Sunday, January 31, 2010

Vintage Inspiration: Greta Garbo

Va va voom-a-licious Greta Garbo
I'm staying up later tonight to finish the 1926 silent film The Torrent on TCM, Greta Garbo's first Hollywood production. I'm still stunned by her talent and beauty. To think the studio high-ups once called her "a fat-looking peasant" and said Americans wouldn't like her. She was, of course, the sex symbol of the 1930s--a total goddess whose screen presence is undeniable. I mean, those eyes just penetrate right out of the screen!

Look into her eyes...
I have many other favorite ladies of the silver screen, Norma Shearer (the original actress who brought Marie Antoinette to the Hollywood scene) for one, but Greta has something special about her--she doesn't look like anyone else, and she is still mesmerizing to this day (even on my little TV at this moment). Without even speaking, she can communicate more effectively to her audience than probably about 75% of actresses today. That's pretty amazing to me.
The 30s high glamour has been spotted more than once on the red carpet, but one of my favorite actresses and comediennes Drew Barrymore (herself a silver screen descendant) channeled the Garbo vibe in this fabulous ensemble for the HBO series
Grey Gardens premiere:

While it's not my favorite decade in American history, the 30s definitely has a certain sparkle to it that brings back the nolstagia. I especially am enamored of the great horror films produced at that time, particularly the many Dracula films which really set the Hollywood canon for vampire and supernatural flicks. If you've never watched a silent film or a classic horror film, I highly recommend educating yourself. :-)
edit: I just realized how close in proximity I put "vampires" and "sparkle," and felt I must apologize for that, both awkward and unintended. Twilight couldn't even hold a candle to the likes of a film like Dracula's Daughter or Nosferatu. Nothing against Twilight fans, but I like my vampires old school. ;-)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Long Time Gone, also..

So, I've had to travel, deal with some school/job issues, and now the lovely snow is falling again and thus I've been removed from my computer a little while. Spring semester is starting back (and yes, the Beowulf/Paradise Lost paper is completed), and I'm going to try and think of at least something to talk about here and post before I go to sleep during the schoolyear. Since I've been helping a friend with her wedding, I'll probably talk a little about that too (No worries, not a Bridezilla at all--which is nice, cause if she was, I wouldn't be painting centerpieces and putting invitations together ;-D). Sure I don't dream of marriage, but I'm happy she found someone special nonetheless.

As for this evening, I decided to engage in some cable tv and against what should have been my better judgment, I watched the 2010 Miss America pageant on TLC...
You know, since my over-the-top girly girl princess aesthetic didn't raise eyebrows over my commitment to feminism (which I am committed to rather strongly), I watch pageants too. Actually, the real reason I watched MA this year was due to the organization's selecting a judge I rather dislike--Rush Limbaugh. And by "dislike," I mean "would not protest to the public execution of." Throughout my childhood, my conservative father tortured me on long car rides with listening to this man who isn't fit to judge (not to invite undo comparisons) livestock. So I was tuning in to see how his participation affected the selection of winners. After an evening of bleach-blonde uber-tanned country girls, I was happy to see that Limbaugh's history of racism did not ultimately effect the winner, 22-year old Caressa Cameron of Arlington, VA--who,by the way, is African-American. Perhaps Rush was stunt by the MA organization to draw in a conservative audience to boost ratings. Whatever, I hope they don't use him again. I appreciate MA as a scholarship program and US tradition, but it does have a lot of problems in terms of relating to modern women with its outdated concepts and bad 80s hair/makeup. Last thing it needs is a judge whose statements toward minorities and women (and women's lib) have been overwhelmingly vile.

Anyway, that was a bit of a segue, sorry for the political dabbling. Tomorrow I've decided to start a book--The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. I'd like to do more book/film/tv type reviews on this blog eventually, so I thought it might be fun to start with a vampire novel (a GOOD, reputable vampire novel) since I love supernatural fantasy and I need to branch out from my usual dated selection. I mean, we're not talking Anne Rice, it's more like "Varney the Vampire." Sometimes I forget I'm not really Victorian.

