Here at Tokyo Telephone we love connecting to other bloggers, so imagine our delight when the Harajuku fashionista La Carmina did us the honour of chatting to us about her style inspirations, subcultures and her plans for the future!
If you’re interested in the darker side of Japanese fashion and clubbing, then La Carmina’s gothic wonder of a blog is a must see. She’s a very busy spooky lady too; her activities include travel TV host, author of 3 books (Penguin USA and Random House), and writer for CNNGo.com and Lip Service. Her blog has been featured in major publications (The New Yorker, Washington Post, WWD, Village Voice, Time Out New York, Fox News, LA Times), and she’s appeared on The Today Show and co-hosted an episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern for Travel Channel. She recently co-hosted a Canal Plus documentary and CNN International segment in Tokyo, and will be the Asia host for educational travel TV series, Project Explorer.
Q; Thanks to blogs such as your own, it’s now more simple than ever to keep in touch with Japanese fashion, and it’s easy to forget that there was a time before we had this level of access. How did you used to keep up to date with Japan & its changing fashions before the advent of the internet?
A; Asian style has always been part of my consciousness because of my family background. I’ve been traveling around Asia from the time I was a baby, and loved to flip through the fashion spreads in my parents’ Chinese magazines. Clothes are cheap in Hong Kong, so my childhood wardrobe contained a lot of Hello Kitty! I’m lucky that I was able to see Japanese street fashion up close, in the 1980s and 90s, before the Internet came about.
Q; That must have been wonderful to experience such iconic fashion subcultures in their early days! To what extent has your own style been influenced by your interest in Japanese fashion? Are there any different styles you’d love to try?
A; Japan’s Gothic Lolita and Punk fashion is, without doubt, the greatest influence on my personal style. The dark Victorian elegance and Rococo girlishness – epitomized by brands such as Moi-meme-Moitie, Victorian Maiden and h.NAOTO – opened up a new world of personal expression for me. I’m also captivated by the distinctly Japanese decora (highly layered and accessorized) and kawaii (cute) styles. I like mixing Harajuku street styles to create my own look. Most recently, I’ve turned to budding “style tribes” — Mori Girl, Fairy Kei and Dolly Kei – for inspiration.
Q; As someone who is directly involved in bringing Japanese fashion subcultures to a wider audience, how do you feel about the increase in popularity? Do you think that it changes the subculture?
A; I’m all for inclusiveness. The Japan Goth/alternative underground remains a tiny family; the designers and artists can always use more support. I hope the increased awareness will help Japanese subcultures stay strong and keep breaking new ground.
Q; With the recent closure of Banana Fish and Takuya Angel deciding to exist only as a web-shop, how do you think the global recession will change Japanese fashion?
A; I recently interviewed my friend Kenzo-A, designer of Goth brand Rituals, for CNN TV about this subject. He said Harajuku is sadly becoming run over by “big box” retailers. On the bright side, pioneering alt stores such as Yellow House and Takenoko have stayed stalwart. And despite the closures, new and exciting brands like Dangerous Nude (corsets and Gothic Lolita clothing) continue to start up. I hope that in time, the cycle will come back to this. My friends are savvy about building fierce outfits on a budget, such as by using vintage pieces and dollar store finds. Creatively, I think Japan’s alternative fashion scene remains ever-strong.
Q; Finally, what are your fashion tips for the future? What can we look forward to from the fashion and media tour-de-force that is La Carmina?
A; Keep a close eye on Japan’s Goth/Cyber club scene for boundary-pushing fashion. As for me… I’ll keep blogging every day about Harajuku’s glorious subcultures and street style. I also hope to keep doing travel TV hosting in Japan and every dark corner of the globe.
Boundary-pushing fashion… that sounds right up our street! A huge thanks again to the ever-lovely La Carmina for taking the time to answer our questions. La Carmina proves that with hard blogging work comes rewards, and her passion for her writing is evident. Keep up the good work – you’re an inspiration!
Keep an eye on the bloody fabulous La Carmina:
† LA CARMINA †
blogger. author. tv host. designer.
URL – http://www.lacarmina.com
EMAIL – firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=10225211197 and
Rebecca and Samuel