I made this list as a way to explore adding some lolita-esque things into daily life. Watching some of these movies together might be a fun meetup idea, depending on what your local comm is like. This isn’t very practical, but imagine having a themed meet where your comm rented out an old Hollywood-style screening room and everyone wore gothic lolita to watch an equally-themed movie. (Be wary of butter stains!) Of course, having a movie screening meet at someone’s house would also work.
Below are some of my movie suggestions specifically for the three big substyles, and I’ve also included a bonus category of movies for every lolita.
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Movies for Gothic Lolitas
Gothic and Lolita Psycho (2010 – Gô Ohara)
This is a Japanese horror/revenge/supernatural movie, and it’s as over the top and gory as you’d expect from a B Japanese horror film. The protagonist is a gothic lolita (more like ero lolita) who’s on a vengeful killing spree, and all her weapons are modified parasols. This is definitely not a movie for everyone, but it’s some fun if you’re a fan of parasol antics. If you’re watching this movie for coord inspiration, you probably won’t get very much, at least in terms of variety. Her coord doesn’t change noticeably at all during the movie, but this is as close to an alternative movie with a lolita character that I’ve found to Kamikaze Girls. For my part, I liked this movie well enough, but you have to be a fan of watching bad horror or new Japanese horror to enjoy it.
Sleepy Hollow (1999 – Tim Burton)
For the purposes of fashion, pay no attention to the date given in the movie. Actually, try to ignore all references to history, customs and institutions in this movie, because it’s really very historically inaccurate. That said, I really enjoyed this movie. I watched it recently for the first time, and I loved the general atmosphere. For the purposes of this movie, I think they did the right thing in ignoring historical realities to get the movie to look “right.” The story is supposed to be taking place in 1799, but the dark blue uniform Ichabod Crane wears is from the 1850s, which is good because I think that men’s fashion in the 18th century was tragic and hideous. Other male characters wear the appropriate fashion for the time, but they’re all fairly ridiculous. The women should be wearing much simpler gowns than they are, and the fashion should be closer to Regency wear, but the dresses are more similar to those from the mid-1780s. Also, personally, I felt that the dresses (excluding the necklines) looked fairly Victorian, which is great for lolitas who are looking for inspiration. One of my favorite dresses in the movie features a wonderful gathered bustle. Really, how often do you get to see those? Compared with the other two “movies for gothic lolitas,” I think that this movie better captures the more refined end of gothic lolita and egl instead of the more straight gothic end of the spectrum. There’s blood, witchcraft, corpses, ghosts, a glorious pursuit of science, and several plots surrounding a large fortune. There are not a lot (or none?) of black-based coordinates, so this might be a good movie to watch if you want to try and develop gothic lolita coords that aren’t black-heavy.
The Addams Family (1991 – Barry Sonnenfeld)
I personally love the Addams Family. I think that this movie is really fun on it’s own, but it’s even better if you are at all familiar with the tropes of older supernatural/horror movies. The plot is about a dastardly plot to swindle the Addams family out of their fortune by a crook and criminal pretending to be the long-lost crook and criminal Fester Addams. If you’ve never seen this movie, watch it. If you’ve seen it 30 times, watch it again. It’s so charming and funny. The aesthetics of the Addams’s world are much more goth than gothic lolita, but Wednesday Addams has a lot of almost-lolita traits (hello, again, Christina Ricci). She’s just missing the silhouette and a hair accessory. Regardless, Wednesday Addams has been a style icon for ages, and I think she’s also an appropriate inspiration for lolitas. Plus, she’s fabulous and this movie is great.
Movies for Classic Lolitas
The Duchess (2008 – Saul Dibb)
This is a costume drama about the life of Georgiana Cavendish, neé Spencer, the fifth Duchess of Devonshire. In her life, she was a celebrated and admired socialite who was active in Whig politics and embroiled in tragic relationships, and she was the most fashionable woman of her time. She was the very definition of trendsetter. While this movie is set in pre-Victorian England, a lot of her dresses and fashion choices serve very well as inspiration for lolita. She was a contemporary of Marie Antionette, and the two women became friends (something that isn’t in the movie) as they had a lot in common: the pressure to provide an heir, extravagant tastes, a love of gambling, unaffectionate husbands, and the constant presence/criticism of the public eye. They were the queens and empresses of fashion in the 18th century, and The Duchess is sure to provide plenty of inspiration for classic lolitas who are fans of Rococo fashion.
