So, for the past week or so I have been procrastinating on this post. The truth is, I wasn’t sure what to write! Originally I had been thinking about doing a video post, but filming and photography was forbidden during a large percentage of the event. And then there is the fact that I was so excited about this event, that the reality of it did not live up to my expectations. How do you write about that? Should I look at this event through rose colored glasses, and only discuss the highlights? Or should I give a more realistic and honest review?
I know all of this makes the event sound like it was bad. It wasn’t! However, truthfully speaking every event, no matter how big or small, has its hiccups. I tend to overlook things like delays or a bit of disorganization, especially in cases where the event organizers are not locals, there are language barriers, or things are large scale. I know how hard it can be in even one of these situations, and this event had all three!
I want to make it very clear, this event was a great experience, and I don’t regret attending at all! But I do wish that I’d known how different the event would be from the American & European tea parties I’ve attended in the past. For that reason I’m going to talk a bit about the experience, and then what to expect if you are planning to attend a tea party sponsored by Angelic Pretty Japan.
As I mentioned before, I was very excited about this event! In my head I had built it up to be this magical moment where you would have the opportunity to meet the designers and guest models, all in a decandant venue while surrounded by other lolitas! I spent a lot of time agonizing over which coordinate to wear, and crafting accessories to go with it. Originally I had wanted to do Antoinette Decoration, but as I finished that coordinate it just didn’t feel right. Then I thought, Cameo Window! It is Paris themed, and so beautiful! But that coordinate just wasn’t working either. I was very lucky that two days before I left, Harliquinaide appeared in my mail box! Immediately I set to making accessories based off the bunnies in the print, including a bunny masquerade scepter, sash, rosette brooch, bunny bag charm, ears, tail and bunny ear shoe clips. It was a lot of hard work, and I am really happy with the coordinate as a whole. The only thing I would change in the future is the bonnet – I just don’t feel like that style suits me.
Once I arrived it was clear that everyone else had also wanted to wear their absolute best. As we were allowed into the ballroom, we were handed a numbered paper that looked like a raffle ticket, and allowed to choose our seat.
One of the best things about this was that there was ample time to socialize and meet new people. This also gave you a lot of time to see people’s coordinates, which was very inspiring!
As you can see from these photos, the venue was about as grand as they come, and was a major player in making the event seem magical! It was very nice to not feel cramped for space at the round tables, and to be able to walk through the venue easily.
After everyone had mingled and chosen a table, guests were asked to take their seats while the coordinate contest rules were explained. Each of those raffle tickets? They were actually for the coordinate contest! Do you know who hadn’t been wearing hers until just a few minutes before? Me.
If I am honest, at this point my heart sank a little bit. I’d worked really hard on my coordinate and had been at least hoping for a shot at placing at the event. At the table there were pens with notecards explaining that the coordinate contest would be by popular vote, not designers choice. I hadn’t noticed until a few minutes before because I had wanted to take outfit snaps before everyone settled in and I hadn’t investigated the place settings yet. Lesson learned.
The hostess then mentioned that they would be allowing people a few more minutes to socialize, and during the next break they would collect all the remaining votes. From that point on I knew that I didn’t have a chance of winning the coordinate contest – it is hard enough to win popular vote when people don’t know you, especially when so many people are so well dressed, and like a fool I hadn’t been wearing my number while socializing! I felt so awkward after that, I didn’t want people to know I was flustered, but I felt like everything I did up until that point had made me look kind of attention grabby and pathetic. I’d come to this event alone from another country, and while socializing isn’t my strong suit, I’d wanted to maybe make some new friends? Did people think I’d only been talking to them or asking for photos because I wanted their vote?
It is one thing to have a designer pick their favorite outfits – the bias is clearly present, but at least it is impersonal – everyone has an opinion of course. But now you were being judged by everyone in the room, and in my case by complete strangers! I don’t know. For me, at that moment, I was wishing that I had worn something more casual and comfortable so that I wouldn’t even be thinking about the contest. I spent the next few minutes trying to choose my favorite coordinate, and finally, thankfully, it was time for the fashion show!
Earlier this month the 2016 Fall Collection was announced, and I was surprised to see that there were only a few things from the line that peaked my interest! Sometimes the photos don’t do the items justice, and I was very curious to know if that was the case here.
Before the show began, an announcement was made that photo and video would only be allowed during designated times. I understand the reasoning here theoretically – it is better to be engaged with your eyes than through a phone screen. But, at the same time everyone had a great view from what I could see, so standing for photos wouldn’t have been necessary, nor would it have interrupted the show.
Since I can’t show you the looks, what I can tell you is that almost every item I saw in person completely outshines the advertisements. This is particularly true for the swan series, princess cat series, and chess series, all of which I was somewhat indifferent to when browsing the catalogue.
It was also amazing to see RinRin, Risa, and Chikage modeling in the show. They are all very beautiful and talented, which made them inspiring to watch.
After the show finale, the models gathered on stage and we were allowed 45 seconds (literally) to take photos. This was really difficult because everyone swarmed the stage to try and get a good spot. Most of my photos are either tiny, blurry, or incredibly backlit so I unfortunately can’t go into a lot of detail about what to look for in this collection.
After this, the tea party cake was revealed. I was expecting the cute character cookies or logo themed sweets that I’ve seem in other event snaps, so this cake was pretty impressive. According to our Hostess, the cake was inspired by Antoinette Decoration, and best of all, we would all get to eat a piece!
