Category Archives: DESIGN

Gothic Lolita

By Hannah Watanabe-Rocco

Even though I’ve been involved in a lot of nerdy things (I was in two orchestras at a math and science high school; essentially we were the nerdiest of the nerds), I’ve never been an anime kid. Despite being half Japanese and, despite having tried reading some manga and watching some anime and trying to listen to J-rock, it just never really clicked with me. However, it most definitely clicked with my sister. When she hit middle school, she got super obsessed with these really androgynous J-rock bands, started dressing up like anime characters and we started going to anime conventions together. Even though I didn’t really like anime, I enjoyed being in an environment where people were united by being super into something, and felt like they could be themselves. It wasn’t necessarily what I would do, but I always like people who aren’t afraid of letting their weird sides show. It was around then that I discovered Gothic Lolita.

Gothic Lolita is largely characterized by big curly hair, super frilly dresses, superfluous amounts of bows, and being extremely dainty. First, my sister was really into it, and she showed me some pictures of these strange Japanese girls dressed like wannabe Marie Antoinettes. I was confused. Wasn’t it difficult going around dressed like that all the time? How did they go to the bathroom? Plus, they all looked like little girls. It seemed weird and kind of regressive that these women were infantilizing themselves by dressing this way. Then I watched this movie called Kamikaze Girls.

Kamikaze Girls is awesome, and you should go watch it immediately. It’s about this really antisocial Gothic Lolita girl who decides to open up a little and make friends with this crazy girl in a biker gang. When I watched that movie, I realized that Gothic Lolita wasn’t really about infantilisation, and it definitely wasn’t about trying to be attractive to men or something. It’s about creating your own world through what you wear. The girl in the movie just wanted to escape to Rococo-era France, and hey, who wouldn’t want to do that? For me, the most fun part of fashion is how you can kind of create your own story through your clothes. When I choose an outfit, I subconsciously think about a backstory, about a character I’m trying to create. It’s a fun way of trying to bring storytelling into everyday life.

After that, I bought a Gothic Lolita magazine at the next anime convention I attended, and I really haven’t looked back since. I am an unabashed fan of Gothic Lolita. Even though it might not necessarily be practical for me to wear, I can take some of the Gothic Lolita sensibility into my own life. I like the punk-rock sensibility it takes to wear whatever you want and not give a fuck. I like the little specific details that are so important in creating your own world, your own story. These are the things that bring a little something special to everyday life.

All drawings by Hannah Watanabe-Rocco.

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Mod

By Hannah Watanabe-Rocco

Hello everyone! My name is Hannah and I’m going to tell you a little bit about fashion, because I am a Fashion Expert. Seriously. Except not seriously. I’m actually just a 23-year-old who graduated with a film degree a year-and-a-half ago and now I’m working in apparel retail part time, so I’m going to count these as adequate credentials for me to force my thoughts about fashion upon you.

When I was younger, I didn’t really have a huge interest in what clothes I wore. Any interest I did have was of the fitting-in variety. I wanted to wear sweatshirts with Hawaiian flowers on them and Old Navy fleece pullovers like everyone else. My fashion mecca was Pacific Sunwear (Does anyone still shop there? Does that place even exist anymore?) I think I also had some hideous mauve lipstick that I got at Target that I would sometimes wear to feel like a grownup. So yeah, basically, I was not a ~fashionista~.

Then I got to high school. I went to a magnet high school for math and science, so everyone was pretty nerdy and I suddenly felt the freedom to reinvent myself. I didn’t know anyone, and everyone was pretty much as geeky as I was, so why not? Thus began my experiments in fashion. And not, like, cool experiments done by professional chemists. More like Frankenstein-esque experiments done by a mad scientist, the mad scientist being me. I started subscribing to YM magazine (sadly not around anymore, RIP) and one day when I was 15 I came across this awesome fashion spread about mod clothing. My life was never the same. This happened to coincide with the time when I started listening to cooler music, like The Beatles and pretty much anything British and from the ’60s, and the White Stripes, so I was primed to like mod fashion. I looked at these cool girls with BANGS riding around on VESPAS wearing cool WHITE BOOTS and LEATHER JACKETS and I instantly fell in love.

I feel like this is the point where I should explain exactly what mod is. Mod, short for modernist, was a subculture in London in the ’60s where everyone was basically a godless heathen. Well, maybe not a godless heathen, but young people started spending money on themselves instead of contributing money to their family, and therefore started spending an ungodly amount of money on clothes. It was also tied in with music and tons of other things going on in culture at the time. Women got more androgynous, hemlines shortened (Mary Quant, a hugely influential mod designer, invented the hot pant and the miniskirt. Thank you, Mary Quant!), and generally people dressed way awesome.

As a 15-year-old with no disposable income to speak of, I got some cheap blazers from Macy’s (actually, I had some left over from my Avril Lavigne phase when I was 14. Don’t judge, I know you had an Avril Lavigne phase, too) and started sewing my pants so that they were skinny instead of flared. Okay, so I’m going to sound like every other mildly artsy teenager who’s always like, I LIKED ____ BEFORE IT/THEY/HE/SHE GOT FAMOUS, but seriously, I wore skinny pants before everyone else! There was also, like, one other girl at school who I always felt very competitive with, fashion-wise, and she also started wearing skinny pants around this time. This was BEFORE you could buy skinny jeans at the Gap and we had to bootleggedly make them ourselves. I hand-sewed that shit, bitches. Don’t front.

So anyway, mod has continued to have a huge impact on my style ever since then, and I’m going to suggest some ways to create the look with some clothes that I really like and can’t afford!

This dress is Madewell. I figure you can find red tights/flats pretty much anywhere.

Sonia by Sonia Rykiel is so awesomely mod: the bright colors, the clean, boxy cuts. Color-blocking is a huge part of the whole mod aesthetic. The shoes are Chelsea boots from Marais USA.

The sweater and skirt are Rag & Bone, the white collared shirt is just a generic white collared shirt, and the shoes are TopShop. I feel like this one is slightly verging on being seventies, but there’s definitely still some mod-ness there: the color-blocking in the sweater, the menswear details in the mini-skirt.

The dress is from Red Velvet. So cute! The shoes are TopShop again. Man, I wish I could have a sweet turquoise Vespa. I always see them parked around the West Village, and I’m like, you mean I could feasibly use one of these things in New York City? Apparently so!

As an added bonus, here’s a song to serve as a little soundtrack to all of your wildest mod fantasies. Enjoy!

All drawings by Hannah Watanabe-Rocco.


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Bigger And Clearer Is Better And Wetter

By Kaitlin Perry

My dad’s friend, Chris, was visiting from New Zealand last week so that he could peruse various locations full of collectible antiques (or junk as some may say). Though his focus was mainly on car parts for hot rods and the like, he came across these large glass water jugs (pictured left). Though I have no idea what he planned on using them for, my mom came up with a snazzy idea of her own – use them as oversized flower vases.

My mom assumed that the glass jugs left on her deck must have been too big for Chris to ship back to New Zealand. Rather than have my dad hide them away in his garage, she filled them with water and various flower clippings, all of which have long stems that reach the bottom of their new home.

The salvia and sweet peas in this particular jug are highlighted by the antique chairs on their sides, as well as their tendency to droop as a result of their size. Nevertheless, they look beautiful, rustic and far from thirsty.

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