Tuesday, 12 December 2017

The Lazy Oaf V.I.P Party

Hey everyone!

I'm a little behind schedule with the updates, so bear with! This next one is from November 7th.

So... this all came about rather by chance. Wing, a friend of mine, runs the Lazy Oaf Sales group on facebook, and is friends with one of the staff at the Lazy Oaf shop. Her connections ended up with her being asked to invite a bunch of people passionate about the brand to a V.I.P. launch of a new sub-label for the brand, called G.E.M. 

I could not have been more excited when I received my e-mail invitation, and set about planning to attend. I booked the day of work specially, so that I wouldn't have fatigue in the evening.

The event happened on a rainy Tuesday night at the Lazy Oaf shop in Carnaby, London.I ended up being one of the only people not wearing pastel pink! Why didn't I get the memo!? Mostly people were wearing super cute, fluffy looks, really going all out for the event. It was fun to see the details people added to their outfits, from handmade bunny ear hats, to customised Lazy Oaf pieces.

Outfit choice aside, this event was so fun and cute. We went down to the basement of the shop and Kunika, the cookie artist, had provided a bunch of special biscuits for everyone, and they tasted incredible-- so delicate and soft.

The downstairs had be re-decorated especially for the launch, with the walls painted a darling shade of pink, giving the whole space a warm, slightly surreal glow. 

Everybody oohed and ahhed over the new collection, and we took turns trying pieces on, and commenting on who suited what! It was so much fun to chat with everyone so enthusiastically about fashion! Most unexpectedly, Gemma Shiel, the founder of Lazy Oaf herself, attended the launch! I found myself suddenly being offered a cold drink by her, and engaged in conversation with herself and Wing. She was super friendly and down to earth, seemingly almost still in awe that there were so many people out there loving and appreciating her brand.

I was so happy to get a picture with Gemma! (@gemmaoaf) My outfit was more punk-inspired. I have such a thing for stripes at the moment and wear that top far too much, haha. Gemma's look was so simple yet edgy and totally perfect on her.

I didn't end up buying anything in the end (though someone did spend an extended period of time trying to convince me, even calling other people over for back-up, to buy a cardigan. But it had no pockets so I ended up leaving it) but it was good to be there to see a new collection in person, and be part of such a fun, special evening. I think all the things that I would have liked to say to Gemma, and questions I would have liked to ask as an aspiring fashion designer more or less went out of the window... but that's life!

I loved everyone's outfits so much! It was a lot of fun being surrounded by this lovely group of people and I feel so privileged to have been a part of this event! I'll leave you their instagram handles in case you want to follow these fashionable ladies (plus I just really like instagram).
Top row: @cgiolo, @chantillic, @dodopotato, @rfrenchillustration, @charliejamison, @chocoreverie, @memz_x . Bottom row: @herajika, @reina_roo, @spiffykidd (or, you know, me).

After a couple of hours, the event began to wrap up, and while most people went off to Chinatown for food and Tuesday night shots, I had to head home. It ended up only taking an hour total from Chinatown to my bedroom, so I was very pleased!

I'm glad that I've been continuing to step out of my comfort zone this year. Even earlier in the year, this is something that would have made me so anxious and unsure of myself. By allowing myself to embrace these opportunities and take people up on their invitations, I've found myself experiencing things I never would have in the past. It's not quite over yet, but this has been such an incredible year, and I feel like I have a lot more happiness in my life!

Have any of you ever met someone who inspires you, be it a designer, artists, musician etc? Did you remember to ask any important "interviewer" questions? Or were you like me, and got too carried away chatting to them like an old friend? I'd love to hear about it!

Thanks for reading as ever, and see you next time 

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Catch Up Post: The Minori Tea Party 🍰

Hey everyone!

Seems like such a long time since I updated here! I ended up getting ill for an entire month (I'm only just getting over the last of a dry cough!) which threw all of my creative pursuits out of the window. I managed a couple of bloomer commissions during October (with difficulty. The fatigue was real, and working for an hour required a day's recovery from it) but otherwise, most things got neglected. It sucked wanting to see people, socialise, and experience my favourite season, but not being able to. Still, being laid up in bed with too much light sensitivity to check social media gave me a lot of time to think, which did me a world of good after spending so much of the year feeling like I was going at 100mph. It sounds strange, but I feel quite refreshed after that bout of illness, and ready to take on what's left of this year.

