Monday, February 28, 2011

Lolita, Vampires, and I

Despite what some ladies might claim, no one is "born a Lolita" (no really, you did not slide out of the womb decked out in Angelic Pretty). Of course, people can have predispositions and tastes that might lead them to enjoy the lolita aesthetic more than the average person. Regardless, we all arrived there some how, whether it was through a friend, the internet, a band, a movie, et cetera.
How did I get into Lolita? In a roundabout way, vampires. And my fairy Gothmother. It goes something like this....

 Once upon a time, within a black hole in the universe known as Front Royal, Virginia...
...I was an angsty, nerdy little spookykid in 7th grade looking for a place to fit in. In a small, conservative town, this is not easy to do (especially if you are a non-christian liberal). Books were my main comfort, so I spent most of my time after school at the little public library. One day, whilst I was attempting use the ancient library computer, a Goth girl appeared next to me and complimented my totally sweet dragon necklace. Several years older than I, she was the first example of a Goth I'd ever seen IRL (the overall first having been Lydia from Beetlejuice). We got to talking about books, she was reading Blood And Gold and asked if I'd heard of Anne Rice. I hadn't, so off we went to the shelves. We spent the next couple of hours together, during which she showed me not only Anne Rice, but Carmilla (one of the first published vampire stories) and several other vampire genre staples. After that day, I never ever saw her again, not once for the rest of the two years after that I remained in Front Royal. I never even got her name. But, I checked out The Vampire Lestat and I was bitten, er, smitten.
Fueled by my new found love of the undead, I began writing short stories about a girl and a vampire, and decided to dress them in a Gothic fashion, like the strange but lovely lady I had met. This lead me to investigate not only clothing, but the whole of the subculture, including music. Though obviously not actually a Goth band, I came across Malice Mizer in the process, and was thusly introduced to Gothic Lolita. I wouldn't consider myself a Lolita for several years to come, but the idea was planted and Gothic Lolita attire featured prominently in my artwork forever after.
Old sketchbook drawings.

I slowly began building a Goth wardrobe of my own. I experimented with all sorts of looks for the first couple years (and yes, I definitely had my babybat times). But, overall, my one true love was Victorian goth, because at the heart of it, I just wanted to be some sort of eccentric vampire aristocrat. Eventually (around my Junior year of high school), I realized that I didn't just have to express that desire solely on special occasions. I could be as fancy as I wanted to everyday if it made me happy! I even made up a silly little backstory to go with my choice of dress. Basically, "what would a modern-day lady vampire nostalgic for the frills of her human youth wear? Why, Gothic Lolita of course!" I'd previously experimented a little with wearing Lolita thanks to a friend who made her own dresses, but didn't actually begin wearing it out and about until those last two years of highschool. This dress from Retroscope Fashions (also mentioned in my last post about mourning attire) was my first Lolita purchase.
Last year, I joined my local Lolita community, MD Grandeur, and Lolita really took over my life! I shifted to the other end of the Goth-to-Lolita spectrum, nowadays I only occasionally wear trad-goth or Victorian goth ensembles (not that they are that disparate though) and wear Gothic Lolita almost everyday. I'm lucky enough to have a job that allows me to wear what I want and a supportive family that doesn't give me a hard time for my fashion choices.

Oh, and my love affair with Monsieur Lestat de Lioncourt is still going strong ;)

In front of Anne Rice's house in New Orleans, last year.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Adding some Mourning to your day

The deafening street roared on. Full, slim, and grand
In mourning and majestic grief, passed down
A woman, lifting with a stately hand
And swaying the black borders of her gown...
- Charles Baudelaire, รก une Passante

The dark romanticism of black mourning attire can be traced all the way back to the Roman Empire. But Queen Victorian took the traditional customs and clothing of mourning to a whole new level after the death of her husband, Albert. Longer periods of mourning meant more stages of mourning dress, and more accessories to complement them.
The influence of Victorian mourning fashion is obvious in Western Goth and Gothic Lolita, some people going so far as to flat out wear replicas of historical black crepe gowns. Here's some ways to really channel the artful solemnity of the Victorians into your wardrobe.

