A Blast from My Past: Japanese Gyaru Fashion & Life in Japan

A few weeks ago I went back to my parent’s house for a few days. Whilst I was there I decided to raid the attic, and see if I could find my old textbooks. I found myself knee-deep in university papers and old cuddly toys from my childhood. Amongst these were a few boxes of items from my time living (and studying) in Tokyo, Japan. Suddenly my objective was out the window and all I wanted to do was reminisce.
Japanese fashion has been a part of my life for over 10 years now. One fashion sub-culture in particular took up a decent amount of that time – gyaru. With hair high enough to reach the gods, and enough make-up to make an MUA weep, gyaru was an enigma wrapped in a mini skirt and fuzzy leg warmers. I was automatically drawn in, and spent most of my time reading magazines and blogs dedicated to the style. Gyaru is the reason behind me starting this blog in the first place! So you can imagine that finding these magazines and books was something quite special. Memories flooded back: Buying the Ranzuki Hair & Make-up Book in a small conbini in Kyoto. Adding points to my WC loyalty card as I bought everything and anything from the brand. Getting a ‘hair set’ (that has since created perpetual hair envy) with a friend for our joint birthday party. 
I met some amazing people because of gyaru, people who I can now call good friends.  So naturally it will always be a big part of my life and although I’m sure there were bad times, I can only remember the good. Recently I’ve missed my time living in Tokyo, but I do wonder if going back might tarnish those memories. It’s safe to say that things wouldn’t be the same now, but maybe that’s a good thing? Gyaru has faded from it’s origins and seems to be evolving into something all together different. So for now, I’m happy to keep my memories as just that. 
Interested in reading more about Japanese fashion and how my blog started?
Check out my Style Evolution post or browse my Japanese Fashion tag.

Momoko Premium Vol.2

Pictures, not scans, of my favourite pages from the book/magazineMook
Click ‘read more’ for the full post.

Top to bottom; Coquettish girls, Twiggy-style code sketches, Celebrities in Murua, Shop-staff codes, Momoko’s – story, favourite pieces, home, make-up, hair & codes.

Where to buy: CD Japan

Life in Paris; ‘Japan Town’ pt.2

This is the 2nd part to the short ‘Japan Town’ in Paris series that I recently posted. As I promised in the previous post, this one will be concerning Japanese magazines, movies and books.
First stop is ‘Komikku(Japanese katakana-ized word for Comic) – this store isn’t actually on Rue Saint Anne like the others, however it does join onto it therefore I thought I would mention it. You can find it by turning down beside Starbucks on the main street.
Anyway, Komikku is a small store that claims to offer ‘Anime, Manga and J-Music’. I thought I would pop in quickly so I could tell you guys about it and, well…I was quite disappointed. I’m not a fan of manga/anime myself and this teeny-tiny store seemed to only offer manga. I saw a few anime dvds but no music (apart from anime soundtracks). That’s not really a big deal but the sign boasts this, and yet they had none. 
They did have a large and very cute selection of bento boxes, recipe books and accessories though! ♥
Next is Marugen. Unfortunately the store was closed when I visited. It looked as though they were moving some stock, but the owner mentioned that it would be open the following day. They are a brand from Osaka that offer casual Tobi wear for men and women. For those who don’t know,  (Tobi) is the name usually given to construction workers and their clothing – example
I did take a peek inside though and I was surprised by the rich textures they had on display. It reminded me of an Asakusa market stall with all the rich, traditional fabric they had used, along with tshirts, various sized 招き猫 and other ornaments, infact I didn’t see much of the ‘Tobi’ influence at all.
But the real reason I went was…
The lovely Natalie from Juicy Blog was very kind to let me know that there is purikura in Paris, and whereas I wasn’t surprised (they have it London, so why not Paris?!) I was very happy to know the location. Obviously I didn’t get to try it out (as they were closed) but I plan to next time!
She mentioned that it was an old machine, which you can see from the examples on the door. Even so, with the price being from only 5€ it is a lot cheaper than the one in London and you can still decorate your photos as much as you like.

