Thursday, March 31, 2011

Gothic & Lolita Bible 39

It's hard to believe that the Gothic & Lolita Bible is almost at issue 40! I remember, when I first discovered it, volume 10 or 11 was fresh off the press and getting excited about finding scans of it!

I definitely enjoyed this issue a lot more than the previous 2 volumes! The photos were all gorgeous and the patterns and crafts look fun. As for patterns, this volume contained a whole dress and a few random crafts that basically involved gluing cute things to accessories, but looked cute none the less!

When volume 38 came out, I had noticed that there were a lot less OTT coordinates and sparkle covered photoshoots than there had been in previous volumes. I wondered if this could be the beginning of the end of the OTT trend, which, while alive and well in the English language Lolita communities, seems to be fading a bit from popularity in both Japanese street snaps, and the Bibles. Fall/Winter volumes of the Bible (and many other fashion magazines!) have always been darker and more subdued than other season's volumes, so I wasn't exactly ready to make any bold statements, but the Spring/Summer issues often use the bright colors of the new season as an excuse to design some rainbow prints and bust out the glitter brush in Photoshop, so I was actually a bit excited to see that in this volume, instead of bunnies and unicorns I noticed much more pale pastel florals! So, I think I am ready to call it, as far as the Gothic & Lolita Bible is concerned, OTT Sweet seems to be old news now. Even Angelic Pretty, the brand that pretty much started the trend, has been releasing bold colored, almost ETC styled prints and simply designed "Sweet-Classic" prints.

Even the street snaps only contained a handful of Sweet Lolitas, and most of them were quite toned down, or even wearing very old school styled outfits, although, there was one girl who looked like she was trying to make up for the lack of OTT all by herself! Overall, there were much more Classic Lolitas, Gothic Lolitas, and regular old Sweet Lolitas in these street snaps! There was also something I don't think I've ever come across before, that sort of makes me feel a bit hopeful:


Mary Magdalene clones! Well, not quite, but while pictures of groups of Sweet Lolitas wearing the same Angelic Pretty print are a dime a dozen, I don't think I've ever come across a picture of multiple girls wearing the same Mary Magdalene dress!

I am sure you're sick of me rambling about my "the future of Lolita trends" predictions, I know you probably are all just interested in seeing some pretty pictures, so here are my favorites from this volume of G&LB. Click on the thumbnails for larger pictures!







So what do you think about this possible trend of more elegance, less kawaii? I think it's pretty much inevitable, many people feel a bit burnt out with OTT Sweet Lolita, and if you pay any attention to the online communities, you've probably noticed that for the past couple years people have been hoping for a return of the Classic Lolita. So far, I'm enjoying it, although I am sure, just like any trend, too much of a good thing can be bad. I think that a lot of people still have a bit of the Over-the-Top bug in them and I can easily see Classic Lolita going the way of the Sweet Lolita. Everyone having to have the next big Innocent World print, everyone needing to have the same wig with those little braided loopy pigtails, loading up their Classic Lolita with tons of must-have accessories, and I can even imagine some wacky OTT trend happening in Classic, like instead of cake hats we all want to wear hats that look like stacks of books. Hopefully though, the need for OTT will restrain itself with Classic Lolita, or will simply begin to become less and less the norm.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lolita Fashion Generator

I was looking around on DeviantArt and I came across this generator. You press a button and it gives you a random assortment of Lolita related words. It was pretty fun to click it and see what I got, and it started giving me a few generated phrases that I thought actually sounded pretty fantastic! So, I busted out the Photoshop and drew some little fashion sketches of the phrases it gave me.


Enchanted Rhinestone JSK
Why don't more brands use rhinestones on their pieces? Some brands are pretty liberal with the glitter, and a few elegant rhinestones are just so much more classy looking than plain old glittery paint!


Spotted Castle Cardigan
Pretty self explanatory! Polka-dots and castles on a cardigan, with some glitter to make it even more OTT.


Poodle Romance Headdress
I was going to just skip over this one because I couldn't think of how to put a romantic poodle on your head and then I realized that the answer was pom-poms! A simple pink headdress with 3 big white pom-poms on either side, to make you sort of look like you have poodle hair. Nothing says "romance" like sharing a hairstyle with a dog!