- Black on black on black. Black is obviously the primary color of Gothic Lolita, but other colors are often mixed in. Trying layering with different textures of black if you feel the monochromatic scheme is too overpowering. Black lace over a solid black fabric makes for an interesting texture, and keeps an outfit more Gothic than Kuro.
or if you want to go in a different direction...
White was the color of deepest mourning for Queens in Europe for a long while. Also, it is the second more popular color in the Gothic style, unsurprisingly. Try to stay as completely Shiro as possible for full dramatic effect.

- Cameos and Jet jewelry. Cameos, especially those made with locks of the deceased's hair, were very popular ornaments. Obviously, cameos sans human hair are much easier to find. Jewelry made from jet, a black stone, was also common. Even better? Cameos made from jet!
A cheaper solution to actual jet is simply black plastic, or black beads. I have a black plastic rose-shaped ring that I've worn on a daily basis for a year, it goes with everything!

- High collars and less skin. Lolita is obviously a more conservative fashion than most in terms of skin exposure. But mourning clothes were conservative even by Victorian standards! Look for dresses and blouses with a high collar, rather than peter pan collars or square/scoop necklines. Wear solid black tights instead of knee socks. Try long leg o' mutton sleeves for an especially widow-like feel.

-Veils and headwear. The veiled widow is a tradition carried on past the 1800's. Dramatic pillbox hats with net veils were common funeral-wear well into the 50's, some people still wear them today. And of course, veils are commonly seen on Gothic Lolita headdresses. I would recommend going with these more modern versions of the veil for practicality's sake (a full veil could look amazing but really get in your way). A black bonnet would also do nicely.

Here are some currently available mourning-eque designs (click image to be taken to it's store).

Now go forth and be gloomy! (Did you know that you could actually get a job as a professional mourner in the Victorian Era and in Ancient Egypt?)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Inspiriation: Movies

Sometimes we all need a little help getting creative, whether it's for art, coordinating, decoring, or just getting you back into the mood! There are many, many sources for lolita-related inspiration. I highly recommend keeping a folder of people and things that speak to you, add to it as you go along on your internet travels, then go back and take a peek when you need ideas.
This time, I will focus on movies that inspire me and give me that happy-squishy-can't-wait-dress-up feeling inside. Here's 5 movies that never fail to put me in the mood to get fancy!

1. Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Okay, so it's really nothing like the book. That doesn't mean it's not amazing! Set at the fashion height bustles and gathered skirts, the movie is full of sumptuous dresses and romantic hairstyles. While Mina is poor, most of the London scenes are set at her friend Lucy's Victorian estate, with enormous gardens and a beautiful interior. There's also this devishly handsome man named Dracula who looks dashing in a tophat. My favorite scene is when he and Mina drink abstinthe and dance with unrealistic-but-lovely floating candles. Someday, I will get married in a reproduction of Mina's red dress, even if I have to marry myself!
Besides the over-the-top victorian opulance, it's also a horror movie, so I wouldn't recommend it if you're uncomfortable with copious amounts of fake blood.

2. Marie Antoinette (2006)
Judging by the enormous amount of lolitas on livejournal who have screencaps from this movie as their icon, I'd say it's a pretty popular choice. But that's hardly surprising! Set in the infamously decadent Rococo-era court of Louis XVI, the pastel paradise of Versaille is mind blowing in it's ornamentation. Cake and frills everywhere! I'm pretty sure a favorite scene for most of us is the "fashion montage" where Marie and her entourage tries on fabulous shoes and dresses while eating cakes that are just as pretty. Obviously, I'm not really one for sweet lolita, but pink or no...this movie really embodies Rococo extravagance and beauty perfectly.
My personal favorite scene is the masquerade, where Marie wears a gorgeous black gown and dainty mask.

