Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lolita Treatise: The Beauty of Street Snaps


In your average fashion magazines, the main attraction is generally the large conceptual photoshoots which take up so many of the high-gloss pages. GLB is no different in the attention paid to the visions of designers, but I've always found that I enjoy the street snaps sections far more than the posed brand shots. Where the large photoshoots with reader models and professional models alike are there to provide readers with a glimmer of what the upcoming releases will look like, street snaps show readers their own potential. Such candids are like a mirror to fellow fashionistas - inspiring them with beauty while simultaneously encouraging them to pursue such aesthetic heights.

While lolita looks lovely in a studio, it becomes even more vibrant on the side of a busy street. The curtain of the conceptual falls away the minute the model becomes the average girl on her way to a meet-up, a cafe to meet a friend, or to her class or job. Street snaps reinforce lolita as a fashion and not simply a costume. These are garments that people, real people, wear out and about sometimes every day of their lives. What was once a lovely idea on paper becomes a living, breathing, ephemeral manifestation of a designer's vision and an individual's expression of self.

It's true that two heads are better than one and while a brand shoot has the potential to be more conceptually cohesive, street snaps combine the wearer's creativity with the genius of many more designers. The street snap model becomes all the less a model and all the more the art director of her own set. These are the images that keep me the most inspired because they showcase a kind of talent so little spoken of or revered - excellent taste. Just as thinkers of old whispered of the muses who graced the ordinary man with strokes of genius, good taste reflected through the creation of a gorgeous coord of the wearer's own passion calls out to fellow fashion lovers far more than any advertisement. Beauty is never cheap or easy, but, as every street snap reminds us, it is attainable.

Until next time - much love,
Burgher

Friday, February 27, 2015

Lolita Blog Carnival - Coordinate a Dress in a Substyle Other Than Its Original Style

I may have bent the rules a bit on this one since I went for a skirt instead of a JSK or an OP, but we'll roll with it. With my first foray into the Lolita Blog Carnival community I wanted to test myself a bit and go far and away from the original substyle. This week's coordinate centers around my 2006 MMM Velveteen Rosenkreuz skirt. I bought it second hand earlier in the year and loved how different it was from my wardrobe comfort zone. The skirt is quite heavy and cannot hold much poof so it has a very stiff A-line shape. I loved the idea of pairing such a structural piece with a similarly geometric garment - a yukata.

Yes, you read that correctly - this week I turned my gothic MMM skirt into a Wa-lolita coordinate. Many lolitas shy away from the wa substyle mainly because there was a large stretch of time where the only wa-lolita coords were far less lolita and far more ita. It's difficult to put together while still looking polished and not like a complete disaster. Additionally, many wa lolita dresses come off looking very Japanophile-at-an-anime-convention. For a while, the only images one could find of wa-lolita were of lumpy, costume satin Orientalist-patterned bodices covered in the cheapest lace possible and paired with an overly short ruffly skirt. Not something any lolita would like to be associated with, but I promise you that tasteful wa-lolita does exist! And here I hope to convert you:





Fashion Point: Matsuri Meets Mana
Coordinate Breakdown:
Skirt: Moi-même-Moitié
Yukata: Japanese Offbrand
Obi: Donki
Hair piece - Innocent World (cravat)
Gloves: Anna Sui
Shoes: Offbrand 

The two kinds of off-the-beaten-path fashion that I love are lolita and Taisho Roman which is an elegant styling of kimono. I thought what better way to celebrate these two loves than by combining them into one coordinate? I have to say that I'm very pleased with the result. I'd like to keep experimenting with wa and see where it takes me - who knows, maybe I'll make it my primary style one day! 

Let me know what you think of this coord in the comments - I'd love to hear your opinions~

Be sure to check out the other lovely lolitas who participated in this week's theme!

Until next time - much love,
Burgher


The other blogs:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Historical Frills *Indie Edition* - I Do Declare Striped Court OP

I bought this gorgeous OP at RuffleCon 2014 and just had to put it on as soon as I got home that Sunday
If there is one thing I love more than lolita fashion, it's historically-saturated lolita fashion - hence my interest in 'Historical Frills'. There was much to do and see this past year at RuffleCon, and historically-inspired pieces were at the forefront of the eye-candy for me. Wandering around the marketplace, this gorgeous OP from I Do Declare stole my heart and forced my hand - I had to buy it. This time, Historical Frills is going indie as we explore the Renaissance!

