29 Nov 2016

Most Iconic Lolita Dresses



Like every fashion, Lolita fashion has changed a lot and will keep changing. From Elegant Gothic Lolita and what we now call oldschool style, through the introduction of border prints, which later boomed in a craze for all things OTT, all the way to current trend for toning things down a little and lean them towards Classic – and who knows what else we’ll see coming! Yet at the same time there are some things which remain as instantly recognisable and iconic.




I remember reading on another blog that Baby’s Shirring Princess JSK is an iconic dress, both for that one brand and in Lolita fashion in general. This got me thinking about what other dresses could be considered iconic. Are some more iconic than others? Does every brand have a piece that they could consider quintessential of their brand?

A lot of discussion about this will be very subjective, influenced by both our own styles and preferences as well as by when we joined the fashion. After all, what is an iconic Lolita dress will be different for a Gothic Lolita with ten to fifteen years of being in the fashion than it will for a Sweet Loli newbie.

I decided to have a think myself and come up with a list of what I’d consider iconic dresses, limiting myself to one per brand. This is by no means a decisive list or a ranking, simply my opinions based on what I’ve observed so far in discussions, sales and WTB posts, influences etc. I don’t know all the brands well enough to say what could be their staple piece, but for those I do know I feel like these represent what they stand for. Unless otherwise specified, all photos are from Lolibrary.

Angelic Pretty

The original 2009 release
Let’s get the most challenging one out of the way first. There are literally dozens of AP dresses which you could consider iconic and all with good reason. However, after much thought, I picked Sugary Carnival as the one that I think should be the one. Honestly, I don’t really like it that much, but it is instantly recognisable by both older and newer members of the Lolita community as Angelic Pretty. It pretty well defines it as a brand for Sweet Lolita: sweets, carnivals, big prints, pastel colours… It also tends to polarise people a little bit into those who love it and those who hate it. Again, I’m not a big fan of it myself (though hate would be too strong a word), but I see why it could appeal to others and in a way, iconic things should be a little bit controversial (like was Marilyn Monroe sexy and curvaceous or just fat – doesn’t matter, she’s still a Hollywood icon). So whilst I could’ve gone for all kinds of other dresses, older or newer, Sweet or other styles – and I have strongly considered both Puppet Circus and Holy Lantern here – I think that Sugary Carnival will for years remain as an item that continues to be desired and appreciated, no matter how old it gets.

Baby the Stars Shine Bright

The 2005 release, oldest on Lolibrary
Here I do agree with Shirring Princess as the choice. The fact that it gets re-released pretty much yearly and is available in all kinds of colours, patterns and even, to a degree, cuts (regular or halter neck) speaks volumes about its unwaning popularity amongst Lolitas. It offers incredible versatility in terms of styles – pick the right colour and you could do dozens of coords paying an homage to all kinds of different substyles – but will also fit a variety of sizes, meaning that almost every Lolita out there should be able to get one (whereas Sugary Carnival does fall victim to the size justification for its multiple replicas). On top of this, while I tried to think of a BtSSB print that struck me as incredibly popular regardless of its age and that I’d see across multiple WTB and sales post, I hit a blank spot. Yes, there are some very popular Baby prints, but none to the extent of AP’s print popularity. The only item that could rival Shirring Princess for the title of Baby’s most iconic thing would be the Usakumya bags and backpacks, since they are limited to this brand, but that’d break my resolve of sticking to main pieces.

Alice and the Pirates

The 2014 release, oldest on Lolibrary is 2007
For a moment Tricky Nightmare Factory flew across my mind as a candidate: it encapsulates the brand’s more Gothic/Halloween-leaning vibes, as well as their unusual prints (they have many a series where I haven’t seen any other brand pick up on that theme), but also remains an incredibly popular print that Lolitas are still yearning for. And then I remembered something else, closer in feel to Baby’s Shirring Princess than AP’s print domination: Gathered Chiffon. Whilst Tricky Nightmare Factory definitely is an iconic print, I believe that Gathered Chiffon is AatP’s iconic dress. It is instantly recognisable, even though it’s not printed, and also keeps being re-released in various colour combinations, including some limited edition ones done only by one branch of the brand. Moreover, they are also very versatile pieces, so while as a brand AatP does lean more Gothic than anything else, you can coord this dress in a variety of ways that may have absolutely nothing to do with that substyle – they’re yours to put your own unique stamp on them, whilst retaining that classic cut and details that make them quintessentially Alice and the Pirates.

Innocent World

The high waist cut, 2011
When I think of Innocent World their obsession with everything even remotely British comes to the fore. Whilst I personally find it a little tedious, probably because to me it feels like romanticising Great Britain in a very obvious and direct manner (whereas constantly spewing out carnival or food prints is at worst a lack of imagination), I can’t ignore that this is a big part of the brands identity. To me all of these Britain-inspired prints blend into one and if I had to match the name to the picture, I’d get it wrong. At the same time, I know of people who follow these releases almost religiously and having looked through Lolibrary a little, I feel that Grazia Crown should be Innocent World’s most iconic dress. It incorporates motifs and styles present across the board in IW’s dresses – smaller border print, simplicity of cuts, details but well spread out background print – and seems to be the one that made IW’s Britain-inspired prints big, leading the way to other ones such as Crest Gobelin (both featuring similar kind of tassels in the print). I had thought about their non-printed dresses, but to me many of them blend a little too much with what’s available on Japanese high street in terms of style that I couldn’t identify them as distinctly Innocent World because I’ve seen many very similar ones offbrand. Plus, this is a very Classic-focused brand, so while they have quite a few sweeter prints that are incredibly popular (e.g. Classical Strawberry or Rabbit Letter, both of which have been re-released this year), to me they don’t shout Innocent World as much as all of their British prints do.

