Realities of Fantasy are hosting an event called Austen & Abbey in-conjunction with Sweet Sensibilities and The UK Mori-Girl Club. Francesco Calvano founder has teamed up with Keren Oliphant and Kazuki, The Undercover Broli. These three full time Brolli and Lolli are working with some part timers to showcase regency attractions and clothing. This will be a Lolita mega-meet and convention which combines all styles of Lolita and Mori-Girl, which also features Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.
Lolita Brands are attending in person and staging their own fashion show, Atelier Pierrot. Brand and off-brand clothing are also being sold by exhibitors such as Rococo Daze and Baroque Fashion. Countries involved are Brands from Japan, off-brands from Korea, China, France and the UK.
We interviewed Francesco Calvano for more meat on this new movement in the Lolita world:
What is Austen & Abbey?
Austen & the Abbey will be a one-off event, it’s not to be repeated, though elements of this event will appear in other events that we have planned. The spark which brought this event to life originates from my initial thought last year of “why not stage an event that marries Lolita with The Regency!” 2013 just so happens to be the bicentenary of the first publication of Pride & Prejudice, and as this anniversary only happens once of course, why not celebrate this to create a memorable Lolita event!
A&tA has a Lolita package-holiday concept that combines shopping, entertainment, adventure and a hotel stay (which we also organise for you) in the leafy county of Warwickshire. You don’t necessarily have to have read P & P to enjoy it either, you can just soak up the Lolita and Mori-Girl stuff. It’s a first event in the UK to combine so many aspects in one weekend, so we’re striving to make it as smooth and as fun as possible, here goes!
The beautiful and historic stately home of Stoneleigh Abbey is in the Warwickshire countryside just outside my home town. It’s perfect for a Lolita meet, but yet there’s no Lolita community nearby and the place isn’t known widely to the public, so it’s one of those hidden treasure. Jane Austen stayed at Stoneleigh Abbey and based some of the locations in her novels on various parts of the place so it has strong connections to her works.
Have you any British Lolita brands on board?
We’ve been hooked on TV shows The Paradise and Mr Selfridge so we came up with the idea of creating a 19th century-style Lolita department store at Austen and the Abbey. We’re calling it The Austentatious! We want lolitas to be able to shop in comfort and style, and our exhibitors to have their own departments with window displays amd fitting rooms etc.
There’s some wonderful and quirky talent in the UK community for dress and accessories making! Midlands based designers like Stockingshock and Rocking Horse Design who range from Classic to sweet with a bit of pirate, will be selling their items and showcasing some pieces in our fashion shows. Accessories designers like Miwari, 8th Sin Creations, and Little Miss Kitty will also be exhibiting their beautiful creations too. Also of note are retailers like Tofu Cute and Rococo Daze who stock fantastic ranges of kawaii gifts and Brand clothing direct from Japan.
Oh and yes. We may also be dishing out a few awards after the fashion show!
Is the Bro-lita fashion big in Japan?
In the UK it’s still hugely taboo for a man or boy to wear women’s clothing unless its for a prank, charity or done under the influence of one too many Carlings. I feel that is a big shame, and puts pressure on males who want to be more creative and/or don’t wish to look like the average dude on the street. However, in Japan, there seems to be an appreciation for males that may be deemed as more feminine in looks or dress, or both. You’ve heard of Mana I’m sure, and most likely Hizaki from Versailles or Kaya the singer.
Visual-kei music is big corporate business in Japan, as is Lolita fashion. The high-profile nature of bands like Versailles together with the high-street accessibility of Lolita stores like Bodyline and Angelic Pretty in many cities, means that it there can be more chances for a male to discover what a lolita is and potentially become a brolita himself as a result. It is therefore arguably far more acceptable, or at least – expected – in many part of Japan to see brolitas in a group of lolitas, than it is in the UK.
Kazuki tells me that in Japan boys dressing as girls are called Otokono-ko (男の娘) and there is a also a brolita community on Mixi (a Japanese social networking site) with over 500 members, many of which include women who identify as brolitas. Some brolitas in Japan (just like in the UK) may seem themselves more as women – and therefore Lolitas – rather than as brolitas. So It’s always best to ask a brolita (upon meeting them) which gender pronoun they may prefer, in-case they see themselves more as lolitas rather than brolitas, or vica versa.
4. What do you hope to accomplish after the event?
1. Have a lie down. 2. Have another lie down. 3. Watch some anime and some crumpets. 4. Take over the world one lolita event at the time. We’d love for A&tA to have inspired people in general; inspired lolitas to read Jane Austen, visit more stately homes, experiment with other lolita styles and Mori-Girl. We’re also hoping that Warwickshire’s first en masse exposure to J-fashion will inspire some members of the public to find out more and potentially join in too.
We are also planning to potentially stage one or two pop-up A&tA events around the UK during the rest of July and August this year. We will be staging professional photoshoots for the Lolita brands and companies at select locations in Warwickshire and potentially elsewhere, so that the brands can use these photos for their own promotion on their websites and adverts in the Gothic Lolita Bible.
In the winter, based on the success and outcomes of A&tA, we would begin planning for our next event. We have two future event ideas (which may well also involve other literary classics and the steampunk fashion).
5. How has it gone so far?
It’s been so much fun, but a hefty rollercoaster journey in places! Balancing the needs and costs of two major locations has been a challenge, but we’re confident that we’ve used both locations to their strengths and they are going to look fabulous! We’ve had much fun creating The Austentatious, sourcing the wardrobes, glass cabinets, antiques and drapery to dress the store. I have had my little Mr Selfridge moments whilst stalking around the venues measuring up tables & arranging items to see the exhibitor stalls will look (though I’m not sure I’d combine Mr Selfridge’s moustache with my Lolita co-ordinate!)
It’s wonderful to have the support and attendance of the respected Convention Lolita organisers as well, they are coming from Paris fresh from their own Convention on July 7th and 8th. They are coming to get involved in the fashion show, talk about the Lolita fashion in France and get to know more UK Lolitas. Roll on the next few months!
“Austen & the Abbey”
Lolita & Mori-Girl extravaganza, with an excitable Regency spirit!
Stoneleigh Abbey and The Royal Pump Rooms. Warwickshire.
Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th July 2013
11am – 10:30pm and 11am – 6pm