The visual bible of street fashion, FRUiTS, is still around, still going strong but Harajuku itself, especially narrow shopping street Takeshita-dori, is the home of a new breed of fashionista. The street style of legend has moved to newer places... Omotesando (which is also mostly a haven of upmarket and super trendy and expensive boutiques full of international brand names) and Kitijoji (lots of fashion students live there including an ultra-cute girl I briefly dated who broke my poor heart in twain) just to name two.
But in some ways, the Harajuku spirit lives on, in mutated form. I mean, beyond the outdated living corpse trendmonger Gwen Stefani is whoring around and cashing in on, 10 years too late. Currently, when you cross the street from Harajuku Station, you can find an advertisement featuring one of the most beloved icons of Japan- Audrey Hepburn. A symbol and patron saint of haute couture the world 'round:
She represents classic fashionista heart and soul. Not trend-following, but trend-setting, muse of the great Hubert de Givenchy. Style and grace. But the modern Harajuku girl is her own muse, a little wilder, a bit more colorful, at once childish and sophisticated. Like these two girls, our sailor-scout guides on a foray into the colorful wilderness that is contemporary Takeshita-dori:
I have no idea how long it took them to get ready on this steamy Sunday afternoon, but they're perfectly accessorized, each piece coordinated into an overall theme, or a visual expression of their personalities. They look almost like sci-fi princesses.
It was very sunny that day, and the ideal complexion is milky-white... hence a profusion of frilly parasols. The girl in black with all the bags and the stripey socks is a doll-like member of another Harajuku fashion breed, the gosu-rori, or gothic lolita. These are generally fans of a rock style known as visual-kei, a sort of darkly androgynous glam/goth movement.
These girls are probably fans of one of the big visual-kei bands, but their look is a sort of future punk with gosu-rori undertones. Note the white creeper shoes, probably chosen specifically so they'd match each other. The girl on the left wears over the knee socks, which are ubiquitous in Japan these days, crossing almost all style boundaries. High maintenance gyaru (a bleached and tanned brand-oriented style emerging from Shibuya's famed 109 Department store and its environs but common in Hamamatsu and other metropolitan areas throughout Japan as well) and more conservative stylies wear them as well.
This b&w shot is me being artsy again. It's more dramatic this way, with a Dutch tilt to give it a kick of energy. This next duo is another interesting phenomenon:
The girly-girl and the boyish-girl team. Best friends, one adopts a very feminine gosu-rori style with artfully customized sleeves, a triple-tier pyramid hardware belt, a layered skirt with a flash of milky thigh above her over the knee socks, while her friend goes for something more butch, a sort of ska look accessorized with big bangle bracelets. A little bit of gender variance for spice, safe transgression and an expression of a sort of platonic love-ideal between two female friends.
Here's another gothy punk duo:
Witchy striped knee socks and fat treaded shoes for a little aggro look. And the frilly parasol... again!
Here are a couple of really femmy girl-girl types. Note the piano key motif on the big white bag, perhaps indicative of the musical influence of many of these looks. The red plaid girl also has a few sailor accents bringing to mind the infamous high school uniform cliche, and childish mary janes for a sexy-cute look. Her friend goes for something a bit more mature and overtly sexy with her chunky-heeled shoes and black socks.
Here's something fun- literally a living doll:
This is another permutation of the gosu-rori look. There are sub-genres of this look. I'm not sure if this denotes fandom of particular visual-kei bands or some sort of tribal allegiance, or if she was just feeling a bit pink and childlike that day. Her shoes look like some sort of iced pastries. This is an almost aggressively cute look.
This girl almost crosses over into the cosplay (costume play) subculture. I'm not sure what the significance of the nose-band is. Maybe it's inspired by some manga or anime character. If you look closely, you'll see her blond hair is actually a wig. Maybe she is cosplaying!
This is also interesting:
That's obviously a man, wearing full-on gosu-rori regalia. Despite his hair and the female attire, he makes no particular effort to pass as a woman, meaning he might be differently gendered or maybe he just figures why should girls have all the fun?
Here are two more gosu-roris. This tribe was out in force! I would've liked to have photographed some decora (a look of multi-colored energy and lots of cute dangling cartoon characters) or some hip, urban individualists a la FRUiTS, but alas it was not to be that day:
The baby blue is an interesting choice. Alice's Adventures in Nihon-Land; where's Sir John Tenniel when you need him? Lots of layers and petticoats and lace make them both frothy confectionery treats.
This next girl is a floral representative:
This next girl is a floral representative:
The difficulty of taking pictures on Takeshita-dori is amply illustrated by this photo. The street is very narrow and just jammed up with shoppers and tourists. Getting a shot of anyone was almost impossible. It's really a 2-person job, for a spotter and a shooter. About halfway down is a t-junction that's the perfect place for two observers to stake out and get some really fun photos, one person covering two angles and the other covering the third.
Here's another fun gender-transgressive pair:
The boy-girl has a vaguely Germanic look, doesn't she? Almost as if she were wearing lederhosen. Her girly friend is in a modified high school uniform, perhaps the one she was wearing in earnest the week before, or last year in the event she's a graduate. I doubt either of them is any more than 18. The boyish one holds the umbrella; in Japanese culture, young lovers walking in the rain and sharing an umbrella is a common romantic image.
Here's another less extreme duo:
The girly one is a frothy pink vision, and the boyish one has a hard-edged ska/punk look. In some ways J-Pop group Puffy predicated this style. Ami (happy birthday, by the way!) is usually presented as the femmier of the pair, with Yumi being depicted as ever-so-slightly more butch or edgy. But in reality, their looks are fairly interchangeable. It may have something to do with various comic book and cartoon pairings as well.
And yes, they're holding hands.
Take a gander at the girly-girl's elaborate thigh highs. Black lacing highlights down the back add a not-so-subtle element of sexiness to her otherwise doll-ish get up.
Here's a blurry pic that again demonstrates the difficulties I faced on this mission: