Thursday, December 23, 2010

News & Updates

Kelsey of I Do Declare has posted some photos from the Dances of Vice runway presentation last month. Her designs just keep getting better and better! One of my goals for 2011 is definitely adding a piece from her to my collection :)

Metamorphose is launching their winter sale items already. A few of the items I had my eye on, including their Old Rose JSK, have already sold out, but if you dig Meta's sweeter or light-toned items, there's still plenty left to choose from.

Grimoire is offering a 10% discount code for orders from their online shop in this blog post. As I noted yesterday, they buy it here (for non-Japanese readers, anyway) but the store also carries the Dolly accessory line, which is made in Japan.

Baby the Stars Shine Bright's winter lucky packs are almost sold out, but there are still acessory sets and LL shoe sets available.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Indie Brand: Pina Sweet

I'm counting Pina Sweet as an indie brand, although they do get frequent features in the Gothic & Lolita bible, enough exposure that most Western lolitas have at least heard of them a few times before. Even so, they definitely don't have the advertising clout of the big brands, and their limited operations scope puts them in the indie category as far as I'm concerned.

Like most Japanese brands, their "concept" page is a Japanese-text image file, making translation through online tools impossible! Looking at their gallery and collections, their focus becomes clear pretty quickly: classic-sweet designs with an emphasis on self-fabric frills and small amounts of lace. They tend to work with a palette of white, black, rose pink, wine and soft florals, although they do put out the occassional lilac or tartan piece as well.

Unlike many indie brands, which focus mostly on signature pieces like dresses, jumperskirts and skirts, Pina Sweet offers a full design range, including blouses and bloomers.

Pina Sweet doesn't do overseas shipping at present, so a shopping service is required to purchase from them. If you're in Japan, they are also carried in four shops, including the Atelier Perriot Laforet shop in Tokyo (which you were going to visit anyway, RIGHT?). Their sizing is a little on the small side, but many of their items include shirring to allow for a more flexible fit.

To be honest, Pina Sweet has always felt a bit like a hyrbid brand to me: there are elements of all the major classic brands in their designs, and they don't have quite as fixed a style as some other indie labels. In a way, that's nice, since it gives them a fair bit of flexibility. At the same time, though, I really don't have a clear idea of the brand in my head: most of the time, when I look at their stuff, I'm thinking "wow, that reminds me of Victorian Maiden/Mary Magdalene/Innocent World", rather than standing out on their own.

Grimoire: They buy it here

One of the most memorable lines from the Japanese Fashion panel run by Martha (of Moss Garden) last Otakon was her comment while explaining the main source of Dolly Fashion items in Japan:

They buy it here.

It struck me as true then - Dolly Fashion pulls many elements from vintage European style, especially from the Gunne Sax/Little House on the Prairie era, which is more common in vintage stock in Europe & North America than in Japan. It strikes me as even more true, though, looking at the Grimoire store blog over the last few days, where Hitomi (? I think) documents her recent shopping trip to Toronto, Canada.

You see the second photo of a Tim Horton's store in this blog post? The one with the Starbucks next to it? I GO THERE ALL THE TIME. Not even kidding. The Grimoire staff were buying stock in my city, probably even at the thrift stores I haunt regularly. Too funny!

Really, honest to goodness: They buy it here. Which means you can too.

(they also post images from "The Brand Upon The Brain!", a film by my favorite Canadian art house cinema director, Guy Maddin, in this blog post, which makes me very happy!)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Movie: Kalamari Kastle visits BtSSB San Francisco!

Dreaming of checking out Baby the Stars Shine Bright's San Francisco store, yet lacking the travel budget? Check out this video shot at the September Ice Cream social by Kalamari Kastle instead!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Indie Brand: Princess Doll

Princess Doll is a long-established Japanese indie brand, specializing in subdued classic designs. Their signature styles include empire-waisted babydoll dresses, detailed or gathered bodices, skirts with ruffle hems and off-center bows near the hem.

For the most part, they stick with solid colors or light floral prints, although they do branch out into more Victorian-wallpaper prints and tartans for some releases:

Perhaps their most iconic piece is this one, which features custom printed fabric along with their detailed bodice style and a more fittted waist. This one was featured in a Gothic & Lolita Bible ages ago and is very hard to find these days!

For the most part, Princess Doll seems to be about relaxed, comfortable, timeless elegance. Their dress designs in particular have a charming yet refined look: the bodice detailing makes them seem more formal, but it's combined with a floating, easy-fitting skirt that looks super-comfortable. My favorite combination!