Kitten Parade Skirt
Has this been done before? A kitten parade seems like such an obvious choice for a Lolita print, that I would be surprised if someone hasn't done it some where. I had Innocent World in mind when I drew it.


Mermaid Diary Blouse
I don't really know if mermaids keep diaries, or how to include that subject on a blouse, so instead I just opted for a fancy Victorian blouse (Diary=Fancy=Victorian was my train of thought) in a mermaidy color with some pearl details.


Cherry Choir Bow
I love that bright magenta color that Baby the Stars Shine Bright sometimes uses, I am pretty sure they refer to it as "cherry", so inspired by that color, and including some cherries as well, I drew this little bow.


Cake Cherub Stockings
This one had me thinking for a little bit! There were so many different ways to depict "Cake cherub", cherubs holding cakes, cakes with cherubs flying out of it, cherubs made out of cake (that thought kind of disturbs me actually), cherubs dancing all over a cake, a cake decorated with frosting cherub designs. I quickly decided on cakes with cherub wings, as that seemed the most logical choice.


Fantasy Glade Nightgown
If I didn't have the word "nightgown" at the end, I probably would have drawn a deep green print of trees and a stream, but it just seems too frivolous to wear a brand print to bed! So I just chose a nice forest green and a romantic styling.

Some other great ones that I didn't get a chance to illustrate were Marie Antoinette Heart Apron, Stripey Coffin Bloomers, Rose Ace-of-spades Wristcuffs, Gothic Dove Sunhat, Precious Orchard Coat, and Floral Chandelier Maiden. I can really imagine all of those as being something actual Lolita brands release!

I love silly generators like these, they sometimes can really help to inspire you, try clicking around on it and see what you can come up with!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Interview with Tyler of Lily of the Valley

A while ago I got the chance to interview Tyler from the indie Lolita brand Lily of the Valley. I've always been a fan of Tyler's work. Back before I had a fairly large Lolita wardrobe, I used to download her KiSS dolls to give myself a Lolita dress up fix!

Tyler's brand, Lily of the Valley, is a brand that often focuses on historical inspired designs and prints, and has a very charming, somewhere between Sweet, Classic and country styling, with touch of old school Lolita. Her recent print, Sweet Matryoshka, is a little bit Otome, a little bit Mori, and a little bit Sweet. I am definitely a fan of the versatility and blurring of the edges between styles that her designs feature!

Besides being a talented designer, Tyler is also a very prolific seamstress. She sews nearly all of her Lolita clothes! All of the coordinates from her in this interview feature clothing she has made for herself.

How long have you been into Lolita? Since 2003, so err 7 years. I kinda feel like an old fogey sometimes. Like when someone asks about "old" Angelic Pretty dresses like Sweet Macron, and I'm think: "wait didn't that come out not too long ago? ...oh it's been a couple of years!"

What are your favorite styles? Most probably classic, although I like to try many of the styles and mix them. My current style is something like classic/sweet/mori/otome/natural-kei. haha. I enjoy wearing a lot of layers and using vintage accessories. I still have a place in my heart for old school sweet, although I can't seem to stop adding more and more layers and accessories.


Tyler in a dress of her own creation.

How long have you been sewing and wearing your own clothes? Since the beginning. My first lolita outfit was an off brand blouse with a blue rose print skirt remade from a longer skirt I got at a local thrift store. In the early years of lolita on livejournal making or remaking your clothes was really the only way to wear the fashion. None of the brands shipped out of Japan, and even "In the Starlight" didn't exist yet.

Another reason I think I make my own clothes has to do with my childhood. My mother is a fine arts jeweler and my Dad is an electrical/systems engineer. Growing up around a lot of crafty and DIY people, I heard quite a bit of "Oh, you don't need to buy that, I'll show you how to make it yourself." Once you get used to being able to make a lot of your own things it's hard to go back to buying things that aren't exactly how you would have done it. The only brand I currently own are some very lovely socks!

I think this delight in versatility of design is why I try to allow my customers as wide range of custom choices as I can with my lines and hats. I would like them to have a dress or hat that feels like theirs, rather then something just off the rack.


