The Virgin Mary store in Harajuku – Cult Party Kei

Thursday a month ago was a verrry busy day! Valerie from Tokyo Fashion & Art Factory and I met up to wander Shibuya and Harajuku, visit a few Dolly Kei stores, and later visit Kikirara Shoten and interview her.

First stop of the day was Tarock, which I mentioned in an earlier post, as they were one of the retailers involved in Merry Go Land. 

But what I was most excited to visit was The Virgin Mary, which is the new store that supercedes the infamous Cult Party from Koenji.

Indeed, Ari and Kyana and other Virgin Mary staff like to refer to the style as “Cult Party Kei” and not “Dolly Kei”. They are friends with the Grimoire staff so there’s no enmity; they just prefer their own term for their style.  At the front of the store is a mannequin showing some of that Cult Party Kei style, and as you round the corner to the doorway, you see the unmistakeable Virgin Mary crucifix. (Click on any of the images to see them larger and in more detail).

Above the counter is a shelf that also champions the motifs and mascots of the genre: unicorns and merry-go-round horses, victorian dollies and sweet kitties, and the ever-present crucifix.

Like Grimoire, Cabaret and other stores, the Virgin Mary is stuffed with artefacts from yesteryear; bunnies and dollheads chief amongst them.

There are also other toys and teddy bears thrown into the mix, with old prams, antique chairs and ubiquitous tassels.

Overall the store has a lighter, brighter feel than the others, with floors and shelves painted a milky white for a shabby chic finish.

But it’s the clothing you want to know about, right? There are lots of romantic floral prints, and more fun whimsical prints too such as spots and cherries and even gingham. Tutus and ballgowns hang beside cotton day dresses.

In amongst them are sublime velvet and lace creations, and I picked up a beautiful old blood-red (almost black) velvet stole or cape embellished with black venise lace and bugle beads. It works beautifully with my gothic outfits, and would also do so with aristocratic type dolly kei outfits.

Pleased with my purchase, I posed with Kyana, with all the delicate finery around us.

I really recommend this place for dolly kei or Cult Party kei vintage clothing, or just to drop in at marvel at the decor!

We rounded off the afternoon with a visit to Grimoire (see my earlier Grimoire blog post here). The girls Hitomi and Heri looked immaculate, and were sporting floral headbands. I purchased a floral brooch a few days later from their stand at Merry Go Land, so now I have my own headband! I bought a skirt that day from Grimoire – black with orange & red paisley designs with sequins – you’ll just have to wait to see it.

It was then time to bid farewell to Grimoire, and catch the train to Kikirara Shoten’s atelier for the interview – which was a saga in itself! More on that to come.

Grimoire online shop open! Dolly Kei finds on ebay

Great news for Dolly Kei and Grimoire afficionados – the Grimoire online store was unveiled last week!

The English version isn’t operational as yet,  but you can always use Google translate for explanations of the items, and of course,  photos and prices are there , which are the main things you want to see. Be aware that there are often more than one page in each category, so use the scroll button.

 Dolly Kei finds on ebay

I’ve been on a bit of a Dolly Kei treasure hunt since I’ve got back, and I’ve found quite a few things on ebay – although they aren’t necessarily budget-friendly! I’ve broken them down into some of the different components of the fashion.


Eastern European Folk Clothing

This Polish Folk Costume is stunning – seller is Slavart

From the same seller comes this fabulous Polish Embroidered Folk Dress

One of my fave finds has to be this Red Velvet Turkish Jacket with gold embroidery

which very much echoes the long vest Hitomi wore back in June to the Grimoire anniversary party



Well, these are pretty dead easy to find; just search for curtain tassels. I found some interesting ones such as this large tassel, from World Wide Trims on ebay, as well as the large red  ribbon tassel tie-backs on the right.



Insects and Taxidermy

Often beetles and other insects are worn in little vials round the neck, or encased in resin as rings. Here’s a lovely little green beetle again from ebay. Next to it, some heart-shaped vials for around the neck, to put any other morbid little curiosities you might come across 🙂


One ubiquitous item in Dolly Kei is the fox stole, often with the little face still attached. While in Japan recently, I saw a lot of these available, even in craft shops for DIY projects. Even if they are vermin, I have a problem with fur-related items unless they are vintage. If an animal starts to be killed purely for fashion to fuel a trend, well…I’d rather not contribute to the continuance of that trend by wearing it.