International customers can order Princess Doll items through Neo Tokyo, which also stocks some Angelic Pretty, Chocomint, Decoart, h.naoto and even old items from the now-closed Sex Pot Revenge label. However, these items are marked up, as the Princess Doll site notes, and you will want to check the exchange rate & shipping costs to decide if Neo Tokyo offers a better deal than using a shopping service.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shopping Services

I've mentioned shopping services a few times now, without really clarifying what they are - it's one of those things most lolita fashion followers just assume everyone knows about!

A shopping service is pretty much what it sounds like: someone who will buy things for you and then ship your purchases to wherever they need to go. Obviously, this is incredibly handy for lolitas who live outside Japan, especially since many brands do not yet ship internationally. In addition, shopping services aimed at the lolita market may offer other services, such as:

- Reserves: for popular items and special prints, brands offer their customers a chance to "reserve" or pre-purchase items before they are released. This can sometimes be your only way to get highly desirable prints, colors or cuts of certain items. Reservations can be a complicated process, so the shopping service which can do this well is highly regarded (and often very busy).

- Auctions: mbok and Yahoo Japan are bustling markets for second-hand lolita clothing, but it's difficult to get an account on either if you're not inside the country, and many sellers will not ship outside Japan anyway. A good auction service will bid on your behalf, ask questions of the seller, resolve any problems which arise with your item (like checking for stains and damage) and handle shipping the item overseas once the auction is won.

- In-person shopping for specific, hard-to-find items: Resale shops like Fairy Angel and Closet Child only list a fraction of their inventory online. The matching socks for your new dress may no longer be listed on the website, but you've heard there are still some on the shelves at smaller shops. A few shopping services will actually go look in person for you, with the understanding that if they find and buy the item you've requested, you're on the hook to repay them. This is a lot of work, and many shopping services will not do this at all, or only for selected customers.

Of course, shopping services don't do all this for free! Most of them charge a flat fee based on the cost of your items, between 5% to 20% depending on various factors, plus additional costs like shipping, packaging, transportation and more. Specialized services like reserves or in-store hunting for rare items generally come with a higher fee.

The added benefit, for Japanese lolitas doing all this brand shopping, is getting to rack up loyalty points and earn status as a brand VIP. Most Japanese brands offer special perks to their most loyal customers (a.k.a. high spenders), and it's easy to rack up points towards free items, special party invites, and so on by running even a small shopping service.

If you're interested in knowing more about how a shopping service works and the effort involved, Kalamari Kastle has agreat interview with Chibi_Tenshi, who runs a highly respected and well-reviewed operation.

My personal experiences have been with Celga (Yahoo Japan auctions, okay service but the fees were a little high) and Japonica Market (Yahoo Japan & Mbok auctions, my preferred service due to their reasonable fees and great customer service).

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday Movie: Gay Pirates

This one's for all you pirate guys & gals, a sweetly sad little sea shanty about love and loss among the pirates (well, the gay ones). Not very frilly, but still adorable!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Indie Brand: Antique Beast

Highly sought-after by the ubergothic are the rare items from indie brand Antique Beast. They've been around since the early days of Gothic & Lolita, and they continue to turn out a handful of designs each year, always sold out in early reserves and cherished for many years by their owners. And is it any wonder? If you dig old-school gothic elegance, Antique Beast has you covered:

Antique Beast is especially well-known for their lush and detailed accessories, especially head pices. Each one is hand-crafted and the consideration given to texture and balance is stunning.

This is perhaps the most iconic Antique Beast design for me, and the first piece I saw by the brand. It's low-cut enough to qualify as Ero-Loli, but it captures the dark elegance that first attracted me to the whole Gothic Lolita style:
The timeless quality of their designs puts them outside the realm of trends; they're neither fashionable nor unfashionable, eschewing change for a fixed, unwavering aesthetic. That makes their pieces great wardrobe investments, but it also means they show up rarely on the second-hand market.

Their infrequent sales periods are announced three days in advance through their website, and also on their email newsletter. The designer also keeps a blog where they mention upcoming reservation dates, although it's mostly brief personal entries. Basically, they open up the shop for a few days, closing down again when they've reached the maximum amount of orders they can produce within a 6-8 week window. Once those orders are made, they re-open for new purchases. It's a smart system, one that keeps their income steady while ensuring clients don't wait overly long for their reserves to be filled.

