Friday, 12 April 2013

18th Century Gown Obsession

I've always had a love for 18th century fashions, even since before I knew anything much about them. I always though that the straight, clean lines on the bodice and the extravagant, curvacious lines of the skirt were beautiful together. Not to mention those massive hats, gorgeous shoes and wonderful hair.
In the last six months I seem to have learned an inordinate amount about 18th century dress construction, mainly from reading blogs such as American Duchess, my favorite historical costume blog so far (and probably forevermore).
Now the idea to make my own gown has been bubbling away at the back of my mind for months and in the last few days I've started to realise that idea. My aunt is a costumier for theater and movies amongst other things and she lent me two sets of stays to take patterns from just after Christmas. One of which was 18th century (the other was Tudor I think), so taking advantage of my Easter break I finally nabbed patterns from both of them, thus beginning my Robe a l'Anglaise project!

I was spurred on mostly by the thought of owning a certain gorgeous pair of shoes (which I'd need an excuse to buy). American Duchess isn't just a blog it's also a company focusing on creating as historically accurate as possible shoes and accessories. They've got some really gorgeous things on there and Im looking to buy this pair of black Kensingtons with the additions of Dauphine shoe buckles and black and white stockings. I hardly ever buy myself shoes and now that I'm sure my feet have stopped growing I'm quite prepared to splash out on shoes as pretty as these (and the best thing ever, they go up to my size *cries tears of joy*).

It's taken me a little while but I've come up with an initial design. I want to make a Robe a l'Anglaise that I can pull up in back and turn into a more fun - and practical - Polonaise gown when the mood takes me.

My rough sketch, just so that I could get a vague idea of the look

My local fabric store had some rather gorgeous cream and red striped cotton the last time I went in there that I was oggling with glee but didn't have anything to use it on, I think it'd work with this rather perfectly. The design was inspired by a couple of pieces from the Kyoto Costume Institute that I've loved since I don't know when.

 The colour scheme and squared off front of this jacket inspired the bodice and overskirt of my design, whilst the overall feel, silhouette and belt/sash of the ensemble underneath influenced the rest.

I've decided not to go for full length sleeves as I'd constantly worry about dragging them through something, and three quarter lengths might go some way towards helping me to not boil and die.
As for headgear I've decided to go for a Gainsborough hat, in black to match the shoes. Inspiration and aspirations bellow.

We'll see how making it all goes I guess, but there's plenty of people to ask and reference online and I've got a bunch of books so here's hoping!!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Recommendations: Neverwhere

Here today... Tonight, with a recommendation for ya'll!

Last summer me and my family went on holiday to Dorset and among the numerous books I brought with me was one that my grandpa had been telling me to read for ages, 'Neverwhere' by Niel Gaiman. Now I've read some of Gaiman's stuff before and I've had mixed feelings. I've got a couple of his children's books which I love and I gave Stardust a go to no avail (I'd seen the movie first and the slow paced book just wasn't to my taste back then and especially not in comparison to the film) but then I read 'The Graveyard Book' and I was head over heals in love. You should read that one too!

So when we were in Dorset I began reading 'Neverwhere'. It's a really beautiful book, with the most real and unusual characters, inventive setting and simple, mysterious, sweet, familiar and different storyline I've every come across.

Here's the blurb from the back of the book:
"Under the streets of London there's a world most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, and pale girls in black velvet. Richard Mayhew is a young businessman who is about to find out more than he bargained for about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his safe and predictable life and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and yet utterly bizarre. There's a girl named Door, an Angel called Islington, an Earl who holds Court on the carriage of a Tube train, a Beast in a labyrinth, and dangers and delights beyond imagining... And Richard, who only wants to go home, is to find a strange destiny waiting for him below the streets of his native city."

Whilst I was reading it I could really associate with that "eerily familiar and yet utterly bizarre" feeling. This book is really, really amazing and I would recommend it to almost anyone (so long as they don't mind reading about some slightly gruesome things) and it's even better if you live in London and use the stations that some of the story takes place in. Just watch out for the monster lurking The Gap and the Shepherds of Shepherds Bush, you want to stay away from them too!

