When model Nozomi Sasaki stepped out onto the catwalk at last month's Tokyo Girls Collection (TGC) fashion event, a wave of sighs rippled through the 30,000 mostly young girls in attendance. Sasaki is one of the most popular models in Japan right now, and her presence was essential at this year's fest, a six-hour spectacle of fashion, music and film held at the Saitama Super Arena. The only people noticeably absent from TGC? The gyaru (gals) that helped create it.

Gyaru are those young women with dyed-blonde hair who used to own Shibuya, the youth-culture mecca in the center of Tokyo. You could see them flocking in and out of puri-kura (print club) arcades, and squatting in the middle of Center Gai ... sorry it has supposedly been renamed "Basketball Street" (perhaps another nail in the glittery coffin for the Shibuya scene).

Their fashion didn't just inspire the country, it often inspired the continent. Heinously short skirts, bright colors and a tendency to bedazzle everything about themselves was just the beginning. Gyaru subsects have embraced everything from severely dark tans, scrunched-up loose socks and even Pikachu costumes. Recently, gyaru style has evolved into kyabajō, which mimics the ghetto-fabulous look of hostesses complete with towering updos and specialized makeup techniques.