Antique Beast only accepts payment via bank transfer and postal order, so you will probably need a shopping service to place an order, although there is a mention of accepting Paypal for internationl orders buried in their blog, so it might be worthwhile to send them an email first. They just did a round of orders from Nov 25-28, so it may be a month or two before they open up again.

Because items are made in limited numbers for pre-purchasing customers, you can request up to +5 cm on the measurements for your order, including bust, waist, skirt and sleeve length. That said, their standard measurements are on the small side, so it's not a huge amount of leeway.

More on Meta Sales

According to this blog post, Meta is doing an in-store sale on two of their more recent prints, Twinkle Journey and Old Rose. Old Rose is a classic-style print in muted colors, and Twinkle Journey is the infamous unicorn print.

Strangely enough, the Twinkle Journey items are completely sold out on their website, and have been for a while. I know the print is very popular among Western lolitas, and it seems odd they would discount it for local customers rather than sell it full-price to international clients. Old Rose is still in-stock online, and at full price too.

Then again, the blog does mention that the Hukuoka store is the only one to still have the Twinkle Journey print in-stock, and perhaps it's less expensive to sell at a discount rather than ship to the main office for webshop processing. Who knows? But if you've been hunting for either of these prints, the 30% discount will more than make up the cost of a shopping service!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Meta Honey Picnic Set

Starting at 5 pm Japanese time on Wednesday, December 8th (so, 3 a.m. the same day for those of us living on the east coast of North America), Meta's offering a special set featuring their Honey Picnic print.

Ordering info is here. The set includes a JSK or OP, socks, cardigan or blouse or bolero, and an accessory. Meta chooses the color and style for all items, as usual for lucky-pack style offerings. For 10,000 yen plus shipping, it's a good deal, especially for sweet or brand-new lolitas.

I'll be honest, this is totally not me: way too sweet and childlike a print, and I'm not thrilled about any of the JSK designs either. It would almost be worth getting just for the non-dress stuff included in the set, except the designs they're showing for those options aren't thrilling me either.

They list the set as being a special offer for their international customers only, but it does make me wonder just how badly this print sold, that it's being offered up pre-Xmas at bargain basement pricing (for lolita brand, I mean). Rumors are constantly floating about Meta's precarious financial state, often enough that I can't help but wonder what's really going on when they dish up deals like this.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The International Business of Thrifting

There was a really interesting article about the vintage clothing industry in my local paper today: On the Front Lines in the Vintage Clothing War.

So many people, when they think about donating clothing, imagine their cast-offs just go straight to the racks of their local thirft shop, but that's not the case any more. The sorting and shipping of second-clothing, especially quality vintage, is a big international business, and something you leave with Goodwill is as likely to wind up in Japan or Europe as it is to make it to your local store.

Although I understand the reasons why this business has evolved, it makes me a bit sad. I've been thrifting my wardrobe for over twenty years now, and the quality of what's available has definitely declined. Stumbling across a vintage Gunne Sax dress or discarded Doc Martens just doesn't happen any more.

It's especially weird, because the sheer amount of STUFF at thrift shops has exploded lately. Most of it's recent, however: I'll have an easier time finding last year's H&M top than I will finding last decade's plaid flannel shirt.

The thrill of the great find has definitely diminished, because the finds are rarely that great, at least compared to what they once were. It's also diminishing my interest in thrift shopping: I hate paying the inflated prices charged by vintage boutiques, but I also have to acknowledge that my chances of finding anything similiar on my own are increasingly slim.

Monday Movie: LoliGirls documentary

I'm sure many of you have seen this already, but for those who haven't (and for myself, to keep track of the link), today's Monday Movie is LoliGirls: The Story Behind the Frills and Bows, a short independent documentary focused on three Lolita Fashion lifestyle ladies in Conneticut.

I found the documentary to be interesting, although I wish it was a bit longer, so there would be more time to look at the issues involved with a more critical eye. There's mention made of people's perceptions of lolita fashion, the cost involved, and the concept of rules which prevades the Western Lolita community, but there's not really time to delve into these problems, and the piece overall has a light, unquestioning feel. Still, all three of the girls are interesting and articulate, and it's always great fun for me to hear other lolitas talk about their love of the fashion and how it impacts their lives!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The joys of closet cleaning

Guess who just found 3 yards of black & white striped fabric buried in the depths of her fabric stash? Which means guess who's making herself a new black & white striped dress this winter?


Of course, that's going to have to wait until after I *finish* the four semi-complete sewing projects I also found while going through my sewing stash. *sigh*

Closet cleaning!

