The Lolita look began primarily as one of modesty with a focus on quality in both material and manufacture of garments. The original silhouette is of a knee length skirt or dress with a “cupcake” shape assisted by petticoats, but has expanded into various types of garments including corsets and floor length skirts. Blouses, knee high socks, or stockings, and headdresses are also worn. Lolita fashion has evolved into several different sub-styles and has a subculture that is present in many parts of the world.
Although many people point to Japan as the creator of the “Lolita fashion” and the Lolita trend, the origin of its meaning is complex, and remains unclear. It is likely the movement started in the late 1970s when famous labels including Pink House, Milk, and Pretty (later known as Angelic Pretty) began selling clothes that would be considered “Lolita” by today’s standards. Shortly after that came Baby, The Stars Shine Bright, and Metamorphose temps de fille.
In the 1990s, Lolita fashion became better recognized, with bands like Princess Princess coming into popularity at the time. These bands wore intricate costumes, which fans began adopting as their own style. The style soon spread and ultimately reached Tokyo where it became popularized throughout Japanese youth culture. Today, Lolita fashion has gained global popularity and can be found even in department stores in Japan.
Lolita was partly popularized by the more feminine visual kei (or “visual style”) artists. Visual kei is a fashion among Japanese musicians (usually males), featuring make-up, elaborate hair styles and flamboyant costumes. Mana, the cross-dressing guitarist of the bands Malice Mizer and Moi dix Mois, is widely credited for having helped popularize Gothic Lolita. He coined the terms “Elegant Gothic Lolita” (EGL) and “Elegant Gothic Aristocrat” (EGA) to describe the style of his own fashion label Moi-même-Moitié, which was founded in 1999 and quickly established itself as one of the most coveted brands of the Lolita scene.