Hopefully the snow will be cleared up a bit tomorrow so I can take a long walk outside and relax. Right now, I think I'll drink some cocoa and go to bed. Tata :-)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Omg shoes

I think Vivienne Westwood and Melissa can see into my dreams, because they made an eco-friendly winged sandal. Call me the freak mythology fangirl, but winged sandals are something I've thought about since sixth grade, and even nine years won't squelch my desire to sport some rad talaria. And Kudos to VW and Melissa for the whole line, which goes to show that plastic shoes don't have to look like...well..eeww. Yeah, not a huge crocs fan here, what can I say. I know they have a "fashion line" or whatever now, but I'm still not buying. Just a personal preference I guess.

One would think she partnered with
Herm├Ęs. Tee Hee, lame joke.

Since I'll never have the money to buy these, I'm just going to post the picture here and look at it. A lot. Back to Beowulf and Milton for now.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Retro Aesthetic Inspiration: Lady LovelyLocks

Sorry for the lack of posts over the last couple of days--Jan Term's started at college and I'm busy writing a paper on Beowulf and Paradise Lost. Two English epics completely unrelated to the content of this post, lol.
The first of what I hope will be a continuing series of aesthetic inspirations I've gathered over the years. Today's piece of inspiration is from the 1980s and typifies the decade's obsession with bright colors, princesses, and above all--BIG freaking hair.
Lady LovelyLocks was created by American Greetings, the same company that produced Strawberry Shortcake and Rainbow Bright. LovelyLocks never reached their level of lasting popularity, but is a very interesting series nonetheless.

Here's the story: In the faraway land of LovelyLocks, where everyone has long and lustrous hair, the king and queen give birth to a beautiful girl they name Lady LovelyLocks. However, the Grand Duchess RavenHair, envious of their power, destroys the king and queen. A wizard named ShiningGlory rescues the infant princess who will return once she grows into her powers. Lady grows into a fair maiden whose magical hair is streaked with three colors: "The soft pink glow came from the Dawn, the Sun added the radiant gold, and Twilight bestowed the shimmering lavender. These precious streaks enable her to summon the friendly little forest creatures called the Pixietails and command them to do her bidding." The Pixietails are these tiny woodland creatures with long magic hair that keep the kingdom lovely and free of evil. Lady also has another power--she can see the goodness inside anything no matter its outward appearance. With her parents gone, she is completely responsible for protecting LovelyLocks Land from the wicked heiress of RavenHair, the Duchess RavenWaves.

Lady LovelyLocks and the PixieTails, artwork examples.
What is really cool about the series is the artwork, which is highly stylized due in part to American Greetings' having originated the series. All the watercolor work, the over-the-top pastels and the cherubic faces of the characters are quite astounding. It's shocking in our age of cg-animation and 3-d to see something so intricately designed by hand! I actually only remembered the series a short while back, when I found a card from AG featuring LovelyLocks and thought," gosh, how pretty." A little googling and I found whole sites dedicated to the old cartoon/doll series, including (where the images in this post come from).

The vain and wicked young Duchess RavenWaves
I think my favorite aspect of the show is that, by social standards, RavenWaves can be considered prettier than LovelyLocks. Yet she feels the need to compete, never satisfied with how she looks. Indeed, Lady and her friends initially hope to welcome RavenWaves as a friend and ally, but RavenWaves betrays them out of jealousy. Usually the villains on girls' shows in the 80s were portrayed as ugly hags, equating physical beauty with goodness. In this series, the villainess and the heroine are equally beautiful, but Lady is courageous, friendly, and compassionate--the things RavenWaves lacks on the inside and tries to compensate for on the outside. The one thing RavenWaves fails to realize, as we're told almost every episode, is that Lady's true powers come not from her appearance, but from her heart. The strongest message of the show was that girls needed to stop fighting with each other over what's on the outside because power and lasting beauty is only found on the inside. And to complement this, the prince on this show is named StrongHeart (emphasis added), and is cursed to live in the form of a dog, playing a secondary role the majority of the time. A different take on the fairytale model, that's for sure. But even if the show and the backstory aren't your thing, the angelic art from American Greetings is still pretty phenomenal:

The series is definitely for those of the sweeter persuasion, princess and fairy kei fashion enthusiasts would be more likely to enjoy it than your average 80s timesurfer. Tata! :-)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Keeping it Country In the Winter Time--Country Lolita, that is.

