Le Panier vol. 2 Review


It would not be an exaggeration or a lie to say that I was very worried about Le Panier. There was never any information on how often it would be published and volume one has truly won me over. It’s not unusual for magazines about niche fashions to stop after the first issue, so the longer we had no news, the more I assumed that Le Panier has sadly shared the fate of many others. And boy, am I glad to have been wrong!

Just like I did with my reviews of tulle, I will compare issue 2 with the first one, to see what has changed and by how much, as well as what may be new. If you’ve read my original review of the magazine, then you’ll know that there wasn’t much that I wanted changing, so my hopes were to get more of what we had.

And, in short, that is what we got. The magazine has retained that Harper’s Bazaar-esque luxurious feel: the paper is thick, photography very artful and advertisements non-existent.

The cover still announces that it’s a “New Wave Lolita Magazine” and I’m feeling the “New Wave” part a little more than I did previously. I wonder how much of this is a stylistic choice for the issue and how much is actually a reflection of the broader trends within lolita fashion. Many of the photoshoots in Le Panier vol 2 feature longer length dresses and minimal or no poof. Whilst there certainly is an element of deliberate styling in this, as long flowy dresses evoke romantic and nostalgic feelings, I think it has been aided by the wider trends. Angelic Pretty, who have a several page photoshoot feature in this issue, have had quite a few long length JSKs and OPs this year alone, the majority of which have sold well or even sold out. Still, whilst in other magazines about lolita fashion, such as tulle or Spoons, we would debate whether the styling is still lolita or already otome, in Le Panier it matters less. Not because the magazine is exclusively lolita or because it’s produced to such a high standard overall, but because it simply fits the mood it’s trying to create through the photography.

I was also very positively surprised to see Violet Fane’s clothing used in one of the photoshoots. Western brands are becoming a stronger presence on the wider lolita scene and Violet Fane is one of those that has been doing particularly well. Their clothing is sold in Japan by Atelier Pierrot, both online and in at least one branch that I am aware of, giving them exposure to the Japanese market. To see their clothing be featured in a magazine such as Le Panier gives them further legitimacy as a respectable and prestigious lolita brand. Hopefully this will not only boost Violet Fane’s sales and reputation, but will also help other Western brands rise and become widely respected beyond their current Western audience. Because as long as lolitas feel the need to distinguish between ‘Japanese brands’ and ‘indie brands’, without giving much thought as to how they define ‘a brand’ as its own concept, I feel that we will need continuing exposure like this.

This time the readable content included an interview with Risa Aizawa (who, I must admit, I didn’t know of until I read the interview), the designer for a small brand called Memuse and a former idol. Even not knowing who Risa Aizawa was, I found value in reading the interview and found it interesting. This is what any good magazine should do - create content that’s enjoyable to the readers regardless of how familiar they might be with this particular person, issue or point of view. Sadly, we lost the craft tutorial, which I can imagine must’ve seemed at odds with the otherwise feel of the magazine (in a similar vein as you wouldn’t expect Harper’s Bazar or Vogue to include crafting tutorials). Instead we’ve also gained on event reports, which weren’t there before. The two included are from Angelic Pretty’s Shanghai dinner party and Le Panier’s own Shanghai event.

Knowing now that Le Panier is expected to be an annual publication, I look at it a little differently. Whereas in issue 1 I was happy to sacrifice either some of the high end polish or the low price for continuing publication, now I’d like to add things. Or maybe not necessarily add as bulk out. For an annual publication of this sort of finish I would be happy to pay more than the ¥800 plus VAT. However, for that I would also like the magazine to have a little bit more of the content that it currently has. More of the artful photoshoots would be the easiest way to add more content, however, I feel like it could do with more written content too. Expanding on the interviews or conducting more would make for a more in-depth read. Additionally, more elaborate articles such as an expanded version of the one about different kinds of petticoats from issue 1 or something like theafternoon tea etiquette one from Miel could add something to read that’s more aimed at the lifestyle elements without sacrificing the luxury feel. To me this whole magazine exudes a sense of creating a fantasy world, where we’re all beautifully rich ladies of leisure who care not about the mundane and the ordinary, dedicating themselves instead to the beautiful and the ethereal. If that is indeed what the magazine is aiming for, then we may as well indulge in some more ‘posher than thou’ reading content to sustain that fantasy. I’m sure that Le Panier’s editors would know exactly what to provide.

Now that the second issue is out, thus breaking the ‘one issue only’ curse, I am much calmer. It is a shame that I’ve not had the chance to enjoy this volume in the way that it truly deserves: whilst dressed to the nines, with a porcelain cup of fancy tea, with a scented candle burning softly, having absolutely zero care for the world’s worries. Life has been too busy for this, but I will be sure to revisit the magazine one day just like this. Because Le Panier’s appeal lies in how its aesthetic value makes it pleasurable to look through time and again, even after all the previewed clothes have been released.

Have you gotten a copy yet? What did you think? Are you into the whole creating a rich lifestyle lolita fantasy or do you prefer the more down to earth/accessible to all feel of magazines like tulle now or GLB/KERA in the past?

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