Wednesday, 8 January 2014

The prairie dress and pre-Lolita brands Gunne Sax, Laura Ashley and MILK. Know your roots!

Before I started wearing Lolita, I have always loved to rummage thrift stores in search of the perfect Vintage find :)

Vintage is very different from simple Second-hand clothing.
Vintage is exclusive brand or hand-made items in exceptional quality.
Materials are impeccable - silk, wool, good quality cotton - and often show no sign of wear, 
even though they have been around for more than 30-50 years!

So, naturally, I want to incorporate Vintage into my Lolita style, since I love the amazing
sewing and fabrics of Vintage clothing.

I call my substyle "Classic Vintage Lolita", to keep it simple ^^

For a Classic Vintage Lolita - several Vintage 1970's brands - spanning over three continents, are necessarily to know of:

Gunne Sax - USA
Laura Ashley - England
MILK - Japan

These three brands were heavily influenced by each other and together they created the romantic, modest and frilly looks of the decade.

And in time, they would inspire the Lolita designers to create todays' EGL Lolita Fashion!

Granny dresses
In the 1960's the brands made "Granny dresses" - what later came to be named the "Prairie dress" - after the break-through of the TV-show "Little house on the Prairie" in 1974.

But actually "Prairie fashion" had been coming and going in fashion since the original fashionistas' of the Ol' West (USA) wore the garments in the early 19th century.

First, in the depression year of 1932, Laura Ingalls Wilder released her first book of many in the "Little House" ( the big Woods 1932, ...on the prairie 1935, etc). The tales where almost biographic, as Laura herself as a child, travelled through the USA in a covered prairie wagon.

Prairie fashion had a huge up-swing in the 1940's, since the Cowboy-culture became popular with several movies portraying an idyllic American spirit promised-land filled with good, hard working men and women and endless adventures.

Gail Davis

Gail Davis and Dale Evans where two American fashion icons of the Cowboy Culture!
Dale even had her own comic book :)

As the hippie-movement emerged in the late 1960's, searching for a more simple and "back-to-nature" style, the prairie dress became a natural element of the fashion.

Gunne Sax was founded in the 1960s in San Fransisco, and in 1969, Jessica McClintock invested in the brand and became the chief designer - creating the multimillion company it is today.

When the popular TV-show "Little House on the Prairie" aired in 1974, it was actually just reflecting the style that many girls and women already where wearing!

In Japan, a lot of fashion brands made the same kind of dresses: MILK (april 1970), Maggu, Mitsokoshi -creating the first Harajuku fashion scene and the - even now popular - Japanese fashion style "Natural Kei" (that later evolved to Mori Kei as well).

And in Europe, especially in England, Laura Ashley, was the designer to talk about!

All photos by Melanie Clegg

The three brands evolved during the 70s, bringing in Victorian and Edwardian influences to their clothes as well as a few medieval and renaissance-inspired dresses.

The Prairie dress interpreted in modern Lolita Fashion!

Of course, for Lolita fashion, the primary inspiration is the historical children dresses of the Victorian- and Edwardian eras. 

Yet, the secondary inspiration: the prairie dress movement of the 1970s,
is too obvious to ignore!

Modern Prairie dress.

Innocent World

Victorian Maiden

Classic and Country Lolita are the two sub-styles that mostly picks up the Romance of the 1970s vibe.

And of course it is possible to create beautiful Lolita outfits with vintage 1970s romantic fashion.
As long as you keep the key elements of Lolita in your outfit, 
and add a big scoop of Kawaii, you can create wonderful unique coords.

Hope you enjoyed this post :)
<3 Love from Mary Hazelbelle <3



  1. Hi :) This article is super interesting, and you found great things about lolita origins. Just to ad that Natural-kei (MILK's style) is actually the ancestor of lolita-kei and mori-kei. I think fyeahlolita made a good article about that not so far ago, did you check it out ?

    1. Yes, I absolutely did :) I'm adding Natural Kei to Mori Kei! HUGZ


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