I thought I'd do a couple of catch up posts talking about a few things that I have been up to this season so far, before I got ill, and after. 

So, prior to falling ill...

Not too long after my last post was the Minori Tea Party at the start of October. I wasn't feeling amazingly that day, and the weather was grey and drizzly. Feeling a little fatigued, I headed to the Grange White Hall Hotel, for afternoon tea. 
It's just on the other side of Russel Square, which was beginning to look autumnal.

The food was a lot better than I expected. I thought it wouldn't be up to much due to the fact it would be served buffet style, but it was actually a very large spread, and everyone was able to have seconds and thirds etc, if they felt so inclined. 

I particularly enjoyed the sandwiches, and ended up having seconds! There were some good vegetarian options, too, which tasted great!

I'll let you in on something-- I'm very apathetic when it comes to meeting "celebrities" or "famous" people. I've yet to feel truly starstruck, or excited to meet someone in the same way I know other people can be. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing; I think it's important to remain grounded about the fact that no matter how well-known someone is, they're still just another person like you at the end of the day! I've met Minori once before at Enchanted in 2014, and she's pretty chill-- you never get the sense that she sees herself as being above anyone else, and I couldn't help thinking she just wished she shared a language with us so she could hang out like any other attendee and relax with people! I think it would be cool to meet some of these Japanese guests we get at these J-fashion events in a different, less stuffy setting, as like I said before... I don't really get the whole "meet and greet" thing.

This lighting does me absolutely no favours, but we endure. I felt like a giant compared to her! Minori's look was very intricate as ever, and I was amazed by how big her false eyelashes were!

The hotel had a small astro-turfed courtyard where we took a group photo, and later on, I was able to sneak off with Reina and Charlie for our own outfit photos in natural lighting. On the way, there was a surreal moment where I was accosted by a few people telling me that I should make bloomers with pockets. Well, I'll definitely think about it!

I went for something a little different than usual, with my Meta Vintage Cameo jumperskirt. I don't wear it too much as I'm not classically inclined, really, and see it as more of a normie piece. But it was nice to have a change, even if I did miss the more cutesy themes of my usual pieces!

We managed to get a group picture once back indoors. The lighting in the room wasn't great, but this still turned out pretty cute! Shame I didn't match the purple theme going on here! Their outfits were so lovely!

After our little photoshoot, it was more or less time for the raffle. I didn't win anything in the end, but that was to be expected. I've never been known for having much luck where these things are concerned! Some of the prizes were really decent, and I hadn't expected there to be so many.

Over the course of the day, we'd all been writing messages and adding stickers to a book to give to Minori as a gift. She had an interpreter with her, but it must be difficult to be in an unfamiliar environment, surrounded by people you don't share a language with. She coped with this with so much grace, and overall seemed very good-natured.

The event started to wrap up as daylight began to fade outside, and I headed off with Reina and Charlie to Covent Garden for a mooch around. On our way, we found ourselves surrounded by people dressed as zombies, fake blood and latex injuries included. I wouldn't have minded, were it not for the fact it all seemed in very poor taste given the fact there had been a terror attack that very same day, plus the fact they kept growling as they walked past us, or breathing creepily at us. By all means, dress up how you want, do whatever it is you want to get your kicks, but don't involve people who haven't consented to your nonsense. It was the final straw for me when one of the zombies deliberately staggered close to me-- and ended up smearing fake blood on my white bag despite my best efforts to step out of the way. Thankfully, this wiped off without too much hassle, but I couldn't help feeling pissed off about the complete lack of  respect for other people displayed by these zombie prats.

It was with some relief we finally made it to Art Box, and I couldn't help feeling immediately better once surrounded by all the kawaii stationery and lifestyle accessories! After a trip into a very crowded Forbidden Planet, we finally decided to head home. 

Overall, the tea party felt very stuffy and low energy compared with DMC, where the entire day had felt like a chilled out party or something. I don't suppose it helped that I was feeling a bit ill, and the heat of the room wasn't helping matters! There was also an atmosphere of "post-Tea Party Club" uncertainty lingering in the air, with this being the first London event since DMC. Still, it was lovely to hang out with friends, the food was great (I actually wish I'd taken some home with me!), and Raven organised everything so well that the event actually wrapped up a little early! She did an excellent job!

