I think I’ll always have a soft spot for Dir en grey. Way back in ancient history (about eight years ago) when I first came across the band, their combination of music and fashion won me over instantly. I’ve always had an eye for the dramatic, so anything with that much pvc and big hair was bound to get my attention – as well as the songs themselves of course!

(credit to the photographer, whoever you are!)

Although my devotion may have waxed and waned over the years, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see Dir en grey in London on the 3rd August. A far cry from the first time I was lucky enough see them live – my friends and I flew to Germany to see their very first European gig – we simply hopped on a train and arrived in style.

The gig happened to be in Camden’s Koko, a former theatre, and the opulent setting served to amplify both the dramatic sound of the band and their mature style. ‘Vulgar’ has always been the stand-out album for me, so I was pleased to hear a couple of old favourites as well as a good selection of newer material. I’d really love to hear some of the earlier tracks (Zomboid, perhaps? Anything from Macabre?), but I guess I’ll have to cross my fingers. The Final was the true highlight for me; I could tell it was for the rest of the crowd too! I’ve never been disappointed to see Dir en grey, and this live was no exception.


Red soil
Agitated screams of maggots
Hageshisa to kono mune no naka de karamitsuita shakunetsu no yami
Stuck man
Gaika chinmoku ga nemuru koro
Inconvenient ideal


Dozing green
Rotting root


Reiketsu nariseba

The Final

A far cry from their early days when eyeliner and platform boots were standard attire, in the past few years Dir en grey have moved forwards with their fashion as much as their music. It’s really interesting as an objective observer to be able to chart the progression of their music and fashion from visual-kei and very costume-like outfits to more of a western-influenced metal sound, and contemporary rock star image. As much as I was entranced by their leather hot-pants and black lipstick as a teenager, I have to say that I really like their current look! I’d quite like to take a look at some other Japanese bands to see if their music and fashion progression have also gone in hand-in-hand as with Dir en grey, or evolved¬†separately.

Fashion and music were the two great influencing factors that drew me towards Japan as a young teen – I didn’t follow the gaming route that Samuel took, nor the anime path of others. I think that fashion and music, particularly in Japan, go hand in hand, and this creates a whole new tourist market. We are the generation of pop-culture fans – we love fast fun fashion, and Japan is our perfect playground for living out our wildest fantasies.

However, what of fashion sub-cultures unlike visual-kei that are not tied to a specific music genre? I guess gyaru is linked to para-para eurobeat, but unlike less mainstream fashions you could argue that there is no real soundtrack to lolita fashion. A visual-kei fan will probably dress like a member of a visual-kei group, but who’s to say what genre of music a lolita fashionista might listen to? Classical? Heavy metal? French pop?

Does the music you listen to influence the way you dress? As I’ve got older, I think my style has matured (particularly in the past year), and my taste in music has broadened so much so that the two are now not really linked at all. How about you?

Rebecca, revelling in nostalgia

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2 Responses to Dir en grey; when music and fashion collide

  1. brad-t says:

    Very interesting article.

    I think I can’t deny that my taste in music influenced the way I dress, or at least created a jumping-off point. I got into the brands I like now because of Gackt, whom I was a huge fan of in my adolescence. Our styles have branched off from each other now, though. So I don’t think at all it influences my style as I am today, but it did push me into it in the first place.

    On the subject of Dir en grey, I don’t like their new style, but I also have a strong distaste for the ridiculous visual kei styles of old. I like bands that hit a balance — the GazettE and BUCK-TICK, for example — between androgynous glamour and edgy rock looks. However, Dir en grey is still an awesome, awesome band.

  2. tokyotelephone says:

    Thanks for the comment!
    Yeah, I’m the same; musicians were a huge influence on my teens and as I’ve matured I think my style has too, but I do credit them with sparking my interest in Japanese fashion.

    I feel really nostalgic about all the old over-the-top VK outfits! Haha! I remember when I first started finding Japanese bands, you couldn’t just go and download a full discography like you can now… I think that the ease with which you can has diluted the scene to certain extent – not that I’m complaining about Dir en grey coming to the UK!


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