I’ve not yet tried out any of the karaoke booths/salons in Japan Town/the surrounding area. However my friends have mentioned that there are a few and are keen to go, so maybe I will be posting about that soon. I really miss karaoke~ 

Sorry, I couldn’t take photos inside
Now onto one of my favourite stores in ‘Japan Town’ – Book Off!
Some of you may already know of Book Off – it is a successful chain store in Japan, which has also branched outside of the country…obviously. They offer Japanese language books, textbooks and revision guides, anime, manga, Japanese music, memorabilia, Japanese dvds and fashion magazines!

I was really pleased by this Book Off as they have so much stock. Their cd and dvd collection is amazing! I don’t really listen to Japanese music or watch Japanese dramas/movies as avidly as I used to, but if I did I would certainly be wasting some hard-earned cash here! Not only that but they offer foreign films with Japanese dubbing (usually blockbusters and Disney), which is great for those practising Japanese.
Their choice of fashion magazines is good. They don’t have as much as the Japanese Centre in London but they have quite a bit, although the last 3 times I have been in they haven’t had any recent Gal magazines. They also stock recent mooks for those who want special catalogues and gifts. Of course they all come at a price; 15 is the average magazine price, around 20 for mooks (sometimes cheaper, especially for older ones). 
However I was most impressed by their selection of back-issues. They had TONS! I found at least 3 from each popular Gal magazine (and more from others) – most for only 4 or 5..and this was for issues from only 2-3months ago. Of course they’re not completely up-to-date but what was usually in around 2-3months ago is usually still good to go…or you can just add any issues you missed to your library. Bargain!
Hello!Project and AKB48 Merchandise in the window

– I also need to visit and have been recommended Junku, which I’ve been told stocks a lot of Japanese language books and some magazines also.

– Another place to find Manga, Anime and Japanese music CDs is fnac.com in Chatelet’s ‘Forum Des Halles‘ – I’ve only been to that store but they do sell it on their online store too, so it’s more than likely that they also stock similar things in other stores.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find any stores that stock Japanese cosmetics, but if you live in Paris (or have visited) and know anywhere, please let me know!

Mooks: Are they worth it?

