RUBI GIRL GOES TO JAPAN!

Japan has phenomenally impacted the world! They have given us karaoke, sushi, yakisoba, sake, Nintendo, manga, Saga, flip-flops (called Zōri in Japan), leaf blowers, Jujitsu, Sumo, Sony, fortune cookies (it wasn’t the Chinese!! Fortune cookies originated in Kyoto, Japan) and unfortunately, Crystal Meth. The Japanese chemist Akira Ogata created Crystal Meth in 1919. It was originally created for alertness.

Because of their world contributions, May is Asian Pacific Heritage month. The United States Congress picked May to commemorate the first Japanese who immigrated to the United States on May 7th 1843.

Where would we be without flip-flops? Thanks Japan!

Today’s Flip Flops   Zōri (Japanese Slippers)  Tabi (Socks worn with Zōri)   The finished look

However, I believe Japan’s greatest gift to mankind is ANIME! Of course, I also love their fashion!  It’s about time I took a trip to Japan. After all I need to find out how to put some of that great Japanese culture in my closet.  So with my chump change budget, I purchased a $4.50 luxury Air Metro F line ticket to Japan.  Weeeell, I ended up in Little Tokyo, which is a shopping area located between St. Mark’s Place and 10th St. in the East Village.

St. Marks Place-Little Tokyo

Like everything in New York, Little Japan is a peculiar juxtaposition of cultures. Here in New York you’ll find food fusions like Cuban Chinese, Pizza Falafel, Mexican Irish. Yup I said it, “Mexican Irish”.  I don’t know how that happened but you can find Mexican Irish food at Jose Malone’s Mexican Irish Restaurant in Troy, NY!   So off course when I arrived in Little Japan my expectations were dashed. I was expecting to see troves of Japanese stores, Harajuku girls, and trendy Japanese professionals wearing top designer clothing.  Instead I entered into a layback Bohemian atmosphere with clusters of Japanese restaurants and $1 dollar pizza joints ran by Mexicans.  Yuup, the Mexicans are taking over!  It was a hot day so people were dressed in shorts, tanks simple summer dresses, plain T’s and denim.  Not one Harajuku girl in sight.

Noodle and pizza shops in Little Tokoyo

Little Tokyo lay back street style

While taking photos like a snapshot happy tourist, I came across Mina Ferguson. She is the lovely owner of a women’s wear boutique called “Saada”.  Saada, which means happiness in Arabic, has been in business for 13 years and is located on 1159 Second Avenue in New York City.  Being of Japanese/Korean descent, Mina frequents Japan and is well versed on Japanese fashion.

She informed me about the crazy cool Harajuku street fashion that is slowly trickling into American culture.  She also stated that it’s the youth who loves to partake in street fashion.  You wouldn’t find a 30-year-old woman dressed as a Harajuku girl.

Mina Ferguson owner of Saada    www.saadanyc.com

So what exactly is Harajuku?   Well, According to Professor Wikipedia, renowned for its unique street fashion, Harajuku is the common name for the area around Harajuku Station on the Yamanote Line in the Shibuya ward of Tokyo, Japan. Harajuku is also a fashion capital of the world, its street style is promoted in Japanese and international publications such as Kera, Tune, Gothic & Lolita Bible and Fruits.     

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harajuku

Check out this video for more info on Harajuku style.

Harajuku is so popular, even Gwen Stefani has Harajuku girls as her back up and Nicki Minaj calls her self the Harajuku Barbie.

Gwen Stafani and the Harajuku girls and line of Harajuku themed perfume.  I like Baby the best it smells like sweet baby powder

Nicki Minaj Harajuku Barbie

Hungry for more info I interviewed a future fashion designer, the self-proclaimed Providence, Rhode Island Harajuku Specialist, Miss Carmela Wilkins.

Miss Carmela Wilkins Harajuku Specialist and Future Fashion Designer


Rubi Girl:  Miss Carmela why do you love Japanese fashion?

