Meet Mathilda: Harajuku’s Kawaii Chameleon
Mathilda, aka @machichi_off, is a burst of colour bringing positivity to the Harajuku community! You can find her replying to sweet comments on Instagram, creating art, or shopping for hi-vis jewellery in her spare time. Hanging out with absolutely everyone, Mathilda represents the ultimate kawaii socialite. Where does her energy come from? (Can we borrow some?) Read on to find out how this “Harajuku chameleon” embodies Harajuku’s fun, free ethos in every way.
Please introduce yourself.
Hi! I’m Mathilda, a French girl living in Japan for 7 years. I love arts in general and all creative stuff I can find.
Take us back to your first encounter with Harajuku style.
It’s hard to say, my first encounter with Harajuku style was maybe 15 years ago. I was in love with Japan and Japanese culture. I think I found out about Harajuku fashion when I was doing some research online about Japan. I’ve always loved fashion. I’ve wanted to be a fashion designer since I was 3. And Harajuku fashion was a totally new way to play with fashion for me. But, it took me several years to start wearing the fashion I love. I was young, shy and not confident, but I always dreamt about Harajuku and my goal was to come to Japan to live my best fashionista life!
Who or what inspires you?
All Japanese pop culture inspired me. A lot of manga and animation (Nana, Ghibli movies …). Also Visual Kei bands were a big inspiration when I was in college.
How would you describe your personal style evolution?
It’s changed a lot! At the beginning it was really dark colours. It was a mix of goth lolita and punk. I started to wear more and more colours with time and now I’m adding more traditional fashion elements to my style. I have no rules and no etiquette for my fashion.
Image courtesy of @yutamukaiyama.
Tell us about your sewing?
I love designing clothes, remaking old clothes or creating from nothing. I’ve always wanted to be a fashion designer. I had a bad experience in fashion school in France before coming to Japan so I took some time to get back into sewing. I learned by myself and I’m still learning! The pieces I’m making at the moment are kind of simple and I want to be able to sew more complicated designs in the future!
Your Instagram bio says that you are a “Harajuku chameleon”. What does that mean to you?
People often asked me what my style was. Am I a lolita? Am I Decora? But, actually I’m all of this and at the same time I’m not. My style is a mix of different styles and inspirations and changes every time. I can wear a classic lolita dress with a kimono one day. I can be in all black the next day, or wearing colourful clothes to become a rainbow. So, I thought a chameleon was a nice name for me as people always want and need to put you in categories. I think “Harajuku chameleon” suits me the most at the moment.
You are always interacting with the community online and in-person. What does the community mean to you?
When you’re different in general it can be easy to feel alone, so I think when you have a passion, something you like, it’s good to share it! I met a lot of friends online from Instagram and from the Harajuku community.
There are a lot of young people who like Harajuku fashion but are too scared to wear it and try it, and I want to encourage them to just do what they want and live the life they want without thinking about what others will think. I was the same at the beginning, I was too shy, too scared and now the only regret I have is that I didn’t start earlier.
I see the community as a place where we can exchange and try to understand each other, be open minded and grow together. So, I’m happy to have this community and be able to help people when they need me.
Image courtesy of @machichi_off.
As a positive presence in the community, how does bringing joy to others make you feel?
Bringing joy to people, seeing their smile or receiving a message saying “Thank you, you helped me” is really the best feeling for me. I didn’t have a happy childhood at all and I saw a lot of unhappy people around me that I wasn’t able to help. So, maybe that’s why I want to bring joy to people now. I want them to be happy, free and living their best life without regrets! Bringing joy is nice but motivating people to fulfill their dreams feels even better to me, making them smile makes me happy.
Socialising can be really exhausting. Where do you get all your energy from? Have you always been a people person?
I think I can say I’m a social person now but I wasn’t before. As I said I was really shy, I’m still shy but it doesn’t block me anymore. Wearing Harajuku fashion has given me confidence and helped me to be more social even if it’s not always easy to start a conversation with someone I don’t know. But I’m working on it!
Any last words?
Be positive, be ambitious, respect others and respect yourself! Life is not easy but being and feeling alive is wonderful! You can accomplish a lot of things so don’t be afraid to dream! Love you!
Introduction and questions by Ash.
Featured image courtesy of @keitaro_murakami.