The Idol

January 23, 2018


"Wow, I think we've got full participation this year!"


You nod, looking up and down the hallway. Bright colors and even bright flashes of light dart from locker to locker as students flit through the hallway, draped in costumes thrown together from whatever was in their closet and the discount costume store. About half of them are dressed as that character from that movie everyone's been telling you to see. A girl hops in front of a group of boys and makes a face. They start some sort of chant. It's probably another reference.


Your assistant laughs and strikes a pose. When you look at her, confused, she sighs dramatically and leans against the wall.


"You gotta do something other than work all the time. You're never in the loop," She complains.


"I don't think I can pull off half of the things these kids are wearing," You admit, watching a girl skip by in thigh highs.


"Please, all you got to pull off is attitude. Who cares about anything else?" 


The front doors slam open. Everyone stops. People look up from conversations they're having with their friends, and heads peak out of classrooms. Your hand inches towards the fire alarm as you and your assistant jump, then look at each other.


 "What is going on?" Your assistant mutters.


A tall dark figure slides through the entrance on their knees and jumps up onto their feet. Someone swears.


It's a girl, draped in a dramatic fine coat and a pair of strangely puffy pants you'll later remember are called jodhpurs. Her hair is so shiny looking that you immediately guess it might be slathered in something, and you wonder how she manages to keep her tiny barrette from sliding off her head.  It looks like such a silly outfit at first, until you start noticing the details.


Her strange suit is made out of a beautiful dark red crushed velvet that catches the light bouncing off her cuff links. Both of them are incredibly intricate, with a pair of initials carved into the bronze looking metal along with an entire book's worth of decals. Somehow, the buttons on her slanted coat are even more elaborate, despite them being super narrow and half the size. There are at least five different chains on the neckline on her coat, matching the military style of the plates sewn onto the tail of her coat. 


You hear a ticking and are drawn to the long clock locket resting against her stomach. Cushioned in a sea of lace ruffles, the statement piece loudly ticks in time to the girl's feet. Even though she's already gotten everyone's attention, she's still striking a bunch of poses, her movements amplified by a bunch of metal panting on the bottom of her pointed heeled boots.


"Fellow school master!" She starts, dropping into a split and pointing at you with a fake riding crop.


Your assistant gasps and you look at her stunned. She does the same strange poses she made earlier all over again. The student squeals.


"You watch it too?"


"It's my favorite!"


"Honestly, Japan makes the best stuff. I don't watch anything from anywhere else anymore."


"I know right?"


You blink hard, looking around the hallway at several nodding students. Wow, if everyone was really into whatever this was, maybe you really are missing out.

Hey, we don't have to make up a name for this one! Harajuku fashion has been around for a while. If you don't know what Harajuku fashion is, it's basically a very popular fan trend that's been around for a while. It revolves around popular shows from Japan, mostly anime, and Japanese bands.


If you haven't had the pleasure of consuming Japanese media before, then you're missing out on a real treat. Good Japanese media has a lot of effort put into it. Especially the clothes. Japanese pop stars, or idols, are as much about aesthetics as they are about music. Looks are very important to their careers, so their clothes are often fairly elaborate if not well produces. Embellishments that manage to be elaborate as well as tasteful are signatures of Harajuku idol fashion. Along with being color coordinated, clothing items often have a lot of layers, frills, buttons or intricate designs. While we ma not be able to afford hiring a seamstress to recreate these spectacular looks, you can copy them in thrift shops by layering find fabrics and accessories with a lot of detail. Say a patterned dress, hoodie with a unique design, lace shawl, upscale buttoned jacket, hat and unique jewelry paired with equally unique socks. The key is to strike a right balance of elaborate and cohesive. The line between gaudy and gorgeous is very thin here.


If you feel a little nervous, try and evoke more whimsy. Harajuku fashion is also heavily inspired by cosplay. Cosplay, if you don't know, is when you dress like your favorite characters. Unlike Halloween however, cosplay often has a lot more effort put into it than store bought costumes. Most cosplayers make their own outfit with authentic materials. The elaborate nature of Harajuku is often mean to evoke the imagination, where heroes wear beautifully crafted outfits that evoke the feeling of their world. A common type of Harajuku fashion is school girl, where practitioners will dress in finely made school girl outfits and peddle actual school bags. They ardly look any different than the fictional teenagers they're trying to evoke. If you need to create an intro to Harajuku outfit, pick a character and try to recreate their look with real clothes.




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