Miss Carmela:  My love of Japanese fashion came from my love and obsession of anime and manga. With that everything just sorta branched off from there. Its just so different and represents itself in its own way screaming “IM NOT LIKE YOU SO KEEP STARING!!”

Rubi Girl: What are the different types of Harajuku and overall Japanese street style

Miss Carmela:  There are so many variations of what Japanese street style portrays.  They embrace a lot of different trends and form collaborations with them. There are Visual Kei, Decora, Cosplayers, Ganguro, Lolita, Udoli, Bōsōzoku, Gothic, Steam Punk, Rockabilly, Hippies and Punk, just to name a few.  I love Lolita. With this rare look, your clothes is suppose to secretly say how innocent and naive you are. Even if you might be a Gothic or Punk Lolita (yes there is a difference) with all those dark shades you still have to look girly and feminine

Visual Kei- Eccentric Rock look“Kei” means visual style music. Decora - cute or pretty child like clothing

Cosplayers- costume play, dressing like anime, video games and manga characters.


Bōsōzoku- Motorcycle gang style and Steam Punk- science fiction futuristic style


 

Rockabilly-1950's rock and, Hippie-non conventional styles associated with hippies



 

Punk- Edgy hard rock style

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Miss Rubi:  Which Japanese styles do you prefer?

Miss Carmela: It’s hard to choose. But for me it would be Lolita, Ganguro, Udoli, ANYTHING that looks really edgy or has a Victorian flare. Ganguro is basically someone who has dark skin (can be faked) and wears white makeup and false eyelashes to enhance their techno party girl look.

Lolita- a youthful doll like look based on Victorian clothing. Lolita comes in several styles (gothic, sweet, punk, and classic).

                                         Sweet Lolita                                        Gothic Lolita

                       Punk Lolita                                                           Classic Lolita              

               

Ganguro – Deep tan with bleached, gray, orange, or silver dyed hair paired with white lipstick and eyeshadow.

Miss Carmela:  Udoli is a whole other world!  “Udoli is a person who is of African descent or a Non-Asian race who sometimes enjoys making themselves up to look like dolls. They have an appreciation for the Asian pop culture and draw inspiration from African, Caribbean and other world cultures to set themselves apart.

                                                                         Udoli Style

Rubi Girl:  Being that you are a Japanese fashion specialist, in your opinion what is street style’s future?

Miss Carmela: With their overall creativity, I will never cease to be awe struck by  what might turn up next.  Also anime and manga itself has had a big impact on the street culture. The extremely obvious thing between real girls and anime girls, are the big teased dyed hair, gigantic doll like eyes and pouting lips; that style may change as anime changes.

Here are some are some websites with great info on street style.

http://decora-fashion.blogspot.com/
http://www.mookychick.co.uk/style/decora.php

http://www.lolitafashion.org/

http://www.livemusicstudio.com/mac/pages/ganguro.html

http://udoli.tumblr.com/

Rubi Girl:   Everyone one should check out udoli.tumblr.com I’ve met and did an informal interview with the designer Tennelle. Tennelle is Brooklyn based and her work is super funky/cool.  Her style is definitely Udoli

Tennelle  Brooklyn Based Designer http://udoli.tumblr.com/

The interview with Miss Carmela turned my attentions to anime.  Japanese street fashion draws a lot of inspiration from anime and manga.

My favorite is the American anime “Avatar The Last Airbender”.

Avatar tells the story of Aang an airbender who must master the elements water, earth and fire, in order to save the world from an evil fire lord. I really want to be an airbender.  So, I trained with Sensei Photoshop to become a member of the Air Tribe!

         Before TrainingTenneh AKA Rubi Girl with kool-aid smile Aang the Last Airbender    After Training     Tenneh The First             African Airbender!

