Try Something New: A Touch of Gothic in my Lolita

This does seem to be a month of firsts. Tried out ice skating last week and for today… my first attempt at a gothic lolita look. A gaggle of girls are getting together to see the Death Becomes Her at the Met. The exhibit includes 30 some odd coordinates representing mourning fashion of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Well, the NYC comm has been all a buzz about it and there have been several small meets already. The big challenge for me is how to look the part.

What to wear?

ways to coordinate alice and the pirates funeral procession of rose aria blooming in the twilight

I’ll admit already that my code is not going to be pure gothic. Its too far of a stretch for me since my starting point is sweet. I opened my closet the minute the meet was announced and had that oh crap moment. Hello sea of pastel. The plan is to ease my way in with a blend of both worlds. I really don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb when we are all together but also want to be true to myself.

So back to what to wear? How about Alice and the Pirates? Oh yes!! Disclaimer – I didn’t just buy the Funeral Procession dress just for this event. I have been eyeballing this beauty since its release. I totally dig it. Originally I was pulled towards the dark lavender color but then I picked up Enchantlic Enchantilly’s Castle in the Rose Garden scarf at RuffleCon and swayed to the red colorway. The lace on the scarf is an exact match for the lace on the dress.

enchantlic enchantilly the castle in the rose garden scarf in ivory

Originally I was thinking to pair the look with a black blouse but (a) the one I have totally doesn’t look right with the dress and (b) cream seams to pull out the subtle color of the flowers on the print and goes well with the scarf. So I am rolling with it.

But don’t let my mood board fool you. I got the dress on Monday and, in the second oh crap moment for this event, have had to totally reconstruct it. That adorable little princess bodice, yeah, real women’s boobs are not fitting in there – EVER. So I made some very brave alterations to the dress. I still need to take it in a little after the event since I simply ran out of time but am digging the fact that my version of the dress is uniquely original now. Fingers crossed I didn’t totally muck it up. Will try and get photos later to show the before and after.

So before I sign off had to say that this is really flooding me with memories of my youth and goth nights at St. Andrew’s Hall in Detroit. Not that I was “goth” back then either, but we did have a group who liked to take a break from all the techno we filled ourselves with for a departure into Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy and some yeah, Robert Smith. As crazy and dangerous as those days were – oh was it so much fun. Ah, back in the day…

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Try Something New: Lolita Ice Skating… and a touch of Mori

What started out as a “hey anyone want to get ice cream” turned into “cute forest animals lolita ice skating” meet!!  ̄(=⌒・⌒=) ̄

lolitas on ice skating lolita meet in nj

It was both Adi and my first time ever ice skating!!! And you have no idea how completely bizarre that is coming from a girl who spent a majority of her youth in Canada!! Lucky for me years and years of roller skating in the 70s and 80s and rollerblading in the 90s did help me get into the swing of things pretty quick. Adi struggled a bit more but managed to stick with it only falling once.

The people at the rink had no idea what happened when all of a sudden a gaggle of frill folk made their way onto the ice. Surprisingly not too many crazy comments but a few folks genuinely curious and wanting to know what was going on. I did get a first, “are you Hansel & Gretel?” An interesting departure from the typical Little Bo Peep – and what I guess comes to mind when your a couple and both now into the fashion.

meno harajuku mori girl lolita coordinate

I was so excited to finally wear my coordinate from Meno. I picked up a mori top and skirt in Harajuku in the spring… so this is a long overdue experiment to mix mori girl style with lolita. I was surprised that not many in the group had heard of Meno. I hold their shop right up there with Grimoire. I hope to go back and get a longer skirt to go with my code. Well and maybe something for my hair. If I didn’t already invest so heavily in lolita I could really go deep down the mori girl rabbit hole.

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Geisha Performance @ J-Collabo in Brooklyn

rare chance to see a geisha perform in NY

Finally getting around to catching up on the whirlwind of activity the past 2 months. Today I want to fill you in on a cool Japan culture find in NY. We stumbled upon a brochure for a Geisha performance at J-Collabo in Brooklyn and went to check it out back in early September. So worth it!!

