Sugar and spice

Just how many 1980s revivals can youth culture sustain right now? While the nu-rave movement shows no signs of fading from England’s sticky dancefloors, over in Japan the kids have been in thrall to the fashion craziness of the somewhat ridiculed New Romantic movement for well over a decade now, if a new book, Gothic and Lolita, is to be believed. Photographer Masayuki Yoshinaga, who has worked for Dazed & Confused and The Face, travelled through Osaka and Tokyo, documenting this homage to visual-kei (visual rock) bands and their New Wave attire. Collected in this book are portraits that claim to represent many thousands of teenagers and twenty-somethings enslaved to this subculture, mostly born too late to remember the original New Wave, but now embracing it with stylistic ingenuity. While the Goths’ sartorial choices of fetish boots, vampy make-up and piercings are familiar fodder, there’s something quite creepy about girls dressed as lace-frilled Lolitas, clutching cuddly toys and parasols, the most extreme examples offering a brand of sexual jailbait that makes School Disco dress-ups look tame by comparison. Most unnerving is how Yoshinaga photographs these girls outside the realms of clubland fantasy, in the all too realistic settings of their bedrooms. For the most part though, these teens look happy with their outsider identities, painting a picture of an experimental generation that’s thriving and edgy.

Gothic and Lolita is published by Phaidon Press, priced £19.95

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