The Renaissance is the period of history which stretches from the 14th century to the 17th century and for many it is seen as the golden age of advancements in art, politics, and science. The Italian Renaissance is famous for its art, but there were plenty of beautiful courtly women in need of clothes throughout Europe. Interestingly, much of fashion was dominated by Spain (although Italy and France seemed to have their own deviations) through the 16th and 17th centuries. Textiles tended to be opulent with lots of beadwork, embroidery, and expensive detailing. Women also seemed to prefer heavier fabrics like velvets, and raised silks which were brought from far and wide via the international textile trade. 

One of the many reasons I fell in love with this OP was the use of a sturdier fabric like brocade. Though it might not necessarily be the best choice for the blazing summer heat, the weight of the dress is perfect for chillier months. The brocade also falls in with the lavishness of Renaissance textiles wherein it was not simply the design which showed off wealth, but the minute details and quality of the fabric itself. By pairing gold and navy together, the dress takes on a new level of courtly attire representing two colors which were often in high demand. Outside, the dress seems to catch the light and shimmer in contrast to the matte white of the lining.

Worn out to brunch

Interestingly, in the Renaissance many women had detachable sleeves on their dresses which could be given as a gift from a groom to his new wife, or passed down the maternal line to be sewn on to various different dresses. As such, sleeve designs became increasingly ornate throughout the Renaissance with various different styles becoming popular. In the 17th century, the paned sleeves became prevalent. These particular sleeves had long strips of the dress material sewn with spaces between them to show off the voluminous underlayer of the chemise. I Do Declare has played on this design beautifully to create a large and poofy upper part of the sleeve which quickly slims down to create a long lean line of the arm. The white underlayer is especially soft and lines the rest of the OP almost like an homage to the chemise. 

Unusual for lolita, but common to the Renaissance was the low-cut bodice. In their brief history of women's fashion in the Renaissance, the Victoria and Albert Museum wittily notes that at one point there were numerous complaints in Venice that visitors "could not tell the courtesans from respectable women" mostly because both classes of women "wore similar low-cut dresses and high shoes". Though the ruff is perhaps one of the most iconic accessories of the Renaissance, low-cut square-necked dresses certainly had their time in the limelight. 

Portrait of Bianca Ponzoni Anguissola, 1557 shows off her low-cut neckline
While many dresses of the day tended towards elongated bodices with dropped, pointed waists, this particular OP has a shorter, natural waist. Though this might seem aesthetically odd when compared with many paintings of fashionable Renaissance women, there were some dress and jacket designs that seem to follow the lines of my I Do Declare's piece.

Portrait of Margaret Layton c. 1620
In this portrait of Margaret Layton, the bodice is far more similar to the I Do Declare OP than the pointed stomachers of the Elizabethan era. Cut at the natural waist all the way around, this bodice creates a softer, more organic line which became more popular later in the century. 

Though when explained to the layman lolita fashion is said to be based off of Victorian and Rococo fashions, one can easily see the successfulness of I Do Declare's Renaissance-inspired OP. The silhouette is simplistic and flattering while the brocade and paned sleeves steal the show. Lolita fashion is all about the details and sometimes the simplest designs are the richest. 

If you haven't heard of I Do Declare, I highly suggest you check out their Etsy and Facebook page to see more of their amazing designs. The brand is not limited to Renaissance-inspired pieces and instead has a broad range of designs which span many different eras. For any of you attending Nightfall, be sure to check out their designs in the fashion show and the marketplace!

Until next time - much love,
Burgher



Source:

"Renaissance Women's Clothing." Victoria and Albert Museum. Victoria and Albert Museum, n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Lolita 52 Challenge Week 5 - My Wardrobe Turnover

Stock Photo of Meta's Heart Pocket Embroidery JSK in Navy
Arguably one of lolita fashion's most interesting deviations from mainstream fashion is the strong presence of an informed secondhand market. It is common for lolitas to buy and sell relatively unworn pieces while maintaining a wardrobe that has a decent amount of turnover throughout the years. There a number of pieces in each substyle which are so iconic that they seem to retain high demand and decently high supply solely due to the resale market. In a recent video about her dream dresses, Youtube personality Cat made a remark on how Sugary Carnival has been owned at one time or another by most sweet lolitas she has known. This in itself is an interesting concept which many fans of mainstream fashion would find difficult to grasp.

The strong secondhand market simultaneously reinforces high brand prices by ensuring that a well-kept piece has decent resale value, and encourages lolitas to expand and trim their wardrobes over time to best suit their current style needs. While it can take a good bit of time, it's entirely possible for a sweet lolita to transition to gothic and vice versa without spending a fortune simply by maintaining a balance between sales and purchases of similarly valued pieces.