The dance performance was incredible. Geisha Kikuno is simply perfection. Her performance was accompanied by a violinist and a koto player in the rustic converted space of a Brooklyn brownstone basement. Her movements were so soft and fluid. What really left an impression was her mask. She has that way of looking directly at you, eye-to-eye, but it is up to you to read her expression. She looks at you but almost as if through dolls eyes. The dance alone was worth the $20 admission hands down.

traditional japanese craftsman and demonstratons at j-collabo

We also got to enjoy a lovely tea ceremony. Hoping my buddy posts his videos of the dance and tea one of these days! I was asked to join the ceremony as a “guest” on the tatami “room” which made the tea all the more special. The tea master handmade the delicate gelatin-like sweets made to look like flowing water. It was delicious!! Seriously I could have ate everyone’s helping. A thin crunchy exterior and melt in your mouth sweetness just beneath.

handmade wagashi made in seasonal theme for tea ceremony

There were also several vendors from Ishikawa showcasing traditional arts such as kimono yuzen dying and maki-e as well as a modern dance performance and what J-event would be complete without some sake and beer refreshments…

put together a wa lolita yukata coordinate for the event

Summer was drawing to a close but gave us a lovely warm day. That inspired me to try a casual lolita coordinate using accessories made from traditional yukata fabric for a pseudo wa-lolita look. I made the peasant style yukata blouse and cuff bracelet ages ago. The black dress is Baby, the Stars Shine Bright and I reused the ribbons from my previous summer yukata on the dress and in my hair to complete the look.

My coordinate was pretty auspicious it turns out. I had no idea that I would bump into designer Hiromi Onuma who was showcasing her brand Hiro. You may or may not have already come across her work if you follow the international lolita scene. She is part of a long line of kimono fabric manufactures and was recently behind the kaga-loli contest with BSSB and Midori! Midori loved it so much she asked Hiromi to make her a custom kaga dress!

Hiromi is super cute and bubbly to speak with. She was so excited that I wore lolita to the event that she ran to get her laptop and show me all sorts of videos from the Baby fashion show. I really really want to visit her in Japan one day so am adding Ishikawa to my must visit list.

Summary: if you get a chance do, check out one of J-Collabo’s events. They are laid back, culture packed, and at a hip artsy space in Brooklyn. What’s not to love about it.

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Ballet in NYC

Still winding my way backwards through the magical events of the past couple of weeks and have at last arrived at the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland ballet.

alices adventures in wonderland ballet nyc

No big photo gallery to share with you today, however… I did want to give you a glimpse at one of Alice’s costumes that they had on display in the theater. This particular dress is worn in Act 1 which is set in Oxford, England 1862. The Dean of Christ Church’s wife is hosting a garden party to which Alice and her sisters all wear this dress but in different colors. I do hope someday you get to see the ballet to also see how this dress is transformed once Alice dives down the rabbit hole.

Here is a little snippet from the NYC Joyce production where you can get a sense for more of the amazing costumes and incredible dancing and sets:

But better yet, The Royal Ballet of the UK filmed a short collection of videos from rehearsals, behind the scenes, and discussions on dance styles used in the production. If you have some time they are all very lovely to watch.

I am sincerely still blown away about how incredible the show was. I don’t think there was a moment throughout when I was without a smile on my face. We had such a fantastic time. If I can catch it again on tour I just might!!

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Tea Party: Handmade White Rabbit Headdress / Rosette

With such little time to plan the Alice Tea Party I was pressed for entertainment ideas. I’ve only been to a few of the local meets but have been to enough social engagements to know what can happen. Often small cliques tend to form among those who have known each other for a long time. On public meets where not everyone knows each other some participants can feel left out. Well, there is also how the tables are arranged which can distance participants from others. So I planned a small ice breaker.

Nothing really fancy. Picked up cute Alice in Wonderland playing cards and pulled out all the face cards and the hearts. That was roughly the right number for the party. Then after everyone had their fill of tea, scones and sandwiches I stood and requested attention. Asked if everyone would take turns to stand, give their first name (if they were willing,) and to discuss the point of their coordinate. I am so happy everyone was good sports. Had several good laughs and oohs and aahhs. Especially two cuties who twinned for the party but said they came as Tweedledee and Tweedledum sweet lolita style!! It really helped to put faces to names and to get to know a little about each person without getting too personal.

