Gothic brand Alice Auaa put on one of the most visually stimulating shows of Tokyo Fashion Week. It was one of those “fashion moments” that makes you want to jump up and do a lap around the runway with confetti and a bouquet of flowers for the designer.
Established in 1995 in Kansai, Alice Auaa is not new at the fashion game, but has bobbed in the fashion waters quietly until last season when it first joined the Tokyo Fashion Week lineup. As a special brand chosen to be sponsored for a (high-cost) runway show, they obviously didn’t want to come out as the lowly gothic-lolita “not runway worthy” brand. So what did Alice Auaa do? They went and put on one of the COOLEST shows I`ve seen in person. Think highly conceptual a la McQueen, a la Galliano. These are theatrics, meant to inspire and get the creative neurons firing.
The runway show told the story of Alice in Wonderland, beginning with a short film of a scared girl running in a moody forest. We are then treated to a slew of characters who marched down the runway to atmospheric music in a series of costumes that got wilder and wilder. I knew we were seeing something special when the Cheshire Cat came out in an all plaid jumpsuit and matching boots with a suspended hoola-hoop-like tail swirling around the model’s body. Then there was the giant Mad Hatter hat, the woman wearing a table like she was selling cigars off of it to guffawing gentlemen, and the playing card guardsman wearing a metal contraption like a guillotine. At the end of the runway he unfolded it to reveal a deck; if Alice has 5 heads he’s ready. The Queen and “Queen” of hearts (one in drag) were breathtaking, as were the details on the gothic victorian garb from the 2013 collection.
Throughout the show a man in a dirty rabbit costume would mope out on the runway only to disapppear; at the end it removed it’s head and gave a bow revealing it to have been the designer in character the whole time. It reminded of Donnie Darko and added to the chilling effect.
After the show I was listening to the designer speak to the media (who were having a tough time figuring out how to interview the designer, certainly not able to remove the gothic-lolita label from the clothing. ie instead of asking about his design process or aesthetic, it was just “so how does it feel to be on the FW schedule?” I mean, he’s around a lot longer than most TFW brands already…isn’t that kind of condescending??) and he was so smiley and bouncy and excited and humble…not at all like the image projected onto the clothing. I hope he’s able to continue to show on the runway because this collection gave Tokyo Fashion Week the diversity it needed to present more than just one narrow view of fashion. Seriously, the people sitting behind me in the show were so impressed they were *gasping* at every new piece.
I think having this very stereotypically “Japanese” brand on the runway, rather than the usual “western style” dress is actually what will put Tokyo on the map. It’s such a shame that the local industry actually tends to look down on these subculture-type brands. Look at what happened with Jeremy Scott…who was once just a freak is now an extremely popular, successful and rich freak! I hope AA gets to wave their freak flag.. their customers at the show looked amazing and could teach us all a thing or two about dressing up.