Thursday, April 26, 2012

Inspired Outfits: Moby Dick

Ah, Moby Dick. It's one of those books that you generally love or you hate. I, personally, love it, but that love was hard-won. It took me twice through the book to really find my sea legs, but now it's a favorite. Herman Melville makes me want to raise anchor and feel the salty air.

In the spirit of my admiration of Moby Dick, then, I made this:
Moby Dick
I went for a Lolita-inspired look here, very classic and nautical. The colors are, of course, inspired by this vintage cover of Melville's classic (which I love; isn't that just the most glorious image?). I wanted to keep it low-budget and nautical, and I think I achieved that.

This also offers a great tip for anyone who, like me, hits spring and begins to lust after sailor dresses. Bow neck blouses, layered with a jumper or low-cut sweater, create a similar effect without the limited nature of a sailor dress.

Anchors away!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Styles to Seek: Fairypunk

Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough briar,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere...
             -William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

Some days, I just want to look like a fairy.

And no, children of the age of Disney, not a sparkling, bewinged thing there to grant your wishes and flit about. I want to look like a primordial fairy, an elemental spirit of power and mystery, more mythic than man-made and more primal than Perrault.

Ever seen a book illustrated by Brain Froud?


That kind of fairy. The kind clad in moleskin, spider webs, bits of down, flower petals, and leafy bits. The kind that will steal your children at night or dance you to death. The kind that hides in the moss and laughs at you as you stumble over a stick that wasn't there before. The kind that is alien and natural and beautiful and dangerous all at once.

A young lady over on Tumblr coined a term for it: Fairypunk. I suppose one could also utilize Mythpunk in this context, but I prefer Fairypunk for the clothes because Mythpunk will forever be literature to me.

Really, this look is about layering and texture. Soft-shaped dresses are best; they can be belted, certainly, but give yourself some room to move comfortably. Natural hair with bits and bobs is welcome, but all styling should be organic-looking. Sticks and moss and leaves are welcome additions. Feathers may enter in as often as they like.

Take your inspiration for the world around you, from folklore and nature. Create your own myths.

Here are some examples:

This is gorgeous, all tribal bohemian. The antlers, though, are what propel it straight into myth.
More antlers. I really do have a thing for them.
This one is much simpler, but with much the same effect. Seriously, two braids and a couple of leaves...
Okay, so this one's not straight-up fairy. I don't care. It's got the right vibe.
Aren't these masks gorgeous?
Yeah, sure, this one's a bit toned down and mori girl, but isn't it fantastic?

The technical term for all of this (if one can, indeed, limit such things as style to technical terms) is fairypunk. The best definition I could find for it is from here:
Fairypunk, nature-inspired fashion with a bit of tribal and Celtic influence, takes its inspiration from all of faerie kind (and cousins of magic as well): piskies, sprites, the Tylwyth Teg, elves, gnomes, nymphs, dryads, fauns, satyrs, hobgoblins, selkies, imps, leprechauns, brownies, mermaids, changelings, and all the spirits of woodland, wind, and water. It’s distinct from usual fairy costumes and art in that it isn’t influenced by Renaissance (or Ren. Faire) or Gothic fashion styles.
The primary inspiration comes from all of nature (as well as found human trinkets, especially keys, fabric, bottles, and anything shiny), but here is an ever-growing list of some of a faerie’s favorite things:
Toadstools and fungi
Flower petals
Raw gems and geodes
Sea glass
Field mice
Insect wings
Ceramic sherds
 Follow the link for more examples of fairypunk, both in clothing and in design.

If you, like me, wander the world finding beauty in dead trees and moss-covered forest floors, then join me in the forest. Because, really, why would you want to be a glitter-sodden tame fairy when you could be a wild creature of the wood?

Come with me, merry wanderers of the night. We have mischief to make...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Outfit of the Day: Gothic Lolita in Emerald

It has been a long week. As such, I decided to dress up to make myself feel a bit less stressed. This is what I threw on once I was done with work:

Forgive the tired face. As I said, it's been a long week.

I wanted the coord to be mostly gothic Lolita with a touch of ero Lolita in the top (which is lightly sheer lace with shorter sleeves) and the corset.

The tights are fantastic, and I know this doesn't come across in the wide shot, so I snapped this close up of the tights:

Aren't they awesome? These tights are from HUE, purchased on clearance for four dollars, and they match pretty much any navy, forest green, or burgundy classical Lolita coordinate. Plus, plaid tights!

Here's the brooch I put at the neck, a vintage find that I haggled for at a garage sale ages ago and a barrette that I picked up at the local dollar store:

As shiny as it is, the brooch is ridiculously hard to photograph. But, yes, you're seeing that right: it's a snarling tiger head made of clear rhinestones, goldtone metal, and black enamel with a green rhinestone for the eye. It was glaring up at me from a garage sale jewelry rack several years back, and I couldn't help but buy it.

