voluntarily monochrome

Style Icons: Mana

Real Name Satou Manabu
From Hiroshima, Japan
Born March 19th  (year unknown)
Known for
  • Being the lead guitarist of the visual kei band Malice Mizer during the 90’s
  • Owning and designing for his own label Moi-Même-Moitié.
  • Forming and leading the symphonic metal band Moi dix Mois

If you’re not familiar with Mana, or with the visual kei scene in general, this may come as a shock for you, so be prepared. The cute little girl dressed in frilly skirts and heavy make-up above is, in fact, a man in his thirties/forties.

The androgyny of his looks is not something uncommon among Japanese artists and musicians. It is, in fact, one of the recognizable aspects of the aforementioned musical movement visual kei, a trend in which band members dress up in elaborate and flamboyant outfits and make-up, and as its name suggest, where the visual aesthetics of the band are as important as the music they play.

Mana’s second and most recognizable band, Malice Mizer, was an influential part of this movement during the 90’s, and still is important for being well known among visual kei fans outside of Japan. Mana’s style varied with each of the eras Malice Mizer went through, featuring colorful, harlequin like costumes in its beginnings, and derived towards goth during its last years, after vocalist Gackt’s departure.

From this point on, Mana’s style can be divided into three different “phases” with different looks:

Elegant Gothic Lolita (EGL) Mana

The term “Elegant Gothic Lolita” was created by Mana to describe his own take on gothic lolita.  It follows general lolita outfit structure, featuring bell-shaped knee length skirts, blouses with rounded collars, lace and ruffles, but keeping it “subtle” for lolita standards. Being “gothic”, this variation of lolita uses mostly black and colors such as burgundy, navy blue and off white.

The term EGL is generally used to describe clothes distributed by Mana’s own label, Moi-Même-Moitié, which differentiates themself from other lolita labels in colors (mostly black, off white and blue), fabrics (luxurious like velvet and chiffon) and recurrent symbols and prints (featuring iron gates, crosses, floral motifs, roses, candelabrasand crosses), all combined to accomplish a more “mature” look when compared to other types of lolita.

Elegant Gothic Aristocrat (EGA) Mana

EGA is a variation of Aristocrat fashion, with influences in Victorian and Eduardian fashion. EGA is not a type of lolita, as it doesn’t follow the typical lolita “bell-shape” structure. It aims to keep the elegance of EGL but in a more mature version: skirts are longer (usually ankle length) and often replaced by wide legged pants. The rounded collars and puffed sleeves present in lolita are replaced by tight-fitting, long sleeved blouses and shirts.

Accessories are more victorian inspired, and include things like top-hats, waistcoats, gloves and corsets. Make-up is more mature: not excessive, but certainly more prominent than the natural look lolita strives for. Shoes range from mary janes to thigh high boots, each sporting mandatory platforms.

Moi dix Mois Mana

Moi dix Mois is Mana’s latest musical project, formed in 2002 after the indefinite hiatus of Malice Mizer and featuring himself as front man and guitarist. The aesthetic adopted by the band since its beginnings is somewhat similar to EGA in shape, but with full-blown gothic characteristics: heavy made-up white faces with dramatically lined eyes, enormous teased hair and more shocking variations of aristocratic outfits.

The Moi dix Mois look also features use and abuse of accessories like rings and pendants in the shape of crosses and the band’s logo (a figure like a pentagram), lace gloves and chokers. Materials include sheer fabrics, leather and PVC, in color schemes mostly in (surprise!) black, sometimes with blue and white accents. Shoes are mostly boots and platforms are a must – as always is with Mana.

 

Certainly this looks are not intended for daily wear – unless you’re Mana. (And I bet even him has his own pajamas-days). However, it’s still inspiring looking at outfits so meticulously pulled together, and there are key aspects that can be recreated into more casual outfits. Accessories and combination of garments – say, a puffy, lolita like skirt or white, victorian shirts – can be mixed with more basic pieces like plain blouses or pants to recreate an outfit that is suitable for daily wear, but still has a healthy and necessary dose of lace.

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