After each guest spoke about their coordinate they got to pick a card. Using another deck of cards, a winner was selected for a very small raffle. I literally pulled this White Rabbit out of the Mad Hatter’s Hat the night before. It must have been around 7 or 8 pm when I began and finished close to 12:30 am.

Alice Tea Party Raffle Prize

classic lolita white rabbit headdress rosette

My concept was to stay on theme with a White Rabbit but in a non-traditional form with a classic lolita or even mori girl appearance. You might recognize that most of the laces and flowers are extras from this summer’s Rabbit Garden Party Apron and Purse. I knew I wanted the piece to have a lot of little details but also still feel simple. To achieve that simplicity the entire color palette reads as a solid using a cream base. Not knowing who would win the raffle and what their personal style would be, the design was meant to be true to my design aesthetic but also neutral to go with several lolita genres.

handmade lolita accessories lace rabbit headdress

Not sure if it would be classified as a headdress, rosette or even a canotier to be honest. What you can’t see from the detail photos is that the back has both an alligator hair clip and a pin clasp. So it can be worn as a hair accessory or as a badge.

mori girl or classic lolita cream headdress handmade

Received good feedback from the group that the ice breaker was very fun and that they enjoyed it. And Alexandra’s expression when she won and opened the bag was a huge treat. Relieved and elated she likes it. So I think I’ll continue this tradition if/when I organize another meet in the future.

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Tea Party: What I Made What I Wore

handmade alice in wonderland op dress

Everything about the Alice Adventure in NYC magically fell right into place. From finding out about the ballet, to planning the event, and on top of it making an Alice themed one piece dress. I had been eying this fabric on Etsy for a while. That pesky, “don’t buy more fabric until you use what you have.” was running thru my head and I choose to ignore it.

The original vision for the dress was something very simple, more like the dresses from Jane Marple. When I had the fabric in hand however and was selecting a color to use for the collar this red won me over. Things spiraled from there when I saw how the black laces popped. Those colors cemented in the new idea to mix in elements all based on playing cards. The red and the black trims along with several trump suit charms and patches worked nicely. As a sub-theme the roses used throughout also reflect the Queen’s rose garden.

What I did stay true to was making my first lolita OP. I have given up hope altogether on Baby and AP ever making an OP to fit me. Its a love hate love relationship I admit. Several times during the tea party I was extremely conscience of how freaking comfortable my dress is. It actually fits me!! It even has a little extra room in case I overdo it on the scones and macarons. This is the bliss of making your own. So I love the brands because the entire fashion wouldn’t be here without their commitment; I hate and yet understand why they make everything one-size-fits-some; and love that because of bad sizing I finally found my sewing muse after so many years. And the ++ is that I don’t have to wear a blouse. Just slip it on and zip it up – ready to go. Well not really, but close.

The Details

card suit red and black details in the lace and roses

Once I decided to use playing card colors as the embellishments I also needed to make sure and not either overdo them and it look cosplay or end up with it looking too goth. Nothing wrong with gothic, but my aim was to keep it sweet but with a vintage feel overall.

alice in wonderland trump card lolita coordinate

I was at a point during the making of the dress where I thought I was “done” and then I happened to pull out the little red roses to try around the collar. Turns out they were even better as another accent on the grosgrain ribbons. The roses also helped to carry the collar color throughout the dress. I only had a fat quarter of the red and it was barely enough to make the mock collar and the bows on the sleeves.  If there was more I would have made a full collar and probably a bunch of other things, but that was part of the fun – make it work!

Even though the charms on the dress and headdress are silver I knew right away what accessories I wanted to wear with it. Last winter my friend gave me the cutest gold Alice and the White Rabbit earnings. I removed the original finding and made them into clip-ons (long story about pierced ears and allergies). They match well with a ring I found in Grand Central of all places that is square and has each of the card suits. I finished it off with Angelic Pretty’s card suit bracelet.

The Finished Look

photo by victorianme.tumblr.com

I absolutely adore this picture that was taken at the party. You must check out Xiaoyu’s blog on tumblr. She has mad photography skills, talented at making her own handmade items, and is such a beautiful and warm person: victorianme.tumblr.com

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Tea Party: NYC Alice Meet

nyc lolitas alice tea party 2014

I had sooooo much fun this past week. Yesterday was like the cherry on top! So many photos from Fashion Week, Alice in Wonderland Ballet and the Alice Tea Party. Since Wonderland is an appropriate metaphor for the adventures, and things are not as they seem, lets check things off in reverse order shale we.

