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Event Review: Friday Late: Loli-POP! Lolita Fashion Fun At The V&A Museum

London embraces the Japanese street style Lolita!

Reporter: Lizzie Ooi

On Friday, 31st August the V&A Museum (Victoria and Albert Museum) in London held a free evening of Lolita fashion, the unique street style that combines Japan’s obsessions with cuteness, punk and Gothic macabre. The programme included a kimono demonstration with Mamechiyo Modern, a wig workshop with Pixie Late and her team, photo shoots, a screening of Kamikaze Girls (available on DVD by Third Window Films) and a DJ set by the founder of Japan Underground, Tom Smith (full event programme at bottom of post).

Diverse Japan’s Events/Fashion correspondent and cosplayer, Lizzie Ooi, donned her Lolita garb and headed to the venue to frolic in some frilly fashion fun! Here’s her report…

It was a lovely summer evening on the 31st of August, and in and around the Victoria and Albert museum there were a great number of young ladies wearing the most beautiful dresses.  This was the second gathering held by the V&A in regard to its “Kitty and the Bulldog: Lolita Fashion and the Influence of Britain in Japan” exhibition. There were a series of workshops, activities, performances and talks available for everyone to participate in and enjoy. It didn’t matter if you were fashion enthusiast or just a curious passer-by; all were welcome to experience the colourful and enticing atmosphere.

Reporter Lizzie Ooi (©Tim Grimes All rights reserved)

(©Tim Grimes All rights reserved)

(©Markkphotography All rights reserved)

When I arrived, the event had already started. I didn’t know what to expect, since I had missed the first Lolita event the V&A held. The attendance for the previous event was just over 100 but this event shattered that record with an attendance of more than 300 (these numbers refer to those attending in the fashion). The court yard was filled with exquisitely dressed ladies and gentleman in various styles of Lolita, chatting and dancing around the lovely ornamental pool in the courtyard. It was such an overwhelming experience. It was not only enjoyable for the Lolitas; it was also haven for the photographers as the setting was so fitting. The architecture of the buildings combined with the various different exhibitions in the V&A provided a variety of interesting backgrounds for the Lolitas to pose in. The V&A also provided a quirky little activity with 5 different photo-op backgrounds laid throughout the museum for all to have their pictures taken in. However, I only managed to find three.

(©Markkphotography All rights reserved)

(©Markkphotography All rights reserved)

(©Markkphotography All rights reserved)

Victoria & Albert Museum (©Markkphotography All rights reserved)

A lovely 5-page programme was given at the entrance explaining the location of the rooms, but with no map printed inside I found it a little tricky to navigate. With the help of my friends, I managed to find the Kitty and Bulldog exhibition which was very well presented. The outfits displayed were amazing and I was so glad to see that they were accompanied by a description of the different styles of Lolita and how they derived. After looking at the exhibit, my friends and I were then invited to the Lolita parade (around a small section of the Museum) followed by the closing ceremony. I felt the Lolita parade was a little messy as there was so many Lolitas, maybe too many to co-ordinate. The closing ceremony consisted of a violin recital by Satoko Fukuda, who was dressed in Gothic Lolita, followed by a ballet performance. It was quite a surreal performance but it was beautifully done. In the end, all Lolitas were then invited for a group photo shoot at the entrance of the museum. I sadly had to miss it since it was too late into the night by then.

Violinist Satoko Fukuda (©Markkphotography All rights reserved)

(©James Fielding Photography All rights reserved)

(©Markkphotography All rights reserved)

(©Markkphotography All rights reserved)

(©Markkphotography All rights reserved)

It was an amazing experience to see so many Lolitas in one place. Everyone was so friendly and happy. It was great to see Lolitas being comfortable and proud to wear the fashion they love and enjoy. Even the visitors and staff of the museum were giving positive comments and showing a good-natured curiosity and open-mindedness towards the fashion. The V&A did a fantastic job in presenting the Kitty and Bulldog exhibit although some bits did feel disorganised. This could be due to the V&A not expecting such a high attendance, but the fantastic turn-out just goes to show how popular and well-received it was. So let’s hope for another Lolita event from the V&A!

(©James Fielding Photography All rights reserved)

(©James Fielding Photography All rights reserved)

(©James Fielding Photography All rights reserved)

To view more images from Friday Late: Loli-POP!, click here

Full Programme:


DJ set: Roustabouts
A special video-game / electro-music mix by the super-inventive theatrical DJ duo Markabre Charade and Anna Krohnistic.

DJ set: Tom Smith
Tune in to a heady mix of J-pop, J-rock and more, courtesy of Japan Underground’s entertainment guru Tom Smith.

Kimono Demonstration with Mamechiyo Modern
Join Mamechiyo of Mamechiyo Modern discussing the aesthetics of kimono culture and demonstrating the complexities of traditional Japanese dress. Not so much corsets or Loli-lacing, but sashes, sashes and more sashes.

