Let's Talk About Hime-Kei

Below is an English translation of the second of 31 essays/short articles in Takemoto Novala's recently published 乙女のトリビア, or Trivia for Maidens, originally published in Zipper magazine.

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Let’s Talk About Hime-kei.
That Hime-kei that Catches Your Interest

“Hime-kei”. There was a time that was referred to as super feminine as well, but even today, girls who buy clothing from brands like Jesus Diamante, Pinky Girls, DelilaH, and Liz Lisa are all also hime-kei. (Even Delyle, with its cool image, also fits in the hime-kei category, don’t you think?)

To briefly explain what hime-kei is, it’s one substyle of gyaru, just like B-kei, that grew up from somewhere. The goal? To become a princess. To draw a clear line and describe the popular clothing in one simple image, think full frill mode, with the main color being pink. The hair is curled with a curling iron, and piled up into a gorgeous updo. …But wait, with this description, those of you who are unfamiliar with hime-kei may think, “But you’re describing lolita!” Good catch. That’s right, hime-kei is quite similar to lolita. Because of this, it’s not really mistaken to categorize girls who like gyaru style with a lolita taste as being hime-kei. I suppose if this were a test, we’d have to mark that one as correct (after all, there are even people who straddle the line between hime-kei and lolita and go back and forth a lot).

However, the main difference between hime-kei and lolita is that hime-kei girls love shiny things. While lolitas don’t usually have too much interest in shiny things (by the way, while lolitas may curl their hair into long barrel rolls, they don’t usually put it in an updo), hime girls want to have shiny things everywhere they can. Rhinestones and sequins are a must. Their nails, cell phone, even the contents of their bags and make-up pouches are covered in sparkles to the point of ridiculousness. But you know, I feel a certain affinity with the hime girls. After all, it’s so cute!

A tiara from Jesus Diamante

When I buy hime-kei items, I often purchase them at Claire’s. There’s probably a Claire’s in your town as well. They sell many things like fans covered in fur, and tiaras that make you think, when the heck would someone wear something like this? The best thing about Claire’s is how inexpensive it all is. Recently I bought *two* leopard print belts. I mean, they were less than 1000 yen each!

If you aren’t interested in hime-kei, that’s okay, but if you have any part of you that is often drawn in by romantic thoughts, why not include some hime-kei items in your own wardrobe, even if you don’t want to become a full-on gyaru? After all, the main trends in the 2005 Paris Collection were completely hime-kei and lolita!

Christian Dior presented a collection simply covered in sequins, with full flowing skirt hems and plenty of lace and ribbons. Chanel’s theme this time was “French Garden”. That is, he revamped the Rococo aesthetics from Marie Antoinette’s time. This is so essentially hime-kei and lolita, isn’t it? Just think, the street fashion of Japan, hime-kei and lolita, which have been looked down upon and considered in bad taste, over the top, and ugly over the years, have now influenced the world’s top designers! Isn’t that amazing?

To the left: Christian Dior,
S/S 2005, Paris Collection

To the right: Chanel,
S/S 2005, Paris Collection

If you’d like to try mixing in some hime-kei without going overboard with girliness, the first thing I’d recommend is a frilly mini skirt and camisole. These look very cool even with a jersey or with denim, and this level of girliness is often featured in just about any mainstream fashion magazine. Personally, as someone who actually comes the lolita world but still checks hime-kei frequently, while Pinky Girls and Liz Lisa are nice as well, I’d like you to try something a little different and check out Love Boat, a brand that keeps the 109 aesthetic but also has a lolita taste. They even sell stationary and accessories!

If you are someone not interested in hime-kei or lolita, and you say to yourself, “Well, hime-kei is just for gyaru, and frills are just for lolita, so neither of them has any use for me,” your fashion sense will grow stale and predictable. If something strikes your fancy, you should try something from a shop that is different from where you usually shop. You are your own stylist, so no one will get angry with you even if you wear a Comme des Garcons skirt with a Jesus Diamante t-shirt. A coordinate that truly works, even though it’s completely unexpected and unique, is the best kind, don’t you think?

Let’s try something shiny and frilly!

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This article was strange for me to translate. I can’t imagine anyone in 2009, when this book was published, or in 2005-2007, the years in which the articles were originally published (I’m not sure the original publication date of each individual article) not knowing what hime-kei is. It’s been so prevalent since well before 2005 that it comes as a shock to me that this article would be written like this. But perhaps that is only because hime-kei really is so very similar to lolita in many ways, which means that those of us interested in lolita are exposed to a surprising amount of it. On the other hand, B-kei, which is mentioned in this article in a very matter-of-fact fashion, expecting everyone to know it, is completely new to me. I guess I just always considered this style of gyaru to be “standard gyaru style”, and I was never aware there was a separate name for it. I am not surprised that there is, but I am somewhat amused that I had never heard of it. But I’ve never been a very big fan of gyaru.

Hime gyaru, on the other hand, can be quite intriguing. It’s not my thing, but I do sometimes love a mixture of hime with lolita. I think that ever since about 2007, the line between the two has been becoming increasingly blurred. As lolita gets more and more princess-y and over the top, and hair gets bigger and bigger and ever-increasingly elaborate, at the same time lolitas are wearing more and more glitter and bling. Is this the influence of hime-kei, or simply the influence of the popular Angelic Pretty style? Or are those both part of the same phenomenon? Angelic Pretty actually has a very large following amongst hime gyaru. When I used to stop in the Osaka shop at least 3 times a week, chances are that at least one of those times I would see hime gyaru in there buying several pieces of pearl jewelry and extravagant pink princess dresses. Perhaps we could all gain by a little appreciation of this style that is so similar to our own even as it’s so very different.

Anyway, I think I like the current shared trends much better than those I remember from the spring/summer of 2007, when everyone wanted to do the extravagant updos of hime gyaru, ratting and piling their hair atop their head similar to the signature gyaru beehive. (I was not exempt from trying this craze myself!) I think a little rhinestone decadence is a welcome addition compared to that travesty!


Alice said...
February 26, 2010 at 6:02 PM

I'm really happy that you're translating these! I very much enjoy reading them.

Xelyna the Gothic Lolita said...
February 26, 2010 at 7:03 PM

I think that Hime-kei didn't become really known to the mainstream until the big hime-deco-den crazy of a couple of years back. That was well after Liz Lisa et al stopped making the pink and white hime-kei clothes, and moved into browns and florals. B-kei is the one that looks like hip-hop clothes, right?
Still confused to why this was posted in Zipper magazine, which AFAIK is neither lolita nor gyaru? LOL

The Osaka Koneko said...
February 26, 2010 at 7:14 PM

I'm very happy that you enjoy reading them! It gives me something to do in between assignments at work. ;)

I think that's why it's written with the tone it is, urging girls who don't wear either lolita or hime-kei to try to incorporate some girly frills in their wardrobe.
I guess as lolitas we're just closer to it, so we hear about it more than the mainstream. :)
Yes, B-kei is the hip-hop looking style.

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