If you're not one for reading 'Neverwhere' has been turned into a radio play that is currently airing on BBC Radio four with James McAvoy as Richard Mayhew, Natalie Dormer as The Lady Door and Benedict Cumberbatch as The Angel Islington among other wonderful actors. You can catch up with the episodes here, but be quick the last one is only up for six more days! There's also a TV series that was made back in 1996 which you can probably find online somewhere, though I haven't seen it yet so I don't know how good it is.
listen here
or take another look at the book here

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Cheese and pesto melts

Okay, so I get that it sounds kind of weird... BUT READ ON!!!
So recently I've been kind of super addicted to cheese and pesto melts on brown seeded bread. My dad made me one about two weeks ago as a snack whilst we watched Star Trek together and I was a bit dubious at first because I never remembered liking them before but then oh. My. God. It was like love at first sight... But with my tongue. Okay, that sounded really strange. But whatever!! What I'm trying to say here is that if you've never had one... Try it! They also work on baguette, but it's not quite as nice as on brown bread. Not in my opinion anyway because then the bread outweighs the innards and it's odd.

There's a picture of a half eaten one I made for myself (I had the idea for this post halfway through lunch), needless to say it wasn't as good as when my dad makes them... But then food is always better when someone else makes it for you!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Blatant sexism that universities aren't even ashamed about

I've been feeding my veracious desire for excellent blogs with Rarely Wears Lipstick recently, and I came across this post which led to this article on the treatment of female students at freshers-week at Universities in, most western countries, I would surmise. To sum up both articles, student unions at Uni's have begun running themed parties to allow students to get to know each other. Which is all fine and dandy but it's not so brilliant if the parties have themes like 'COEs and Corporate Hoes', 'Slag'n'drag', 'Geeks and Sluts' or 'Pimps and Hoes'. I won't go into anymore detail regarding what the two linked pieces because you should really go read them and these ladies certainly know more about the subject than I do.

What this post is for is just to convey my mind blowing level nausea. Whilst reading these I was filled with such a sense of horror and disgust that I teared up. Genuine fucking tears. I kid you not. It's not just that I was filled with a heart wrenching sorrow for my fellow women that have been subjected to the predatory and downright terrifying advances of guys at these so called 'parties', but I was momentarily filled with a despair for today's society so deep that I felt like a bottomless well of cold blackness had opened up inside my heart.

Now I could wax poetic forever more, but that's really not really the point. After an eight hour plus day of dealing with immature, cocky little dicks at my college who think they're hilarious making casually racist and sexist jokes I've kind of had it. Not that I don't come to feel like this pretty much every time I leave the house, it's just that this time is different. I've always felt that any sexual harassment I suffer through is a temporary thing, in the past. Hopefully momentary. But now I have this huge looming thing in my future. Years of university where there's a high chance (according to the statistics I saw in those articles) that I'll be seen by my male peers as just another vagina, conveniently attached to a pair of tits.

This is most certainly not the university life that I considered let alone dreamed of. Which was, I suppose innocently free of horny, predatory little shits that tote around Rohypnol like I carry books. I'm not going to get bogged down with this though, and I certainly don't want to fret over it like I did with the subject of creepy college tutors. Because frankly, now that I'm there and have met all my wonderful tutors (minus one, who I disagree with on a regular basis) I feel stupid. Really stupid.
I'm just counting myself lucky that I'm not of the right mindset to attend a party anyway, let alone one with a name that tells all like one of those mentioned above. It's rather insane that their organisers didn't even try to disguise their ulterior motives, but I guess that's just another clue to what today's culture deems as an acceptable way to treat women.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

A Review of My Year Through Cosplays and Recent Projects

So I thought a good way to start off again would be by sharing with you some of my recent projects, personal ones that is. I do NOT want college or the arts award or anything invading this blog!
I realise that I posted a cosplay photodump back in April, but I've done soooo much since then it's stupid, and my skills have (I'd like to think) gotten at least a little better. If we're working through this in chronological order I guess I had better start with May EXPO...

I cosplayed Soul again, this time with an incredibly gorgeous Maka Albarn (my friend Emma!) who I love dearly! That was on the Friday, I then unveiled my secret cosplay on the Saturday, which was...

