TOKYO • Meet Lulu Hashimoto, a "living doll" and the latest trend in Tokyo's fashion modelling scene.
Lulu - a full-body doll suit consisting of a wig, a mask and stockings patterned with doll-like joints - was born from one woman's desire to become cute.
"I have always really liked dolls and, for me, the epitome of cuteness is dolls," said 23-year-old fashion designer Hitomi Komaki, who created Lulu.
Dressing up as a mascot, called "kigurumi" in Japanese, is a popular art form in Japan. Ms Komaki has taken it to a new level by creating a body suit that looks like a doll's and lets you move like a human.
"Many people call my project a fetish, but for me, it's not a fetish but fashion," she said. "It's like wearing nice clothes or putting on false eyelashes to become cuter."
There is only one Lulu body suit, Ms Komaki said, but dancers, designers and models are among those who have worn the costume.
The identity of exactly who is inside is secret, she added.
The stockings worn by Lulu were created by fellow fashion designer Koh Ueno, who airbrushed doll-like joints onto the material. "I want to see women wear these stockings and transform," said 29-year-old Mr Ueno.
"I want them to experience the extraordinary - to become otherworldly, artificial, or like a doll," he said.
Lulu's ability to blur the line between reality and fiction has mesmerised fans on social media, where Lulu Twitter and Instagram accounts have drawn tens of thousands of followers.
"I find it miraculous that dolls and humans - two things that exist in different planes - are standing in the same space," said Ms Erika Kato, a Lulu fan.