Outfit Rundown:

Shirt: Old Navy
Skirt: Handmade (not by me), purchased of EGL comm sales
Corset: Bought from EBay
Tights: HUE
Shoes: Secondhand
Petticoat: Classical Puppets
Brooch: Vintage
Barrette: Goody

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Inspired Outfits: Bordertown

The Bordertown series was my first exposure to urban fantasy, and oh what an exposure! 1980s punk rock, traditional fairy lore, a crazy juxtaposition and jumble of elves, drugs, and rock and roll. It's a little old-world, a little youth culture. A little hard-edged, a little sentimental. It's everything I love in books, all wrapped up into one delightful series (and it's a shared world, so there are many authors to discover).

Oh, and if you haven't gathered this already, if you haven't read the books, you should.

Rather importantly, the Bordertown books are both about and not about the aesthetic. It's punk rock and folklore jammed together, but that's as much the culture of the stories as the fashion within them. As such, they're terribly inspiring books in terms of fashion.
Bordertown - Fresh Off the Nevernever
This outfit is my attempt to recreate the vibe that I got from the very first few pages I turned, my introduction to Bordertown. The two worlds, rammed together in a rough-and-tumble swirl of awesomeness, brought to mind high contrast. Black and white, engineered and hard metal with soft and natural leather or feathers. The cheeky (and I do mean that pun) fairy is just the sort of thing I'd expect to see in Bordertown, aware of the history but... rather irreverent... in terms of that awareness.

This is, then, what I'd wear fresh off the Nevernever, taking my first steps into Bordertown.

Furthermore, I've got to give credit to my favorite Bordertown character, Screaming Lord Neville. The proprietor of Cafe Cubana, "your host(ess), Screaming Lord Neville, has a collection of shoes and gowns that would be the envy of any screen goddess." S/he is simply fantastic, so I designed this outfit for him/her:
Bordertown - Screaming Lord Neville

Screaming Lord Neville is originally from "Hot Water" by Ellen Kushner in 'The Essential Bordertown.' A loud, brash, sparkling drag queen tottering by on platform heels in a sequined dress. And, better yet, this is one character who knows his/her tea. I wanted to get drag queen glitz and the peacocky performance I saw in this character. Also, teapot. Anyone who divides tea into "leaded" and "unleaded" varieties is fine by me.

This isn't an outfit I'd necessarily wear, but I wanted it to be fabulous as all get out as a tribute. I hope I succeeded.

EDIT 5-7-2012

Ohmygod. Ellen Kushner (not to mention Screaming Lord Neville) likes the second outfit! And the first, but, seriously, look at these:

Her comment on the original posting on Polyvore

She posted it to Tumblr. I can't even...

I can't even... I just... <squee> Be still, my nerdy heart. I've just about died and gone to nerdvana.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Inspiring Films: Stage Beauty

Stage Beauty.

While it was made in 2004, I discovered this movie in early 2006. It was, by some grace of God, on video on demand, and I am certain that I watched it at least ten times in the first week after I became aware of its existence. Some time later I was lucky enough to find it on DVD after a local video rental place closed down. Since then, I have watched the film innumerable times, purchased the script, and have made plans to go to a production early this summer. It's not a particularly common film, but it is absolutely worth tracking down for many reasons, not the least of which is that it is absolutely beautiful.

The movie is based on the play Compleat Female Stage Beauty by Jeffrey Hatcher, a period piece about Restoration England and the change from men playing women to women playing women on the English stage.

This is our male protagonist:

And so is this:

Billy Crudup plays Ned Kynaston, a real historical figure rendered here as a highly complicated man in terms of motivation, gender identity, and sexuality. His personal story as an actor attempting to adapt to the change in English theater is compelling, and he drives this film beautifully. Not only is Crudup handsome and empathetic in the role, but he gets to wear the most beautiful frocks and Restoration menswear. Seriously, look at that reddish-orange dress. Beautiful.

Crudup isn't the only one who gets to wear lovely frocks, however. No, our female protagonist (who, for those who explore both the film and the play, was once two characters) also gets some lovely gowns. Claire Danes plays Maria/Margaret Hughes (fictional and fictionalized historical figure respectively), and is absolutely gorgeous in the role. She, too, gets to wear the reddish-orange dress:

She also has some gorgeous frocks of her own, like the gown she wears in a portrait-painting scene that will make Restoration history geeks with an interest in art giggle with glee (hint: the portrait exists):

And, being common, she also gets some gorgeous peasant-y wear with lovely shifts and gowns that, while not nearly as flashy or sumptuous as those I've shown above, are still beautiful and well-tailored.

Every frame of the film is beautiful. Even the supporting characters are gorgeously dressed. Take one look at Zoe Tapper as Nell Gwynn:

Even if her first appearance is her wearing only a helmet and holding a naughty-bit-concealing shield, every costume she wears is fantastic. When watching this film, be ready to find that the king's mistress is not only one of the most prettily dressed people present, but also the person you are most likely to want to befriend. Tapper, alongside Rupert Everett as King Charles,  is delightful, and the court dress often goes from beautiful frocks for palace dinners:

To a variety of costume numbers like this fabulous matched set for a palace musicale.

Every minute of this movie is filled with pretty period clothing and, while not necessarily historically accurate, it's a delightful exploration a gorgeous and not often touched upon period of history. One day, I swear, I will make a Restoration-inspired dress, and it is all because of this beautiful film.

Good friends, go to it. It's a film worth seeing.