I hope you’re excited for this month’s “let’s read.”
Today, we’re reading the fourth volume of the Gothic & Lolita Bible. I couldn’t really identify a theme this time. Volume 1 is princesses, Volume 2 is flowers, Volume 3 is Halloween, and Volume 5 is weddings. What is this one? The only thing I could find in multiple places in this mook is “renaissance du gothic lolita.” And that is what exactly? My best guess as to what it actually means is the beginnings of new school lolita. It’s the Winter 2008 publication, so I guess the dates make sense if that’s the theme they were going for. There’s just so much oldschool style in this mook that I don’t really think their theme worked out, if new school is even what they were going for.
The first few pages are taken up by rules for a contest, and the letters from the editor and from readers.
Pages 10-11: Oh Maiden, Advance with a Sword and a Rose. This piece is written by Arika Takarano of ALI PROJECT, who also modeled for the two photographs included with this feature. Reading this makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. It is the quintessential spirit of oldschool lolita. I really wish I could reprint the whole thing here, but instead have some excerpts (The text was so tiny that I didn’t think there was a point to including a scan in this post.):
- “I wonder what made you become Lolita? Is it because you wanted to wear cute clothes? Because you like lace and frills? Because you wanted to be like someone? Or was it because you wanted to become cute so you’d be popular with the guys? / No, no, that’s impossible, isn’t it? After all, Lolita isn’t something with which you worry about what guys think! I bet your answer is something like this, ‘Before I knew it, I was a Lolita maiden.'”
- “This is what I think: Gothic and Lolita clothes are a maiden’s armor, which even a knight’s armor cannot compare to. A maiden’s lace is her steel. Her ribbons are chains. Her dress hat is her hemet, and she surreptitiously changes the blood that flows from her wounds into true red rose petals. Thus, the maiden fights. After all, to live is to fight, and to become beautiful is to become stronger.”
- “Say, I can see wings on your back — elegant wings, with the luster of velvet. Please keep flying freely, without fear. Even if someone should hurt you, you will end up landing in the right place. I know this well, because once upon a time, I was like you, too.”
Reading this feature makes me feel dreamy again.
Pages 12-18: The patterns.
Most of these patterns are knitting/crochet patterns for accessories. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I think a winter edition is perfect for knitting patterns, but I just wish there was some other sewing pattern of substance besides the skirt and fur muff/capelet.
Pages 19-21: An interview with the fashionable Arika Takarano of ALI PROJECT. It’s cool that the interview with her shows up so close to her other feature, but I honestly skipped reading it because I’ve never listened to ALI PROJECT.
Pages 22-37: Brand advertisements for Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, Alice and the Pirates, Angelic Pretty, Atelier Boz, Black Peace Now, h.NAOTO, Innocent World, metamorphose temps de fille, and PUTUMAYO. Two of the Innocent World pages served as a combination advertisement and contest/prizes announcement. The beginning Baby ad pages also served as “princess instructions.”
Five Provisions for Princesses:
- She shall have a pure and sublime heart, always.
- She shall have a kind heart with which to treat everyone with kindness.
- She shall extol beautiful smiles, always.
- She shall be mindful of beautiful words and behaviors.
- She shall be mindful of clothes to fit the time, place, and occasion.
With the Alice and the Pirates ads comes a description of Princess in the Dark: “A sharp glance, and sometimes an expression of ennui… When the curtain of night falls, the Princess, now free from her followers and alone, gives rest to her smile and begins conversing with her ‘real self.'”
Pages 42-43: Personal faves with Clair Belton. This is a very short, light sort of interview, but I love that they included so many pictures.
Maybe you recognize her name or art style. Can you guess who she made?
I’m really happy for her that she found success. While her people illustrations aren’t my favorite, her style for non-humans is really cute, and Pusheen is a treasure.
Page 47: Another installment of Needs More Lace! Huzzah!
This story is super cute. It’s a shame that the dress Ian gets her, which has to be costumey at least, doesn’t look bad at all in the comic. I would actually really love a dress like that (or at least how it’s drawn). Does that mean I have ita taste? Oh noooo!
Pages 50-59: These pages are devoted to step-by-step instructions on how to do various hair styles. My hair is curly and does not straighten well, so I have no use for this information. Also, the pictures and instructions are super tiny, so you need to go find an actual nice quality scan of this G&LB if you’re curious about the information.
