Meet Lulu Hashimoto, Japan’s first “living doll” fashion model.
Lulu — a full-body doll suit consisting of a wig, a mask and stockings patterned with doll-like joints — was born from one woman’s desire to become cute.
“I have always really liked dolls and for me, the epitome of cuteness is dolls,” says 23-year-old fashion designer Hitomi Komaki, who created Lulu.
Dressing up as a mascot, called kigurumi in Japanese, is a popular art form in Japan, but Komaki has taken it to a new level by creating a body suit that looks like a doll, but lets you move like a human.
“Many people call my project a fetish, but for me it’s not a fetish but fashion,” she says. “It’s like wearing nice clothes or putting on false eyelashes to become cuter.”
There is only one Lulu body suit, but dancers, designers and models are among those who have worn the costume. The identity of exactly who is inside, though, is secret, says Komaki.
The stockings worn by Lulu were created by fellow fashion designer Koh Ueno, who airbrushed doll-like joints onto the material.
“I want to see women wear these stockings and transform,” says 29-year-old Ueno. “I want them to experience the extraordinary — to become otherworldly, artificial, or like a doll.”
While already popular among fans of Japanese subculture, Lulu is now turning heads at the annual Miss iD beauty pageant, where she is among the 134 semi-finalists chosen from around 4,000 entrants. The pageant, which this year includes “nonhuman” characters generated by artificial intelligence and three-dimensional computer graphics for the first time, will announce a winner in November.
Meanwhile, Lulu’s ability to blur the line between reality and fiction has mesmerized fans on social media, where the Lulu Twitter and Instagram accounts have drawn tens of thousands of followers.
“I find it miraculous that dolls and humans — two things that exist in different planes — are standing in the same space,” says Erika Kato, 24, who met Lulu for the first time at a recent fan event. The possibility of wearing a suit and becoming Lulu also appeals to followers such as 22-year-old Miu Shimoda, who commented, “I’d like to be a beautiful girl like Lulu at least once in my life.”