Ganguro is one of Tokyo’s most distinct fashion subcultures, which started in the mid-1990s and is well known for some key characteristics: dark tans, bleached hair and dramatic white makeup. Contrary to what some might think, the style originally came about in opposition of the traditional Japanese beauty standard of fair skin, dark hair and a fairly simple makeup look. In order to rebel against this singular idea of beauty, Ganguro decided to express themselves with an extreme style so as to make their message loud and clear that there are other ways to be beautiful. Though the Ganguro look had mostly faded away by the 2000s, a succeeding subculture, Kurogyaru (literal translation: black gals), is keeping the spirit alive and Black Diamond is at the forefront spreading the fashion style all over the world. We caught up with Black Diamond recently and got the scoop directly from them.
Audrey Magazine: What inspired you to form the group, Black Diamond?
Black Diamond: We are all just a bunch of girls who love the Kurogyaru style. Our current manager originally wanted to publish a special edition magazine featuring Kurogyaru fashion, so he tried to bring people together which is how we got involved. Over time, we became a group and now we have more than 150 members in Japan.
AM: Although Ganguro is a trend from the mid-’90s, what made you want to revive it and get into the Kurogyaru style?
BD: As a group, our goal is to spread the Kurogyaru style. Ganguro has completely faded out and now Kurogyaru is a newer evolution of that subculture. We noticed that there aren’t many people dressing in this way, so we want to inspire people to enjoy Kurogyaru.
AM: What is the difference between Ganguro and Kurogyaru style?
BD: Ganguro is also known for the tanned skin, but other than that, we would say the styles are completely different. Ganguro makeup tends to be like heavy and white makeup around the eyes, but Kurogyaru is a lot more colorful. We have a more modern way of doing our makeup and hair, as well as clothing style.
AM: What are your thoughts on the traditional Asian beauty standard of porcelain skin?
BD: We think that there’s nothing wrong with liking pale skin. We just happen to prefer darker skin and we hope people can see the beauty in that, too.
AM: So from your perspective, what is beauty?
BD: Beauty is … flashiness? Flashy hair, flashy clothes, flashy makeup, flashy nails? [Laughs] Beauty is dark skin and flashiness.
AM: How do you accomplish your daily look? How long does it take?
BD: Well, for makeup, we do it everyday obviously. [Laughs] Our outfits depend on our moods and the weather. Like today, Harutama (the one with blue hair) and Rise (the one with pink hair) coordinated together and did their hair like the popular Japanese characters Kiki and Lala [Little Twin Stars]. It really depends on each person, but on average, it takes us about one to two hours to get ready everyday.
AM: What is a must-have Kurogyaru item?
BD: A tanning bed. [Laughs] False eyelashes? Actually if we don’t have everything, the look just isn’t right. Every item is a must-have. [Laughs]
AM: Black Diamond not only has members in Japan but overseas as well. How has your group grown internationally?
BD: The Internet. People saw and heard about us from the Internet and many people wanted to join our group from their home countries, so we have many subgroups in different regions of Japan and also in various parts of the world.
AM: Can you tell us about your ongoing or upcoming projects?
BD: We are working on starting our own clothing line. One of our greatest motivations is that there are many foreigners who are into Kurogyaru style and they cannot easily get the clothes or the right sizes, so we want to make our line more accessible for Kurogyaru fans internationally.
Kurogyaru are also known for their “para para” style of dancing. Check it out here:
For more information on Black Diamond, you can check out their Facebook page here
–Story and photos by Mai Nguyen.