August 7, 2008

Harajuku and Visual kei (by a Perfume Otaku)

I have been fascinated lately by the creativity and the extremity of the Japanese subcultures in fashion and make up styles. There is a vocabulary that has been developed to describe some of the concepts. Otaku, to my understanding, describes a person who has allowed their own eccentricity free rein and become extremely involved with some aspect of pop or other form of modern culture; a person with obsessive interests. Along those lines, to some I myself could be considered a Perfume Otaku.

Visual kei is the movement of Japanese musicians to adopt eccentric and extreme looks. The conceptual aspect of their visual presentation is as important, or maybe more important sometimes, than the music. Visual kei is a conceptual performance art that combines fashion and music and cultural references that cross the classic Japanese styles with iconic American and European imagery, such as those from the gothic lolita, vampire, or biker subcultural styles. Fans have spread this look all over the world.

This style includes very emphasized eyes and extreme hair. The aim appears to be to approach the look of manga and anime characters.

There is also the cosplay culture, which has spread to the U.S. People dress up as their favorite anime characters or some exalted version of them, and pose themselves within the environment in such a way as to closely approximate certain significant scenes in an anime. Kind of like the historical re-enactment movement, only about fictional graphic characters. I recall people in full costume and makeup arranging themselves through out the landscape in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden during the Cherry Blossom festival this past Spring, and then realizing I was witnessing cosplay.

There are a number of other harajuku styles, one called Ganguro, where young Japanese girls adopt very tan makeup in an almost tribal warpaint style to present an exaggerated and idealized version of American street style crossed with California surfer babe Barbie doll style.

There are many fascinating videos on You Tube which are basically tutorials on visual kei and other contemporary Japanese makeup and hair styles.

For a good visual kei eye makeup tutorial on YouTube, please see here.

Dir en Grey, a visual kei jrock group depicts the style in action on many videos on You Tube. Note the waving lines on the fins of the swimming gold fish in the background echoing the strands of black hair in movement as they dance here in one of the prettier clips. (Be careful of some of their other videos, some of the images are disturbing).

For a more toned-down but still intense, far more Western and fashion-oriented version of dramatic eye makeup, please see this excellent tutorial by Smashbox, here.
Above promotional photo is of one of the Dir en Grey members.

2 comments:

Wholesale Perfume Suppliers said...
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Top 10 Perfumes said...

I am not much interested in makeup or so, but thease tutorials really make me crasy!!!:)))

Thanks!