Madam Red, or Angelina Durless-Burnette from Kuroshitsuji. Only one of my cosplay friends actually knew about this costume and the look on everyone else's faces when I walked over to them was priceless. This day wasn't without its strife though, it was gratifying, but I lost track of how many times I was asked for pictures and after a while I found it... For want of a better word, incredibly trying. The weather was also insane. I was either dying in the heat or stressed out by the wind, which kept blowing my snow white jabot up onto my bright red, half melted lipstick or getting wig hair tangled in my false eyelashes.
On the last day I cosplayed Serah Farron from Final Fantasy XIII, which was a welcome relief from Red's stifling layers.


I'm not super happy with how it turned out, but my genius photographer friend, Dem, made it look about fifty billion times better than it was!

After May EXPO I had a few crazy weeks where I pulled together a portfolio for my college interviews and somehow found time to work on another costume. A Setsugetsuka version of the Vocaloid Hatsune Miku for a group with my friends Dem, Sophie and Adele to be worn at London Film and Comic-con. I designed it myself, bringing in elements of other cosplays I'd seen and fanart to make it more recognisable and familiar.

I don't actually have any photoshoot-y pictures of this cosplay, it was so hot and we were all so busy at the con that we didn't actually get the chance to take any and by the time we remembered I'd stripped off half my cosplay and none of us could be bothered. So you get some stage snaps. We entered the cosplay masquerade, but didn't win anything. Something I'm shamefully rather bitter about. What it did do though was give me a strong desire to enter more cosplay competitions in the future!
After LFCC I went through a couple of interviews for college, went on holiday, enrolled at college the day we got back, had two weeks to finish off four costumes, went to my induction day then came straight home, finished up packing then journeyed all the way up to Leicester the next day for Alcon... Which happens to have been the best few days I've spent at a conventions ever! I stayed in the dorms with a bunch of my friends which was absolutely wonderful and what I'm looking most forward to if I go again this September. On the Friday night we negotiated drunks to go get pizza then took it back to the dorm kitchen and pigged out whilst playing a rather raucous game of Uno until 2am! It was brilliant!

I took the train up with Dem on Thursday and we got there at around 1pm, but I didn't feel like changing into my cosplay until it was about 4 or 5 o-clock. In which time we'd all figured out that we had nothing to eat food from and had walked into Leicester in search of cutlery and at the very least mugs. Eventually me and James spotted an Oxfam and we all bough sufficiently eclectic mugs for about 49p. Once we got back I changed into my cosplay for that day which was Eiri Yuki from Gravitation. I've not actually watch past the first four episodes of the anime, but Dem wanted a Yuki to her Shuichi and I had most of the stuff anyway so I obliged.

This was such a comfy costume, apart from the glasses... They sucked. Totally not my prescription and I couldn't see shit.
On Friday I cosplay Madam Red again. This was the big Kuro group day and we had Ciel, Claude, Sebastian, two Grells and an Undertaker.

The next day, Saturday,  I wore the big cosplay that I'd been working on since July. The Cantarella version of Hatsune Miku. Me and Dem had originally planned to wear these cosplays to LFCC with her as Kaito, but due to both of us messing up and taking ages to get things finished we postponed them 'til Alcon.

I wore Miku for a couple of hours then had to change because my corset was getting uncomfortable. I then wore my normal clothes for a few hours, attended some panels, then went back to the dorms to change. Dem was going all the way back to London that night to see Lady Gaga in concert, so I went to the masquerade Kaitoless. Not that I minded too much. I danced with a few guys, one of which spent most of the time staring at my cleavage *despairing in the male sex* before I gave up and started dancing around with Adele who was cosplaying Gakupo and singing along to songs from Beauty and The Beast XD
On the last day me and Dem had been planning two do two cosplays each, Snake and Ciel from Kuroshitsuji in the morning and Howl Jenkins (Howl's Moving Castle) and Ponyo (from... Ponyo) respectively in the afternoon. But after an incredibly late night, fear of dying from the heat and lack of motivation and time we decided to just do Howl and Ponyo, which was a good choice. They were comfy and fun. I really enjoyed being Howl. But I want to get some better photos this summer.

It was so bright out that you can't see my eyes at all, which is a shame because I had really awesome blue contacts. Part of the reason I want more photos. I went to a couple of panels in the afternoon then I had to dash back to the dorms, change and finish packing all my crap away before grabbing a cab to the station and catching my train back to London so I could start college the next day. If I go again this year I really hope I'm able to come back on the Monday morning. It sucked having to dash off on the Sunday afternoon.

