By Shannon Lane @Shannonroselane
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Videographer / director: Marcus Hessenberg
Producer: Shannon Lane, Ruby Coote
Editor: Beth Angus
Inspired by the Japanese culture derived from the district Harajuku, Michelle, from Portsmouth, says that the quirky trend has helped her gain confidence.
Michelle even extends her passion for Kawaii Japanese fashion to her bedroom, which is adorned with cute trinkets and countless stuffed toys.
She told BTV: “When I dress up, it’s a little bit like a character. It makes you feel more confident and a bit more bold, and it’s just nice to be different.
“There are lots of different Japanese fashions that I’m into. Now I’ve created my own style from lots of different inspirations.
"I would say I have been dressing like this for about six years.
“I first started to learn about Japanese fashion when I was at university, I studied Fashion and Textiles. A book with different pictures of the street-fashion from Harajuku really inspired me to start a project on that and that led me to develop my brand as well.”
Michelle started her own business creating and selling clothing, jewellery and accessories inspired by Japanese fashion under the name Roxie Sweetheart.
“My style does reflect my personality, which is cute and fun and colourful,” Michelle said.
“With clothes, I generally go with pastel colours. Occasionally I do wear black and other colours but mostly it’s all like pastels, bright colours. Kind of like rainbow pastels. I really like anything iridescent or colour graphic, kind of sparkly.
"I think I probably own about 50 pair of shoes. They are obviously all pastel and all cute in some way.”
Now, Michelle can hold her head high in her giant pastel bow, but she hasn't always been this confident.
She said: “Growing up, I didn’t have that much confidence. It’s hard for most teenagers to fit in and I didn’t really know where I fitted in and I always had an interest for fashion but I didn’t have the confidence to actually express that.
“I slowly got more and more into fashion but it was very gradual. So I would wear something and then I would wear a bit more, and a bit more and so every time I just build up a little more confidence and now I feel like I’m at a point where I could be who I am and do what I want.
"I don’t feel awkward about it anymore. It’s really nice because I think actually the fashion has enabled me to express myself and has given me that confidence.
“If someone says to me 'oh it’s childish' I think maybe from an outsider’s point of view or someone who doesn’t know anything about the fashion, I can kind of see why someone might think that.
“But for me it’s very much a creative thing. I’m such a creative person, that’s what it is ultimately. I think when someone says that something’s childish - but what makes it for a child? If it makes someone feel good about themselves then why does it need to be for a child?"
Michelle surrounds herself with everything pink, fluffy and sparkly - including in her bedroom and baby pink Fiat 500.
She said: “My favorite colour is pink obviously. In my room, everything is pink.
“My room is my place I go to relax and being surrounded by all these nice things, again it’s more inspiration."
Michelle has not only found herself through her fashion, but also a close-knit group of friends who she met through Japanese style conventions, who are also into the quirky style.
Her friend Rosanna said: “The most common reaction from the outsider is ‘Why are you wearing kid’s stuff?'
"Kids do like it. I mean, in Japan it’s for people with expandable income. So, it is people in their late teens and adults and all the way up to even old age in Japan."
Michelle added: "If it makes you feel nice it makes you feel happy - I think in this world it’s important to have this escape, to have these things to make you feel good.”
After coming out of her shell and gaining her confidence, Michelle's aim is to now inspire others to do the same.
She said: “My ultimate goal is to inspire people, even if it’s just a little bit. That’s my main aim, I just want to inspire other people to express themselves and to get into the fashion and to be not be afraid to do what they want and be what they want.”