Once or twice a year, my beau and I throw a Purge Party for our friends. It's a chance to go through everything we own and ask the ever-difficult questions: Why do I own this? Do I ever use it? Why am I still hanging on to it?!?

Hard as this can be, it is also wonderfully freeing. Making room for new things is great, and so is getting rid of stuff that's just gathering dust. I find it difficult - I wouldn't have bought something in the first place, if I didn't think it had the potential to be pretty or fun - but I'm always satisfied when it's over, when my room is neat again and I can actually FIND the things I do use all the time.

Right now, I'm trying to apply this process to my lolita wardrobe. If getting rid of normal clothes is difficult for me, getting rid of lolita is five times the challenge! I spent so much time saving up for this clothing, or making it myself, that's it's hard to think of letting it go. Even so, my closet is stuffed past capacity, and my past month of wearing lolita almost daily (a topic for a future post!) has taught me a lot about what I do and don't wear, about what I have enough of already and where I need to fill in some gaps.

I'm hoping, by the end of this process, to have a much more organized and functional wardrobe. Right now, my stuff is spread out over three spaces: a closet in the hallway, a wardrobe in my room, and an accessory unit on the other side of the room:

What a mess! Getting ready in the morning involves a lot of running around: blouses are in one closet, dresses and skirts in the other, not to mention accessories EVERYWHERE because I am terrible about putting things back where they belong. Hopefully if I prune down my collection a bit, I will be able to impose some sort of organization on the whole she-bang in time for the new year.

Any advice? I'm thinking of switching over to vintage suitcases for storing socks, bloomers & accessories, and getting a lot more skirt hangers, but I'm not sure that's enough to fix the problem. I'd love to hear your best solutions for taming a wild closet!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Link: Fashion from Old People

One of my new favorite illustration & fashion blogs is Fashion From Old People, wherein two fabulous artists (Emily Carroll and Vera Brosgol) dish up their interpretations of historical fashions and the ladies who might have worn them. The fashions run the gamut from Rococo and Victoriana through 1950s retro, with a link back to the reference photo of the dress that inspired the drawing. It's not quite lolita fashion, but it's all-around lovely and well worth checking out!

(found via

Kuranosuke Stripe JSK

Like many other lolita fashionistas, I am currently making grabby hands in the direction of Alice & the Pirate's newest reserve dress, the Kuranosuke Stripe Jumper Skirt:

*Swoon* It's a Burton-loving gothic lolita's dream come true! I even adore the little bustle on the back, although it is a bit more narrow that really suits the fabric and design. That said, it's not as if I don't already own a fair bit of striped clothing, and the design is plain enough that I could replicate it fairly easily - in fact, one of my very first lolita dresses involved stripes:

(yes, yes, it's rather low-cut for a lolita dress. This was 2002, the wild west of the loli fashion frontier, and we did all kinds of crazy things)

It's up for reserve now, with a January release date. The price isn't too crazy, for AatP, and I'm curious to see how this does both with initial sales and the resale market. It reminds me strongly of Atelier Pierrot, the Japanese brand I most associate with black & white stripes (they've released a number of items over the years with this theme, including a piece currently in their sale section).

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

You guys! I got married!

My apologies for neglecting this blog so shamefully. I've spent the past few months in an ever-increasing frenzy about the wedding preparations, and then recovering from the whole process. I also signed up for NaNoWriMo, the national novel-writing month, and spent Novemeber banging out 50,000 words of my new book. It's been an amazing, awe-inspiring whirlwind of joy and creativity, but it knocked me right out of my blogging habit. I'm hoping to correct that come the new year - which does not mean I'm going to stop posting until January, however!

I don't want to post too much about the wedding here, but I did want to share my dress with you all. I'd posted ages ago about the Vera Wang gown which inspired me. In the end, I simply couldn't find anything else off-the-rack to compare, and so I wound up making my own gown:


The photo doesn't really do it justice. The bodice is white silk, with an overlay of ivory chantily lace and additional off-white lace appliques on top. The skirt is layers of white and ivory tulle, with pleated white organza as a base. I added lace appliques (not as many as I'd planned, due to time!) throughout the tulle, along with some pick-ups for extra pouf. The brown satin ribbon matched my shoes and purse, and my husband's suit, not to mention the bridesmaid's dresses.

There's a few things I wish I' had more time to finish, mostly the lace appliques (they took FAR more time than I'd expected) but overall, I was happy with the dress, and thrilled with how the whole day went. Everything went wonderfully, from the rain holding off until juuuuust as we were leaving the outdoor ceremony location, to so many wonderful friends and family coming in from around the continent, and of course the whole madly-in-love part :)

Anyway, there's a set of wedding photos online for anyone who wants to see more detail of the dress and the day, and I will get back to my regular blogging topics of fashion and foolishness later this week!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Ultimate Princess Food Option?