In direct contrast to the turnover of many lolitas' wardrobes, my own has only really seen additions. There are a number of dresses which I no longer wear, or which do not fit in very well aesthetically with the rest of my collection, but I have a hard time parting with them for purely sentimental reasons. This is not to say that my own wardrobe hasn't gone through a series of changes, but rather the pieces I have removed from my regular rotation of coordinates are like old friends waiting in the wings.

One of my first experimentations with lolita circa 2008 sans the bodice bows which I didn't care for 
Perhaps a bit surprising to some lolitas, I still own my first ever lolita dress - Meta's Heart Pocket Embroidery JSK in red which I featured in my Ita to Lolita post. Though I don't wear it out anymore, I have many fond memories of buying this dress from the website back when the stock photos featured a wrinkled and rather unattractive looking piece on the dress form. It's funny to think that I saw that stock photo and was so taken by the dress that I spend a good bit of my money to purchase it - being unsure if the silhouette would suit me at all.

In the end I'm glad I took that leap of faith and took a chance on a dress simply because I thought it might look cute on me. I can't seem to let go of that old JSK because it feels like home to me. I have fond memories of wearing it out with a big smile on my face. Perhaps one day I'll wear it out with a new, matured twist and reinvent the JSK of my past into my present style. Or perhaps I'll join the lolita community in passing a well-loved piece onto a lolita who will better appreciate it and make it her own. 

Until then - much love,
Burgher

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Close-Up - Innocent World Three Archangels Square Neck JSK in Chocolate

Christmas 2014 coord - Stained Glass Reverie - Featuring this week's JSK
Happy Saturday all~ I thought I'd start off this weekend with the introduction of a new blog segment - Close-Up. These posts will center around pieces in my lolita wardrobe of which I'll take many different detail shots and comment on what I think are some of the most attractive features. Most of these posts will be picture heavy and light on text, but I hope to bring a little bit more attention to the details of my favorite lolita items. While Lolibrary and stock photos are great resources when trying to decide which pieces to add to one's wardrobe, the finer points are often lost in translation. I find that the details in each piece keep me falling in love with my wardrobe - a sentiment I hope to share with all of you!

This week's piece is Innocent World's Three Archangels Square Neck JSK in Chocolate which was released this past year. With all the religious symbolism circulating the lolita community this year with nuns, full-length veils, and crosses, I immediately jumped on the bandwagon when I saw IW's take on the theme. Stained glass exudes a richness of color which I love to see incorporated into fashion and what better way to celebrate such decadence than with a series dedicated to such beauty? This particular JSK was a gift from my siblings for Christmas and it arrived just in time for me to throw together a coord for Christmas Day. 

The rich deep chocolate tones of the JSK really make the colors of the stained glass print pop which is one of the reasons I was so enthralled with this particular colorway. I love that the print itself incorporates different color gradients to almost give off a sense of translucency in the window pieces. True to the name, there are three different window varieties each of which featuring one of the three archangels - Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Flanking these figure windows we have long thin strips which feature roses, lilies, and other florals, and last but not least, the round IW logo windows. 

The dress in full



Archangel Gabriel the Herald with his trumpet held aloft 

Michael with his staff is the centerpiece for the bodice and the largest most ornate window

Raphael with his lute

Amazing long floral windows elongate the print and allude to sheer size of some of Europe's most famous cathedrals

The lace at the hem echos the pointed arches of Michael's windows

I adore the detailing of the back and that they included a long floral window in the middle of the lacing. It's like glimpsing a window through the columns of some quiet church - a burst of color in austerity

Thus concludes the first edition of Close-Up. I hope you enjoyed ogling this JSK and got a feel for the wealth of finer details found in this and many other pieces.

Until next time - much love,
Burgher






Friday, February 20, 2015

Indie Brand Review - Marchen die Prinzessin: Romantic Masquerade

Full print in both colors from Marchen die Prinzessin
For those of you unfamiliar, Marchen die Prinzessin is a Korean indie lolita brand. They primarily create pieces for reservation periods and rarely are pieces available at a later date. This business model coupled with the attractiveness of their prints makes for many empty lolita wallets when each new series is announced. With the previews for Romantic Masquerade flooding the internet, I was floored with how quickly I fell for this print in wine. The fireworks outlining the spires of some far off buildings drew me in, but the Venetian masks and wax stamped letters had me whipping out my credit card.