Grand Alice Finale
See the evening out with our closing programme of poetry, film, music and ballet.

Victoria & Albert Museum (©Markkphotography All rights reserved)


5-Stop Lolita Photo-op Trail
Indulge in a little narcissism with our special photo-op trail. Following the themes of Kitty and the Bulldog, pose Sweet, Gothic, Punk or Japanesque. Look out for a dedicated Loli-POP! stop as well. Gothic and Japanesque prints by Surface View. Sweet and Punk sets by Anna Lomax.

‘Loli-POP! Lolitas’ : Live Link with Paris
Roll up, roll up, come and play the wheel-spinning ‘Loli-POP! Lolitas’ game. Using a dedicated web link, play head to head against opponents in Paris and rack up points for your home team. Winners will receive a small prize and get the chance to participate in a future public game with bigger and better trophies. If you don’t feel like playing yourself, come along and cheer on your friends. It’s going to be Japanese game-show crazy!

Purikamera Photo Booth
Pose in a booth and share stickers with friends. China Town comes to South Kensington with Kevin Deenoo and The London Photo Sticker Club.

Wig Bar
Swap your wig or don one anew. Pixie Late and her team of Frills and Frolics faithfuls will help you transform yourself into someone you never knew you could be. Wigs courtesy of Gothic Lolita Wigs.

Nail Bar
Nail Rock are here with a great range of designer nail wraps. Give it a go, you’ll be amazed … the bet’s on that you’ll never want to sniff at a bottle of nail polish again.

Lashes and Lips
Wigs and nails are indispensable, but don’t forget those lashes and pouts. A team of professionals from Shu Uemura will be on hand to pep up your glazzies and prettify your goobers.

Kawaii Illustration Workshop
18.30–19.00 & 20.30–21.00
Artist and illustrator Sonia Leong will help you create your very own cute, childlike Chibi character. Make it Japanese, style it Lolita, the choice is yours.

Jewellery Making with Meow Box
19.15, 19.45, 20.15, 20.45
Tickets are available from the main Information Desk from 18.30
Join Meow Box and see what you can cook up by way of food-inspired jewellery. The theme tonight is cakes, a perfect complement to Lolita style frills, ribbons and lace.

Victoria & Albert Museum (©Markkphotography All rights reserved)


Philomena Keet: Lolita – Stylish Rebel or Costumed Doll?
Author of the seminal Tokyo Look Book, Philomena Keet is a Tokyo-based anthropologist whose work centres on Harajuku and its associated Fruits and Tune magazines. Her talk places the Lolita look in the wider context of contemporary Japanese fashion and culture at the same time as offering a voyeuristic peep into the sartorial and social lives of its followers.

Q&A: Japanese Fashion Subcultures
Join us for a question and answer session about Japanese fashion subcultures and their global spread. Moderated by Rupert Faulkner of the V&A’s Asian Department, participants will include Harriet Hall, Philomena Keet, Pat Lyttle , Ada and Masami Yamada.

Kitty and the Bulldog Gallery Talks
19.00 & 20.00 (20 minutes)
Alternative interpretations by the V&A’s Pauline Le Moigne (19.00), co-curator of Kitty and the Bulldog, and Harriet Hall (20.00) of InStyle Magazine, who wrote her MA thesis on ‘Nostalgia, Innocence and Subversion: Kawaii and the Lolita Fashion Subculture in Japan’.

Lolita Influences Gallery Talk
19.00 (30 minutes)
Using the recently refurbished displays of the permanent dress collection, Jenny Lister of the V&A’s Department of Furniture, Textiles & Fashion will pick up on the themes of Kitty and the Bulldog and explore the creative exchange between Japanese and European dress over the last 150 years.


Kamikaze Girls (103 mins)
A must-see film adaptation of Novala Takemoto’s 2002 light novel Shimotsuma Monogatari (Shimotsuma Story), it charts the growing friendship between its two antithetical protagonists, the Baby The Stars Shine Bright clad Momoko Ryugasaki and the biker-gang gyaru Ichiko Shirayuri.

‘Realities of Fantasy’, by Francesco ‘Telegothika’ Calvano
19.00 & 20.00
Partake of a specially edited compilation from ‘Realities of Fantasy’, an entertaining exposition of Lolita culture in France and the UK seen through the eyes of the broadcast graduate and TV cameraman Francesco Calvano.

Photography by:


James Fielding Photography

Tim Grimes

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  1. September 24, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Really nice pictures! Lolita is not my favorite style but I have to admit It’s gorgeous!!


    • September 28, 2012 at 4:45 pm

      Thanks for your comment, akazuki bento – glad you like the photos. Markkphotography and James Fielding Photography have done some great photo shoots for DJ. Your feedback is much appreciated!


  1. October 18, 2012 at 10:11 pm
  2. December 4, 2013 at 10:56 pm

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