Pages 60-69: Street snaps! There were some from the UK, but most were from Japan. There were not photos this time around that I found particularly memorable, but I do love looking through them.
Pages 70-80: Event snaps. Most of the pictures were coord shots, so it was basically a continuation of the previous street snaps.
Pages 81-83: Readers’ snaps.
More continuous pictures of lolitas, but this section has one of my favorite lolita photos of all time. I absolutely adore the gothic lolita on this page. Firstly, I love her coord and how pared-down it is. Secondly, I wish more people did these sorts of conceptual photo shoots more often.
Pages 84-85: Looking Your Best, Tips and Tricks for Tall and Curvy Girls.
I love this piece. In addition to being useful, the art is adorable. The red-headed girl in the maroon skirt looks especially pleased with herself. My favorite thing about this feature is that it sticks with the advise of “if it ‘fits,’ but looks wrong, then it doesn’t fit.” As a plus-sized lolita myself, I really can’t stress that point enough. Lolitas now have so many more options when it comes to custom sizing than were available in 2009. It might be a little harder to build a big, full lolita wardrobe if you have plus-sized measurements, but it can be done. More importantly, it can be done well. Trust me, you’ll be happier wearing clothes that fit well, even if it takes some time to get them.
Pages 94-97: Cause for Celebration photo shoot. The models all look like they’re having a good time, but they’re shooting in Party City. Does anyone else find that super distracting? Is it just me?
Page 98: Social Event Etiquette from Jillian Venters.
When this volume of the G&LB was published, the Gothic Charm School book had not even been published. (I have a review for that book here.) There were parts of that book which felt very outdated when I read it in 2015 that dealt with the internet, and this feature suffers from a lot of the same problems. The lolita communities I know are based very much online, and they organize their face-to-face meet-ups with Facebook. While I would love to send and receive real invitations for meet-ups instead of getting the invite via Facebook, there are honestly very few people from my comm that I would want to have my address. Perhaps I’m weird, and perhaps most people would not mind lots of local strangers having their addresses, but I just don’t think that mail invitations and thank-you notes are something really viable in the current lolita scene. Readers, how do you feel about this? (Please let me know in the comments!)
pages 110-111: Tote bag tutorial.
I think that this was a nice idea, but they really failed in design execution. The sweet and gothic bags just look tacky, and the classic one looks dingy and faded. (Seriously, though, what is going on with that tragic gothic bag?) However, these are solid instruction for making a reversible tote bag. You could easily use these same steps to end up with a much nicer tote that could match your wardrobe.
Pages 118-119: The Prose Poem of the Elizabethan Collar. This poem is also somehow the Royal Gothic Lolita Theatre of Nonsense. This story is certainly very strange. It honestly reminded me of the Rocky Horror Picture Show with the way more and more elements kept being brought in. Beyond that, the story was just hard to read because of the illustrated purple bubbles made it hard to see the contrast of the text.
I included a scan partially so you could see the absolutely lovely illustration and partially so you can see the bubble problem. It’s such a pretty touch, but I wish they were more transparent for legibility’s sake. I’m mostly unsure of my feelings towards this story. It’s very weird.
Page 120: G&LB Volume 4 cover-inspired photograph.
I’m just a sucker for these sorts of things. I love seeing people dressed like illustrations or paintings, and I think this was a really cool cover for this idea. (Thank heavens they didn’t do a shoot based on Volume 3’s cover! Although it’s sure to have looked less horrifying with human proportions…) Even though I don’t like either pink or sweet, I’ve always liked this set. It’s always seemed so silly and fun, but I think it looks quite good in the mix-n-match section at the bottom.
Lastly, here’s the manga. Please click on the last picture in this gallery first and then move towards the left. I tried to keep the original layout as best I could.
How disappointing that the second half of this story is completely monochrome! The previous half was so much more interesting because of all the pink. It would have been very cool if the second half had a different accent color, but to go back to being printed in black and white seems much more the result of a printing budget and not an artistic choice. Such a shame, too. I really like the character design in this part.
And that’s the end of this mook.
This one is definitely not my favorite of the English G&LBs. They didn’t include any recipes or quizzes, and the patterns were disappointing. I also didn’t like that there wasn’t a real theme. A gifting theme would have been welcome in the winter edition, and probably quite nice/helpful, too. Ah, well.
Check back next month for a “let’s read” of the final volume of the English Gothic & Lolita Bible!
Stay “Looking Your Best,”