Anime Matsuri’s fashion show featured the spring collections of Alice and the Pirates and Baby, the Stars Shine Bright. Attendees were transported to a decadent past where ladies held tea parties and strolled through palace gardens. With dresses that mixed black with rich colors, Alice and the Pirates evoked sophistication. Its menswear was perfect for the noble rogue-type seafarer. Baby, the Stars Shine Bright was more whimsical with its abundance of pastels and ruffles. Models for both brands embodied various aristocratic personas: linking arms with one another, opening up parasols, and holding roses. Official Pirates and Baby model, Midori Fukasawa, closed the show in a white Baby dress, delicately holding a matching parasol. I had a chance to speak with Masumi Kano and Tomomi Nakamura, designers for Baby and Pirates respectively, the following day about the fashion show and their brands.
pSKY: Where did you study fashion design and business?
Masumi Kano: I studied fashion design at Bunka Women’s University. I took a class on general business, but I didn’t learn about the specifics until after joining Baby.
Tomomi Nakamura: I attended a technical school for design. I worked part-time at Baby and became a shop manager. That was where I learned business. Then I moved up to the company.
pSKY: How did you decide which outfits to include in the fashion show?
Kano: I wanted to show a vision of spring images. The dresses embody a cute princess look as well as the classic style of lolita. The industry’s focus right now is on classic style.
Nakamura: Each design has a story to tell. I wanted to show that the clothes are not just pretty; they have a dark side too. I wanted a sense of mystery so I used strong colors.
pSKY: During the fashion show, the gentleman next to me remarked that Alice and the Pirates reminded him of “Alice in Wonderland meets Pirates of the Caribbean”.
Nakamura: That is in fact the concept of our brand. I’m really glad to hear that.
pSKY: Who designed the opening animation for the fashion show?
Nakamura: A video creator named Hayashi Yasuhiro. We met at a tea party last year in Tokyo. He combined images of both companies.
pSKY: I noticed that the models had different poses and actions. What moods or character types did you envision them portraying?
Kano: Baby’s concept is to let the models show off how they would wear the outfits. I let them use their imagination.
Nakamura: I wanted the models to understand the stories behind the designs and let them show off the stories.
pSKY: Alice and the Pirates has both masculine and feminine garments. How do you find a balance between those two aspects?
Nakamura: The industry has been working on menswear, but the main sales come from female customers. So we have to take the business side into account. We’ll have a female model wearing men’s style of clothing. In the fashion show, about 60% of the models [for Pirates] were female and 40% were male.
pSKY: How did being featured in the novel and film, Shimotsuma Monogatari [Kamikaze Girls in the U.S.], affect Baby, the Stars Shine Bright?
Kano: It was the biggest opportunity for us. Kyoko Fukada was the perfect model. It brought in new fans, and we were very busy after that. Before, lolita fashion was underground, but the film made Baby known to people outside of lolita.
pSKY: What is your favorite fairy tale?
Kano: Alice in Wonderland
Nakamura: The Nutcracker. I used to do ballet, and The Nutcracker gave me the idea for creating a story.
pSKY: Who is your favorite musical artist?
Nakamura: I don’t have one. I like classical music, especially piano and orchestra.
pSKY: Who is your favorite composer then?
pSKY: For someone wanting to start wearing lolita, what would be the first item to get?
Kano: It’s easier to start with a small item like a headband. You can work your way up to a jumper skirt, which is the main thing to have.
Nakamura: The first step is to have the guts to wear this type of fashion. Then you take it a step at a time. You want the people around you to get used to the idea of you wearing lolita so you start with accessories.
pSKY: Why did you decide on San Francisco as the location of your first U.S. shop?
Nakamura: It has a Japanese town and a large Japanese population. Also, it is a very fashionable city.
pSKY: Are there any plans to sell your brand in other overseas locations?
Kano: It’s not our decision, but our company is definitely expanding.BTSSB Official website – http://www.babyssb.co.jp/ New People Building (San Francisco) – http://www.newpeopleworld.com/