Country Lolita is not really considered its own subset of lolita fashion, yet we know it when when we see it. Country Lolita is probably my favorite lolita style, a derivative of sweet/classic lolita that is more geared towards the outdoors. Prints tend to be ginghams, calicos, images of fruits (especially berries), and florals. Accessories usually include a straw hat/bag, and a hat or bonnet for the outdoors. I also think one could throw in an apron and maybe some nature-themed jewelry. I would even go a step further and associate prairie revival aesthetic with aspects of country lolita.

Because this style is geared toward the outdoors, it's more common to see it in the summer and spring when the weather outside is agreeable toward less layers and lighter clothes. However, taking the country look into the winter is possible. I made some coordinates to illustrate, mainly for classic country, but most of these can apply to sweet styles.
Steps for Country-fying your winter lolita wardrobe:

1. Bundle up!: The Innocent World op has a high neck and long sleeves for warmth, and the jsk feels less opulent because the print is less ornate (no lofty cherubs or princess prints here), making it suitable for country lolita. I've accessorized with thermal leggings and earmuffs, but go a step further and add a cardigan or coat that coordinates well and readies you for being outdoors in the cold. Ruffles and knits seem to go well with country since they look more outdoorsy and opened. Avoid heavy velvets or satins, faux fur is fine. Look for flower or leaf motifs on outerwear and woolen fabrics. Some good examples of cardigans: 1, 2, 3 and of coats (one lightweight, one capelet, and one heavy): 1, 2, 3

2. Keep it on the darker side: While country lolita tends to be airy and lighter, in the winter time you can offset this by choosing darker hues. My example is this Innocent World op in a dusty brown plaid print. Brown is a wonderful color to work with because it's dark but not as harsh as black. Try to use a color palette that matches nature--only nature in the winter, with dark greens, browns, deep pinks and berry reds, and navy blue and white. Avoid bright pastels or neons .

3. Nature is in the accessories: Choose jewelry and hats/bags that relate to the countryside. In the first coordinate I include a straw boater hat with a brown trimmed brim as well as floral earmuffs with a dusty rose print and brown bows. If a straw bag/basket is a too summery, substitute wicker which is stiffer looking and more appropriate. Instead of asking, "what would a Victorian lady wear to a picnic in the country?" ask yourself "what would a country girl during the Victorian era wear for the winter?"

4. Use winter appropriate themes that fit the country style. Floral prints should feature roses, lilies or other winter-blooming flowers. Berry prints (without gingham as it's too summery) are great for the winter season because they fit the festive vibe of the holidays. Avoid prints/fabrics with a shine or metallic effect, as this will detract from the overall nature theme. The jsk or skirt in this second coordinate is a perfect example of a country theme in a winter palette--forest animals munching on a cornucopia of berries and apples.

5. Going out with my boots on: Boots, especially classical granny boots or riding boots, are perfect for bringing country into the winter. They are outdoorsy and weather appropriate. Sweet country lolitas might choose boots with cork bottoms such as these which bring an echo of straw or country grass, or scalloped laced boots like these which recall Victorian style boots. I love the idea of riding boots because it brings to mind horses and being on an old country farm.

