Interweaving Time and Space: An Analysis of Superflat and Japanese Lolita Fashion

Monday, July 14, 2014: 11:15 AM
Room: F204
Oral Presentation
Leia ATKINSON , Sociology and Anthropology, The University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada
In recent years, Lolita, a Japanese youth fashion and community that emerged in the 1990s, has perplexed scholars. Its name mirrors the 1955 novel by Vladimir Nabokov, and yet, its members, while often dressing in childlike attire, starkly oppose reference to it. They borrow and allude to historical periods both from their own country and others. They selectively prune Victorian, Rococo, and Belle Époque clothing, mannerisms, and ideals. Simultaneously they reach back to shōjo, the girl culture that originated in the Meiji Era, which initially revolved around literature composed by and for female youth. In this paper, I will explore how their fashion relates to superflat, a term coined by visual artist Takashi Murakami, which examines the ‘flattening’ of time and space in the contemporary era. Through the lens of superflat, I will investigate Lolitas’ allusions to historical periods in differing geographical locations, and how they integrate those allusions into their community, and the wider Japanese society, through material means as well as through performance.