Marie Antoinette (2006 – Sofia Coppola)
This is a very different sort of costume drama/biography than The Duchess or The Young Victoria. I’ve seen it called “an impressionistic portrait” of Marie Antionette’s life. Like I mentioned above, Marie Antionette and Georgiana Cavendish were very similar, so if you watch The Duchess and Marie Antionette soon after one another, you get a weird sort of déjà vu. At least, I did. Still, as you should be able to tell from the movie poster, this is a very colorful and vibrant movie, both in its actual use of colors and in its storytelling (expect a lot of hot pink). If you aren’t a fan of costume dramas, you might give this movie a try because it is very different than most. If you like more traditional costume dramas, I would still check this one out because it really does put a lot of emphasis on the clothing (and shoes). This movie has so many costume changes, and there is a lot here to inspire a more sweet-classic or sweet Rococo-inspired lolita, as well as straight classic and even gothic lolitas who like Rococo fashion.
The Young Victoria (2009 – Jean-Marc Vallée)
Enough with the Rococo, bring on the Victorian! Well, mostly just pre-Victorian, 1830s fashion. This is a movie about the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign and her romance with Prince Albert. I really enjoyed this movie and thought the costumes (and bonnets, especially) were beautiful. Even though I think lolita is inspired by the fashion of the 1860s, the 1830s still has plenty of beautiful inspiration-worthy dresses with full skirts, even if they all had off-the-shoulder necklines and weird, droopy sleeves. I thought that the mourning dresses in this movie were stunning, and I think they would be the perfect inspiration around which to base a black/kuro classic coord. If you’re watching all these suggestions for classic lolita movies, this one is probably the most different from the other two. Victoria’s life was far different from either Marie Antionette’s or Georgiana Cavendish’s. I have a great love of the Victorian era in general, so I thought this movie was fascinating. Hopefully you watch this one and like it, too!
Movies for Sweet Lolitas
The Secret Garden (1993 – Agnieszka Holland)
Published in 1911, The Secret Garden is technically Edwardian, but (luckily for us) children’s and men’s fashion didn’t change very much between the late-Victorian and Edwardian periods. For girls, the silhouette is more flat, but the general characteristics are the same. Anyway, this is a movie about redemption and the healing power of nature. Mary’s outfits before being redeemed are either kind of ugly, or they’re mourning clothes. After being redeemed, she’s pretty cute. If you have no idea what the plot is, basically a spoiled, neglected girl’s parents die in India and she is sent back to live with her tragic uncle (and secret, invalid cousin, who is also a garbage human being) in England. Mary starts befriending animals and a rustic youth named Dickon, and she falls in love with the secret garden that used to belong to her now-dead aunt. She is redeemed and becomes a decent person, and she helps to redeem her cousin in the same way, showing him that he can go outside and even walk, and she reunites him with his father. This is a classic children’s story, but it’s a little hard to watch at times. Firstly, it’s Romantic as anything (despite being written so long after the Romantic movement) and sometimes it’s a bit too overwhelming in its Romanticism. Also, I personally found it really uncomfortable to sit through all the aggressively classist, racist and imperialist moments, which dwindle down in the second half of the movie but don’t really disappear. Lastly, Mary and Colin are both so awful at the beginning that it’s so hard to sympathize with either of them, despite them both having tragic lives. However, this remains a super important/influential part of children’s literature, and the movie itself is beautiful. Maggie Smith is in it, too! The animals and flowers in the secret garden are just so cute and pretty and perfect, and the garden itself is a wonderful fantasy about what playing outside as a kid should be. If you don’t like flowers and woodland creatures in your sweet lolita, then you can just pay attention to Mary’s clothes. At one point, she’s even in a cute sailor outfit.
Bambi (1942 – Disney)
Since there aren’t any humans (except the hunter) in Bambi, there’s obviously no lolita fashion. Still, Bambi is full of woodland creatures that inspire lolita prints and even general lolita fashion trends. (Fawn-themed things, anyone?) The animation in this movie is beautiful, in any case, and the music is lovely. The plot of this movie is actually pretty serious, but the bit that focuses on Bambi’s childhood is as sweet as can be (except if there were a movie about macarons). The little sequence in this movie with the rain and the little quail family is one of my favorite sequences of any animated movie. Flower the skunk is absolutely precious, and Bambi’s father is so majestic it hurts. If you haven’t seen this since you were a kid (or if you’ve never seen it at all), I’d recommend watching it now.