 3. Interview with a Vampire (1994)
Everyone loves Lestat! As they say girls want him, boys want to be him (and vise versa, I'm sure). precocious Claudia is a show stealer, though. This is actually the only film adaptation of her work that Anne Rice has given her stamp of approval. The actors, costuming, sets, and locations make for the perfect dark romantic vampire flick. Actually, petulant little Claudia reminds me of the stereotype of the bratty, spoiled Lolita. Regardless, her wardrobe and doll collection are to die for (pun!).
My only issue with the movie is the casting of Armand. Antonio Banderas, while attractive, is not a auburn-haired, pale, Russian teeenager. Actually, Daniel is supposed to have ash blonde hair and violet eyes too...
That aside, it's a movie definitely worth watching if you love decadent costumes and French vampires!

4. Repo The Genetic Opera (2008)
Here's something a little more modern. This gothic rock-opera has some of the best art directing I've seen in a long time. And a great soundtrack to boot! The world the movie takes place in is a aesthetically a mix of "futuristic grunge" and "decaying Victorian" (Combat boots and cravats? Check). I especially love Shilo and Nathan's house, a shadowy Victorian mansion decorated with hologram portraits, birdcages, and other past/future oddities. Shilo also has a variety of black/white victorian goth outfits that are very easy to turn into lolita or casual streetwear. I would guess that most Gothic Lolitas and Goth girls could do a "closet cosplay" of her in 5 minutes.
I like to think about what kind of girl (besides the characters one actually sees) would live in that organ-failing alternate world as a starting point for coordinates. Gothic lolita with a deconstructed twist?

5. Gypsy 83 (2001)
This movie is less of a fashion inspiration and more of a "fly your freak flag proud" inspiration. Not to say that Gypsy and Clive's homemade deathrock-victorian ensembles aren't completely fabulous, they are.
The two main characters are Goths too big for their little Ohio town, and escape the oppressive Midwestern wholesomeness by bringing their romantigoth visions to life in what ways they can. Graveyard picnics, making their own clothes, dancing in churches, getting dressed up to the nines just to go to a boring job. My favorite bit is when they spend they night at a typical truck-stop, but set up a fancy picnic on the floor complete with black blankets and candles. 
Also, killer soundtrack.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Happy Birthday to me~

So this is what 20 looks like! Not too different from yesterday, except that I'm actually wearing lipstick. Maybe 20 will be a lipstick wearing year....
Anyway, in a couple hours I'm meeting up with my local lolitas to eat Ethopian and go to the trad-goth night at Club Orpheus. Tomorrow, I'm having dinner with my mother and stepfather. Sunday, I'm doing a graveyard photoshoot with my friend Casie. And somewhere along the line eating some cake.
I don't really feel 20 at all. I'm not a teenager anymore! How did this happen so quickly?!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Blood and Roses, a book inspired coodinate

So, this past weekend I was in Los Angeles visiting family, and in my adventures I found my way to a particularly lovely bookstore. Dark Delicacies, located in Burbank, caters exclusively to horror and fantasy novels, used and new. They even have books categorized by type of monster! Needless to say, I was in heaven.  Seeing as my 158+ collection of vampire novels has felt a bit lacking lately, I was happy to pick up several new additions, including a Blood and Roses by Sharon Bainbridge.
Reading it on the flight home, I was fully expecting another historically inaccurate tawdry vampire romance (not that that's necessarily a bad thing). However, don't judge a book by it's cover! I was pleasantly surprised to find a charming Victorian romance, a mix between Pride & Prejudice and Dracula. While sticking to classic horror elements of older vampire novels, overall, it's rather lighthearted. I supposed the packaging and cliche title is a product of marketing, since it does not match the interior at all.
So, in my a state of post-good-book-euphoria, I made this little virtual coordinate based on one of the two heroines, Elaine. Auburn haired, clever, and independent, she prefers wearing jewel tones and velvet. I couldn't find any colored JSKs to my liking on polyvore, so I stuck with the classic black (she spends a good deal of the book in mourning attire anyhow).

Some of my other vampire books.
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