time! In the photo above you can see how orange the wig looked in real life, how rough it looked, and how rosy my cheeks were! Then the ladies in the shop took some photos of me in the shop, using my own phone and showed me some more poses to do. This part was fun but a little bit awkward because I just had no idea what was happening and it was in the shop with people walking past! I took a few so that you could see what it looked like a bit closer to real life, then I took the makeup off using the cleanser and wipes that they supplied. Afterwards, I got changed into my normal clothes and received the detailed of how I could access the professional photos.
You can really see the difference between how the wig and makeup looks in these last few photos taken in the dressing room compared to the first few professional ones. I was so pleased when I logged on to choose the three photos that were included in the package. They looked perfectly Lolita and I fully embraced the kawaii/kitsch/craziness/fun that is what this is all about. I felt as thought I was getting a little peek into a very exclusive aspect of modern Japanese culture that I would never otherwise have experienced. Despite my non-existent Japanese, the staff were able to communicate with me and it didn’t detract from the experience at all. The only tiny thing I would advise anyone booking this in the future is to wear a long sleeved under shirt as you can see the sleeves of my white t-shirt under the sheer blouse.
So, was that too kawaii for you? Or have you been dreaming about dressing up in sweet Japanese style since you watched Sailor Moon as a kid? Or are you super hard core and dress up like this all the time? If so, leave your insta or blog details in the comments – i’d love to see!