A truly unique experience: fashion in Harajuku, Tokyo!

La Maison de Juielitta, in-house make-over and photo-shoot experience: Harajuku, Tokyo

Nearest metro: Meijijingu-Mae Station inside LaForet.

Japan is well known for its dress-up experiences, with many choosing to try on traditional Geisha outfits, but if you feel like something modern and ultra Kawaii you might want to try this. Step into the closet of this elegant boutique and emerge a different person.

What not to do once inside…

So, when you enter LaForet those beautiful displays with all those meticulously tailored, fantastical dresses look pretty special, right? As do the vintage stores and never before seen accessories…hold back! Photos are forbidden – the staff there will swiftly well you to put your smart-phone away. I learned this the hard way! Nevertheless I did manage to get a few sneaky snaps.

Why do people go to LaForet in the first place?

The one of a kind boutique shops bring people here from all over the world – especially “Lolitas” – a fashion phenomenon which is particularly popular in Japan, Paris, London, Vietnam as well as Australia.  For those of you know not in the know, Lolita (not to be confused with Nabokov!) fashion hails from the early 90's, inspired by European Rococo and Victorian dress – sometimes in bold and eye-wateringly kawaii patterns. This fashion is also not to be confused with Cosplay – although there may be some cross overs Lolita is a fashion in its own right. Outfits consist of flamboyant below-the-knee skirts/dresses equipped with heavy petticoats to give a bell shaped look, outrageously huge head-bands and cute almost Cartoon-style heels.  There are many rules for this type of fashion, but to summarize each look should be cohesive, ie. all the accessories should match and usually a wig and specific make-up complete the look – hence the reason why I have not had enough time/ money to cultivate a strong enough Lolita ensemble before. For those who know of Lolita fashion this is, therefore, akin to a dream – but also if you like dressing up and simply fancy sampling a whole transformative make-over as well as the luxury of having a mini photo-shoot in a wonderful little studio (complete with theme, props, etc) this is the perfect excuse. It's always good to feel like a star for a day. I was delighted with the pristine garments from designer labels such as Angelic Pretty and Baby The Stars Shine Bright. The attention to detail and sheer quality of these garments is really something else! There was a wide range of prints and different styles – from the more doll-like to the crazy colorful patterns usually synonymous with Harajuku. Gothic styles are also catered for. A wide range of shoes, fascinators, bows and other accessories were also on hand in order to create the perfect look. Soon I was whisked away into the changing room, petticoat and camisole (which is laundered after every customer) at the ready.

inside the changing room – couldn't wait to try a real petticoat out!

I was very grateful as the staff were very welcoming and managed to fit me into the schedule; it is always better to book but as I came before midday I didn't have to wait long. The price is around a hundred dollars for about a two-hour session, but considering the whole outfit would probably set me back upwards of five hundred and more this seemed pretty cheap – not to mention this is perhaps a once in a lifetime experience for someone who does not get to go to Japan much. Note: Harajuku this is about the only place in the world where you will find such a range of Lolita fashion! As I put on the exquisite blouse to go with my dress I really felt as a magic wand was being waved -but that wasn't all, after carefully fitting myself into the Baby The Stars Shine Bright romantic vintage print dress I was treated to a make-over. The make-up was not very technical or time consuming, but I really felt pampered and almost like a VIP as the staff there were so fun, attentive and – unsurprisingly, cute! The steps consisted of cleansing, moisturizing with foundation and eye makeup with the wig and eyelashes as optional extras. I didn't opt for the eye-lashes but for me the wig was a must – they're great fun and really set off the whole outfit.

Alice in Wonderland – and so the posing begins…out from the rabbit hole and into the light


The staff here are great fun- one of my pics


A professional pic


So many poses in so little time!

Pages from the C.S.Lewis book made up the background – the props were more interesting, however – two rabbits, a pop-up book, a parasol and a velvet chair. The shoot took around twenty minutes in all – I seemed to pose far too many times, as directed by the photographer, but I didn't feel uncomfortable. As you can see from the official Maison shots, the lighting is excellent. My only regret is that I couldn't keep the clothes! Important: you are only allowed three of your chosen photos, which you can download from their website with a login they give you – if you want more you will have to pay extra for each one!        

Leanne Dickinson

I enjoy the rougher side of traveling as well as the 4/5 star life ! Currently I fly to every continent, but also enjoy hitch-hiking, hostels and the budget travel.