Tyler in a dress of her own creation.

You seem to make a lot of your own accessories and use a variety of different handicrafts in your pieces, do you have any favorite handicrafts? Oh that's a really hard question. I'm always trying new techniques. Well to start off; jewelry has always been something I've been interested in because of my Mom; it's a nice break from sewing. I am really hoping that the Sweet Acorns jewelry line does well, because I want to continue to offer matching jewelry for my lines.

Tatting is something that I have picked up this year. I enjoy it a lot because it's something you can do on the fly; pull it out during car trips or while watching movies. Also tatting is very fussy and feminine, and that appeals! It's almost a lost art, when I was trying to learn it I couldn't find anyone to teach me how. To this date I haven't found anyone outside of the internet who does it too. I really love old needlework techniques and like to do my own part to keep them alive. I wish it was something I could work into my lolita lines, but it's so time consuming it would be exorbitant!

When it gets down to it I think my favorite handicraft is making hats. There is something very exciting and satisfying about making one. The stiff lines and structure, figuring how how to trim it just so. Plus you can put a lot of trimmings on hats that you could never put on a dress! Feathers, silk flowers, birds! I have a bag of straw braid taken from a thrift store hat stashed away for when I have a time to make it into a spoon bonnet. I'm really looking forward to (and dreading) soaking the straw braid in hot water and seeing if I can fight it into a hat shape!

When did you start your own brand, Lily of the Valley? My first line "Keys to the Kingdom" was released in 2006, but before this I had done quite a few commissions. The line was skirt with a castle screen printed around the hem. It sold well, but not as much as I would have liked at the time. The continuous print was very hard to do and my friend who was doing the screen printing had real trouble with it. We filled the orders but ended up with a lot of misprinted material and frustration. That left me feeling a bit discouraged about future lines.


Keys to the Kingdom

So instead of trying a new one I came up with the idea for the Admiral Tricorn hats. They went over very well, and I still get a good number of orders, even 3 years later. This really encouraged me and I got used to taking several custom orders at once. Looking back to the "Keys to the Kingdom" line; while I think I was ready to do it, I don't think I had a good idea of what doing it entailed. I over reached; something that was feasible to do for one skirt was trouble for several. It was a good experience and really taught me that you have to be circumspect when making such large plans.

In 2009 I decided to make another go at it, putting up the Lily of the Valley website and my inaugural line "Excerpts from a Victorian Cookbook". I am very happy with how it came out and the response. It is great being able to get custom printed fabric in small amounts. I had considered getting fabric printed with my own designs before but it was never possible because of the very large amount you had to buy.


Tyler in a dress of her own creation, the Sweet Matryoshka print fro Lily of the Valley.

What are the ideas or aesthetics behind Lily of the Valley?
I am inspired by a lot of different things, so this is a very difficult question to ask! I'm rather influenced by fairy tales and their beautiful illustrations, I grew up reading them rather then watching the sanitized Disney versions, and I think they are really delightful, and sometimes quite dark. I remember reading the story "The Red Shoes" when I was little and being horrified for months because of it. That sort of thing appeals as well, because life is like that, it's very bright and rather magical; but there are those dark places that make the bright parts that much brighter.

Haha, I guess I haven't done many prints yet that have that feeling, I have so many ideas and it's hard to decide which ones to do. But I think I want my prints to invoke a feeling or story. "Excerpts from a Victorian Cookbook" was inspired by the illustrations from "Mrs Beeton's book of Household Management", and I was delighted by the idea of Victorian confections. When making a cake or pudding was time consuming, and strictly for special occasions; so they molded and decorated them until they looked like something fairies would make. While my newest line "Sweet Matryoshka" reminds me of a walk in the woods as a child. Birds to be looked at in delight, flowers and berries to be picked, mushrooms to be examined for pixies, and acorns and other treasures stuck in your pocket to be enjoyed later.

In all this I want my pieces to be very wearable. To be able to be dressed up to the nines as lolita, or dressed down with a little cardigan to stroll around town in. I hope I am successful at this!