For the hardcore lifestyle lolita, how about some gold-plated food?

Found via the Inspire Me, Now! tumblr, this food spray comes in gold and silver, and is available from The Deli Garage (under "Food Spray"). The site claims the spray is harmless and tasteless, but I'm not sure I want to be the first to give it a try :)

That said, it could be a great finishing touch to a fairytale photo set inspired by Midas, or for a particularly regal picnic meet-up!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Old Rose JSK

I'm hoping to get caught up on posting this weekend, with details about my adventures with Otakon, group ordering and more, but work is keeping me crazed until then. When this popped up in my blog feed, though, I just had to make a quick note of it:

What brand do you think that is? The  bows, the two-toned frontpiece, the hem pintucks - it all screams Innocent World, right?

But look closer. The shirring gives it away. It's Metamorphose! According to the Osaka shop blog, this is a new design called Old Rose, which is going to be stocked in limited supply.

There's a black-on-black version up on the online shop, but to be honest, it didn't really catch my eye. This colorway, however, is so close to an Innocent World JSK I own, that I couldn't help but stop & stare.

The blog stock photos appear to be a plain fabric, rather than the printed fabric on the black x black colorway, but we'll see what turns up in the online store. Given Meta's penchant for more forgiving sizing, and the use of both front & back shirring, this could be a great option for larger lolitas who long for an old-fashioned Classic style JSK.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Baby: Midsummer Night's Dream

Ack! Sorry for the lack of posting - summer is the busiest time of year for my work, and I've been hacking away pretty steady for the last month or so. Plus, a local heat wave has made me less than inclined to dress up, so I've been a bit boring lately in the fashion department. I did attend a fun meet-up the weekend before last, which I'll post about as soon as I've uploaded the pics from my camera.

But! I did need to post about the latest Alice and the Pirates print, Midsummer Night's Dream:

Le sigh! Isn't it a dream? I know a lot of people don't love the dropped-waist effect, but I think it looks rather elegant and mature, especially with the ribbon binding around the center. Sadly, it is a tiiiiiiny bit too small for me - and that's only if Baby's measurements are correct, instead of being a little too generous (as they so often are). The other JSK style would fit me nicely, but I'll be honest, I'm not loving it nearly as much:

It's a more traditional lolita silhouette, it's true, but I suspect it would look just too childish on me. That leaves me torn, especially since I'm fairly sure the skirt will be too small to fit: I do love the print so very much, especially the navy colorway, but I don't know if I love it enough to risk not having it fit after spending all that money! Although the colorful scrollwork on the fabric background is almost enough to sway me:

So pretty! It reminds me a little of Meta's Ornament print, or the Moitie logo room dress from a few years ago. I guess I only have a few days to make up my mind!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Daily Snap Post (mid-June version)

June 1, 2010
A simple, casual coordinate with my new Metamorphose JSK.

JSK, Socks, bloomers: Metamorphose
Shoes: Baby the Stars Shine Bright
Parasol: Alice and the Pirates
Bag: Aldo
T-shirt: no idea

I wanted something simple, since I've been working a lot lately and don't really have time to fuss with clothing and accessories. This worked okay, I think, although it's not something I'd wear to a meet-up or anything fancy.

June 5, 2010

JSK, Blouse, bloomers: Metamorphose
Bag, necklace, ring: Baby the Stars Shine Bright
Shoes: Montreal
Socks: Alice and the Pirates
Bracelet: Forever21

This was day two of A-Kon, hence the exhausted look on my face! I don't usually pack lolita with me for cons - it's not practical for working in, and it takes up so much room - but it was international lolita day, and I realized this coordinate worked okay without a petticoat (my biggest packing hassle).

June 10, 2010

Blouse: Innocent World
Skirt: Bodyline
Bag: Angelic Pretty
Tights: Hue
Shoes: Baby the Stars Shine Bright
Parasol: Alice and the Pirates

I don't wear skirt and blouse coordinates very often; in fact, I only have a handful of skirts in my closet! The black-and-white scheme was a little dull for my mood that day, so I added the bright tights for some punch. I was supposed to be meeting some local ladies for a birthday tea, but work piled up and I didn't wind up making it after all :(

Friday, June 11, 2010

Adventures at Closet Child

As I mentioned a few weeks back, my fiance J recently visited Tokyo (without me, sigh) and was quite determined to buy "something lolita" for me during his trip - partly, I suspect, to ease his guilt about not having me come along! I was holding out, but the night before he left, we discovered his hotel was a 10-minute walk from the Shibuyu Closet Child. I drafted up a page for him with my measurements, favorite brands and photos of a few desired items, along with warnings about size concerns.

