After reviewing Kamijo, Visual Kei inspired performer Vicki Anne explored Visual Kei itself…
Visual Kei fashion began in the late 80’s – early 90’s when fans of Visual Kei music first started to emulate their heroes, donning the same colourful costumes and adapting the style for themselves.
X-Japan are widely regarded as the founders of Visual Kei music. They dubbed their new brand of music and fashion, ‘Psychadelic Violence – crime of visual shock’. Drummer Yoshiki Hayashi admitted that the more the bands manager told them to tone down their style the more the did the opposite and the more elaborate the style became. This spurred other artists at the time to do the same and the Visual Kei genre was born. It didn’t take long for the fashion style to catch on on the streets of Harajuku and later some parts of Osaka’s fashionable area’s. As with all muscicans, fans started to emulate their favourite artists’ style and before long, fans were dressed up to the nines on Harajuku bridge, either by cosplaying artists or creating a more toned-down look which by all accounts is much easier to wear than the elaborate costumes Visual Kei artists wear onstage. This gave way to clothing brands such as H.Naoto and Sexpot Revenge specialising in Visual Kei fashion establishing themselves around Tokyo’s Harajuku district and the popularity of the fashion increasing during the later 90’s – mid 00’s.
Androgyny is a key element of the style. As most Visual Kei artists themselves are actually male, (with the exceptions of Exist Trace and Danger gang) the shock element came from their efeminate looking clothing and make-up. Band members such as Hizaki of Versailles and Mana of Malice Mizer also play the female role in bands, wearing lolita dresses with long curled hair. Although seen in traditional Japanese kabuki theatre often included men playing women, the men that took on women’s roles in Visual Kei were considered shocking to the reserved Japanese public.
Hair and make-up is fundamental to the Visual Kei look. Hair is often brightly coloured and spikedand Makeup s often dramatic and dark. Cure magazine, one of the biggest publications for both Visual Kei music and fashion has a section in every issue dedicated to informative pieces on how to achieve the perfect visual kei hair and make-up.
Though hair and make-up are focused on, clothing such as torn jeans, shorts with knee length socks and suspenders and platform shoes/boots all play a key part in achieving the look. Think gothic and punk styles all mashed together with an androgynous twist!
Fashion also plays an integral role in the musical sub-genre’s of Visual Kei. In fact, each sub genre is mainly catogorised by clothing style, not always the music. For example, Oshare kei (Oshare itself means stylish) is often defined by bright colours worn, Oshare bands often sing about ‘happy’ themes and therefore this is reflected in the bright style.
Another popular style is Victorian or Lolita’ Kei, which as the name suggests incorporates a lot of lolita or kodonna styles, mainly gothic and hints of classic lolita as well as drawing inspiration from Georgian and Victorian periods of history. Other styles include Kote Kei, Angura Kei (identified by the use of traditional Japanese clothing) and Eroguro Kei which blends together both erotic and overly grotesque clothing, makeup and themes.
If you want to try out the visual kei look for yourself some great resources to check out are Cure magazine as mentioned above and also KERA magazine which promotes visual kei as well as other Japanese street fashions that can be spotted around Harajuku. Also check out Cure Magazines style council videos and step by step Magazine spreads.
CD Japan’s apparel section also sells brands Deorart and Sexpot Revenge: http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/apparel/