"Let's get a group selfie!" *Instax develops to reveal a picture that mainly consists of my face*

How do you guys feel about "celebrities" or "meet and greets"? Have you ever been harassed in the street in the name of other people's fun? Been to any tea parties lately? Been in poor health? Let's catch up! I'd love to hear about it all in the comments!

Thank you so much for reading. See you next time! 

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Dream Masquerade Carnival 🎠 Finale: Vlog!

Hey everyone!

I felt as though I didn't film an awful lot over the DMC weekend, but thankfully, there was some salvageable footage (including a bit of dashcam footage because I do like to twirl around in front of my car after I've paid for train station parking. I cannot be alone in this).

It was important to me to put together  video account of the event, so that I could have a more "real" memory of what I saw and did. There's a few things I missed out on filming, such as people's outfits, and just some clips of me hanging out with friends, as well as a linear timeline of various aspects of the day. Regardless, I'm really happy with my final edit of the event (I had to cut down a lot of my talking because I went on for a good ten minutes originally, talking through a blow by blow account of vending and my emotions which I'm sure nobody really cares about, haha).

In future, I would like to make more indie artist/designer-focused content, where I share my ideas and tips for getting your business going or doing events for the first time.

Anyway, until then, please enjoy my video sharing my experience of Dream Masquerade Carnival as an indie brand, and a montage of some of the fun parts of the weekend!

I hope you like it! 

Monday, 18 September 2017

Dream Masquerade Carnival 🎠 Part 2: The End.

Day two of DMC was a lot more relaxed. The tea party started much later in the day than the Saturday event, and the fact I wouldn't have to do any organising or vending meant that I felt more calm. Too calm, perhaps, because I fell into bed the night before without really thinking through what I would be wearing the following day.

The tea party is when people really ramp it up a notch, as this is the day when the special guests make their decision about who should be awarded a prize for best outfit. I knew that some people had been planning their coordinates months in advance. Me? I grabbed something that morning and headed to the train station. I wore Dreaming Macaron-- a cute, fruit-themed print that I figured would be pleasant on such a hot, sunny day. In the last minute decision making, I didn't coordinate the dress as well as I knew I could have, but honestly, I didn't really care. Looking a bit ita was very much secondary to the fact this would be my first time going to a big tea party like this, and absolutely nothing could dampen my excitement!

I arrived right on time, and found myself at One Whitehall Place, the same venue as Frock On! 4 years previously. That sense of things coming full circle embraced me as I stepped into that familiar lobby, with its winding staircase at the back. Instead of heading upstairs, though, I was advised to go down, and found a crowded, talkative room of lolitas in a basement waiting area. I chatted to a few people, before it was finally time to be seated. Most unexpectedly (for me, at least), there was a mini-stampede as everyone pushed and shoved to be as close to the front of the queue as possible. I was actually separated from my friends because people barged in front of me. Thankfully, my pals promised to save me a seat and went on ahead.

The tea party room was large but very crowded. It was difficult to move between the tables, and I felt that too many tickets had been sold. There were people who I didn't get to speak to because it was simply too difficult at times to make my way across the room to talk to them! It took a bit of manoeuvring for me to merely claim my saved seat, and I felt tired at the thought of having to leave it again! I particularly felt for the wait staff. They did an amazing job of keeping us all topped up with tea, despite the space constraints.

There was an assortment of small gifts laid out on the tables. I claimed my pieces and we sat chatting, waiting for something to happen. Nothing did, so we got up to take pictures, to mingle with the other attendees, and generally relax.

My table! We were given badges, fans, and hair accessories. As well as food, of course. Look at those pretty sandwiches!

After a while, it was time for everybody to settle down for food. I quite enjoyed the afternoon tea-- the sandwiches had particularly nice fillings, and thee were enough provided to go round for everyone. Our table didn't seem to have very many desserts, though, so all I ended up with was a slither of carrot cake-- not that I'm complaining! I was very content! The only tea choice was breakfast tea, though, which was slightly disappointing as I'm an earl grey girl through and through! Bizarrely, an announcement was made as soon as we started eating that we would now all need to go take the group photo. I couldn't be bothered: I'd been in the group photo in the past and never really felt excited by the tiny brown blob that was my face way at the back each time. I continued to eat instead, and it was nice having the room a little emptier for a while. You can see who was on my table in this little clip of Charlie's video about the event! (can't lie, I really enjoy the rare occasion I get filmed by other people because I look much better on film than in pictures!)

