During the day, these women hold corporate jobs. But on their off hours, they embrace 'kawaii,' the trend of dressing in a cute, almost child-like style, to flaunt individuality.
On the back cover of photographer Thomas Card’s new book, Tokyo Adorned (Abrams, March 2014), a young girl with a light pink-and-blue hairstyle wears a brightly colored floral frock accessorized with a pink, patent leather watering can. “Kumamiki was one of the [first] girls who came to have her portrait done,” Card says in his Chelsea art studio, “This is what [she] wears on a day-to-day basis around the streets.”
Kumamiki is just one of the nearly sixty individuals Card photographed for his series examining kawaii—or “cute”—style in Tokyo, one of the many trends that is exploring the complex ideas of identity and self-expression in the Japanese capital. Card’s fascination with the eccentric Japanese culture began roughly ten years ago after reading an article in The New York Times that highlighted a “crazy eye make-up phase” happening in the club scene throughout Asia. “The Ganguro were doing very extreme eye make-up,” he explains. “I thought it was just incredible, the variety and the creativity that went into these different looks. So I wanted to do a beauty story that looked at these girls before they went into the club and at the end of the night, so you could see the progression along the way. There is always this huge difference between the way you see yourself and they way it manifests in the physical world.”