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Japanese Goth: A Look Inside Tiffany Godoy’s Latest Book

Japanese Goth

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Ever seen photos of Japanese women dressed in the Gothic Lolita style, with their hair bonnets, frilly lace dresses, and hefty platform boots, and wondered what inspired such elaborate looks? Well, in her latest book, Japanese Goth (Rizzoli USA), author Tiffany Godoy examines some of the mythological, literary, artistic, cinematic and cultural works that have influences the various iterations of the gothic look that has become such a prevalent phenomenon among Japanese trendsetters.

In one of the first chapters, she examines the popularity of monochromatic looks and links this trend to the works of Yoh (whose "Binds" illustration is pictured at top) and photographer Mukuro (who shot the very surreal image of the young girl with the checkered tights, black jumper and white shirt featured third from top). Both artists rely on a black-and-white palette in order to emphasize contours and silhouettes and to create intriguing but stripped-down images. 

Godoy also examines other phenomena like: the oft subversive usage of vampire imagery, which she contends represents a desire to explore the notion of immortality; the aforementioned Gothic Lolita style, which she associates with Victorian fashions, Alice in Wonderland and, naturally, Nabokov's Lolita; the incorporation of hooves, horns and feathers in hair styles, apparel, and accessories and how these are rooted in the desire to create a visual tie to the animal world and, moreover, to the criteria associated with each given animal; and the stylistic and cultural impact of the manga book, The Rose of Versailles, which has led to an increase in gender-bending dress among popular singers like Kaya (pictured fourth from top in period dress) and the members of the band Phantasmagoria (who, in the "visual kei" tradition, wear heavy eye makeup, sport flamboyant, feminine clothing, etc.).

Rather than simply provide us with an array of images that demonstrate the various manifestations of Japanese Goth fashions, this book examines the many influences that led to each subgroup's rise. Some of the images are disturbing and morbid; others are fanciful and mysterious — but all are a fascinating in that they shed light on how fashion, art, history, film, literature, politics, and culture are all inextricably linked.

Japanese Goth, $27.95. Visit BarnesAndNoble.com

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