6. Let your hair down or wear it in braids. This is pretty standard for country lolita since it is more casual while still maintaining its own unique aesthetic. Over-teased or uber-curled hair is too over-done for a country maiden. If you have frizzy hair, embrace it. Some examples of hairstyles for country lolita: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. If you are of a more Rococo persuasion, you might try to emulate Marie Antoinette's country hairstyles as seen in Sophia Coppola's film (images from The Costumer's Guide to Movie Costumes): 1, 2, 3, 4

So those are my tips for taking country lolita into the winter. Hope this was enriching, tata!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Siegfried Animated Trailer

Pendragon Imageworks no longer has the funding to make this movie, but there is a comic series out. What a waste--this is amazing. I wanted to see this movie so bad.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Playing around on Polyvore: Victorian-inspired look

Feeling like something very feminine and romantic, very Victorian:

(I'm really loving polyvore now that I've started using it more. It's like your own version of that program Cher uses to pick her daily outfit in Clueless.)

Comment issues: Fixed

So, apparently I've had some trouble with comments showing up, so I'm using this post to quickly test stuff.

edit: Looks like comments are running. Thank you Himemiya for your helpful comment :-)

Lolita Meme time!

Lolita fashion is a passion of mine though it has been on the backburner due to finances as of late. Caro-chan passed me an awesome lolita meme so I completed it to share my lolita fashion style :-)

1. Best Lolita fashion advice you've ever received?

Be confident--I think that's a biggy. When I wear Lolita, I feel like a princess, so I think there's some natural confidence that just boils up over when I get dressed. If you love Lolita fashion, let nothing let you down when you've got your frills on!

2. Style icons?
I guess it depends on how light/dark a look I want to achieve who I pick for inspiration! So from grimmest to sweetest:

Dark Inspiration: Countess Elizabeth Bathory
So maybe she isn't the most friendly choice for inspiration, but I have always had a strong connection to Countess Bathory ever since I was a little girl. Don't let her elegant portrait fool you--Elizabeth Bathory was one of history's most infamous female killers. Having supposedly killed 650 girls in order to bathe in their life-giving blood, she is reputed as having been a real life vampyre! I guess I felt drawn to her story because it has so many angles--personally, as someone who has lived with a serious mental illness and knowing Elizabeth went through much trauma as a young girl,I find her story compelling. She suffered from the same fears many women hold today (growing old, losing your beauty, jealously, self-consciousness) but had no structured way of dealing with them other than torture--likely the result of being a wealthy widowed woman under pressure in the violent Balkans. Her life--both in reality and in legend--supplies the female model of the vampyre and continues to inspire Gothic writers and enthusiasts to this day. So when I'm feeling darker, I channel a bit of inspiration from a Baroque bloodthirsty bombshell like Bathory. Juliette et Justine's classic examples are very much along this line--not too dark, but rich and deep nonetheless:

So that's my dark inspiration for outfits of a more Gothic persuasion. But what about a lighter classic style, with sweet pastels and country florals? Well, there's these things:

Louisa May Alcott's Little Women
No one has to explain why I love the book I'm named after (that Jo in Heather Jo? My Great-grandmother Jo too! We're a Little Women family!). And Marmie picked right since I'm just like my favorite character--bold (sometimes speaking too strongly and getting myself in trouble), loving of literature and theatre, but ultimately willing to do anything to help my mother (and in my case, hypothetical sisters). The March Sisters are wonderful because each one has a different personality (much like each lolita does): Jo is resilient and intellectual, Meg is elegant and social, Beth is friendly and giving, and Amy is feisty and artistic. I love watching the film adaptations of this story for the lush costumes and settings, and now there's even a Broadway musical. My grandmother even made a set of March sister dolls for my mother when she was a little girl, and my mother read the book together with me when I was little, and--you guessed it! I'll be reading it to my own children someday. Jo might also explain my penchant for umbrellas. Their style is classical Victorian, much like Victorian Maiden's style. And with a sub-company named Beth, how could they not have pulled a little inspiration from Alcott's classic?:

