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I've seen a lot of different fashions which all seem to be referred to as Gyaru so from that point of view, it can be a little difficult to pin down, so I'm going to go with the general view which is that Gyaru is most widely known (in the West at least) as a fashion that I'd describe (from the neck up at least) as Essex meets Barbie x 100! Those who aren't familiar with the show fondly known as ‘Towie' in the UK won't know what I mean, so let me explain.
In This TV show ‘The Only Way is Essex' the girls who appeared were so heavily made up, with fake tans, false eyelashes, platform heels , hair extensions etc. that they almost resembled Drag Queens (performance artists). They've toned it down this year though 😉
Barbie of course is a Doll which favours pink, froo froo dogs and all things cute and pretty.
So, we take Essex, add it to Barbie (this infuses the look with pink) and then multiply that look by 100 and you have (one of the more extreme subsets) Gyaru! The fake tan can be very dark, the make-up greatly exaggerated and the hair similarly exaggerated.
Image source by Beyond My Ken cc licence
The clothes by comparison can be confused with other Harajuku and Kawaii styles. I myself as a Westerner find it difficult to discern a difference, especially given all the variations of the gyaru theme and the harajuku theme and so on.
Please if as a reader, you can shed light on this, please do so re comments 🙂
Meanwhile, wikipedia – fountain of all cyber knowledge describes Gyaru thus:
“Gyaru fashion is a type of Japanese street fashion that originated in the 1970s. ..
“Gyaru fashion is typically characterized by having heavily bleached or dyed hair (mostly shades from dark brown to blonde), highly decorated nails, and dramatic makeup.
The makeup typically consists of dark eyeliner and fake eyelashes used in ways intended to make the eyes appear larger, as well as contouring of the face for a slimming effect. Clothing pieces for gyaru fashion differ depending on which gyaru style the individual chooses.
Popular gyaru models, icons and idols include Tsubasa Masuwaka, Kumiko Funayama, (Kumicky), Rie Matsuoka (Okarie), Hikari Shiina (Pikarin), Satomi Yakuwa (Satomin), Sayoko Ozaki, and Rina Sakurai.”
I shall check out those models shortly!