The sweets were all elegantly plated and delicious. My favorite was the square marshmallow puff – it was so sweet and fluffy!
There was a short break where the few remaining votes were collected, and then it was announced that we would begin the raffle and games! I was a little bit surprised because it is pretty common in the USA for guests to come around and thank each table for attending and then take a group photograph or maybe answer a question.
While the raffle itself was a bit confusing to me, the prizes were fantastic and plentiful! Our coordinate contest numbers were not our raffle numbers, instead they were the purchase numbers from our tea party ticket order. Of course my bad luck continued and I discovered that I had misplaced mine, so I spent the first round scrambling to pull up my email confirmation while they called out the numbers very quickly.
By the time I found my number I was relieved that it had not been called because I would’ve been so disappointed had I won not knowing about it ! Two of my seatmates won within the first two rounds, which was very exciting!!
One, a gothic lolita, then surprised me by giving me her prize! She told me that if I wanted it, she would like me to have it since it didn’t suit her style! Her kindness really touched me, and later on after the tea party had ended it really cheered me up while I was packing my bag and I remembered that moment. It really means a lot to me, and I have been using it as a makeup bag ever since. Thank you!!
Once all of the prizes had been given out, they asked those who have not received a prize to please raise their hand as they had a special gift for them as well. We were given a cute postcard with an illustration of the strawberry dress from last season on it.
They then announced that the next activity would be a small game of rock paper scissor. Each table had to compete until there was one winner and then the winners had to gather at the stage to compete against each of the guest models. This part was very confusing because people from all different countries apparently play this in different ways, and then when people gathered at the stage there were no concrete rules on how the winner would be determined. There were several times when people sat down before they should have and a few times that people who should’ve sat down did not. I think in this case it would’ve been good to have instructions available before the game was played, perhaps passed out in both French and English like the coordinate contest cards had been.
At any rate, once that part was over the guest models left. I was very surprised because as far as I can tell no one had the opportunity to speak with them, give them a gift, take a photo, or thank them for coming. The only tea party that I have seen stateside with this sort of distance between guests and participants has been at Anime Matsuri. I am curious to know if this is common at Japanese tea parties, or if it was just because we were running out of time.
After this the coordinate contest winners were announced. I was very happy to see that the girl wearing Wonder Queen won third place as I really liked her epaulets and her hat which I believe were both handmade. I was also excited for Rosalynn who won second place with her amazing cape and hair style, and of course for the young woman who won first place with her very elegant sheep coordinate.
All of the guests were then given a eco-tote made specifically for this event and we were all very excited to hear that we would be receiving information on how to pre-order items from the fall collection before being asked to leave.
There was something of a mad scramble to try and meet Asuka and Maki, as well as the Brand Director and Founder. I felt very awkward trying to ask for a photo and perhaps it would’ve been better for me to leave at that point? I’m not really sure.
I do wish that there had been a little bit more time left for a more formal meet and greet with guests because I had wanted to give Asuka a gift, and I felt very bad taking up her time. At the store opening she had noticed the Cinema Doll rosette I’d made and asked for a photo, so I wanted to give her one to thank her for her work at Angelic Pretty. I saw many other girls trying to do the same with sweets and letters, and I think that it would’ve been nice for the experience not to have felt so rushed and hectic. But again perhaps this might be a cultural difference in the way that Japanese tea parties are run?
After leaving, I was feeling a bit down since the event was over and it was time to pack up to head home. I spent some time thinking about my favorite parts of the event, and wondering if I’d get the chance to attend anything like it again. And, would I want to?
After giving it some thought, I think that I would attend another event like this, but it would really depend on the cost of the ticket, the venue, and the length of the tea party.
The cost to attend this event was €85 (95 USD), which is almost double any other tea party I have ever attended. Often times this is the cost of the VIP ticket where you get extra time to meet designers/guests and also special gifts for paying such a high price.
In this case I do think that the venue was probably very expensive, as were the plane tickets for all of the desinger and guest models to attend. This is probably also why the tea party was only a few hours long.
But for the ticket cost I might have preferred a slightly less extravagant venue in exchange for an opportunity to at least say thank you to each of the guests. For me, that was the most disappointing part of the event.
Yes, there were some times where things were confusing, and as I mentioned before I was also a bit disappointed about it being a popular vote coordinate contest since they make me so anxious. But both of these are small complaints that I can overlook pretty easily!
However, my main expectation for this event was that it would be a relaxing environment to make new friends and meet the people that I admired. I spent a lot of time feeling like I was inconveniencing the guest designers, and I never got to say thank you or give any presents to the models who attended. So at first it was a little bit difficult to justify the price that I had paid.
However, I think that had I realized that I was paying to see this season’s collection early and for the preorder opportunity (edit 7/21: I just recieved pre-order information, and it is all for items already available except one set, so your milage may vary on that perk…), all while eating good food and enjoying the company of other attendees, I would have left feeling more satisfied. When I think back on it that way now, I realize that assuming that it would be similar to western events was not wise, nor should I have had such high expectations!
As I mentioned before, I did have a good time and I am happy that I went. I was able to meet a lot of very nice people, and this was a very good learning experience for me as well.
I hope this helps those of you who are wondering what the tea party event was like, and who would like to attend one in the future!