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.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tragedy! Of the shoe variety

Tragedy has struck my beloved Rocking Horse shoes! I was out for a stroll recently, when my right shoe began to feel oddly loose. When I looked closer, this is what I discovered:

The back strap had broken! I made it home just fine, but the shoes are decidedly wobbly now, and I have to either have them repaired or look at ordering a new pair.

Black RHS (rocking horse shoes) are pretty much a staple of my lolita wardrobe. They go with almost every outfit, and they're surprisingly comfortable - at least, the foam soled ones are! This pair, which I picked up from an eBay seller about four years ago, have gone through huge amounts of abuse: tons of walking, club nights, being stuffed in suitcases and lugged all over the continent, and they're holding up pretty well. At least, until now. The foam soles have gotten a little compressed, and I've scuffed the toes horribly:

Poor babies! Although for four years and countless outings, they're in pretty good shape. Not as bad as my friend Karen, who managed to actually flatten her Montreal RHS to the point where the rest of the sole was even with the cut-out heel part! Impressive stuff.

I have a second pair of RHS, wooden-sole boots in white from Double Decker, which mostly gather dust in a corner, alas. I misjudged the size and they're a bit tight - the hazards of online shoe ordering - and I've never really worn them. Nor have I taken them to a cobbler to be stretched, as I've been promising for two years now. *sigh*  There's also my brown mary janes, which broke a strap last fall, which have been sitting forlornly on a shelf ever since.

Perhaps, with this newest tragedy, I will finally be motivated enough to drag my bag of shoes-in-need-of-help to the nearby shoe shop. A lady can dream!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Lack of Lolita

No daily snaps this week because I really haven't been wearing lolita much, aside from a few boring casual outfits. Between work and some movement (finally!) on my personal writing front, my schedule's gotten a bit crazy of late. I've also been feeling a bit glum, mostly panic and angst over how much I have on my plate, and I find it hard to put the effort into dressing up when I'm moody.

It's a bit strange: lolita fashion makes me very happy most of the time, but if I'm already in a bad mood, dressing up can actually make me feel worse! Partly because, when I'm in a pessimistic mood, it's easier to see the flaws in my outfit: those shoes don't quite match, this sweater's starting to look worn, why did I spend so much money on clothes that make me feel silly? Plus, the last thing I want to do when I'm down is attract attention to myself. Even positive comments can make me feel awkward, and I simply don't have the energy to fend off snarky remarks at all.

In general, my morning rule of thumb is to spend no more than 15 minutes picking out my coordinate. I may spend a bit longer tweaking my hair or accessories, but in general, if I've been pulling stuff out of my closet and shoving it back in for a quarter of an hour, it's time to settle for jeans and a t-shirt.

Luckily, I can't usually go more than a week or two before the aesthetic itch starts begging to be scratched, so my beloved clothing doesn't usually hang neglected in my closet for all that long. I've got a work-related event this weekend, which is going to demand some toned-down attire, but I think next week will be a good chance to start breaking out some almost-summer coordinates!~

Saturday, May 1, 2010

h.naoto hitting the U.S. con circuit!

S-inc., the parent company for the range of h.naoto-related clothing brands, recently launched a U.S.A. event blog - and it looks like great news for American fans of the deconstructed-punk brand (plus us Canadian fans who get to attend some US cons, yay!).

From what I can figure out, S-inc. has partnered with Jhouse-Rock, who've been bringing J-rock and Visual Kei performers to US conventions for about six years now. They seem to be hitting mostly anime-heavy shows, which makes sense, and hitting a lot of them - not just the big events like Otakon, but also smaller shows in places like Nashville, TN, Raleigh, NC and Rosemont, IL. For some shows, they're bringing in Japanese guests, like Gashicon, the graphic designer behind the HANGRY&ANGRY characters; others seem to be focused on locally-driven fashion shows and a sales booth.

Hopefully this is a way for h.naoto to test the waters in terms of opening up more access for North American customers, either through international web sales or maybe even a physical store base. Not that my bank account is pleased about that idea! I'm utterly in love with the GRAMM line these days, and only the prospect of painful shopping service fees is keeping me from succumbing to the shopping temptation.

The blog has a list of upcoming events through early June, although I know there's a confirmation on a late July appearance at Otakon as well, which isn't listed yet. Naoto Hirooka will be in attendance at this event and yes, I'm already planning an appropriate outfit :)

The application process for the Otakon fashion show is now online; deadline to submit is May 11, 2010, and you must have your Otakon badge registered in order to submit.