SO, my alternative for DK is something like this faux fur fox wrap. Look ma, no face!


Patterned Stockings/Tights

Often you see Dolly Kei fashionistas wearing floral tights, and though they are usually coloured, I quite like these printed floral tights in grey and white. Even the darker black and pink floral tights could work with the right outfit.




This is where vintage really comes into its own. I saw a lot of hats like this red one below, in Grimoire and other Dolly Kei stores. They need to look a little lived in, with delicate vintage netting and little flowers. I wish I’d bought it before the auction ended! But I look on for more…

Have you found any amazing things on ebay or in thrift stores to contribute to a specialised type outfit, whether a lolita, dolly kei, fairy kei, or gothic look?

Dolly Kei Grimoire, and Gothic Lolita Kikirara Shoten

This time 2 weeks ago I was still in Japan and had just completed an interview with Kikirara Shoten. Earlier in the day, I’d visited Grimoire, Virgin Mary and Tarock to catch up with the Dolly Kei scene and see what’s in store at the moment.

A little while ago I flirted with the idea of being one of the many aussie bloggers writing about the fashion scene here, dissecting the fashion weeks, upcoming designers etc (which I do a little bit) – but I realised it really is more my thing to focus on more obscure and subcultural designers, as well as fashion trends that are still not mainstream here. I have been very much influenced by gothic and other fashion trends from japan in particular, which is no secret, and the more I learn, the more there is to know and find out about!

When I was talking with Kikirara, she held up some cat fabric – yes really! There was this fabric with cats dressed as gents and ladies on it, and Kiki said she was inspired by whimsical prints like this, and she sought to make elegant sophisitcated clothing out of it, almost as a counterpoint to the print. She would make a Marie Antoinette courtiers gown, corset and hat out of such prints, following her muse. For me, following muses like her, Hirooka Naoto, the Grimoire girls and others, is MY inspiration. Hence, this blog. As I enter my second year of blogging next month, I want to keep true to that, and hopefully inspire others discovering the wonders of alternative fashion worldwide.

I was touched that Kiki wrote about me in her blog, and shared this pic of me – check it out! (Thanks to the Osaka Koneko for the link). I’m in her workroom and photographic studio, with those famous blue skies with clouds behind me.

Kiki wasn’t really aware how famous she and her label are overseas, and she seems to have been invigorated by the knowledge, to go on and do bigger and better things!!  As she is now bringing up a child, I can only wish her material success as well as the rich artistic success she already enjoys.

While talking to the Grimoire girls, and Marie, the PR and website co-ordinator for Grimoire, I realised they too are a little unaware of just how many communities and blogs are springing up about the Dolly Kei style, and how much they are influencing people far away from Japan. It’s exciting to see a new fashion flavour coming through and enriching our fashion culture, don’t you think? It is experiences like these that propel me forward and inspire me so much to share my perspective.

Above, I am with Kaori and Heri in the lovely Grimoire store – and yes, I bought a beautiful skirt while I was there! I also bought a gorgeous deep blood red velvet beaded cape from Virgin Mary earlier that day, so expect to see some Dolly Kei styling from me in the next few weeks 🙂

Dolly Kei in Shinjuku; Grimoire and Tarock at Merry Go Land


Saturday saw me heading off to Lumine Est and the new Rooftop Garden for Merry Go Land. The attraction? Checking out fashion, of course! Merry Go Land was a fashion event organised by HP France, which sponsors quite a few fashion stores. See the list of participating stores here:

MGL was a way to showcase the fashion in a fun garden atmosphere (it was meant to be like an amusement funpark, but it didn’t quite come off!) There were DJ’s all day and night lending ambience, and I especially enjoyed the ska music played by the afternoon DJ.

In particular I wanted to visit the Grimoire and Tarock bods (and was gratified that they remembered me). Grimoire needs almost no introduction these days (see my post on Grimoire  here), but Tarock is not as well known. In a similar vein, it also showcases vintage clothes and objects from Europe and the US that have an olde worlde feel. See the tarock website, and the Tokyo Shop Style page for more info.

Here is the Tarock stall at Merry Go Land, which had a dolly kei styled mannequin out front.

But what you really want to see is the Grimoire stall and staff, right? Here are Hitomi and Marie (website co-ordinator)

They had an intricate display of their flower corsages and brooches, set amongst old antique books and globes, ram’s horns, doll’s heads, feathers, photo frames and foliage. I bought one of the flower hairclips, and later added it to a headband I’d bought at Forever 21 (shh!)