I kind of buried myself in college for a couple of months whilst rattling out cosplays for October EXPO. Friday I cosplayed Heiwajima Shizuo from Durarara!!

Shizuo was really fun, it felt good to be a total badass for once instead of servile, which seems to be a trend in the cosplays I do.
On Saturday I cosplayed Kururugi Suzaku from Code Geass in his Ashford Academy uniform, with my little sister as Nunnally Lamperouge. She was so cute!!! I got kinda of soaked that day though, the weather was terrible!

 Then, on Sunday I cosplayed Austria/Roderich Edelstein from Hetalia, to the joy of my friend Chloe who actually lives in Austria. She kept talking to me in German and I felt so bad that I couldn't reply >_<

We didn't get around to taking proper photos of this cosplay, it was dark and raining outside by the time we even thought about it.
On Hallowe'en my friend Maddy came over and we dressed up and made pumpkin pasties, I dressed up as the Marauders era version of Remus Lupin from Harry Potter.

But this is the only record of that cosplay... Once we'd finished making pasties I showed Maddy Game of Thrones, which she is now in love with and has very quickly completely finished *so proud of her*. Then we watched The Woman In Black... Which was a mistake. I couldn't look at shrubbery, look in mirrors, walk past doorways or go anywhere in my house in alone for weeks. And it was hell coming back from college in the dark. This ridiculousness didn't end until I met the woman who did the make up for that movie at a V&A workshop. She was only about 24, blonde, bubbly and named Florence!

Around this time I was getting really into The Mortal Instruments series, and my friend Echo's birthday was coming up. I have this tradition of posting 'happy birthday themed' pictures online for my friends that live in different too far away for me to see them in person, normally closet cosplays of characters I know they like. So for Echo I dressed up as Simon Lewis from The Mortal Instruments, made a sign that said 'Happy Birthday Echo' took some pictures and posted one on DA. Once I was done though I kept the cosplay on and went downstairs to play some Assassins Creed III. Just after turning the game on though I realised that I could take some other pictures, so I did.

I'd like to do this costume properly, make one of his slogan t-shirts and get some jeans or something. Maybe also do the vampire version of him with The Mark of Cain and stuff.
After this I kind of took a break from cosplay, I got really down about it and unmotivated and just stopped until about a week into January wheeeen, I decided to cosplay Jack Frost from Rise of The Guardians!

He's so fun to be! I'm cosplaying him again at May EXPO, I'll have his staff finished by then too, and some adjustments made to the wig and jumper. But overall I'm really happy with it!

In March my friend is hosting a yaoi themed meet up, and you have to dress as a character that's typically shipped with another character of the same sex/gender, I've wanted to cosplay Magnus Bane from The Mortal Instruments for ages so I thought that would be the perfect time wear him. Then on Valentines day I wanted to do something for my darling Alec so I took a couple of photos. 

Magnus has gold-green cat eyes, so I'll get contacts before I cosplay him outside anywhere. Since Magnus I've only finished one thing, a steampunk inspired patchwork steel boned underbust corset.

I'm sorry this post was so long, I felt like I needed to clear all this out from underfoot before I could start fresh with new things. The next posts will be costume progress, reviews, recommendations and stuff I guess. But I'm not that sure yet. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Supposed Uninterestingness of Me

..... So..... Yeah.... I seem to have failed spectacularly in my attempts to begin blogging again. It's pretty sad really, because well, it's showing clearly how lazy I am and how pathetic I am at persevering with something. Thus I have come to this conclusion; I won't make any promises, but I will try and get back into the habit (lol, almost wrote 'hobbit' there!) of blogging regularly. I think it's good exercise for my writing skills since they're blatantly not being stretched by college, and I also find it relaxing and rewarding when I'm not feeling guilty for the lack of updates. I also won't confine myself to a specific type of post, this will be a blog for whatever the hell I want.
(I think another reason I haven't updated lately is because I feel like I've got nothing of interest to share with you all, and that is a sucky feeling to feel.)

In the meantime, while I think up something to post about, here are some other sites where I update -usually- every day.

Right, now to thinking about what to post...