Metamorphose temps de fille

Elana 2016 OP
Of the main brands I feel like this is the one I know least. For a very long time I considered their stuff very garish and it took me a lot of time to appreciate their wacky side in their prints. Now that I have a slightly better understanding of Meta as a brand and have seen the sort of things that they do very well, I can’t help but feel like it’s their velveteen dresses that deserve the title of iconic. Yes, it’s a little bit of a cheat, since we’re talking about many different cuts and styles that only have the material in common, but at the same time I feel that Meta’s velveteen creations not only remain popular (as evidenced by all the annual releases of some velveteen items), but remain current. Velveteen is a material that’s heavily associated with oldschool Lolita and whilst oldschool is going through a little bit of a revival at the moment, this year’s Meta velveteen release doesn’t feel dated or like something you could only wear in an oldschool way. There’s versatility in the lack of print and these dresses do pay an homage to a certain aesthetic, but at the same time Meta aren’t going overboard with the oldschool nods and these remain pretty, elegant dresses, appropriate for a variety of Lolita substyles. Meta knows how to do velveteen well and how to keep it going without looking like you’ve just brought out your patterns from the year 2001 – and for that I believe that these deserve the title of iconic.

Bodyline

photo taken from EGL Comm Sales
I know, we’re on tricky territory of “Is Bodyline even a brand”, but given its continuous presence in our Lolita lives, as well as some attempts to redeem itself, we might as well add them to this line-up. Bodyline will inevitably supply the first dress that many Lolita newcomers will ever get, but despite a relatively decent range on offer – plain or border print, Sweet or Gothic, cheap or a little pricier – one stands out as the item I see far more often than any other Bodyline item: Squirrel Party. Sweet Lolitas both new and experienced find something in this print that secures continuous restocking of this 2011 print (yes, it really is that old already). And in all fairness to Bodyline, whilst I personally don’t like this print, it is a nice one. It definitely pays a tribute to the OTT Sweet championed by AP around that time, offering a wide range of colourways that would’ve been present in AP prints back then, and since Sugary Carnival still makes it onto many Lolitas’ wishlists, I don’t see why Squirrel Party shouldn’t be enjoying a similar kind of popularity, especially when backed up with a reasonable price tag. Yes, there are a few other prints that Bodyline keeps putting back in stock, but many of them make it back onto the resale market with varying levels of success, whereas Squirrel Party I see being resold a lot less often – and appearing worn on way more outfit shots than any of those other Bodyline prints.


What do you think are some of the most iconic Lolita dresses? Would you agree with me or do you think that I missed out on something very obvious or more worthy of that title? How about dresses from brands that I haven’t mentioned? I’d love to get a discussion going since, as I said at the beginning, what’s iconic to one person could be insignificant to another.

4 comments:

  1. Btssb' most iconic dress is the babydoll maxidress aka the grandma nightgrown, at least to me. Even people tell you it is not lolita because it is too long or non existing petticoat space. But is comfortable and very summerfriendly. And I can hide my legs in it completely. Everyone has litterally a opinion about the dress.
    Other icons:
    Ateiler Pierrots corset bustle skirt, they fit in any wardrobe style, even the skirts are considered gothic. I have even come across sax blue and pink versions. I think their corsage dresses are not famous eneough to take the trope.

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    Replies
    1. I don't actually know what that Baby dress looks like. I tried to find it on Lolibrary, but only found their regular babydoll dresses. And while they're definitely quite iconic, especially thanks to Kamikaze Girls showing off styles like this, I'm not sure if that's the one you meant. But I do agree on the Atelier Pierrot skirts - you look at them and you know which brand they're from and as you said, they suit a wide range of styles. Plus I'm always up for a corset skirt!

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    2. The versions as those in Kamikaze Girls. Corset style bust with small halter neck straps and wider elastic ones. Usually with the lacerows down the skirt or tiered, they go by the name Karami jsk. But the version I have, has the hiliaricious rename anno 2015: three staged tier baby doll jsk.

      I think the skirt can go by term, awesome basics. They can be statement pieces, but still you can choice another item to be statement rather than the skirt, but nicer than typical solid skirt.

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    3. Oh yeah, this one. Yeah, Kamikaze Girls definitely played a role in popularising Baby's babydoll JSKs like this one and they are probably just as iconic as Shirring Princess.

      They are very dressy skirts, they remind me of Gothic-style ball gowns that singers from my favourite metal bands would wear (and tbh, they'd probably still wear them, doesn't matter that they're not ball gowns). Plus, because they're not glaringly obvious as Lolita, to the uninitiated they just look like some alternative fashion, you'd get away with wearing them on a daily basis a bit more, as in people would stare that little bit less since most of them would just assume you're a Goth/someone like a Goth and carry on their way.

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