Owner Naoaki Tobe (seen here with me to the right) is responsible for the displays – he is SUCH a cool dude!

Green-haired Heri wore her usual array of multi-layered clothes and neck ornaments.

But back to the displays…. there were gorgeous dresses in sepia shades, with lace and tassles, chains and objects d ‘art….

and a stunning black dress with purples, blues and browns interwoven – I adore this one…

Daytime was for shopping, but night-time was for schmoozing and seeing the fashion shows, so I went back later, wearing a blue leopard dress I’d bought at Icon, and the Grimoire flowers converted into a fascinator.

I hung with Marie and her friends for a bit. Marie is absolutely lovely, and is working on the Grimoire online webstore.

The sheer number of out-there hipsters who turned up at night (as well as more Dolly Kei afficionados) kept our heads swivelling and cameras flashing, and really needs a post all its own. More cool pics and people coming up! Here are the Ridsnap pics of the night.

Grimoire – Vintage, Fairytale, Dolly Kei

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of teaming up with a fellow blogger for a day tour of Shibuya’s clothing stores. But not just any stores – oh no. We ventured into those with a fairyland /vintage feel, discovering more about an emerging japanese fashion trend.

Grimoire  is at the forefront of this antique, vintage, Dolly-kei phenomenon, and when you go there, you can see why.

It’s like a Victorian museum come to life, with Rococo Elements, Alice in Wonderland and other fairytales thrown together with some Gypsy spells and a sprinkling of fairy dust, before being breathed into life as a curio shoppe set in the heart of a forest.


See what I mean?

Everywhere there are pretty and unusual “things” crammed into nooks and crannies: little bird skulls, crosses, old dolls, tiny flowers, rocking horses, jewellery boxes, clocks, cherubs, puppets, moneyboxes, vines, leaves, bronze ornate picture frames, and hats, hats, everywhere vintage hats.

As for the clothes and accessories themselves, they are sourced from the US and eastern Europe. There are lots of floral dresses, a definite boho feel, vintage furs, delicate hair ornaments, blush and dusty pink colours accented by darker rusts and reds, with pops of ivy green and a smidgen of black.

Photo: Will Robb

The girls were lovely and said they liked my blue hair very much, emboldening us to ask if we could take a few pictures. You can see the controlled chaos behind us.

We rifled among the racks, and while there were items I would not wear, there were certainly some exquisite pieces in silk or wool with intricate embroidery and embellishments that I coveted. For those who cannot get to Japan to see it for themselves, the Grimoire blog posts outfits and influences daily, as well as photos of new stock. It serves as a creative storyboard for Hitomi, the blogger.

A discernible style is emerging, which has been noticed by many.

Tokyo New Tribe featured the Antique Doll style in January, noting that unlike Lolita style, the Dolly fashion fan dresses as one who was in Europe in the Middle Ages (or as the japanese imagine this to be).
There is a real mix of texture and pattern, with gypsy and other ethnic folklore influences, and a “maximalism” or “more-is-more”, layered approach to dressing. We see fur (often with the fox’s little face and tail in situ, or even racoon hats), tapestry bags, paisley and floral print, insects on jewellery, religious icons such as crosses and images of Mary, textured ornate tights, lace, animal skin and embossed leather (sorry vegans), pompoms, fringing, braid and curtain tassels.

There is even a community on Live Journal, called Grimoire-Japan, dedicated to the fashion style of the store. It was started by a previous Lolita-follower in January, and in it girls share places to buy similar things, and show off their outfits, as well as those of their Japanese heroines.

There is likewise a Live Journal community for Dolly Kei style, referencing the same websites and looks, but adding the store “Cult Party” to the mix.
So there is a groundswell of enthusiasm for this emerging Japanese street style, and it is certainly one to keep an eye on.
Other places for information and photos on Grimoire (and Dolly style):
Style Arena  in their Shop Style section.

La Carmina

Grimoire: 7th floor, Jinnan 1-10-7  Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03 3780 6203
Open: 1pm – 8pm, or 12 – 8 on weekends/holidays

Next up in our Shibuya mission: visits to Cabaret, Rosy Baroque, Nude trump and other vintage and secondhand stores – but that is food for another post.