In order to get the scoop on some of the most fashionable anime characters, I ­interviewed Anime specialists Jerry Wilkins and Danielle Rivera

Anime Specialist Jerry Wilkins. Fashion Designer, Anime and Japan Specialist Danielle Rivera

                     Jerry Wilkins                                                    Danielle Rivera 

According to the specialists:

Best Dressed Anime Characters Winners areee –  DRUM ROLL PLEASE!!

Girls From Chobits- Sweet and Gothic Lolitas

        Kingdom Hearts-cutesy Disney chic Yuko from XxxHolic, sexy in modernize-traditional Japanese clothing.

Abarai Renji from Bleach-Cool Dude  makes looking good look easy

Commemorating Japanese culture The Brooklyn Botanic Garden hosted its annual Cherry Blossom Festival.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden 2011 Cherry Blossom Festival ( It was so beautiful )

There anime and Japanese Fashion lovers came costumed for the event!

Harajuku Girls at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Miroku and Sango from InuYasha Kurogane from TsubasaReservoir Chronicle Madara Uchiha from NarutoInuyasa from InuyasaKakashi from Naruto

Ichigo Kurosaki  from Bleach & I think the girl is Nnoitra Gilgabut I’m not sure  From Left to Right: Death the Kid, Black Star, Asura-the Kishin, Medusa, Franken Stein, Maka from Soul Eater

Now the main question is “How can I put all this in my wardrobe! Here is a mood board and sketches of designs I’ve created. I love Udoli, Sweet Lolita, Yuko’s style and cherry blossoms.

Japanese Fashion Inspired Mood Board I’ve created

HERE ARE DA GURLS  – Miko in the cherry blossom dress channeling Sweet Lolita,  Kaeda wearing denim and polka-dots channeling Udoli, and Sakura  wearing pearls with a layered dress, channeling Yuko .  I’m leaning more towards the cherry blossom dress that Miko’s wearing.  I’ll create one of these outfits and post a picture of it in an upcoming blog.

Well, we have explored the trendy side of Japanese fashion.  We still need to explore their traditional and modern fashion themes.

But for now goodbye or like the Japanese say “SAYONARA”!  Thanks for traveling with me to Japan.

PS thanks for reading my blog 🙂

Tenneh

RUBI GIRL GOES TO MEXICO

Although Cinco de Mayo has passed, my thoughts still linger on Mexican cultural influences. Mexico has a powerful creative voice. That voice has been almost snuffed out by the extremities of their political, and social issues. Based on my experiences, Tacos are the first thing that comes to mind when I think Mexico. Then my mind is bombarded with visions of stocky built men with thick mustaches, standing in groups on the sidewalk every morning hustling for work, and cat calling with gusto at me and almost every other chick rushing to catch the subway. “ AYE MOMMIE HOLLA CHICA YOU LOOK NICE I WAN BE YO PAPI !”
However, lately I’ve become enthralled with the rich Aztec and Spanish references engrained in the Mexican Culture. I’m a Rubi Girl, so naturally, I took all that culture, its whole lotta good stuff, and translated it into something for my wardrobe!

WHAAAT!? Did you just ask what is a Rubi Girl!? Well darling reader, a Rubi Girl is a creative, unique and confident lady who loves culture and expresses her love of culture through fashion. As a fashion designer and self proclaimed Rubi Girll, I’ve decided to bless your digital screen with this fashion blog and give you the 411 on fashion trends from around the world!! So this week we shall travel to Mexico and see what the Muchachas and Muchachos are rocking.

Okay, so I’m on a chump change diet and therefore instead of first-class on United Airlines to Mexico, We shall hop on the F line; transfer to the M103 city bus and land at our destination, Mexico. Well, actually I landed in Little Mexico on 116 Street between 1st and 3rd avenue in Harlem, New York.

I was expecting to become mesmerized by a plethora of art references from Mexican culture.  Instead it dawned on me that if Puerto Rico and Mexico were to have sex and give birth to a child on a roughly 3 block-shopping strip located in Harlem, that child will be Little Mexico.

