Wonder Northwest: It's Portland's newest geek convention, bringing together pop-culture subcultures from all walks of life. A read though the schedule is pretty much what you'd expect: comic-book signings, Star Wars, pirates, costumes, an event at Ground Kontrol. And then you get to "Lolita Fashion Show." The WW newsroom is pretty hard to offend, but the general collective reaction rhymed almost exactly with: "Are you fucking kidding me?" We've come across some pretty extreme geek fetishes in our time, but there's tentacle rape cartoons, and then there's…that.
But "Lolita fashion" has nothing to do with the Nabokov novel or the associated sexual connotations, insists event organizer and "Lolita" Holly Reynolds.
"It is a fashion that started in the late '70s by independent fashion houses in Japan," says Reynolds. "There's been a lot of disputes with where [the name] came from, but usually people think the Japanese just took the word as an association with being youthful and not really how it's interpreted in Western society."
It is also, she says, unrelated to the Japanese term "lolicon," which is a mangled portmanteau of "Lolita complex" and does refer to an attraction to prepubescent girls.
"It's a similarity in name," says Reynolds. "I know the fashion can be fetishized—just like anything else can—but that's not why people wear it."
Lolita fashion includes a huge range of subgenres, but is primarily inspired by old rococo and Victorian aesthetics. "It's sort of a return to elegance," says Reynolds. "I'd say the most characteristic part is big frilly skirts, petticoats."
One of the subgenres, called Sweet Lolita, does involve dressing up in "childlike" clothes, with bows, ruffles, pigtails, toys and lots and lots of pink.
Lolita fashion started gaining popularity in the West around 10 years ago. Reynolds claims the name is too entrenched to be changed now, but she and other Portland Lolitas are wary of splashing it around too much.
"When I have meet-ups with people and we're all dressed up and people ask us, 'What are you all dressed up for?'" Reynolds says, "we usually don't say, 'Oh, we're wearing Lolita clothes.' We just say we're dressed up in Japanese street fashion."
GO: Wonder Northwest will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 1441 NE 2nd Ave. Saturday-Sunday, May 14-15. $6, $10 for both days. The Lolita Fashion Show begins at 4 pm Sunday, May 15. Visit wondernorthwest.com for info.
THURSDAY, MAY 12
[MOVIES AND MUSIC] SOUND AND VISION FEST
A three-night benefit to help fund the Hollywood Theatre, featuring collaborations between musicians and filmmakers, with each night curated by a different local artist. Thursday will be curated by filmmaker Matt McCormick, Friday by musician Carrie Brownstein and, on Saturday, documentarian and music-video director Lance Bangs. Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy Blvd., 281-4215. Thursday-Saturday, 7 pm. $10 each night.
[THEATER] UNCANNY VALLEY
Hand2Mouth finally premieres its year-in-the-making new show about memory, which promises all the company's usual exuberance, messy introspection and sweet special effects. Artists Repertory Theatre, 1515 SW Morrison St., 235-5284. 8 pm Thursdays-Sundays, May 12-22. $12-$18 at boxofficetickets.com.
SATURDAY, MAY 14
[STREET FAIR] ST. JOHNS "BIZARRE"
WW Best New Band winner And And And is among the musical acts playing this year's St. Johns Bizarre, which also features a beer garden, craft vendors and plenty of food. We'll take any excuse to visit one of our favorite Portland neighborhoods, but the music—Archers and Jared Mees & the Grown Children are also on board—seals the deal. North Lombard Street and Philadelphia Avenue. 10 am-6 pm. Free. All ages (except for the beer garden).
[DRINK] PORTLAND INDIE WINE FEST
Less hassle than a winery crawl, with better food and no need for a designated driver, the Portland Indie Wine Fest offers unlimited pours of limited-production wines from 51 Oregon craft wineries, alongside nibbles from some of Portland's best restaurants. Bison Building, 419 NE 10th Ave. indiewinefestival.com. 1-6 pm. $75-$125. 21+.
SUNDAY, MAY 15
[MUSIC] THE JULIANS
The irrepressible lady vocal quartet, all classically trained singers who get frisky with nonclassical tunes, sings works by Fleet Foxes, Postal Service, Leonard Cohen, Girlyman, Lassus, Björk, Stephen Sondheim and more, accompanied by violin and piano. St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 1432 SW 13th Ave., 227-5783. 3 pm. $10.
[MUSIC] YELLE, FRENCH HORN REBELLION
Let's celebrate all things French tonight: the bubbly French electro-pop of Yelle (who just got off tour with Katy Perry, thank you very much) and the synthy dance stylings of the French Horn Rebellion. The latter hails from Wisconsin, which is famous for cheese, but not for baguettes. Wonder Ballroom. 8 pm. $18 advance, $20 day of show. All ages.