Gothic Lolita

Gothic Lolita (ゴシック・ロリータ, goshikku rori-ta) is a type of Lolita Fashion that draws inspiration from victorian-inspired Goth styles popularized by Mana, a japanese musician. The most prominent feature of Gothic Lolita fashion is the combination of a cuteness and a “doll-like” appearance with the dressing codes of Visual-kei and Gothic subcultures, which are inherently different.


Gothic Lolita is one of the oldest substyle of Lolita fashion (alongside Classic and Sweet Lolita) that gained popularity during the 1990s. It drew heavy influence from the Japanese Goth and Visual Kei scenes, which in turn were inspired by the styles of artists such as Strawberry Switchblade and Nina Hagen, as well as other New Wave musicians with a darker, more fairy tale-like, Woodland Goth aesthetic.

Mana, a member of the Visual Kei band Malice Mizer, helped popularize the substyle through his own androgynous fashion sense and his clothing label, Moi-même-Moíte.

The Gothic & Lolita Bible, a Japanese magazine, served as the ultimate guide to the style and connected aesthetic preferences.


Gothic Lolita is characterized by fantastic attire reminiscent of European culture, such as Rococo style. In addition to Rococo, there are also suggestions of a connection to the Victorian era, and the character of the street fashion is unique in its attempt to carry on Western culture, even though it is street fashion. The designers of the Gothic Lolita brands are also well versed in traditional European clothing culture, and they have put forward ideas that imitate such techniques and styles and give form to typical Western images. However, Gothic Lolita itself is considered a uniquely Japanese culture, and it is said that there is no other country in the West where people wearing 18th century dresses walk the streets, and where tradition and modernity exist so simultaneously.

However, Gothic Lolita fashions also have the problems of being uncomfortable to wear and difficult to maintain style, such as being “hot,” “hard to move around in,” “difficult to store,” “expensive,” and “scarce”. Furthermore, while the number of brands targeting Lolita is increasing, both large and small, there are few brands primarily targeting Gothic Lolita, and the population of Gothic Lolita, where Gothic Lolita overlap, is also said to be decreasing.

Age Groups

The majority of Gothic Lolita enthusiasts are young people up to their 20s, as many consider it unwearable when they are in their 20s and 30s. Also, while gal and casual brands targeting women of the same age group pursue new trends in response to market fluctuations in order to increase sales, Gothic Lolita brands stay in one place to some extent and express a single theme.

However, Gothic Lolita does not choose who wears it, as it does not expose much skin and can hide the body shape, and the large bows are eye-catching. Therefore, there are also middle-aged ones in their 50s and 60s.


Alika Takarano, who is sometimes described as the queen of Gothic Lolita and admits to being the original Gothic Lolita, describes the external characteristics of Gothic Lolita:

“A Gothic Lolita must wear flamboyant clothes based on black, decorated with lace, frills, and ribbons; skirts are inflated with panniers, and shoes are laced boots or one-strap shoes with thick soles. Hair is long, ideally in vertical rolls, and adorned with ribbons and headdresses. The attire may be pure white or Gobelins-style floral patterns as well as black. For boys, it should be mainly black, a suit in the style of a little prince, or punkish leather material. The best choice would be something made by a designer who also participates in the Tokyo Collections; Vivienne Westwood is an expensive but coveted brand, and so on. The main colors of the items are black, white, red, purple, pink, and blue.”

Visuals & Elements

Gothic Lolita coordinates frequently feature motifs and imagery such as:

  • Crosses
  • Bats
  • Coffins
  • Skulls
  • Castles
  • Deep red roses

Additionally, colors like navy blue, royal blue, maroon, deep purple, and crimson are frequently used in Gothic Lolita fashion, but the primary color of each outfit is always black.

Hair and makeup

Gothic Lolita makeup is gothic in style, with extremely white skin tones, dark eye shadow for a morbid atmosphere, and red, black, or dark-colored lipstick.

