Japan Hime Girls

It seems each day brings new crisis to our news headlines so this Thanksgiving week blog is just frivolous.  The Wall Street Journal had a recent article that I found so amusing so I decided to share excerpts with you.

TOKYO – When Mayumi Yamamoto goes out for coffee or window shopping, she likes to look as though she’s going to a formal garden party.  One day recently, she was decked out in a frilly, rose-patterned dress, matching pink heels with ribbon and a huge pink bow atop her long hair, dyed brown and in pre-Raphaelite curls.

Ms. Yamamoto is a hime gyaru, or princess girl, a growing new tribe of Japanese women who aim to look like sugarcoated, 21st-century versions of old-style European royalty.  They idolize Marie Antoinette and Paris Hilton, for her baby-doll looks and princess lifestyle.  They speak in soft, chirpy voices and flock to specialized boutiques with names like Jesus Diamante, which looks like a bedroom in a European chateau.  There, some hime girls spend more than $1000 for an outfit including a satin dress, parasol and rhinestone-studded handbag.

“When they come out with a new item, I can’t sleep at night because that’s all I can think about,” says Ms. Yamamoto of the Diamante dresses.  The 36-year old housewife has amassed a collection of 20 princess dresses in the past eight months and even decked out her bedroom with imitation rococo furniture.

While it may be in style among fashionable women in New York and London, black isn’t an option for hime girls, who prefer pink and florals.  They have a doll-like sense of beauty that requires effort and practice to attain.  To create the ideal “super-volume hair” curl only a few strands of hair at a time and alternate between inward and outward curls, advised Vanilla Girl, a fashion magazine for teenagers aspiring to become hime girls.  Dyed hair extensions can help form more dynamic ringlets, while mascara applied on top of fake eyelashes plus black liquid eyeliner can really accentuate the eyes.

Keiko Mizoe, Jesus Diamante’s top sales clerk and a former customer, says she sees the princess style as one befitting an elegant woman from an upper-class family.  The girls are “perfect, georgeous and feminine,” says the 24-year old, herself dressed in a red checkered dress, pink stockings in heart patterns and pink nails studded with crystals.

Ms. Mizoe, who the company says single-handedly sells about $95,000 in clothing each month, has become an idol among Diamante customers, who try to imitate everything about her.

Of course, princess fashion isn’t exactly practical.  Ms. Yamamoto, a housewife princess, says she gave up wearing the frilly dresses while she works opening cardboard boxes at an accessory store four hours a day.

Ms. Yamamoto says she has long adored pink and wanted to dress in feminine clothes, but felt shy about her plump figure.  After losing 33 pounds in recent years, she got hooked on Diamante’s tight-waisted dresses adorned with huge rose patterns, and estimated she spends $2000 or $3000 a month.  Her husband, an architect who loves Europe,  pays for most of her purchases.  Her parents, who live nearby, send the couple food so they have more money for Ms. Yamamoto’s shopping sprees.

Maybe we should all just lighten up and become hime girls!

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Excerpts taken from the Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2008