13 August 2010
Interview with Fashion Blogger La Carmina
Not only is La Carmina one of the top blogger in the world of Japanese street fashion, but she has also turned her talents to TV hosting, writing books and cooking some of the cutest food you will ever see!
La Carmina's blog has been featured in some major publications including The New Yorker, Washington Post and Time Out New York, and she also writes for CNNGo.com and Lip Service. Her TV appearances include 'The Today Show' and co-hosting an episode of 'Bizarre Foods' with Andrew Zimmern for Travel Channel. She recently co-hosted a Canal Plus documentary and CNN International segment in Tokyo, and will be the Asia host for educational travel TV series, 'Project Explorer'.
You can find out more about and where to buy her three books; 'CUTE YUMMY TIME: 70 recipes for the cutest food you'll ever eat' (Penguin USA), 'CRAZY, WACKY THEME RESTAURANTS: Tokyo' (Random House) and 'THE COSMOS IN A CARROT: A Zen guide to eating well' (Parallax Press) from her website.
Keller caught up with La Carmina to find out a little bit more about her love for lolita fashion.
How and when did you first become interested in Lolita fashion?
Lolita fashion gradually came into my consciousness during my childhood travels around Asia. I saw frilly Victorian doll dresses in Harajuku and was captivated by the aristocratic dream-world they represented. Later, I found out more about Gothic Lolita clothing, as well as other Japanese street fashions such as decora and gyaru.
Why do you think Japanese subcultures are so popular in the Western world?
I think the worldwide fascination with Jpop culture (especially anime and manga) has bubbled over to Japanese subcultures. Visual Kei and Harajuku Gothic fashion/cultures are visually striking and enigmatic to many people outside of Japan, which makes them keen to learn what they’re all about.
What inspired you to start blogging?
Around 2006, I saw personal style blogs emerge. I thought, "This might be a neat way for me to share my obsessions with Japanese Gothic fashion and subcultures.” I had designed websites in the past, so it was easy for me to get started – and from the first day (in September 2007), I was hooked. La Carmina blog (www.lacarmina.com/blog) has branched from fashion into cute cooking, travel videos, Jpop culture and rock music… I’ve never run out of inspiration, and still get excited to post and answer comments every day.
The internet is constantly changing and adapting, and trends come and go very quickly. Do you think blogging will manage to stand the test of time?
Blogging will evolve over the years, but I think there will always be some form of online publishing – whether it’s in the form of videos, photos or writing. The Internet is wonderful for giving any regular person a voice and making possibilities come to life.
What are your top tips for writing a successful blog?
Treat your blog as a business: post frequently, and put up the best quality content possible on a well-designed site. Be active in social networks and tuned in to SEO (search engine optimization) and monetization options. I highly recommend using Wordpress on a self-hosted domain; the plugins and customizations are brilliant. Above all, blog about a niche subject that you love -- your passion will come through, and readers will connect.
How did you make the move from blogging to TV presenting?
I have zero family connections to anyone in TV or media. Every TV hosting opportunity (NHK Japan, CNN International, Travel Channel, Canal Plus France) arose because a producer found my blog and sent me an email. The TV people looked at my writing work, press, bio, photos, videos etc, and that helped them decide if I was someone worth contacting. I absolutely love doing TV work: I get to be my flamboyant self and share the pop culture oddities I love. I hope I can keep doing more.
What inspired your three books?
My books are inspired by Japanese pop culture quirks. 'Cute Yummy Time' is a cookbook that shows you how to turn 70 favorite meals into adorable characters: think bunny muffins and panda bear meringues. 'Crazy, Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo' is about Japan’s extreme theme cafes (maids, monkeys, cats, vampires). If you’re interested, you can find out more and order these books from my site.
What's the best thing about Lolita fashion?
I am obsessed with Ancien Régime and Victorian fashion... the floor-sweeping Rococo gowns of Marie Antoinette, the mourning jewelry and veils of Queen Victoria. Lolita fashion is a love letter to elegant, flamboyant past eras. In a modern world where everyone wears jeans, putting on a corset, lace headdress and doll-like bell skirt will make you feel like a princess.
What do you have planned next?
I’ll keep blogging every day on La Carmina blog about Harajuku’s darkest and most decadent subcultures. I will be the Asia host for 'Project Explorer', an educational travel TV series shooting soon. I’m one of the main contributors for CNNGo.com, an Asia travel/lifestyle website. And there are more projects in the works… with luck, I’ll keep doing travel TV hosting in Japan and every dark corner of the globe.