So last weekend, courtesy of my work with United KPop Entertainment, I was lucky enough to be able to get a press pass to attend the HYPER Japan! convention at Earls Court.
Now, I'll be completely honest. I have never seen an anime in my life (I didn't really even know how to describe them ... "are they a series? can you have plural 'animes'?" I pondered on my way there!). The closest I have ever been to J-pop is K-pop artists who have reworked their songs to enter the Japanese market. Studying for a degree in Chinese and Korean, I rarely have the time or energy to step outside this little Asian sphere I've created for myself and yet here I was, at 9am on a Saturday morning...at a convention for something I admittedly knew remarkably little about.
I arrived and met Michael, a fellow UKP Ent'er, who was there with me as the photographer for the day. Despite what some would call terrible planning and organisation (for example the press not being allowed through the press door!) we eventually were all let in and the "show" began.
The agenda for the day was pretty packed. After we were eventually let in, it was time for the sake awards show. I don't know about you but personally, I did feel 9.30 am was a little early to start on the sake but I wasn't about to complain ;) Just kidding~ we weren't actually allowed too- it seems press benefits don't quite extend that far! Girls dressed in lolita fashion ( = a Japanese fashion sub-culture mostly based on Victorian-era clothing) strode down the runway carrying and posing with various bottles of sake which were then formally introduced by their producers. We stuck around for a while until we lost count of the bottles before wandering off to see what else the convention had in store....
On my wanderings I bumped into the lovely, very..brightly dressed young ladies in the picture below who were modelling (L-R) Sweet Lolita fashion, Fairy Kei fashion and Pop Kei fashion. I have to admit, in a somewhat peculiar way, they looked really awesome. They were exceptionally nice and we got chatting where Kairi (far right) revealed that she must have spent well over £500 on hair clips alone despite the fact that she began wearing Japanese fashion only a year or so ago. (I will now be using this as my reply whenever my mum reprimands me for spending too much ; "But Mum!" I will say "There are girls who spend much more than 'X' amount on hair clips alone - at least I diversify my spending!"~ ) I did nearly burst out laughing when Rachel (in the middle) described her outfit further as "rather informal" with a perfectly serious expression ... when I asked her if she wore it out regularly, she replied "Hmm..sometimes". While I have no doubt that Japanese fashion has a growing following in the UK, I'm not sure I'd be ready quite yet to tread the streets of London in Lolita fashion.....
|Wai Yi Lee, Rachel Claire and Kairi Mori|
At 11am it was time for well known, Japanese pop-anime artist Natsuko Aso to perform - for more information, photos and videos from her performance and our interview see my next post!
Here's the photo she insisted on taking with the crowd after her performance for her facebook page~
After her performance, we had some time to kill until the Japanese streetwear fashion show (note- streetwear >.<) so I went on a hunt for people in cool costumes. You know when you see someone dressed really strangely and you can't help but look...well for me, it was almost the reverse. As one of the (very) few people not in costume, I stuck out like a sore thumb and started to feel a little left out in my jeans and leather jacket. I should have donned a costume like some of our fellow convention goers as shown below! Well, I've learnt for next time I guess~
Well, I donned a mario mushroom hat as my contribution... at least I tried! (kind of!~) Then getting up and close with ...well I'm not entirely sure what it is...but everyone else was taking pictures with it so I felt I should join in.
Then it was time at last for the Japanese fashion show exhibiting all the different Japanese fashion sub cultures including all the different types of Lolita fashion (country, shiro, punk, classic) as well as various Kei fashion styles. It was amazing the amount of commitment the participants have to their various chosen styles. Many have made their own outfits having been unable to find fitting clothes on the high street while others have spent hundreds of pounds importing dresses and accessories from Japan. Now that, even if unconventional, is a commitment to fashion.
They even held a competition inviting all the girls dressed in Lolita fashion to join the models on stage with the chance of winning accessories from some of the leading Lolita brands in Japan. However, I don't think they'd anticipated anywhere near this many participants - the photo is somewhat deceptive as you can only see the girls at the front- there were at least another 15 girls out of shot on the right!
After the fashion show, it was time for us to dash off for our private interview with Natsuko Aso.....