19 lovely ladies and 1 dapper gentleman participated in our NYC Alice Meet Tea Party on Saturday. We reserved the Looking Glass Room at Alice’s Tea Cup Chapter 2. All any of us could think about when we arrived was the food. Many of us came from the ballet and were famished.

Xiaoyu made the cutest toy soldier hat ever!!! It was the perfect finishing touch for her Angelic Pretty Loyal Rosette salopette. She had marvelously cute soldier gloves too.

alice tea party lolita raffle winner

I was cutting things incredibly close and only the night before made a gift to give away as a small raffle prize. Using unbleached muslin, some lace, pearls and beads I magically whipped up a White Rabbit fascinator/pin. Alexandra pulled the winning card from the deck (4 of hearts for the record) and it made my day to see how excited she got when she opened the bag and found out what was inside.

My friend Asumi and her friend are visiting from Japan and both dressed up in lolita for their first time. They looked so cute!! Next time I am in Tokyo I think we will pay a visit to Maison de Julietta and hit the Butler Bar to continue our Kawaii adventures.

Angela decorated a straw hat with beautiful roses. I love how creative and artistic everyone is!! She coordinated it with an old school Baby, the Stars Shine Bright one piece. I wish I got a close up of her broach too which was handmade and featured an adorable rabbit.

lolita tea party gift bags and raffle prize

In addition to the raffle prize I ordered Alice themed gift bags and Eat Me cookies from two Etsy artists. They turned out really great and both were super about making sure they arrived on time and safe-and-sound. I hope the girls enjoyed them. It just wouldn’t have felt like a proper tea party if everyone didn’t receive a little something to take home as a momento.

alices tea cup lolita tea party

I really hope everyone had a good time. Confess that I am pleased with myself that I pulled this off without a hitch – and for the first time being a hostess/organizer. Feeling pretty inspired to do it again. I learned a lot so have all sorts of ideas and things I can improve upon next time *✲゚*。✧٩(・ิᴗ・ิ๑)۶*✲゚*。✧

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Ouji Coordinate Fitting

Did a final fitting to make sure everything is OK which meant getting the boy all dressed up and doing a little pre-party photo shoot.  Its looking good. Only issue is the elastic in the pants could be a bit tighter. Might need to throw some suspenders on until I can pull the seams to fix that. They don’t fall off, thank heavens, but noticed he had to hoist them up every now and then.

Adi in his custom designed ouji coordinate

sweetie in his first ouji prince coordinate

I think we are good to go. He is going to have to wear this a few times over the next couple of weeks to all the events lined up. Then after things calm down I want to start another look for him with the same vest pattern. There’s a kimono we picked up on our last Japan trip that I think would be perfect fabric for a gilet. Well, best get back to work now. See ya!!

Ouji Project Recap:  Inspiration  |  Work in Progress  |  Project Complete
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Project Complete: Handmade Ouji Cream Coordinate

I am having all sorts of feels this week. Got to meet designer Hiromi Onuma on Sunday. She makes the coolest “kaga-loli” designs. I’ll tell you more about that another day – so inspired by her. Also found out earlier this week that I am going to a NY Mercedes Benz Fashion Week show on Thursday. All that will be topped off with the Alice Ballet & Tea.

But what has me positively over the moon is that Sweetie’s first EGL look is COMPLETE!!

white rabbit velvet gilet ouji coordinate vest and tricorn

Outfit Rundown:

