Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Traveling Lolita - Otakon 2011

Pepper Ink
It's been at least a year since I've gone to a con, and two years since I've attended Otakon, one of the biggest conventions on the East Coast.  I had just gotten into Lolita and haven't quite fully grasped that Baltimore is hotter and crazier than New York. 

This year's guests feature designers from Baby, the Stars Shine Bright and Alice and the Pirates - along with Ibi and Mint, designers of Sixh (a sub-brand of h.Naoto). There was also the Ultimate Lolita Fashion Show, a fashion show devoted to American designers. With Lolita being guests and part of the main events it was a must-see event, and a mini-vacation I could not pass up. 

Initially I was unsure what to expect this year, and at my only priorities were the Lolita-focused fashion shows. All the while, I would tweet my adventures via Blackberry. Unfortunately my Blackberry could not take Baltimore heat and I had to survive sans smartphone. 
However it was a weekend of adventures nonetheless. I attended a Lolita tea party at the Explorer's Lounge, one of the restaurants within the Intercontinental Hotel, hosted by various girls from the community (specifically, I Do Declare, Moss Garden, Morrigan NYCPerianth, and Tea, Love, Crochet), shot some amazing photos of both fashion shows, and at the very last-minute decided to volunteer my time at the official BtSSB/AaTP booth.

I like many was surprised by their appearance in the dealer's room, as well as their decision to donate items for the Charity Auction. And there translator for the weekend had known me from previous events, and asked if I was interested in helping out. They had needed a second person who spoke English, had some retail experience, and cover the booth while the designers were off to guest-related events. 

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in itself, I got to assist Lolitas make the hard choice of choosing one item among many, as well as coax some confidence out of awe-struck girls for once in a lifetime photo-ops. (It was advantageously lucky of me that I was planning to wear both brands that weekend -- specifically Chained Berry Memoir and Vampire Requiem.)

I talked to Lolitas, fans, and parents while their children showed them the reason they broke their piggy banks. The designers were more than happy to offer their expertise to ensure customers who were unsure whether a JSK or OP would fit.
Lily of the Valley, Little Macaron, Lolita Nouveau, Candy Threads
My Friday night was reserved for the Ultimate Lolita fashion show -- a show which has grown from a small panel room to one of the main panel rooms, complete with catwalk. Models and designers alike worked the runway liked they were at Bryant Park (now Lincoln Center). From Lily of the Valley with her fairytale imagination; to Little Macaron, a line full of pop; to Lolita Nouveau who was inspired by regal elegance; to Candy Threads who showed off all kinds of Lolita styles. 
Corazón Carmela, Perianth, I Do Declare, Morrigan NYC
Corazón Carmela models were bouncing down the runway with sheer joy that there's a Lolita brand made for plus-size girls (and still feel beautiful). While Perianth, I Do Declare, and Morrigan NYC took the idea of the Lolita aesthetic and pushed it to the limits of everything but. The only disappointment was when it was over. Droves of people left for other panels while they switched to a designer spotlight/Q&A - a bit rude, but neccessary with the event scheduled so late at night. (I was also a guilty party, but I digress). 
Mistuba (left), chief designer of Alice and the Pirates and Masumi Kano (right), a designer of Baby, the Stars Shine Bright.
Saturday's fashion show was short, sweet, but still a full house at 10AM. I skipped the Q&A to head back down to their booth. Like a typical con attendee, I spent Sunday looking for items to buy - though more like browsing through h. Naoto and Baby, the Stars Shine Bright booth. My favorite moment of the day was when I caught a glimpse of Ibi dancing with a cat-shaped Sixh bag. 

By the end of the day Sunday, my suitcase was filled (but thankfully not stuffed) with a few more clothes to add to my Japanese brand inventory. As well as a necklace and earrings from Roserie.

All in all, it was a busy, but accomplished weekend and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. And my temporary shopgirl experience filled a tiny space in my once-in-a-lifetime dream of working at a Lolita shop. 

Please check here for more pictures from the fashion show. (Note: Would like to ask that if you intend to use any pictures to please credit)

Did you attend Otakon or the fashion shows? How about the Q&A at the Alice and the Pirates/Baby, the Stars Shine Bright fashion show (I would really like to know how this went since I had to skip out)? If so, what was your with greatest memory or keepsake(s) of Otakon 2011?

Note: You may have noticed I've change my name. It's more because I've come to the realization that more people, at least some Lolitas, know me by my real name as opposed Charlotte; and introduction-wise I don't use a nom de plume, so I will make things simpler on my part and yours.

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