Friday, 28 September 2012

What is Dolly Kei?

Today I have just added myself to a Dolly Kei page on Facebook and realised - because of the vast amount of Japanese street fashions, there are some that aren't as widely enjoyed as Lolita and Gyaru - styles like Dolly Kei and Cult Party Kei. Quite a few people still don't know really what these style entail and what makes them Dolly or Cult Party Kei (abbreviated as CPK) but they would if they saw photos of outfits.

So I thought I'd write a quick article detailing what Dolly Kei is, what imagery and styles it takes inspiration from, places you can get Dolly Kei-style items and more! I'd love to do one on Cult Party Kei too and maybe even Mori Girl! <3 The best way I can explain Dolly Kei is with lots of example photos and breaking it down into what colours are used, items, how to put together a coordinate and where to get items!

Basically, Dolly Kei is a style that takes inspiration from dark, lush antique styles with lots of jewel tones, embroidery, applique, velvet, fur and lace! It's hard to pin one particular style that you can use in Dolly Kei but items are usually medieval style, vintage (anything from 20s-70s) and also look European, with elements of traditional European patterns and motifs (such as Nordic prints, traditional Scandinavian looks). Don't you think they have Eastern European looks like Romanian gypsies and Matryoshka dolls (Russian dolls)?

Like many Japanese street fashions, the emphasis is still looking like a perfect porcelain doll but you can put a real morbid, macabre, creepy twist on this fashion. What would you think of a porcelain doll with a fox draped over her and a doll's head on a necklace? Colours to use in Dolly Kei are mostly dark, such as ruby red, emerald green, brown, black, gold and antique bronze but you can use lighter colours for a more Cult Party influence. Here's a great example below!

 Elements that make up Dolly Kei items include textured patterns like embroidery, applique, flocking, brocade, paisley, fur accessories and vests, tassels and shawls with fringes, florals and lots of layering. Dolly Kei outfits can be short or long, depending on your personal taste but when it's short, you add thick, solid-coloured or patterns tights for an even more ethnic look.

Almost 100% of Dolly Kei outfits are thrifted, vintage and found in places like flea markets, ethnic stores and vintage stores. Vintage bags are a great must-have accessory as they usually have an interested look about them and are quite big, enabling you to carry lots of stuff on the go! Because Dolly Kei is a vintage-inspired look, real fur is also worn too. You can wear it if you don't have a disliking or any preference to it or you can choose to wear faux fur vests, stoles and other items or leave it out entirely. It's totally up to you and there are always debates on fur.

Hair and make-up are standard porcelain doll style for most Japanese street fashion. It's quite natural and you can wear false eyelashes and circle lenses for extra creepy doll oomph. Blush is usually pink, orange or coral colour and applied to the apples of the cheeks, unlike Cult Party Kei where it can be applied under the eyes. Natural eyeshadow colours can include brown, gold, beige and orange but you can make certain coordinates pop by using jewel-toned eyeshadow or liner to match the outfits colour scheme. Black or brown eyeliner is used unless you're using a jewel-tone liner and lip colours can be pink, red, nude, sandy, beige or just a slick of lipgloss. Hair is naturally coloured and styled, with waves, curles, blunt fringes, bobs and the ends blew under (think bowl cut). You can wear wigs or wigpieces if you can't style your own hair like this.

The key to making a Dolly Kei outfit and keep it looking put together is layering! Usually one or more tops/shirts are worn, and then cardigans, shrugs, belts, etc. are put over them. Long skirts and thick tights are worn, more than one belt, tassels, flat boots and lots of vintage and modified accessories are worn together. Collars are also great to layer, whether it's fur, lace, beaded, etc. with lots of necklaces put over the top! 

Accessories used in Dolly Kei are almost always thifted, vintage, modified, etc. in some way. Another vintage-inspired accessory that is popular yet controversial, similar to fur, is taxidermy. Necklaces, corsages, canotiers made with cat skulls, bird skulls, etc. are very popular as they add the macabre twist I was talking about earlier. You can cut these out though if you don't like it. Dolls heads or body parts work equally as creepy. Flat, comfy boots are usually worn for practicality, sometimes slouch-style. Riding boots, silk slippers, brogues, penny loafers and spat are great for this style as well but you can also wear rocking horse shoes, platforms, sandals and chunky high heels as well! 

People always enquire about brands and stores that carry Dolly Kei items. By far the most well known is a thrift store called Grimoire, located in Japan. It's like Dolly Kei's equivalent to Spank! for Fairy Kei. Other vintage/thrift stores and Dolly Kei brands include The Virgin Mary, Tarock, Rosy Baroque and Nude Trump but to be honest, a lot of Japanese girls' Dolly Kei pieces are thrifted from America or Europe! So we have the upperhand in being able to trawl flea and ethnic markets, vintage and thrift stores, car boot sales, etc. where more ethnic, European and vintage clothes can be found. You can even use items you may have in your wardrobe already - maybe even your mums! I bet she has some vintage pieces that, when worn alone, you'd think "When would you ever wear that?! D:" but it may just be the key to your Dolly Kei outfit. Who knew your mum could be so cool?

I think that pretty much covers all the basics of Dolly Kei and now you should be well on your way to uncovering some hidden Dolly Kei gems and constructing your own creepy European doll-style outfits! I'll leave you here but here are some communities and useful links for Dolly Kei as well as lots more photos for inspiration (click to make them bigger)!

Daily_Dolly Kei - Outfit snapshots from everyday people wearing Dolly Kei fashion on LiveJournal
Dolly-Kei - Standard LiveJournal community for everything Dolly Kei
Antique Dolly - Tumblr for Dolly Kei fashion


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