LA’s flavors aren’t limited to the spice and salt of its wonderful food trucks. The city is full of desserts-whiskey and lucky charms ice cream, boba tea, variants of ice cream and froyo. The city offers other kinds of sweets too, like Anime Expo LA, an annual four-day anime, comics, hobbies, and general aesthetics convention.
It’s the third time to the convention, and I can honestly say that I’ve never felt the same sort of sugar rush that I had while watching this year’s Anime Expo Fashion Show. It’s a curious feeling, a kind of visceral bubbling that refuses to let me sit in my chair-a sensation at once both playful and rebellious. Don’t know what I mean? Consider this: (one of my favorite dresses from the fashion show) a punk-inspired Lolita dress, mounted upon shiny pumped boots, beaming with the ferocities of both a cheetah and the British standard.
After the show, I bumped into this very model right as while wandering the exhibition hall. She was handing out discounts to colored contacts and business cards for Dolldelight, a Mission Viejo-based brand that specializes in Japanese street-style inspired couture. A quick note: I went to Anime Expo, in the midst of a mental block, hoping to find some inspiration that would make me write or draw or see differently. Naturally, I must have surprised this model quite a bit when she handed me some coupons, and I exclaimed, “thank you, thank you. You must have no idea how much this means to me.” My mind filled with what I thought were newly discovered colors as I ran to Dolldelight’s booth, where I met, not a team of designers, but Ms. Cyril Lumboy, the Phillipines-born designer who created every single one of Dolldelight’s dresses. While it’s a bit early to talk about exactly how Dolldelight has influenced my life, I was lucky enough to get a chance to talk with Cyril Lumboy about her own influences.
Naturally, Cyril cites the Japanese street style Lolita as one of her biggest inspirations, since being exposed to it through the Internet. In particular, she admires its emphasis on femininity and elegance, often experimenting with its subgenres like punk or gothic. And while there isn’t much of a large male presence in Lolita culture, I’ve personally come to admire the cascades of pleating and eclectic details that contribute to its quirky grace.
But Cyril draws from more than just Lolita. She states, “I love Alexander McQueen’s work, particularly the Oyster dress. I love the texture of this piece, and the elegant femininity captured in the fragility of the fabric.” For reference:
Rather than linking you to the dress or (worse yet), sending you on a google chase, I’ve placed it here so you can see it on the same page as Cyril’s work. Despite the differences in the work, I definitely see a severe, but forgiving, softness that I believe some of Cyril’s more victorian creations tend towards.
While this quality is actually present in all of Cyril’s works, it isn’t without a balance achieved with a more light-hearted spirit. Indeed, another of Cyril’s inspirations is Stan Lee, the former president of Marvel Comics, and father of superheroes like Spiderman and the X-Men. There’s always a fun quality in Dolldelight dresses, and I’m sure the comic book prints are no small part of that. As a fan of Stan Lee myself, this makes me smile:
Ok, I guess I’ll say a bit about why Dolldelight inspires me. A big part of it is the unique design process behind Dolldelight’s style. A self-taught seamstress, Cyril does not frequently sketch, opting instead take straight to sewing with her preferably complex prints and textures. Furthermore, she works, not in a studio, but out of “a tiny corner where [she has her] sewing machine.” A great part of what inspires me is that her work really embodies a “pull-the-trigger” kind of mentality.
So, thank you, Cyril Lumboy!
Oh, and upcoming exhibitions are posted on dolldelight.com.