This was my first time buying from Marchen die Prinzessin and I had an overall extremely positive experience. I preordered my skirt back in December via their Storenvy which was a quick and easy process. From my reservation date until the shipping period, everything was rather quiet. Right on time I got a short e-mail containing my tracking number and a link to the Korean EMS branch. My package shipped out on the 16th and arrived at my door on the 19th - exceptionally quick considering it was international!  


The box itself was rather small and unassuming, but definitely sturdy which was nice. It was dented in a few places and had certainly gone to battle while flying from Korea to NYC, but it survived without any punctures or real structural damage which was a relief. There is nothing worse than a punctured box that makes you worry that your products have been damaged. 


Everything inside was carefully wrapped in plastic including the extras which I thought was cute. They didn't include any kind of invoice or note which was a bit sad (one of my favorite parts about ordering from brands is the handwritten notes you often get included), but not tragic.  


The included extras featured two lolit-esque stretchy bangle-style bracelets. One was pink with a star on it, and the other was a translucent white with an adorable little bow. Unfortunately I have absolutely tiny wrists and the bracelets were a bit too loose for me to really wear them, but it was a cute idea regardless. They also put in some nice large-size business cards which feature model photos from some of their previous series - including the jam jar one which I waffled about getting for the longest time. 


After removing my skirt from the plastic, I was in awe of how crisp and clean the print was. Every little detail was visible and in sharp focus. I loved that the fireworks continued all the way to the top of the skirt and there are a few spots where stray sparks have flown up into the waistband. The ruffley flounce at the bottom of the skirt gives the silhouette a very light and airy feeling and adds nicely to the decadence of the print. The material is silky smooth with a good weight too it making it an excellent piece for various types of weather. I tried the skirt on right away (but will save any worn photos for when I put together its coordinate in the coming weeks) and it was very comfortable. The elastic in the waistband has just enough give to accommodate different blouses and underlayers without being constricting. The size zipper is very well hidden and the overlapping clasp makes for a very clean finish. 

As for the print, I can't really put into words how beautiful I find it. I fell in love with the contrast between the golds and oranges of the wine colorway and the dark blue and black tones of the sky and became enamored once again when I saw how lovely it was in person. Despite loving all of the stock photos, I don't think they do the richness of this particular print justice. I cannot wait to wear it out and see how different lighting and movement affects how the pattern looks. I'm sure it would look spectacular in a sunset or candlelight shoot. I took a number of detail shots of the print and lace - something which I've always enjoyed perusing on other fashion blogs. I hope you find this particular piece to be as splendid as I did. We all need to add a little romance to our wardrobes and I'm glad I found this piece.

Wax sealed letters are my weakness in lolita prints

While the eye is drawn to that magnificent hat we almost miss that amazingly lined-up side seam!


The main attraction - masquerade lovers enthroned in roses


The illumination of the buildings and the color gradients in the fireworks are wonderful


The magnificent rose bonnet - part bouquet part hairpiece

The multi-tiered lace feels like it's dripping off the hem

Overall I would rate my experience with Marchen die Prinzessin a 5/5 stars. Communication was quick and easy - especially for an indie brand doing a reservation out of a foreign country. Shipping was fast and everything arrived as promised. The skirt itself was even better than the stock photos and very comfortable with a lovely silhouette. I would definitely recommend the brand to anyone interested in their print series. Previously some of their bodice styles had not appealed to me, but I really liked the Romantic Masquerade JSK version (despite the fact that I love using skirts in my coords).

Have any of you bought Marchen die Prinzessin before? What did you think of them? Share in the comments below~

I hope you all enjoyed this review as much as I enjoyed making it. Look forward to another post tomorrow.

Until then - much love,
Burgher




Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lolita 52 Challenge Week 4 - Favorite Thing to Put on My Head

Chantilly hat from RuffleCon 2014
It's no secret that 2014 was a year of extravagant headwear in the lolita world - namely amazing bonnets. My time at RuffleCon seeing Triple Fortune backstage and modeling for Chantilly with my own decadent hat had me thinking that it was high time I stepped up my headwear game. For a long time I had grappled with the strangeness of hats, headbows, and bonnets - things that "normal" people don't tend to wear very often. Of course there's always the high school-aged exception, but in general, unless the temperatures are below freezing, most people leave their heads bare. I had balked at the thought of wearing a large floppy headbow and looking ridiculous - mostly because I have always felt that those sorts of accessories don't suit me.

