Lolita fashion is undeniably tied heavily to the visual kei subculture, having been essentially made popular through Tanbi kei bands of the 90s, such as Malice Mizer.
As of this week, we focus entirely on the work of Mana, the guitarist of Malice Mizer, frontman of Moi dix Mois, and a big name on the scene of Lolita fashion. Today we will have a look at the history of Mana’s Lolita fashion brand, Moi-même-Moitié.
Plenty of fashion brands have garnered attention worldwide for showcasing their designs on the runway for years, turning them into the powerhouses they are today. Lolita is niche when compared to the likes of Chanel, Moschino, Versace, and Gucci, but prominent labels do exist in this fashion subculture as well. Brands such as BABY, THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT, Alice and the Pirates, ATELIER-PIERROT, and Angelic Pretty are hard to miss, even if you’re just scratching the surface of the subculture. One such integral brand is the Gothic Lolita brand Moi-même-Moitié, created by Mana. Let’s look into the brief history of this juggernaut of the Gothic Lolita aesthetic, and explore what it represents.
Lolita fashion goes back as far as the 1970s. The decade saw the birth of brands like Milk and Angelic Pretty (originally known under the name Pretty), which were selling cute, doll-like clothing inspired by styles like Otome kei—cute and somewhat childish. Lolita fashion’s place was cemented among the Harajuku subcultures in the 1990s when bands like Malice Mizer popularized it, and more and more brands began popping up.
To start with, it was in 1999 when Moi-même-Moitié was first established with the opening of stores in Tokyo and Nagoya. The name Moi-même-Moitié is a combination of French words “Moi même” meaning myself and “Moitié” meaning half. Right now, unfortunately, none of the physical Moi-même-Motié stores remain open, gorgeous as they were. Moitié focuses mostly on its online stores and lately has been selling at oversea conventions as well.
The brand’s slogan is ‘Elegant Gothic Lolita Aristocrat Vampire Romance’ and the brand is best known for its use of blue as it is Mana’s favorite color, along with black and white. In fact, there is even a term known as ‘Moitié blue’, which refers to the specific shade of blue that the brand often uses; we are quite sure that you have seen it already.
Moi-même-Moitié’s apparel is split into two lines—Elegant Gothic Lolita (EGL) and Elegant Gothic Aristocrat (EGA). EGL is feminine-orientated, while EGA caters to more masculine and androgynous tastes. However, this does not mean that EGL is only for women, and EGA is only for men; Mana himself has modeled for both of Moitié’s lines for years, and everyone is highly encouraged to pick whatever style they think suits them best!
The EGL line consists of items such as dresses, skirts and jumper skirts (sporting lolita’s traditional silhouette of bell-shaped poofy skirts worn over a voluminous petticoat), boleros, blouses and the like. EGA has a more unisex style to it with waistcoats, coats, long trousers, ruffled blouses and skirts that lack the lolita-esque poof. Some pieces from Moitié’s EGA line can be easily worn as part of a more punkish visual kei style.
It is said that the reason for the brand’s split aesthetic is the fact that Mana presents himself both as a woman and a man, citing that there are simply two such sides within him; and thus Moitié represents to him the perfect woman (EGL) and the perfect man (EGA).
Moi-même-Moitié embraces everything that is lolita and so much more, from religious imagery such as crosses, roses, to gothic architecture. This includes churches and cathedrals, or just parts of them, such as stained glass windows.
In the few years after its inception, Moitié used to focus more on uniquely cut and designed dresses, rather than rely on prints. However, as the general appearance of Lolita fashion gradually shifted throughout the first decade of the new millennium, Moitié kept up with the changes and began producing more dresses with prints. Some of the prints became well-known and well-liked within the community quite quickly, for example, the popular monochromatic print Iron Gate. Moitié is, in general, quite renowned for their gorgeous monochromatic prints, but this, of course, isn’t the only thing the brand has to offer, even just among the prints.
Along with establishing a brand, Mana also proposed an idea during a photoshoot with the Japanese alternative fashion magazine KERA, which he frequently appeared in, to create a magazine dedicated solely to Gothic Lolita. KERA made the idea a reality, and this soon became the Gothic & Lolita Bible that many people are surely familiar with. Initially, it was only printed as a special issue in KERA, but it was soon turned into a regular magazine (published every three months) after it sold out in mere three days.
Moi-même-Moitié appeared from then on in every Gothic & Lolita Bible issue, although as years went by, the space allocated to the brand began to grow smaller, until the brand was dropped from Gothic & Lolita Bible in early 2016. The physically-printed magazine went on hiatus soon after in 2017.
The cost of Lolita garments, especially Moitié, can definitely be very high at times; they are also produced in limited quantity. However, due to the increased interest in Lolita fashion over the years, especially overseas thanks to the widespread availability of the internet, there has been more of a demand to make such clothes available internationally. Those interested are now able to buy lolita and Harajuku items through websites such as CDJapan.
Previously, you could purchase clothing from the Moi-même-Moitié’s official website, but only through a shopping service as the site only ships within Japan. To remedy this problem for overseas fans and also reduce wait time, Moitié began to also sell their apparel through the Lolita fashion site Wunderwelt, run by the company Tanaqro that they’d earlier transferred business ownership to. This allowed them to reach even more people outside Japan. Since then, the brand has also begun focusing on releasing more everyday use items, such as wallets, phone cases and the like.
Mana has really been putting himself out there to further promote Moi-même-Moitié to a wider western consumer base. Earlier this year, he visited the US, appearing as a guest at Seattle’s Sakura-con. He will be doing the same in Europe this September, as he is to be the guest of honor at the Lolita fashion event Eternal Twilight, which is organized by Hellocon in Helsinki, Finland. The attendees, of which there will be the maximum of about four hundred, will be able to see a fashion show showcasing Moitié’s clothing, participate in a Q&A session with Mana and a lucky 100 will have the opportunity to win the chance to attend a meet-and-greet with Mana.
Hellocon also sold VIP tickets for a Lolita tea party and a special VIP meet-and-greet with Mana; these, however, sold out mere seconds after going on sale, proving that Mana is in quite high demand overseas.
We hope you’ve learned something new about Moitié today, and that you are as excited as we are about the full week of Mana-related content that we have prepared for you!
Tomorrow we shall elaborate on the context of how Mana’s career started and unfolded and how he has become one of the brand names in both visual kei and Lolita subculture. Don’t worry, not all posts are essentially history lessons; there is a bunch of exclusive Mana stuff to carry us through the week!