The influence of Visual-kei bands can be seen in their makeup, and their faces are rarely painted white. Gothic Lolita makeup is sometimes described as witchy and deadly. Such makeup is essential to emphasize the unrealistic feel of Gothic Lolita, and the brand’s designers also point out the importance of makeup: “Makeup is part of fashion,” “You can’t wear loafers and a face without makeup even though you are a full-body Gothic Lolita.

As for hairstyles, vertical rolls and princess cuts are preferred. Vertical rolls are difficult to curl, so many use wigs. It is said that hair and makeup can be both Gothic Lolita depending on the hair, makeup, and accessories, and hair and makeup can affect the style.


Gothic Lolita attire is often accompanied by various accessories, such as bows or headdresses, simple or elaborate Gothic-themed bags and wallets, and dark tights, stockings, or knee-highs with lace detailing. Jewelry typically features dark gems and silver or metal tones, rather than gold. Lace gloves are also a popular accessory in this style.


When it comes to shoes, Gothic Lolita fashion tends to favor Mary Janes, Tea Party shoes, boots, and rocking horse shoes, often with platform soles and low to mid-size heels. The shoes are typically black or a similarly dark color to match the overall look.

Roleplay & Spirituality

Gothic Lolita is also said to value spirituality. For example, Novala Takemoto, in a conversation with Mana and Mitsukazu Mihara:

“When you wear those clothes, I want you to be a girl who looks good in those clothes. I want her to be a girl who looks good in those clothes, in the way she speaks, the way she acts. Even if only the clothes are goth and loli, it’s something else. It’s not the same thing.”

Mana also stated, “Gothic Lolita is a space and scene for people who are not influenced by trends and who will always love the mysterious worldview.” In addition, Victorian romanticism, mysticism, weird and bizarre tastes, French fin-de-siècle thought, and aestheticism can also be cited as the backbone of the scene.

Gothic Lolita are also said to be a fashion that expresses a girl’s dreams and the darkness that lurks in them. On the other hand, there is an opinion that the style is such that a dark shadow of death permeates the rococo attire, and therefore the daintiness stands out. However, it has also been pointed out that the style is easily disliked by the general public because it evokes a cold look at society that runs deep within, and it is said that the public may not be able to accept those who walk around town wearing their emotions all over their bodies, as is the case with Gothic Lolita.

In the 1980s and 1990s, researchers in literature, history, folklore, and other fields studied the fact that most of the main characters in fairy tales are girls, and that most of the main characters in Japan, such as “Kaguyahime,” have a mystique about them. The style of “Kaguyahime” is also one that particularly expresses the mystique of the girl, especially from a male point of view.

Gothic & Lolita Bible

“Gothic & Lolita Bible” was launched in as a magazine specializing in Gothic and Lolita. Before this, ” Soen ” had taken up Kaneko-kei and other romantic fashion relationships and modes originating from Japan , and ” CUTiE ” had taken up each of them as a small faction within street fashion . There was no specialized magazine for And Lolita . Also, “CUTiE” has hardly been featured since .

According to Mariko Suzuki, the editor-in-chief, in the spring of , I found Gothic Lolita clothing and the movement of visual kei bands interesting, and proposed to the company to create a fashion magazine for visual kei bands and their fans, but the company did not approve. However, towards the end of the summer, her boss, who was against her proposal, read an article in the Senken newspaper and learned that only Gothic and Lolita clothes were currently selling. So the first issue was decided, and the name of the magazine was decided at the same time. “Gothic & Lolita Bible”, which was launched as a separate volume of “KERA” , was reprinted four times while being a mook magazine. In , “Gothic & Lolita Bible VOL.10” and “Gothic & Lolita Bible VOL.20” were published, and in 2007 the first issue was reissued as “Gothic & Lolita Bible Premium 1st”.

With the launch of the Gothic & Lolita Bible, the number of brands had increased so much that by the year 2000, a book could be devoted to Lolita fashion, Gothic fashion, and Gothic and Lolita.

2004 was said to be a gothic-loli magazine launch rush, but there were splits between establishment and rejection. As of 2007, only “Gothic & Lolita Bible” and “Gothic Lolita” ( Boutique) were still published.

Among Gothic and Lolita enthusiasts, there are core readers of ” Yasou “, which deals with fantasy literature and contemporary art.

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