Kitty and the Bulldog: Lolita fashion and the influence of Britain, at the V&A

Kitty and the Bulldog is a free display at the V&A that will examine the relationship between Japanese Lolita fashion and its British sources. It will form part of the V&A’s British Design Season taking place across the Museum this spring.

The display will feature seven Lolita designs that reflect different British influences on this rapidly expanding fashion phenomenon. A further two outfits will show how Lolita fashion’s fascination with the exotic and alternative has resulted in the re-appropriation and sometimes extreme recasting of traditional modes of Japanese dress. Lolita fashion emerged during the 1990s as a daring new form of street style spawned by Japan’s obsession with “kawaii”, (cuteness), as epitomised by Hello Kitty. Lolitas are immediately recognisable by their doll-like make-up, frilly skirts, fanciful headgear, ribbons and lace. Lolita fashion references Britishness in many different ways including Alice in Wonderland, Glam Rock, the New Romantics, Gothic, Punk and Vivienne Westwood. Although the attitude and aggression of Punk and Gothic are not a feature of the world of the Lolita, the movement represents a similarly powerful rebellion against the conventions of contemporary society.

The outfits in the display are new acquisitions for the V&A from the Japanese fashion labels Innocent World, Baby The Stars Shine Bright, Alice and the Pirates, Moi-même-Moitié, Alice AuaaPutumayo, Sixh. + MINT Neko, Takuya Angel and Mamechiyo Modern.

Kitty and the Bulldog: Lolita Fashion and the Influence of Britain will be on display at the V&A in the Toshiba Gallery, Room 45, from 23rd April until January 2013. Admission is free. The Museum is open daily 10:00 – 17:45 and until 22:00 every Friday. For further information visit the V&A website.

The display complements the V&A’s major spring exhibition, British Design 1948-2012: Innovation in the Modern Age (31st March – 12th August 2012).

Young Lolitas in Osaka, November 2011 © V&A Images

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