In recent years the gothic fashion oeuvre has found itself pretty much plundered by the fashionable streetwear crowd, leaving those aspiring to what was once a deliberately counter fashion culture movement more than a little bemused, but in need of pastures new. In going against the futuristic meets hip-hop look that grew out of the goth rave and cyber scene it was almost inevitable that goth would revert to its more classical origins, but for all the well-meaning niche independent brands on the periphery, this is a fashion often failing in execution, with only one credible exception – Alice Auaa. Alice Auaa has always been at the higher end of Japanese gothic fashion that contemporaries such as h.Naoto have on occasion flirted with, always preferring to work with the higher end of fabrics and in-house materials, haute-couture style custom orders for dedicated fans, and all in all producing the kind of quality I could have only dreamed of when shopping in Camden as a teen.
Alice Auaa are also keen on avoiding the gothic cliches, actually preferring to steer away from the “g” word entirely, as well as a completely black palette, and striving to dig deep into the heart of an aesthetic that is all to easy to dismiss out of hand for those on the outside.
In their latest collection we find Alice Auaa on an aquatic journey, finding romance in fishermen and nymphs, tragic seductresses, and stern figures that no sea-farer would want to cross. Beyond the fantastical characters that border on the theatric, we find beautiful scales, waves, pearls, and coral, sitting uncomfortably next to polluted looking sea-weed, rough sand and images of the grotesque that rarely enter the predictable gothic repertoire.
The runway show eased into the nautical adventure with restrained references to the deep, before gradually taking on a much more literal turn as designer Yasutaka Funakoshi flexed his muscles and delivered his own dark dreams onto the catwalk.
We start with a classic Alice Auaa ensemble for the summer, but don’t miss the rippling peplums.
These feather light frills seemed to suggest gentle waves, especially as they were reflected in motion by the shimmering runway.
The cowl here suggested the sea without distracting from the overall crisp yet dramatic effect.
Alice Auaa’s men this collection were a seasoned band of rogues, the suggestion being that they were perhaps lured into the depths by the female models.
As the sense of drama escalates you can spot directly piscine references such as the gaping jaws on the head piece.
Here you can start to see the level of technical delivery that Alice Auaa delivers, push any thoughts of teen subcultures from your mind, this is credible fashion for those who will appreciate it.
The show was intermittently broken up with showpieces that distilled the various aesthetics, so that even those on the periphery of this kind of outsider fashion could keep up.
Alice Auaa’s dresses are perhaps the best entry point for the brand, the simpler pieces often relying on a degree of competence with layering that doesn’t come naturally to all.
This deep sea fish signaled the middle of the show and a descent into the deep.
Beauty was balanced out with a sense of grit as below:
I loved how this ensemble gave way to reveal a seductive pearl on closer inspection.
The men had the most accessible wardrobe, but I can assure you that there are plenty of easy items in the showroom and in-store for everyone to enjoy.
This pearl meets rubbery sea-weed ensemble was the climax of the show, finding a sense of eroticism, and life and death at the core of the Alice Auaa experience. But never let it be said that they do not understand the importance of camp humor and theatre in the gothic – as the designer took his bow he was pursued out by a scruffy rabbit originally seated in the audience that originally appeared in his Alice in Wonderland themed SS 2013:
If you too are interested in gothic high-fashion I can recommend that you visit their stores in Harajuku and Osaka, but if you are abroad the recently opened Alice Auaa International boutique should be able to meet your needs. This is an entirely new venture that launched this month, so if you are a fan do show your support and hopefully other brands will follow suit.