What's the most difficult thing about having your own brand?
The scrutiny of being an independent brand in the both very large and rather small English speaking online lolita community. If I do something that flops, it's a much bigger deal for me then the established brands. I can only put out one line at a time, and pretty much have one customer base; who mass communicate very easily and quickly. If the Japanese brands put out something that the EGL community doesn't like, they still have the Japanese and other markets; as well as other lines. I don't have that luxury.

I do think that this really pushes me to work that much harder and try to think outside of the box; come up with motifs that haven't been done before, or haven't been done in that way before.


Tyler's illustration for her Excerpts from a Victorian Cookbook print line.

What is your favorite thing about having your own brand?
I think hands down my favorite thing is seeing my dresses being worn and enjoyed, it's a kind of excitement that's hard to describe. I remember years ago when I was taking commissions; seeing one of my dresses on a girl at Otakon and thinking "I don't remember that Baby dress..." before realizing it was something I made. I wanted to break out into dance I was so happy!

Being able to design the prints for my pieces makes it that much more special. I drew for years before I started sewing. The prints are almost a kind of story, in colors, symbols, and emotions. When someone decides to buy and wear a dress that I designed; they are sort of sharing that story, like we both read and enjoyed it. Hopefully in a non-cheesy way!

Where do you see, or where would you like to see Lily of the Valley in the future?
I would like to be able to come out with more lines more quickly. I have at least 20 different design ideas clamoring in my head and I'd like to make them all! This of course depends on how quickly I get orders and fill them. My current day dream is for my lines to sell out the day they are released!

I just got an embroidery machine so I am planning some embroidered lines. I'm really excited by the idea of doing a redux of the "Keys to the Kingdom" line as an embroidery, or a variation of the very popular prototype "Admiral Pirate Set".


Excerpts from a Victorian Cookbook

I guess in short I would like to see Lily of the Valley become a more prominent brand. I don't expect to mass produce like the Japanese brands, but I would like to have a comfortable niche, for those who appreciate the options and aesthetic Lily of the Valley is offering them.


You can find Lily of the Valley's shop page here, or check out her blog!

I have a dress set made by Tyler, I actually got it second hand and snapped it up pretty quickly because it was a really good deal and made by someone who's work I've always enjoyed. It's definitely a gorgeous piece! The design is awesome and the construction is just perfect. If you're looking for an indie brand, especially an indie brand with prints that are both Sweet and Elegant, I would definitely recommend Lily of the Valley!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lolita in Black & White

The black and white color scheme is one of Lolita's most infamous color combos. To some, black and white is the quintessential Lolita, to others it is an instant faux-pas, and to many it is a very nostalgic color combo. I've seen a lot people instantly write off black and white dresses, even of very good quality, simply because of the color combo, which is incredibly unfair. While black and white might be a bit played out at times, there's no reason why it should be avoided at all costs. In fact, there are a lot of different ways you can wear the color combo to create a few different kinds of looks, from Sweet and ruffly to Gothic and elegant.

Black & White's Bad Rap

Two traditionally Ita black and white dresses. The first one a classic lace monster, the second, it's nega-even-eviler twin. Seriously, WTF is up with that second one?
Cheap Ebay dresses labeled as "Lolita" sort of ruined black and white for a very long time because they were just that bad. The skirts were often mini-skirt length, the construction and materials usually horrible, the designs too over done and not well thought out, and they tended to be covered in yards-upon-yards of the cheapest lace possible. Soon enough, for most people anyways, just staying away from all black and white dresses became something of a reflex, and even nicely made black and white dresses made people sort of shudder. People just wanted to distance themselves from the look. Which is really a bit sad, because there are a lot of different ways that black and white can be really gorgeous.

Black & White, the Right Way

Top left, Bodyline; top right, Anna House, even offbrand black and white can be nice!; Bottom left Mary Magdalene; bottom right Baby the Stars Shine Bright.
There are lots of ways that black & white can be made to look good! The easiest way is simply to to look for dresses made of good materials. White lace stands out really well against black, so if the lace is cheap, it's going to be very noticeably cheap. That doesn't mean that only brand dresses in black and white are going to look nice! There are many off brand black and white dresses that look fantastic! You just have to look for ones made with nice materials and lace.