Boy, did he have stories for me when he returned! Here's what I've learned about sending someone else to do your lolita shopping in Japan:

1. Don't send a man to do a ladies job: J went to the Shibuyu shop with a Japanese-speaking friend, also male, and promptly got hustled out by the staff! Even with a translator explaining they wanted to buy a dress for J's bride-to-be, the shopclerk would not look them in the eye. Instead, she stared at the ground, alternating between begging them to leave and insisting there was nothing in the shop for them!

This isn't true of every shop, of course. J had no problem at the other two Closet Child locations he tried, but the experience was quite upsetting for him. If you are sending a gentleman on your behalf, be sure to warn him in advance that he may get a rude reaction from some shopclerks.

2. Fudge your measurements: Japanese lolitas, at least the ones working at Closet Child, don't seem to view shirring in quite the same way Western lolitas do. I'd written down my measurements in cm, with Japanese tags, but listed them a little higher (2 cm) than they really are - and the shopclerks were adamant that nothing in the store would fit me, even though J's photos show fully shirred items in the window displays!  In retrospect, I should have given my exact measurements, and told J to watch out for items with elastic panels.

On an amusing side note, the shopclerks were apparently amazed & impressed by my bust measurements, and couldn't stop teasing Jim about how well-endowed I was :)

3. Provide lots of photos of print options: I'd only give J photos of three different prints I liked, because I didn't want to seem greedy. In hindsight, I should have given him way more. As a second-hand shop, Closet Child's stock changes from day to day. Having more options to choose from would have given J a better chance to finding something just right for me.

4. Suggest accessories and handbags as alternates to clothing: I'm not sure why, but the Closet Child staff never thought to recommend non-clothing items to J. Hangbags, headbows and jewelry fit all sizes!

5. Be prepared to love whatever you get: In lucky pack fashion, asking someone else to shop for you may leave you with an item you'd never have picked out on your own. In the end, J brought me back a lovely dress, made all the more special because of the effort and thought he put into choosing it for me.

So what did I get?

This lovely Metamorphose JSK! The fabric has tiny white polka dots, with loads of frills and pintucks. The skirt is huge, and it's super-comfortable to wear. A bit more sweet than my usual style, but I love the length and the way it feels when I twirl around.

Also, I freaked J out by declaring the brand as soon as he pulled it out of his suitcase, by the fabric alone. Since it's not even a distinct print, and he hadn't checked the brand tag when he bought it, my capacity for brand-spotting really wigged him out :) This may not be the fanciest dress in my closet, but I think it will always be my favorite, because I know how much J went through to get it for me, and what that represents.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The view from my weekend

I just got back from a rather exhausting work trip, so it's going to take me a day or two to catch up on things, but I just had to share the view I found myself staring at all weekend:

Why yes, that is a booth full of lush, lovely h.naoto clothing! Lucky for me, their boutique was very focused on HANGRY & ANGRY, which helped keep temptation at bay. They did have a couple of amazing h.naoto GRAMM pieces, and I'd promised myself one if the show went well.

Alas and alack, it was not to be. They will be showing again at Otakon, however, which gives me until late July to save!

I did manage to attend the h.naoto panel, so I'll post up a report on that in the next few days!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Anime North 2010

Last weekend was Anime North, which gave me a rare chance to actually attend some con events, as opposed to my usual "carry heavy boxes and then stand behind this booth for ten hours" con experience. I mostly just wandered the floor on Saturday, and impulse-bought a black BABY school cardigan from a lovely booth selling a nice mix of second-hand brand and new Bodyline items. It wasn't exactly an impulse buy, since I've been wanting a nice cardigan for a while, and it was really reasonably priced. Even so, I'm not supposed to be buying *anything* right now! Oh well, as Oscar Wilde once noted, I can resist anything but temptation.

Sunday was the tea party, which was waaaay more popular than anticipated! My friends Queenie, Val and Karen were organizing the event, and had to scramble at the last minute when almost double the room capacity showed up. They quickly changed to a two-shift plan, letting in the first seating for an hour and then swapping over to the rest of us, who'd been (somewhat!) patiently waiting in the meantime. It was definitely worth the wait, and standing in line gave me a chance to meet a few lovely new people as well.