Last but not least:
I and about every single country lolita can take inspiration from this classic book and tv series! I remember reading it for the first time in gradeschool and falling in love with Laura and her family as they struggled to make a new home for themselves out west. There's something about that time and those images that really sticks with me--the sense of freedom, promise of opportunity, hope for the future? Along with Laura Ingalls Wilder's classics, there is also Anne of Green Gables and Caddie Woodlawn amongst other stories of country girls with big hearts. Maybe I love them because they are frilly and girly (as a lolita should be) but without that pretentiousness of being wealthy or spoiled like a city girl during that period might have been. They love nature and animals and running in the open prairie! A lot of indies brands embrace the country aesthetic, and I'm also a huge fan of Jessica McClintock's Gunne Sax:

3. Describe your personal style.

Definitely classic, leaning toward country classic. When I'm not wearing lolita, I wear lots of prairie-style/natural kei type clothes. I hesitate to call my style boho when it's closer to mori-style, but it's not quit mori either. I love vintage 70s Gunne Sax dresses (collector here) and calico prints, so I'm most often attracted to brands that release Victorian-inspired light floral prints. The most common colors in my wardrobe are garnet, dusty blue, red, green, brown and various shades of yellow. I love that country feel, so I have lots of hats as well (still working on a big straw hat and bonnet!).

4. Favorite designers/brands?
That I actually own: Mary Magdalene and Meta. I have a favorite dress that I absolutely adore from Mary Magdalene that has enough shirring as to not suffocate my bosom or look lumpy, but normally MM is off limits because it's not size 8/10 friendly. I have a couple things from Meta and they're great quality plus very good communication with buyers. Brands I love that I don't own anything from because of cost,
availability, and size: Juliette et Justine, Innocent World, and Victorian Maiden. If I had the $$$, I'd be decked in JetJ, if I had the upper body build, definitely VM. Innocent World is definitely a fave, I just don't have the funds at the moment.

My favorite MM dress :-)

5. Most cherished items?
My vintage hats and grandmother's pearls, and a little ring shaped like Sister Maus (a colonial Moravian mouse who is the brainwork of a beloved art professor).

6. Most used item?
Solid black mary jane pumps and brown/white mary janes, all equally. Seriously, they match

7. I feel best wearing?
Flowers! I don't what it is, but I love floral anything. I have flowers on my hats, my jewelry, and usually in my hair. I have a penchant for garnet in terms of colors, but soft dusty hues are my favorite.

My floral inspiration: Waterhouse.

8. The first thing I look for in another Lolita's outfit...
The coordinate. It's all about how you pair colors and accessories. When I see someone do something I really like, I make a note so as to improve my own style.

9. Lolita Fashion rule you never break?
Hair and Make-up. I always need that "put together" feeling when I'm wearing lolita for some reason. I don't really have "rules" but it's something I do. I also try to be polite and represent the subculture positively to curious strangers.

10. Never caught wearing?
OTT Sweet prints. If it has a cake on it, I probably won't be wearing it. Just not me. I like berries though.

11. Dress to impress who?
My art history textbooks. I want to channel the great masters through clothes, as silly as that sounds. So basically, I dress for myself because it's something I like.

12. Your next "must have" purchase?
She is Sleeping JSK, in blue or black. I have a dream photoshoot where I channel different opera personalities, and it's my Brunnhilde dress (yes. I'm a corny Wagnerian fangirl). I won't be able to buy it for awhile, but it will be mine one day. In the meantime, probably some cute offbrand stuff and maybe some IW.

I want you, I need you, oh baby oh baby.

13. Favorite type of head accessory?
Hats and hair flowers! But my favorite hairpiece is actually my Heart E angel headdress because it has wings and reminds me of Brunnhilde XD

14. Favorite cut of clothing (shirring, high waist, princess seams etc)?
I like shirred but only when tastefully done, usually at the waist or in the back, and preferably with a belt-type thing or banded waist. My fave cut of dress would be something like this:

Hits me in all the right places.

15. Current obsession?
Shoes--I'm always on the lookout for them! I like to thrift around for vintage and cute offbrand shoes.

16. Best Lolita fashion advice you can give to anyone:
To thy own self be true. Wear a print because you like it and it suits you, not just because it's expensive or popular. Lolita is such a wide-ranging style, you're sure to find your match. :-)