Let us applaud the crazy girls in Tokyo wearing demented maid costumes and late 18th century lace contraptions, for they have pulled off the greatest media coup in Japanese history! These are girls from the lowest-rung on the high school ladder — even beneath the college-bound bookworms — and they’ve convinced the world that their nerdy deviance is what’s cool in Japan! And how could someone not want to visit a country so ridiculous that the young women dress up in doll clothes and Broadway makeup in the depths of summer!
Meanwhile, society’s prom queens and sorority sisters — the CanCam girls — silently rule the school and win new recruits to their female order by the minute. They are the everyday office lady, the big sister, the bank teller off at five-thirty, the good girl who likes to go slightly bad on the weekends — long, slightly-curled brown hair extending four inches beyond the shoulders, white pants or denim skirt, Louis Vuitton or Gucci bags or at least a luxury dayplanner, high-heeled sandals, painted nails, shiny lips, immaculate. They are, for all practical purposes, the real Japan.
The monthly magazine CanCam runs at 600 pages, around five-pounds, the kind of book you throw to kill a bug and end up denting the wall. The motto: “Come on, Join us!” Inside holds page after page of the same six models displaying hundreds of outfits, dozens of brands, and thousands of possible style permutations on this female fashion trope. 600 pages of wall-to-wall information — no articles, only instructions. There are also no artistic, theme-based fashion shoots with fancy photographers and there are oddly few ads: just raw recipes for exact personal duplication of this irreproachable code to upright womanhood. And it’s monthly — as if the 600 pages from last month could not possibly answer all the questions required for matching a denim jacket to a pair of black pants. The manpower required to write, edit, and layout the material must resemble the Triangle Shirt Factory.
Long ago girls dressed head-to-toe in vibrant fashion, whether high or street, roamed Harajuku and Omotesando, but now the CanCam tornado leaves nothing but designer bags and parvenu values in its path of destruction. But who can blame its adopters — the “o-nee-kei” (big sister) style is easy-to-build, liked by boyfriends, respected by friends, understood by parents, approved by employers, and attractive to candidates for o-miai. This look is a guaranteed free dinner at one of the expensive (!) restaurants in Roppongi Hills (!!), courtesy of Mr. Mitsugu with long brown hair, an Armani suit (!!!), and no-(!!!!)-tie. (He’s also totally rich!)
The alternababes reading Cutie, Spring, Olive, and Mini are gone, boys. If there are any left, they are holding on the doorframe, while the house is being sucked into the spinning vortex known as the CanCam look. Come on, join us!