I didn't take as many photos as I thought - the room's windows were very cheerful, but made for terrible back-lighting on my shots! The full set is here, but I just have to share a few of my favorites here:

Lolita paparazzi! I tend to enjoy behind-the-scenes, documentary style photos. I figure someone with a better camera than my little point-and-shoot is going to get nice group and outfit shots, so I like to try & capture the little details that, years from now, will remind me of the event itself: how people interacted, little details of the setting, that sort of thing. That said, I tried to get a few portrait shots this time, some of which turned out really well:

Queenie & Karen, both of whom are far more lovely than they seem to realize. I love the elegance of Queenie's pose - she'd be right at home in a posh Victorian parlour! - and Karen is just crazy photogenic. She is also ridiculously good at getting rid of skeevy guys, which she sadly had to do towards the end of the tea party :(

I had to run off after the party for dinner with some friends, which meant I missed out on their Takura Angel adventures. I have a terrible habit of not planning enough time to hang out for meet-ups, which I really need to fix - we always have such a good time that things always carry on much longer than originally planned!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Quick Daily Snap Post

I'm so far behind in my blogging! I haven't written anything yet about Jim's adventures in Japan (and what he brought home for me!), or about my recent purchases (which really need to stop, honest) or a bunch of other little things floating around in my brain. 

BUT today I am brain-fried from wandering around the Anime North con floor this morning, so it's a picture post for you instead!

May 21, 2010

JSK, headpiece: Innocent World
Bag, blouse: Metamorphose
Socks, shoes: off-brand

Yay for trains! There are tracks near our house, and I keep wanting to do a shoot with them, but I'll need an actual tripod to pull it off. These were just spur-of-the-moment - the train was there when I was walking past, and I couldn't resist!

Short socks because it was crazy-hot this day.

May 21, 2010

This isn't really lolita (in fact, I'm wearing jeans underneath the cut!) but I liked the crazy pile of accessories, and it does include a mini-hat and a few Baby pieces, so you know.... For some reason, I really enjoy this mix of stripes and plaid.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bookshelf: Wildwood Dancing

Five sisters alone in a Transylvania castle during a long, dark winter; five sisters with a secret portal in their shared bedroom, leading them to a fairy court; five sisters whose lives begin to fall apart as their childhood dreams begin to clash with the outside world. Can a book really get much more lolita-esque than that?
Wildwood Dancing is a charming book for anyone with a love of fairy tales, especially the more obscure ones: there's bits from the Twelve Dancing Princesses here, along with the Princess and the Frog, and snippets from so many others, blended up with a gothic dollop of Romanian folklore. The author, Juliet Marillier, clearly knows her lore, and weaves old ideas and new interpretations throughout the story. She uses the Romanian setting not only as a creepy, beautiful backdrop, but also as a key point in the story: many of the challenges the sisters face come from local custom and culture, rather than the paranormal. 

In summary: Jena and her four sisters have been sneaking off every full moon for years, through the magic gateway in their room and into the court of the fairy queen, where they dance the night away. When their merchant father falls ill and must spend the harsh winter recovering in a warmer climate, they are left alone to handle the castle - and the predatory encroachment of their cousin, who does not believe women can handle business, or even managing their own house, without the protection of a man. At the same time, the mysterious arrival of the Night People to the fairy court throws the supernatural balance out of whack, leading to a confrontation between the fairy court and the human realm.

The only caveat I had about this book: the writing is lush and dense, much more so than most contemporary young adult novels. That makes it a slow read, great for those who enjoy spending loads of time exploring a novel, and possibly frustrating to those who (like me) are anxious to find out what happens in the end! And for those who do want more, there's apparently a semi-sequel available, called Cybele's Secret.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dream Dress

A popular topic for lolita fashion conversations is the Dream Dress: the item you fell in love with at first sight, that drives you to spend hours on auction sites or hundreds on shopping services to obtain. Although it isn't strictly lolita, I just had to share with you my current dream dress, by the impeccable Vera Wang:

*sigh* Isn't it amazing?!? It's so terribly me: romantic and quirky, classic but deconstructed, a tatterdemalion princess hiding out in a forest grove.

It is also so far beyond what I would possibly pay for a wedding dress that it's not even funny. Seriously. This thing costs more than my reception dinner (4 courses + open bar for 130 people) will run. I fell in love upon first seeing it in a magazine, and promptly resigned myself to never, ever owning it.