Different Ways to Wear Black & White
A black dress with white lace, or even a white dress with black lace certainly isn't the only way to wear black and white color combos! That that may be the most "traditional" way to wear the colors, there are still many other ways you can combine the 2 colors.

Keep the two colors separate.

Both Mary Magdalene
A sure fire way to wear black and white, especially if you're unsure of lace quality, is to wear either separate pieces of all one color, or a dress that keeps the colors separate. The two pictures above are from over-dress type pieces, but a similar effect can be achieved from wearing an all white blouse with an all black skirt or JSK.

Black & white prints.
Left, Moi Meme Moitie, a black and white print that was recently going for auction for around $1200!; Right, a rare and very sought after Innocent World print. Not all black and white = cheap!
If you like the style of black and white, you can always go for a brand print. Brands often release prints in black and white colorways. It's a very simple color combo, but it's always very striking! Black and white prints are often used in Classic and Gothic pieces because the color combo is usually very elegant. But, it's also often used on sweeter prints to give them a simple, yet cute, charm.

Black & white fabric.

Left, Angelic Pretty; center, Baby the Stars Shine Bright; Right, Mary Magdalene
Another option, instead of having a custom brand print, would be to have a dress with a black and white all-over patterned fabric. To me, black and white stripes are just to die for, and I think they are one of the ultimate Gothic styles. But, polka-dots (both big and tiny!), plaid, gingham, and even classical florals are all options for black and white fabrics! Because there are so many different kinds of black and white fabrics, they can really create so many different looks! Sweeter prints in black and white, like polka-dots and gingham, can tone down a Sweet and make it look almost retro. Classical florals in black and white can make a Classic Lolita dress much more versatile and can easily slip between Gothic and Classic and sometimes can even be worn as nice formal wear in the real world.

Appliques, embroidery, and other embellishments.
Left, pretty white pearls decorate this Angelic Pretty dress; Right, Innocent World often uses embroidery on their pieces.
There are also a number of things you can do to a plain black dress to add some white to it. Appliques, embroidery, pearls, ribbons, and anything else that you can decorate a dress with can be used to add some white to it! You can even add white with some clever coordination in an otherwise all black outfit. A pair of black and white harlequin tights are a current favorite way to add some white to an outfit, but a long string of pearls, a white detachable bow attached to the waist or neckline, replacing any corset lacing with white ribbon are all simple ways to add some interest to a plain black outfit! If you're really daring and creative you can even sew on some of your own pearls or do your own embroidery.

For me, black and white is a very nostalgic and elegant color combo. It's definitely one of my favorites, and it's always a bit sad when people instantly write it off as being Ita even when it's made of very nice materials and has a cute design. Black and white can be a lot of things, it can be cute, or elegant, or mysterious, or OTT, but it doesn't always have to be Ita!

What are your thoughts on black and white dresses? Does it make you cringe a bit? Or does it make you want it for your own? If you love it, what are your favorite ways to wear black and white? Perhaps you're a more traditional Lolita and you love a black dress decorated with white lace, or maybe you prefer a delicate and elegant print?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ask Miss Caro-Chan: Wearing Lolita in Public

Today's Ask Miss Caro-chan features a question I got on my formspring regarding wearing Lolita in public for those who might be a bit shy about standing out.

Any tips for going out in public dressed in lolita? Especially if you are by yourself? How should I react if I get mean comments? What is the best way to try and to help ignore some odd stares?

This is something nearly all Lolitas have to deal with, even the ones who don't mind the odd stares and sometimes mean comments. It takes a lot of courage to go out in public wearing anything out of the ordinary, and even the most toned down Lolita is considered strange by many. There's no real sure fire way to make sure you have the courage to prance around outside with a cake on your head, but there are a few things you can do that can help you work up the nerve to do so.