  • Tricorn – plain hat bought on eBay; decorated with matching laces from the coordinate and the medallion includes a button I yanked off a Fan Plus Friend piece
  • Gilet – the vest is 100% handmade; the main fabric is a woven cotton with a raised velvet brocade; the pockets are fully functional; and while not shown, it is lined in the cutest mini macaron fabric
  • Collar – it began as a ladies summer tank blouse that was on clearance at Marshals; I cut out sections of the hem to reuse the pleated fabric to make a two layer jabot; the lace used to trim the gilet pockets is reused for the band of the collar
  • Breeches – the pants are 100% handmade; you can’t see the waistband but it is shaped to match the pockets on the vest and has 4 matching gold buttons; they hit below the knee; and for comfort they are lined in a very thin and soft cotton jersey
  • Medal – it is a Belgian medal for civic service found on Etsy; I removed the original ribbon and made a new one using two types of cream ribbon and some lace that matches the coordinate; it was tarnished so I polished it only to realize it isn’t brass but is silver!
  • Pocket Watch – is made from three pieces found at Michaels craft store: gold watch fob, gold chain and a bar from a toggle clasp jewelry finding to keep it in place through the vest buttonhole
  • Necklace – took apart my Angelic Pretty Chess Chocolate necklace and used matching chain from the pocket watch to make it longer
  • Socks – were an Amazon.com find that I just wish had more cotton content but are OTK mens socks which are difficult to find in cream or ivory colors (or were hard for me to find)
  • Shoes – got them at Neiman Marcus Last call; love that they are modern, comfortable and reminiscent of historical styles; they are monk-strap loafers similar to these by Cole Haan
  • Cufflinks – I found some cute gold and cream buttons in the shape of a pocket watch and used another toggle clasp bar with a couple chain links between
  • Shirt – we ordered a historical shirt online but it may or may not be delivered in time, so for now we are using a standard issue men’s shirt which is looking pretty OK in my opinion

The Details

handmade gentelmens pocket watch velvet brocade ouji gilet vest and gold buttons

angelic pretty chess chocolate lolita lace tricorn

He is starting from scratch so it was important to get all the pieces to really have the coordinate shine and feel complete. I like to think I am modest – but am feeling pretty freakin proud of this outfit right now. So yes, hello world, LOOK I MADE THIS!!

Instead of my buddy accompanying me to events he can now participate in the fun.

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My Friend’s First Time in Lolita

Things are progressing nicely in my sewing universe. Had a bit of a marathon over the long Labor Day weekend. Sweetie’s coordinate is almost complete and in addition I made awesome progress on my Alice dress. Its been rainy so will take some photos later.

Some how the stars magically aligned and my dear friend from Tokyo and her friend will be in NYC and just so happen to be free on the day of the Alice Tea Party I’ve been coordinating. When I asked if they would like to come, she not only said yes but wondered if there was some way they too could dress up. I got all sorts of excited in the exchange of Facebook messages that not only would she like to come to tea but also try lolita fashion for the first time.

Without wasting any time I threw open the wardrobe and started pulling together 2 coordinates for them. She was ever so cute when inquiring, very politely I add, if they were to borrow would the clothes be too big. Never fear for Sheri has several brand pieces that have been patiently waiting in line for some major tailoring but got put off for other sewing priorities. And then there is the Baby blouse from a lucky pack that I can’t seem to part with but would never stand a chance of ever being able to wear. Personally I think these things happen for a reason and here is the moment for why that blouse needed to be at hand.

While I won’t be able to give them Alice-themed looks I do want them to have good and proper coordinates for their first time. If they are going to do this I want to help them do it as best as possible so they have a really good experience. Its fortunate then that I have a few Angelic Pretty skirts unaltered and in colorways that I have plenty of pieces to mix-and-match and give the girls a full head to toe look. And so without further ado, here are they are:

angelic pretty milky chan fawn skirt coordinate

Coordinate #1 is a bittersweet look with Milky Chan Fawn in black colorway as the main statement. I have a matching black Angelic Pretty blouse, which will be a bit big for them but hoping with some safety pins won’t be awful. Wonder Party OTK socks, albeit a different print, will match the black and pink from the skirt. Its a stretch but thinking that Decoration Dream hair bow will pull in more pink and the distance from the skirt will make the difference in prints balance out. To finish it off, Sweet Cream Biscuit necklace in pink and a black ribbon purse all also by Angelic Pretty.

angelic pretty powder rose skirt coordinate

Coordinate #2 is a confection of sweet with Angelic Pretty’s Powder Rose skirt as the focal point. This look will include the Baby, the stars shine bright white School Blouse and, as I don’t have the matching AP hair bow, will top it off with Baby’s Strawberry Letters in pink. The Lady Rose print of the hand bag has a richer pink palette but I think it strengthens the rose theme from the skirt still nicely. More AP with pink rose socks and Glass Bottle of Tears necklace finish off the ensemble.

So my friends of the wondrous interwebs, what do you think, are these good starter looks for the girls?

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