Which is, of course, one of the biggest problems with unobtainable dream dresses: they spoil you for everything else! I've been shopping for gowns over the last two days and, although I've tried on some very nice dresses, not a one of them can possibly hope to measure up to this gorgeous confection. Although I'm a fairly good seamstress, I'm unsure my talents can measure up to this particular challenge - or that it won't make me crazy in the process! At the same time, my perfectionist side is unwilling to settle for less than exactly what I want, especially on such an important day. Besides, if I'm going to be paying equivalent of two full lolita brand outfits on a single dress, it better be worth every not-going-to-Innocent-World penny.

(as an aside, am I the only one who measures purchases in "what lolita item could I buy instead of x"?)

Friday, May 14, 2010

The little things...

Miss Lumpy's post on breaking your Internet addiction could not be more timely for me! To be honest, my problem of late isn't surfing the net, it's too much work, but either way leads to far too many hours lost in front of a computer. I normally try to fit in a nice walk of at least 20-30 minutes every day, but I've been too busy for even that little break all week. My body is not at all happy with me about it, either!

I still have another few days of non-stop work ahead of me, so I might just have to go with her "if you really can't get away" suggestion and invest in a nice big bouquet of flowers to sit on my desk. Something bright and pink should do the trick!

One should never be too busy for flowers, after all :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lolita gifts

My fiance is off to Japan next week on a business trip - sadly, I don't get to tag along! (Well, and I'm too busy to go right now, anyway). Since he'll be in the Lolita Motherland, and since he's got a vague idea that I like all this frilly stuff, he's offered to bring me back something from his trip. I should be excited about this... but I'm mostly not :(

My biggest concern is price. He's offering a gift, not a shopping service, but even the little things I might ask him to get me, like socks or hair trinkets, are so much more expensive than "normal" brands would be for similar items. I'd like a parasol, for instance, but I can just imagine his reaction to the price tag on a Baby umbrella! My love is a very practical sort, and while he has his own indulgences (*cough* video games *cough*), they tend to be few and far between. I once made the mistake of telling him the price tag on a Vivienne Westwood handbag I'd been eyeballing, and I thought he was going to pass out!

I've been joking with friends that I don't want him to get me something because I don't want him to know how much it costs, and that is partly true. Of course, very little of my wardrobe is purchased new; second-hand shopping for lolita items, however, demands a pretty thorough knowledge of brands, sizing and prints. I'm not sure sending him to Closet Child (if they can even find it!) with a list of photos will result in anything more than frustration, and a funny story for the salesclerks.

Mostly, though, I don't really want to dictate what he should get me as a gift. My taste is pretty particular, and brand is too expensive to buy on the hopes that it will be "okay". I've told him I'd like a frilly umbrella, or any other cute thing he feels like bringing back, but I'm honestly hoping he doesn't go digging through Laforet on my behalf.

Does that make me a bad lolita? I hope it makes me a good fiance, at least!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Battle of the Parasols!

Since leaving my cherished Pagoda umbrella at Amsterdam airport back in February, I've been contemplating the purchase of a replacement (or six! a lady can dream, after all...). With my wedding this fall, I'd really like to have a brand parasol for the occasion. I think it would be a nice way to include a lolita touch without being too obvious or over-the-top - and it's a perfect excuse to indulge!

That said, I am utterly stumped as to which parasol I should get. My first instinct is to snag this lovely Innocent World one:

In a bridal ivory, rather than the black (although it is lovely in black!). It would go well with my current wardrobe - most of my cream/brown items are Innocent World - and I quite like the trim, but the shape is not quite perfect. This Baby parasol, on the other hand, has a wonderful pagoda swoop:

Stunning! But what on earth is going on with that bottom row of ruffles? I really wish they'd trimmed it with the same fabric as the other ruffle rows, rather than going with raschel lace. I'm sure it's lovely in person - brand lace tends to be, even the raschel variety - but it just looks a bit odd to me. As a third option, there's the classic Baby parasol with scalloped edges:

Ah! So gorgeous, and I do love the three rows of ruffles. I think this might be my best choice, although I will confess a smidgen of brand loyalty that is pushing me towards the Innocent World option. Which is a bit silly, given that I own almost as much Baby as I do Innocent World! But all my Baby pieces are black, and while I'd love to get both a black AND a white parasol, practicality demands I restrain my greed to a single option.

Any thoughts? I'm not even sure where to look for reviews on the durability of the various brand parasols, there doesn't seem to be much in the egl_comm memories on the topic.