Miss Potter (2006 – Chris Noonan)
Beatrix Potter was a marvelous woman with enormous talent. She was a naturalist, a land conservationist, a mycologist (who developed a theory of how fungi spores reproduce), and a prize-winning Herdwick sheep breeder, but this movie mainly focuses on her early career publishing her children’s books (Peter Rabbit and the like) and her romance with her publisher Norman Warne. This is a very endearing movie, and you really feel the characters’ joy, heartbreak and passion, despite how small Beatrix’s world starts out being. There are a few, beautiful moments where Beatrix’s drawings are animated and brought to life, and it’s in these moments that I feel the movie gives off a sweet lolita sort of vibe. Beatrix is so passionate, tender and full of a delicate kindness, but it’s her love for her illustrations that stands out in this film, and those illustrations are of animals that are often on sweet lolita prints, like bunnies and ducks. (I’m sorry all my movie suggestions for sweet lolita are about woodland creatures, in some way. I couldn’t find a movie about pastries.) The movie’s general aesthetic may not be lolita at all (Edwardian era fashion), but Beatrix’s work is so appropriately sweet lolita that I think this movie’s worth the watch for any fans of sweet.
Movies for Every Lolita!
For a bit of fun, I made the final category a countdown. Without further ado, here are the top three movies for every and any lolita to watch.
3) The Importance of Being Ernest (2002 – Oliver Parker)
This movie is a very funny adaptation of the Oscar Wilde play. It’s set in Edwardian England, so the fashion/silhouette isn’t applicable to lolita, but the movie had so many moments that were similar to lolita mishaps. There’s a scene in a gentleman’s club where the dancers in knee-length, bell-shaped skirts scandalously reveal their bloomers, which is something I can’t help but also do when I’m wearing bloomers and just hanging out around the house. (I’m not the only one who does that, right?) I also thought all the tea scenes were reminiscent of the sort of exaggerated lolita dramas that happen at tea meets, like when someone eats all the cucumber sandwiches or when you’re served exactly what you didn’t want. There’s also something to be said of the double lives a lot of the characters lead being a parallel to the almost-double life some people experience as they go in and out of lolita. The humor is just so witty that it makes the movie very fun to watch. Ultimately, this is a story of double dealing and misunderstandings, so make sure to keep up!
2) Alice in Wonderland (1951 – Disney)
A lot of lolitas tend to shy away from Alice-themed lolita because it has a huge potential to turn into a sad ita flop. Still, there is no little Victorian girl more famous than Alice, and the characters have all had a huge impact on the fashion we know and love. I have seen some absolutely breathtaking Alice-inspired and White Rabbit-inspired coords, so don’t write off the movie’s potential for coord inspiration. (I’ve never come across a nice Red Queen or Cheshire Cat coord, so please send me pictures/links if you’ve seen any!) Besides how influential the Alice in Wonderland tradition has been for lolita fashion, this movie does feature a lot of “proper Victorian” pastimes, which can be inspiration for lolita pastimes or meet up activities. There’s a tea party, of course, gardening, “botany,” croquet, etc. If you’ve never seen this before, let me warn you that the movie is really weird. It’s almost psychedelic and frantic at times, and most of the characters are impossible to relate to, but at other times this movie is solemn and quiet, and yet at other times it’s delightfully quirky.
1) Kamikaze Girls (2004 – Tetsuya Nakashima)
Was there really any other option for the top lolita movie? Unlike all the other movie suggestions, this is the only movie that makes it on this list because it actually features real lolita fashion instead of just featuring an atmosphere similar to lolita aesthetics. (Gothic and Lolita Psycho barely has a lolita…) Yes, Momoko is a sweet lolita, and yes, this movie is dripping in glorious oldschool goodness, but I think every lolita should see this, if you haven’t already. The movie is delightfully over the top and excessive, and even the most ordinary occurrences are super dramatic. Kamikaze Girls is just honestly funny and a good time, and it would be even if you had no interest at all in lolita fashion.
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Were these the movies you expected? Do you agree with my choices? Are there any movies I missed that you feel have lolita vibes? Please let me know in the comments! Together, we can make a fantastic and more complete list.