Market in Little Mexico

Puerto Rican Street Vendor in Little Mexico                                     

Restaurant In little Mexico

On my quest, I meet Korina and Luticia. They were two lovely Mexican ladies chatting in front of a small Puerto Rican Restaurant. They stated that it’s usually the men that would sometimes wear a poncho, hat or beaded bracelets. The women don’t normally wear anything with cultural influences, unless it a holiday.  They prefer the usual American fashion.   However, as a fashion trend, they like to wear religious necklaces of the Virgins and Saints.

Korina and Luticia

             

The Virgin of Guadalupe is one of  Mexico’s most popular religious and cultural image

Hungry for more info, I traveled home first class, to consult with Professor Google.  According to Wikepedia, several Mexican staples spilled into our everyday wardrobe. A Baja Jacket is a Mexican pullover with a large pocket in the front.  They were popular in the Hippie subculture but over the years they have been altered with a large zipper down the middle, forming today’s modern hoodies!

Baja Jacket and Some dude that looks like President Obama in a Hoodie

Huaraches are a type of Mexican sandals made from woven leather.  Their origins are actually pre –Columbian but are popularly worn in Mexico.  I’ve seen people wear these; my dad has a pair!   In fact, I was looking for a new pair of sandals for my dad and found one on shoesgotsole.com.  I realize now that they are very similar to the basic Huaraches.

Huaraches & Sandals from gotsole.com

Talking about shoes, I came upon something that blew my mind!  Currently trending in the streets of Mexico are crazed pointy cowboy boots!   Men rock skinny jeans with boots pointy to a point beyond insanity. There are even competitions to see which groups can dance the best in these boots.   The trend began when Mexican tribal music popularity grew.  I love these!  But I don’t need a pair!

Mexican Pointy Cowboy boots

To Learn more about this wild cowboy boots  trend watch the video below

Traditional attire remains a timeless classic in Mexico.  We all know about the Poncho.  I’ve just recently learned about the serape (a brightly colored long blanket-like shawl  with fringe ends), and the Rebozo (a rectangular shape women’s garment which can be used as a scarf shawl, baby carrier, or a bag to carry items to the market). Wow,now that is a versatile garment!

Serape

Rebozo worn as shawl, Frida Kahlo in red rebozo, rebozo used as baby carrier

The Rebozo actually reminded me of Lapas, which are large, printed, rectangular fabrics many traditional West Africa women wear as wrapped skirt.  Its versatility is similar to that of the Rebozo. As they say “ It’s a small world after all.”

West African woman uses Lapa to carry baby & Mexican woman uses Rebozo to carry baby

Did you know the word Sombrero originated from the Spanish word sombra meaning shade? I think the sombrero looks like a lavishly decorated head umbrella.

Man seeks shade under sombrero

What is the future of Mexican Fashion?  Many of the people I’ve spoken to say that Mexico looks to Europe and the US for new trends. However Mexican culture creatively empowers many. Norma, a fashion designer of Mexican decent living in New York City and a fabulous sexy beast Rubi Girl, draws inspiration from her heritage.  She loves the intricate embroideries and textiles commonly used in traditional attire. Her Mexican inspired line for fashion week would have blouses with embroidered necklines, and garments with stripe print themes typical of Serapes!  Her over all silhouettes will be a molded look reminiscent of Alexander McQueen.

So my main question is  “ How can I put all this great culture in my wardrobe?”   Here is a mood board and sketches of three different looks I’ve designed. This is my interpretation of Mexican fashion for my wardrobe.

Mexico inspired Mood Board I've created for my designs

Salina( multicolored Poncho Dress), Esmerelda (Flared leg Romper), and Rosalia (Draped Dress with Embroidered Bolero Jacket)

Stay tuned because I’m going to make one of these outfits and post it in one of my upcoming blogs!   Most likely the multi-colored Salina dress will be my pick.

Good-bye or better yet, ADIOS EVERYONE. Thanks for traveling first class with me to Mexico.

Tenneh AKA Jerricka27