If you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to be an adorable porcelain doll, Maison de Julietta in Harajuku, Tokyo has a solution for you.
Maison de Julietta is a small shop on the bottom floor of the LaForet Department Store that offers guests a “Harajuku Lolita Experience.” The experience includes a head-to-toe makeover featuring Lolita clothing, hair and makeup, followed by a professional photoshoot in the “Alice in Wonderland”-themed photo studio.
Maison de Julietta’s official spokesmodel is Misako Aoki. Misako is a well-known Lolita model and a government-appointed Japanese Kawaii Ambassador, which, yes, is a thing. So, you know that this shop is pretty legit.
LaForet is filled with impressive and trendy boutiques selling all the latest fashion and accessories — from Lolita styles and beyond. The Maison de Julietta boutique is fully stocked with the biggest, most deluxe Lolita brands there are: Metamorphose, Angelic Pretty, Alice and the Pirates. My Lolita outfit was comprised mostly of pieces from Baby, The Stars Shine Bright — a popular brand that typically retails around $300-500 for just one jumper skirt.
The base price for a Lolita experience is 9,980 JPY (about $84), but there is an additional charge for adding a wig (1,500 JPY), false eyelashes (500 JPY) or an undershirt (200 JPY). Included in the package are three professional photographs from your shoot — any additional copies you want to save will cost 1,000 JPY each.
I recommend going all out with the wig and the eyelashes because YOLO, when in Rome, etc. Once you make your selections, the adventure begins.
“Do you know ‘kawaii’? You’re going to be hearing it a lot today.”
“First, you’re going to pick out a dress!” said one staff member, gesturing toward the impressive rack of clothing in one corner of the shop.
“Are you going to help me?” I asked weakly. I didn’t know the first thing about putting together a coordinate. I didn’t really know anything about Lolita in general, aside from the fact that it looked cute and fun.
I also didn’t feel particularly confident that I was going to be able to squeeze my entire self into these delicate, cutesy outfits. I expressed this concern, and she waved me off, assuring me that the clothes would fit and, if not, they just wouldn’t zip it up all the way and would take photos from the other side. I was lowkey discouraged by that prospect: it didn’t seem very Lolita to be walking around with your zipper hanging open, but what can you do?
I selected a bouncy pink dress with lots of lace detailing and an undershirt with delicate bell sleeves. (“All the foreigners pick this dress!” the staff member told me.) She helped me find matching glitter socks and chunky pink heels, and then sent me to change.
To my surprise, the dress fit! It was a Harajuku miracle. But I cannot say the same for the undershirt, which would not at all button over my chest. However, the jumper ends up covering everything but the sleeves, so it didn’t really matter. Add several layers of petticoats, fluff, and you’re all set.
Finally, I emerged! They told me I was wearing it wrong, so I slunk back to the changing room to fix it. Finally, I reemerged!
The next step is hair and makeup. The artist worked her magic on me with various blushes, glosses and, of course, the false lashes. I wish I had been paying more attention to her process, because this was the best my makeup has ever looked in my entire life.
After makeup, I picked out a dark, curly wig. I was very wary of this step, but they reassured me that I could take it off if I felt weird. And I definitely did feel weird: I laughed hysterically at how goofy I looked when I first put it on. But once it was styled into cute pigtails and topped with a pink bonnet, I had started to feel comfortable in my new skin.
I sat in the makeup chair and took more selfies in a few minutes than I had in the past few years.
“I thought you said it looked weird,” said one staff member, checking in on me after a while.
“Yeah, I did. But now I’m feeling it.”
“Yeah, but now I’m feeling it.”
Eventually, it was time for the grand finale: the professional photo shoot. The photographer was very skilled and had his shoots down to a science. He told me exactly where to stand, how to pose, and what props to hold. It put me at ease since I felt extremely awkward the entire time.
Honestly, I was having the time of my life just standing around wearing the outfit. I don’t particularly enjoy being photographed, but a Lolita’s gotta do what a Lolita’s gotta do.
I was perfectly alright with only getting to keep three photos from the shoot. I knew that if we took 100 photos, I’d probably only like three of them.
And guess what! I only liked two of them. My selfies turned out way better. In all the professional photos, I have this highly skeptical look on my face; you can almost hear me asking, “Are you sure this is going to look cute…?” through the lens.
When the shoot was finished, I was very reluctant to change back into my street clothes and undo the transformation. I was amazed at how cute and comfortable I felt in the Lolita look. I wanted to wear it all day, and the next day, and every day after that.
Maison de Julietta’s Lolita experience was the most fun I had in Japan. The staff was sweet and helpful (you even get a little Lolita sugar cookie on your way out the door!), the clothes were darling, and the whole experience was a blast. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants a unique taste of Japanese culture.