Like many lingerie designers, Vera Akotuah is constantly looking for ways to grow her brand. Every year there are new styles, new materials, new trends and new models to display them.
Except Vera isn’t a lingerie designer. She’s the creator of a unique catalogue of art prints featuring Japanese pin-up girls dressed in burlesque and fetish lingerie.
The ‘Tokyo Gothic’ series has grown to include 48 individual illustrations that have a Japanese girl’s name combined with the name of a Tokyo district. The cards have a 3D pop-up effect and include bits of lace, PVC or velvet represented in the drawings.
A self-taught artist, the London resident started the series after a trip to a Tokyo art exhibition in 2000 and saw it as a way to combine several of her favorite cultural influences.
“While in Tokyo I grew fond of the Manga style and on my return I did illustrations for manga comics,” she told Lingerie Talk. “I wanted to create a card line that was very unique and original with a variety of elements all into one … being influenced by tattoo design, fetishism, lingerie, manga, Japanese culture, burlesque, pin-up girls, fashion and hosiery.
“I am a self-taught artist/illustrator and have a natural flair for fashion, so in creating the pin-ups I use draw from both skills,” she added.
Each of the designs starts with a drawing based on a photograph, and is then rendered in fine liner and felt tip pen. Vera has used some notable muses such as Bettie Page and Dita Von Teese for some of the TG girls, but otherwise looks for images from the world of anime/manga and Japanese fashion culture.
Her aim? “To be playful and fun while still having a sultry, slick gothic style throughout.”
Each of the girls in the series — which this year focuses on fishnet fabrics — have a unique tattoo somewhere on their body that makes them unique and boosts the card’s value as a collectible.
The Tokyo Gothic series has been featured in several gallery exhibitions and is available to purchase in both tattoo stores and select lingerie stores such as UK boutique Dolci Follie and La Petite Coquette in New York. Vera has also used the TG illustrations in a line of ceramic noodle bowls.
A set of 26 cards retails for $70. Contact her directly to inquire about purchasing the full series. A few more examples are below.