Personally, I've been dressing, well, let's just say "abnormally" or "with questionable taste" since I was in middle school, so wearing Lolita was really not that big of a step outside of my comfort zone. But that doesn't mean I am always prepared for the attention that outlandish fashions tend to attract! There are a number of things I've learned in my years of wearing weird clothes and I'd like to share them with you all in this post.
  • Pretend a little bit. If you're really stressed out about being out in public dressed strangely, play a little imagination game. Pretend that you're completely alone wherever you are, you're a fancy princess in a time travel mishap, or whatever you think can help you overcome how uncomfortable other people's opinions might make you feel. It sounds completely silly, but sometimes focusing on the silliness can really take your mind off of sticking out, and that's all that really matters.
  • Ignore people, or just don't react. If you do notice people staring, pointing, or worse yet, yelling or making rude comments, just ignore them. If you can't actually ignore them, and are noticing every comment, don't feel you need to react to any of it. Usually people make comments expecting you to react in some way, and if you just ignore them, it's all about them making a fool of themselves, not them pointing out how silly they think you look to everyone around you. Just think about it, if you're at some people filled place and someone yells something stupid at you, everyone is going to look at the person yelling, not at whatever it is they're yelling about. Just go on your way and most likely no one will even notice you, just the jackass yelling "LITTLE BO PEEEEEEP" for apparently no reason.
  • Wear earbuds or headphones. Having some music on can help you block out a lot of things and be a bit in your own little world. Even just having them in your ears, with the sound off, or very low, is a good excuse for ignoring people who make rude comments.
  • If ignoring doesn't work, try to brush them off. Sometimes people are just bent on being annoying and you end up in a situation where you simply can't pretend they don't exist. An example of this might be someone who started talking to you and you respond but the situation quickly turned into them belittling you, extremely rude cashiers or shop clerks, or people who you are somehow interacting with. In this case, if you don't feel like you can muster up the courage to simply tell them to mind their own business, the best you can sometimes do is just act like what they said was a somewhat lame joke. Give them a half-assed "Heh heh, yeah" and usually they're satisfied. I'm not going to lie, it is passive aggressive and I do this sometimes to people who are rude to me in public, I act a bit confused when they say something rude or stupid to me, like I have no idea what they could possibly be talking about, "Sheep? What sheep? I don't understand what you mean, I'm not a farmer, and this is a mall, why would sheep be allowed in here?" and the person making the comment often gets a bit embarrassed for even saying anything at all.
  • Be polite to people who are kind. Not everyone is going to be rude to you! Wearing Lolita will often get you a fair number of compliments. Now, to the extremely shy person, this can often be just as worrisome as rude comments, but in this case, you should really just give a polite "Thank you!" to anyone who goes out of their way to let you know they like what you're wearing. Sometimes the curious and genuinely interested will ask questions about what you're wearing, you don't have to go into in depth answers and explain the history of the Lolita fashion to them if you don't feel like it, most people are usually just satisfied with "Oh, it's just a girly/fancy/cute fashion that I like to wear". You usually don't have to even say "Lolita" or name-drop Japan if you don't feel like it.
  • Work your way up to more outlandish outfits. If you can, you might want to wear some "practice run" Lolita outfits, whatever you might feel is less extreme than your normal style of Lolita. Maybe this means wearing a modest petticoat, skipping the over-sized headwear, or wearing a simple cutsew instead of a blouse. Whatever makes you feel a bit more comfortable!
  • Be safe. Lolita is an attention grabbing fashion and it's going to make you stand out so you should know when standing out is a bad idea, whatever your idea of a "bad idea" might be, even if it's something as simple as going somewhere where you just know you'll be getting dirty looks about the way you're dressed. If you can, avoid going to risky places alone while wearing Lolita, try to grab a friend to go with you, or consider bringing a change of clothes to spare yourself the unneeded stress.
There really is no "right" way to react to mean comments, because mean comments aren't right to begin with. But generally, it's best to not make a huge commotion about them. Most people who say nasty things to other people are just trying to feel superior in some way or to start something, and the best you can do in that situation is to refuse to even acknowledge their "superiority" and to deny them the satisfaction of a reaction. With that in mind, I've found that I actually get many more positive comments and compliments than negative ones while out and about in Lolita!

How do you deal with the stares and comments of wearing Lolitas in public? Do you find that ignoring it is the best option? Or are you much more vocal about letting people know you don't care for comments!? Or, perhaps, are you lucky enough that no one really bats an eye when you go out decked in your frills and ruffles?
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