In an attempt to make my wardrobe more versatile and rich, I've put a lot more time (and funds) into collecting different kinds of accessories from brooches and shawls to hats and gloves. While shopping around I constantly found myself drawn to the berets. They were cute yet simple and could have wonderful designs without being over the top - a plus for a muted classic lolita like myself. In my eyes, the beret was the one piece of headwear that allowed you to have your cake and eat it too - excellent accessorizing without creating a Marie Antoinette level of avant-garde stylishness.

I went on a long and arduous quest to acquire a brand beret from the NYC Baby the Stars Shine Bright / Tokyo Rebel store, but they always seemed to be sold out when I went shopping. This could have also been because I tended to frequent the store whenever there was an influx of local lolitas making the competition for cute accessories more than fierce. Eventually, while out to tea with a friend of mine I managed to convince her to run by the store and at last the lovely Alice and the Pirates berets were back in stock! Snatching one up for myself I gave a triumphant shout (of mouse-like proportions) and considered my quest to be at an end.

In keeping with my Lolita 333 project, I've only bought a total of two berets to cut down on the clutter in my wardrobe, but am always on the lookout for a cute design or interesting color. For certain, a beret is my favorite thing to put on my head~

My two berets - The Black Ribbon on the left & AatP on the right

I will always love the details in AatP's logo

The Black Ribbon's detailing was too adorable to pass up and became and easy 'must-have' buy

Omake~
Just a few from my kanzashi collection
Coming in at a close second on my list of favorite hair accessories are kanzashi / hairsticks! I first discovered them on a shopping trip in Shibuya and quickly fell in love with their simplicity and elegance. They're a great way to turn a normal hair day into an elegant updo evening and are easy to pack into a bag. They keep hair out of your face and look lovely while doing it. I especially adore the style on the left which incorporates a separate pin which you can place in your hair after putting it up to both hold more complex twists in place and create a gorgeous draping effect with the chain and beads. 
Beading details
A crafty fox for your vixen look

In the coming months I'm looking forward to trying out new and adventurous hairstyles and headpieces for some of my more elaborate coords. One day I may even go all out in a bonnet~ But until then I'll be rocking the Parisian lolita beret aesthetic.

Do you have a favorite headpiece or hair accessory? Tell me why you love them in the comments below! Check back for more wardrobe goodies on Friday~

Much Love,
Burgher <3



Monday, February 16, 2015

Life Update - Jobs, Teas, & Cons - Oh My!


My goodness it's been a while since I last posted with grandiose dreams of constant updates and content. That being said, a major life change affected my schedule more than I had originally anticipated, but life has finally mellowed out a bit. As such, I've also been actively amassing lots of content to bring to all of you who have been patient enough to stick around!

As some of you may have guessed, my major life update was actually a professional transition for me. Moving from a retail environment to a desk job has been hectic, but ultimately a success. I now have a lot more time to sit down and plan out content for this blog and my regular schedule also allows me to attend even more frilly events. This makes me a very excited classic lolita as I can finally be confident about my weekend availability which means more teas, meet-ups, and conventions!

Additionally with my hours finally ironed out and constant, I now have the ability to come up with a very constant and steady stream of content updates. My current plan is to post every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, & Saturday so be sure to check back on those days for new posts. I'll be adding in a few more content sections which I hope to introduce in the next few weeks and hope that you'll enjoy reading them as much as I'll enjoy writing them.

My other big life update has to do with Rufflecon - the local alternative fashion convention. I had the pleasure of attending and modeling for Chantilly last year and this year I jumped at the chance to get even more involved in such a lovely community. For 2015 Rufflecon will be moving to my home city of Stamford, CT for its second year and I am pleased to announce that I will be the High Tea Coordinator this year! For anyone interested in attending, I highly suggest it and urge you to check out my convention coverage from this past year~ Attendee registration opens on March 1st with the convention opening October 2nd - 4th so be sure not to miss it!

Speaking of conventions, I have a few already penciled into this year's adventures and look forward to meeting fellow lolitas at all of them. A good friend of mine and old cosplay teammate is a convention wizard and does a lot of different panels at cons up and down the East coast. This year she managed to get invited to a few conventions as a guest and invited me along to buddy up with her / keep her company in the artists' alley. Below is my full con schedule including a few tentative appearances:

Attending:

Tentative:
  • Anime Boston - 4/3/15-4/5/15 @ Hynes Convention Center in Boston, MA
  • Connecticon - 7/9/15-7/12/15 @ the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, CT

Thank you all for sticking with me through the long periods of silence. Be sure to check back on Wednesday for a real content update. I went to a number of different teas and events over the past few weeks and am excited to share my adventures and photos with all of you!

Take care and keep warm~
Much love,
Burgher