PMX 2016 with Lolita fashion designer Mari Nakamura

Head designer of coveted classic Lolita brand Juliette et Justine took time out of her busy schedule to provide her perspective on Lolita fashion and her experience around the world. Ms. Nakamura’s infectious chipper personality was impossible not to emulate. The interview took place at Nakamura’s boutique in the convention hall where she gave each customer her full attention. Her brand is a demonstrative masterpiece that visualizes her genius skill, her sophisticated taste in art, and her pride in her work. Despite its immense popularity domestically and overseas, Nakamura describes Juliette et Justine as a growing small company.

I heard that 16th and 17th century art inspired your brand. What is inspirational about that period?

Recently I’ve been getting my inspiration from all periods, but I really get my inspiration from architecture and interior decorations.

You’ve been to the UK, the US, and Japan. What have you noticed that is the difference between Lolitas in Japan and Lolitas in other countries?

I’ve seen Lolitas in the UK and Europe wear deeper colors. US Lolitas tend to like brighter colors, while Japanese Lolitas tend to wear pastel for the cuteness. I thought our brand was more appealing to Lolitas in Europe and China because of the darkish colors, but I was impressed to see a diversity of girls with original interpretations of our brand. I like that a lot.

Do you have an ideal image of what a Lolita looks like?

This isn’t particularly limited to just Lolita as a category, but beauty and self-pride in what you’re wearing are my ideals. First is for the wearer to have a presence within a one-meter radius and to impress her family and herself. Second is for people within that radius to see the happiness emitting from the wearer.

Do you ever run into any difficulties when you’re creating designs?

No. [laughs] I get so much inspiration from the people around me. So for example, right now I’m looking at you and that already gives me inspiration, which is why I never run into a block.

What’s the easiest part about designing a dress?

The easiest part is transferring my ideas into a drawing because by that time, I don’t have to worry about the production at that point.

I’ve noticed that some of the pictures on the Juliette et Justine website, there are Victorian era or vintage style items. Is that done to highlight different parts of the dress?

Yes. When we expanded our company last year in October, the interior décor was included in that move, so that studio/office showroom would function as one.

As there are a lot of overseas fans of Juliette et Justine, are there any plans for expansion overseas?

I’m grateful for all of the customers who are interested in our products. We are still a small business, so we would need someone local who would be up for taking the retail responsibilities.

Is there anything you’d like to do in Los Angeles?

After the fashion show tomorrow, we have to go home right away. But I received lots of great recommendations during my panel and I promised myself that I would come back on a private trip and get all those things done.

Translation by Takayuki Karahashi

Kalai Chik

Pop culture writer focusing on animation, music, and games. Los Angeles native, USC alumni, and contributor for Asia Pacific Arts since 2015. Follow me on Twitter, @kalai_chik.

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