Lately I have been looking at and buying the latest Mooks for some of my favourite brands A/W collections. I was thinking of maybe doing a post about them and whether they are worth investing in, then I read Kirin’s review of the Kitson mook (bad quality, unfortunately) and Hana asked me whether I thought the WC mook was worth the money, so I finally decided to go ahead with it.
What are Mooks?
Mooks are basically glorified catalogue magazines, made in the style of books (magazine + book = mook). They feature the majority of a brands collection for that season, but also include things such as guest models, staff coordinates and special offers etc. – although this varies depending on the brand. Mooks aren’t limited to only Gal brands either. Well known Western brands such as Cath Kidston and Yves Saint Laurent have also released mooks previously.
But the main selling point of mooks are the FREE GIFTS!! Of course every girl loves a free gift with her magazine, but the ones that come with mooks tend to be a bit better quality but then you are paying more for the mook than you would a regular magazine. The free gifts are so popular (remember the CHER bags?) that some people only buy the mook for the gift – I may be included in this category ;D
Review; Cecil McBee
The Cecil McBee A/W mook was the first one I purchased when I arrived – it was also one of the first to be released of the Gal brands, along with Emoda (which I didn’t buy as it seemed too pricey for a make-up bag which I didn’t need and gel liner which I wouldn’t use).
The magazine side of it features a special editorial with Risa Hirako, who looks stunning at 39!! See people, if you have attitude and a decent stylist Gal has no age limit ;D
Other models also make an appearance throughout the mook and the A/W collection is done justice with some gorgeous photoshoots and a very good layout. My favourite part was seeing what the shop staff were wearing and the feature on how to use an item of clothing and make two outfits from it – elegant and gal.
The free gift with the CM mook was a small reversible tote bag. When I say small, it is quite tiny but it fits my wallet, phone and camera in, so I was quite impressed. The bag itself has a black fur design on one side with a gold Cecil McBee logo – and the other side is leopard print with the CM initials. I personally prefer the fur side as fur is going to be big this season, and it makes more sense to me to have a thinner, more durable fabric on the inside.
I thought the Cecil McBee mook was overall a good purchase. The free gift was stylish and useful. The only complaint I have is that the mook was the same price as the Gilfy one, which featured a much bigger bag as the free gift.
You can see some scans from the mook here @ Universal-doll.
Review; W♥C
I had been looking everywhere for the W♥C mook for a few weeks and then I happened upon it when popping out to buy hair dye. I hadn’t realised that it had only been due out that day – silly me.
The W♥C mook doesn’t feature any special appearances by other models, but then why would they need to when Chinatsu is the producer? Although it does feature some amazingly colourful and gorgeous photoshoots, shot in familiar sights such as Shibuya. But that’s mainly where it stops. Unlike the CM mook, the W♥C one is more like a bigger version of their catalogue and has been done in the same style.
It also features a link to the W♥C webstore where you can purchase items with a special password found in the mook. This is a good marketing strategy as fans of the brand will purchase the mook just for the chance to get special items. However the ‘special items’ were mainly variations on other things, which was a bit of a let down.
The free gift was a W♥C tote bag, with Kumatan print. This was the main reason I wanted the mook, as the tote bag looked adorable and I didn’t yet have anything with the Kumatan print. The bag was on the small side, but still managed to fit all my stuff in but the handles could have been a bit longer. The one thing I was annoyed with was that there was a small hole in my bag and whereas I know you can call the company and claim a new one, my Japanese isn’t that good and I don’t have the time. It can be repaired though, so no worries.
Visually the W♥C mook is very appealing and I loved the way the A/W collection was shown. Chinatsu, as always, is gorgeous and brings the clothing to life. I just wish that the bag had been a little bigger and wasn’t damaged.
Price wise, I was a little upset as this one was the most expensive of the bunch at 1,200円 (£9.25/$14.25) and it seemed a bit steep.
Review; Gilfy
Thanks to Gilfy’s popularity I was able to pick up the mook in my local Lawson.
You may remember Gilfy’s Summer catalogue being produced by Jelly – the one with the free hat and tote bag, which was a great deal. Well their A/W mook is produced by Vivi, which means all the models featured are from Vivi magazine. Rinka takes the glory of the front page and the first editorial, which I’m sure Jenny will be very pleased with. Lena is also featured in an editorial and various other models are used throughout the rest of the mook.
I’m not a big fan of Vivi so that didn’t really appeal to me, but I did enjoy the staff-chan coordinates and the make-up tutorials. Especially the one featuring Gilfy’s Emina, who looks lovely even without make-up btw.
The photoshoots in the mook were ok, but not incredibly inspiring. Some of them were even ruined by one of the models (can’t remember her name, but recognise her face) who refused to shut her mouth in them – not attractive and incredibly annoying.
It also seemed a little too busy when it came to showing off the clothes. It was like they were trying to do high-fashion editorials rather than just simple photoshoots to show off the new items. I preferred the simpler shots where you could see the clothing and it didn’t seem as though they were trying to hard to be something they’re not.
The free gift that came with the mook was a large plastic leopard print tote, with fabric lining and the Gilfy tag. I personally think this is the best gift out of all the ones I purchased. It is incredibly large and is the perfect size for my textbooks etc. It’s on trend with the leopard print and it’s durable. Thumbs up for Gilfy ;D
Price wise, the Gilfy mook was the same as the Cecil McBee one at 980円 (£7.60/$12.60). I personally would have paid that for the bag alone, and even though I wasn’t a big fan of the inside of the mook (nowhere near as good as the ‘produced by Jelly’ one) I will still be checking out the latest items and making a wish-list XD
Which mooks catch your eye?
Do you think they’re worth the money?