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Gothic Grandeur
The Enigmatic Mana talks Fashion, Music, and Perfection
(Photos courtesy of Mana)

No one can dispute the beautifully androgynous Mana’s strong influence on Lolita fashion from the very beginning, partially evidenced by the fact that a photo shoot with the musician and designer has been in every issue of the Gothic & Lolita Bible since the first.

Many became familiar with Mana who created both the terms Elegant Gothic Aristocrat (EGA) and Elegant Gothic Lolita (EGL), when he was creating memorably flamboyant costumes for his Gothic band MALICE MIZER, dressing himself in Gothic Lolita and other members in Aristocratic styles for their extravagant music videos and artistically inspired performances.

Since the music group’s disbandment in 2001, Mana has remained focused on both music and fashion. He runs his own record label, Midi:Nette, performs with his current band, Moi dix Mois, and acts as both designer and model for his clothing line, Moi-meme-Moitie.

We were pleased when this multitalented Lolita icon agreed to take time from his busy creative schedule to answer questions about his past, present, and future projects for our Western readers.

FASHION


G&LB: In the West, you’re recognized as an icon of Japanese Gothic music as well as Gothic Lolita and Aristocrat fashion. Where do you draw your fashion influences?

Mana: I’d say I draw my [fashion] influence from vampire movies, because I’m attracted to the aesthetics of Gothic romance, the beauty of the dark of the night.

G&LB: When you were part of MALICE MIZER, the fashion of the band was clearly Aristocratic, inspired by historic clothing. Could you describe the evolution of your fashion, from your MALICE MIZER days to today?

M: In MALICE MIZER, I wore that kind of clothing to further illustrate the themes and concepts of the music, as they do in musicals and plays. I currently create clothing that matches my view of the world for Moi dix Mois with Moi-meme-Moitie.

G&LB: Do you think Lolita has finally made an impact all around the world?

M: When Moi dix Mois went on tour in Europe, it made me very happy to see that there were quite a few fans who were wearing head-to-toe Moi-meme-Moitie clothing.

G&LB: Many people acknowledge that your popularity has influenced the growth of Lolita in Japan and in the West. Personally, what role do you feel you’ve played in the development of the Gothic and Lolita?

M: I advocated the then-new style called Gothic Lolita, which combines cute with dark and mysterious, and wanted to make it a genre of fashion that permeated all the corners of the world.

G&LB: Is it true that you were the one to first suggest the idea for a separate Gothic and Lolita focused magazine to Index (the publisher of the Bible in Japan)? If so, what gave you the idea?

M: When I began to advocate Gothic Lolita, there weren’t any magazines about it. I had appeared in a KERA magazine’s snaps, and at that time, this was the impetus for me to say that it would be nice if there were a magazine that specialized in Gothic Lolita. [Ed.’s note: KERA is also published by Index.] When I spoke with [the KERA staff], nothing was definite; the conversation was simply that it would be nice if a specialty magazine like that were to come out. However, a few months later, the first issue was launched, and I was also interviewed for it – and here we are today.

G&LB: What level of involvement do you have with your brand, Moi-meme-Moitie?

M: When I first started up [Moi-meme-Moitie], I designed most of the EGA styles. I designed most of the accessories (such as the coffin ring) and bags (such as the bat bag). Of course, there were other designers, and we do try to present a unified image. I also design the store interiors.

G&LB: In all your photo shoots, you keep a balance between portrayals of yourself as Elegant Gothic Lolita and Elegant Gothic Aristocrat. Is the split fashion sense for these photos spreads a reflection of your own personality?

M: This split is also seen in the meaning of the brand Moi-meme-Moitie, which means “me, myself, half of me.” My ideal for men is EGA, and that for women is EGL. I feel that my image is an attempt to embody those [two] ideals.

G&LB: Recently, more and more brands have begun to open their doors to the West. Some brands, like BABY, THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT, have even opened stores overseas. How do you feel about this? Is this something you are interested in doing with your brand?

M: If I found a good partner company, then I would like to open a Moi-meme-Moitie overseas.

MUSIC


G&LB: You’ve traveled with your band Moi dix Mois all over the world. Could you tell us about a particularly memorable performance of yours overseas?

M: The concerts in all the countries I’ve been to are quite remarkable; each one of them is fun and remains in my memory. If I had to mention one in particular, then it would be the performance in Germany that overlapped with my birthday. There was a surprise from the sponsor: They had collected money from the fans, and I was surprised when they presented me with a large Gothic clock on stage. I remember fondly that I was able to give a concert on my birthday, and that throughout the concert I was happy I was able to celebrate it with my fans.

G&LB: Where is the most inspirational place you’ve traveled so far?

M: The ornamentation of the buildings of old in every country of Europe deeply impressed me.

G&LB: Your music has gone through many phases, the most recent being trending toward more Gothic electronic music with your current band members. Has your music been heavily influenced by your world travel? If not, then what has affected the changes we hear?

M: By nature, the genres I really like are Gothic and electronic. I haven’t been influenced by anyone’s music in particular; however, the Wave Gotik Treffen festival in 2006 in Germany, which I participated in, motivated me in a positive way.

G&LB: If you could choose, would you rather be remembered for the music you’ve created or the Gothic fashion that you’ve made popular?

M: I think my first and foremost means of expression is music. However, both are things I create, so it’s difficult to decide.

G&LB: Do you have any closing words for our English-speaking readers?

M: I’ve received a lot of e-mail in English from people who’ve responded to the things I’ve created. It’s made me very happy and serves as encouragement for me. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude. I also pray that a concert will come to fruition [in the future].