The Lolita Complex: a Japanese fashion subculture and its paradoxes

Hardy Bernal, Kathryn Adele
Hamon, Jan
Griffiths, Richard
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Master of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

My thesis investigates complex issues implied by and connected with the Japanese movement known generally as Gothic & Lolita (G&L), focussing specifically on the Lolita fashion-based subculture and psychological motivations behind it. It discusses the transmigration of the movement’s ideas from Eastern to Western to Eastern societies, including differing cultural interpretations of “Lolita” and their implications in terms of the Lolita phenomenon, while examining ideologies in context with conflicting connotations and paradoxes that arise from a label that combines perceptions about “Lolita” with the “Gothic”. It also addresses the “Lolita Complex”, a term that stems from the narrative of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita and is applied to a syndrome affecting older men and their attraction to young girls, and explores its associations with the Lolita subculture. The Lolita Complex, as the title of this thesis, also refers to the problematic complexities connected with and inferred by the movement. This thesis is multi-disciplinary. Although the emphasis is related to Fashion (or Design) History and Theory, my research also spans the fields of Subcultural Theory, Gothic Studies, Gender Studies, Asian Studies and Anthropology. It leans, though, more to the “theoretical” side, while my methodological approach relates closely to Analytic or Psychoanalytic Art History, based on my education and training as an Art and Design theorist. As such, this study is an analysis of the Japanese Lolita subculture. It is my theory or my reading of this cultural phenomenon, supported by evidence to state the overriding argument that the Lolita movement is symbolic of and represents a generation of young women who refuse to enter adulthood and “grow up”.

Lolita; Gothic Lolita; Lolita Fashion; Japanese Lolita; Lolita style; Gothloli; Lolicon; Loli; Fashion; Gothic; Subcultures; Gender; Feminism; Fashion Theory; Design History; Art History; Art Theory; Vladimir Nabokov; Visual-Kei; Japanese Fashion Design
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