The Fairy Tale Style of Dolly Kei

Grimoire is one of the originators of Dolly Kei fashion, a style that matches the stories of the Grimm Brothers.

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NHK program Tokyo Fashion Express highlighted the work of Hitomi Nomura of Grimoire last year. In this close-up, Nomura talks about her work and her unique fashion style, now known as Dolly Kei.

Inspired by the special style of American illustrator Tasha Tudor, Nomura became a stylist and eventually ended up modeling her own creations in fashion magazines and on fashion blogs.

She buys vintage clothes abroad and has them remade according to her own instructions. She then completes the look by layering disparate items into a unique whole and completes these looks with accessories made by herself.

“When I was modeling,” explains Nomura in the program, “I couldn’t find accessories I liked, so I thought “Why not make them myself?’ I found all kinds of parts at craft shops. When I got started, I realized it was the best way to get exactly what I wanted.”

Unfortunately, the makers of the program got it wrong and labelled Nomura’s fashion Mori Girl. Except for this glaring mistake, the program is a wonderful and enlightening look into Nomura’s world.

The program includes a short interview with Valerie Steele who put together the Japan fashion Now exhibition at The Museum at FIT, which features digital displays of photographs of JAPANESE STREETS.

Official Grimoire Sites

Grimoire Official Site
Grimoire Blog
Grimoire Online Shop

Dolly Kei Inspired Fashion on the JAPANESE STREETS Photoblog

Wakane Ito

Kjeld Duits About the Author

Inspired by the stunningly creative street fashion that exploded on the streets of Tokyo and Osaka in the late 1990’s, photo-journalist Kjeld Duits launched JAPANESE STREETS in 2002. This makes JS one of the first fashion blogs on the net, and the very first to cover Japanese street fashion.

Recent articles by Kjeld Duits:

Comment (日本語もOK)

ihh, i loved it! :3

Mar 5, 2011 (4657 days ago)

I really loved what she said “Japanese don’t care how others see them. They’re not afraid of showing individuality.” This is so often an issue I find myself having. Even if they deny it, people are so afraid of being different or trying something new as far as style goes. I’ve actually heard people saying lately that some key fashion points of mori gyaru are ugly which disturbs me because I take a lot of inspiration from that style. My hopes are to simply do what I like without paying attention to other’s opinions and maybe people will get inspired to do the same.

Mar 5, 2011 (4657 days ago)

@Arc: Yes, it completely contradicts the common cliche image of Japanese and Westerners and their attitude towards individualism. I think what’s important to understand is that many of the people in Japan who are into this kind of fashion wear it because they want to, and enjoy it. It is not to impress others. They truly wear it for themselves, the way a woman will wear sexy lingerie for herself even if she has no boyfriend and no one can see what she wears.

I’d say that many young people in Western countries use fashion as a status symbol and to impress others. Additionally, clothing is believed to strongly convey a political and social message in the West. You express your societal beliefs with your clothes, or are believed to be doing so. That thought is not so common in Japan. Here, wearing Punk or Gothic clothing is not a political statement. At least not for the great majority. For them they are just clothes, just a style.

Kjeld Duits (author)
Mar 5, 2011 (4657 days ago)

@Kjeld: I agree on American perceptions of “style tribes”. Today I walked into a hat shop and the store keeper asked me “what I called” my style, and “who else dresses like this?” I don’t know… I just wear what I like. I am glad that the Japanese youth, despite the mostly group-based, conformist culture, has spaces where they can literally dress for themselves (as well as, some would argue, for admiration and approval from their “tribes”.)

I’ll forgive NHK for calling Grimoire’s style “mori girl”, since Dolly Kei could be called a subset of the mori girl style. And the outfit Grimoire has at the (extended!!) exhibit is great. Thank you for posting the video!!

Mar 5, 2011 (4657 days ago)

@kagitsune: Glad you liked the video! I also occasionally ask some of the people I photograph what they would call their own style, and most people have absolutely no idea. Some perhaps do, and are not telling. ^_-

Kjeld Duits (author)
Mar 5, 2011 (4657 days ago)

I think Hitomi Nomura is the most creative person I have ever heard of, a great inspiration! I really enjoyed watching this show. Thanks for sharing.

Mar 7, 2011 (4655 days ago)

@Keekii: You’re welcome!

Kjeld Duits (author)
Mar 8, 2011 (4654 days ago)

Thanks Kjeld that really helps and makes sense. I’ve heard one common piece of advice repeated amongst people I know or have met who become highly influenced by Japanese fashion and it’s something I repeat to others often who say they like my style but wouldn’t have the courage to wear it: You just wear what you like. I think if the west as a whole could achieve that they would be much happier, especially in highschool when image becomes a huge deal.

Mar 8, 2011 (4654 days ago)

@Arc: You just wear what you like. — Excellent advice. And it should of course fit the time, place and occasion (TPO). You don’t wear a winter coat to the beach in mid summer heat. ^_-

Kjeld Duits (author)
Mar 8, 2011 (4654 days ago)

@Kjeld TPO true true, true true.

Mar 8, 2011 (4654 days ago)

Interesting style, it’s vintage combined with unusual items, smart fashion :)
Watching this vid made me homesick to Japan :( when the guy talks it sounds like a tourist programme, I could watch those all day… sigh…

Mar 18, 2011 (4644 days ago)

Yeah…I’m not seeing much of a difference btw.mori girl and dolly kei. Anyone care to explain? Is mori less folk-costume inspired?

Apr 15, 2011 (4616 days ago)

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