It was wonderful to chat to some new people, and catch up with old friends. Not even getting my dress tulle stuck between two chairs, causing it to tear, affected my day too drastically (I'm thinking fabric glue will fix this little issue). Once upon a time I would have felt so anxious, and not made the most of the event. This time, though, I felt so in my element, and just enjoyed being there, being a lolita, and being part of this community. The day was such a whirlwind that I didn't really remember to take pictures. I actually filmed a lot of the weekend, though. Whether or not I will be able to create a decent event report out of this dodgy quality footage is another matter entirely, but we'll see!

Not my best look, complete with harsh sunshine to create a delightfully unflattering image, but whatever, haha.

Towards the end of the event, Kyra announced the end of the Tea Party Club, something I'd seen coming many months back. Regardless, it still felt like such a bittersweet moment. I completely understood why she did it, and I felt so privileged to have been there to see it go out with a bang. 

The Tea Party Club gave me a social life. It introduced me to people I never would have met otherwise, who I share real hobbies and interests with. How different would my life be had I not joined the LiveJournal way back when I was sixteen years old? It doesn't bear thinking about! But I've grown and changed so much since then, and so has the Tea Party Club. As painful as it can be to move on, to leave the past and your old self behind, it can also be rewarding and refreshing, and I have no doubt that while this era comes to an end, something new is just around the corner.

I didn't win anything in the raffle, and as the event had overrun by half an hour, I had to leg it to catch my 6 o'clock train home. I made it with mere minutes to spare, and couldn't help give myself a pat on the back for this impressive feat!

So, that was my Run DMC weekend! I think back on it often, because it truly is such a happy memory, and makes me feel so cheerful and positive inside! I know for sure that it will stay with me for years to come 

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Dream Masquerade Carnival 🎠 Part 1: A Dream Come True

I've been pretty absent from this blog as of late, and for good reason. I was faced with the unexpected task of preparing for an event I thought I was no longer in the running to vend at... on top of a full time "normie" job. To say it was a test of my resolve is an understatement. I never knew I had it in me to get home from a day at work and go straight to my sewing machine, to drawing up plans for outfits, to ironing out design flaws and figuring out things I thought I would need much longer to do. It was a challenge, but honestly, it was incredibly rewarding. This is going to be a long post so please settle down with a refreshment of your choice! I hope you will enjoy reading about what was honestly one of the best experiences of my entire life.

🍭     🍬     🎀

I was up until very late on Friday 25th August, finishing off bloomers, trying to make accessories for myself to wear, and packing everything I would need for my stall. Seemingly all of a sudden, Saturday 26th August was upon me: the day of Dream Masquerade Carnival, the tenth anniversary of the Tea Party Club, and the first ever UK Angelic Pretty event!

After a restless 5 or so hours, I had to be up again to catch my 7:51 train. And wouldn't you know it... I missed the damn train by about 30 seconds, due to not being able to make it over the train bridge with my heavy suitcase quickly enough. I watched it zoom off into the distance and tried not to cry or panic. This was OK, I told myself. There will be another train.

The next train wasn't for another half hour, and after bumping into a few other lolitas on the way to the event at the connecting service, I began dressing fully, putting on my petticoat, my beret and hair bow, and finding my wristcuffs. Not long to go.

Someone mentioned it would be easier to take the bus, so trusting in their judgement, I got the number 23 from Paddington, and off we whizzed down to Charing Cross. As it was so early, there was barely any traffic, and we got there in good time, all things considered.

At 116 Pall Mall, a lovely member of staff showed me to the lifts and took my right up to St James 1, where my table was situated. I was the last vendor to arrive and there were only 15 minutes to go until the gold ticket members would be allowed into the venue. 

My neighbours were Summer Tales Boutique, who kindly helped me to set up my clothing rail after seeing me basically staring at all the pieces in confusion. About twenty minutes later, my table was more or less ready and I finally felt myself relaxing. It was going to be OK!

I stood back and admired the finished product. 

It looked better than I could have hoped for, and it was then I felt truly ready for the event to begin!

It was getting to around half ten before the attendees began streaming in to have a look at the stalls, and it wasn't long before I started to make some sales! Unlike my experience at Hyper Japan last year, my bestselling items weren't the small accessories, but the bloomers and the berets! One girl walked past and flashed me her mint bloomers, excitedly telling me she'd purchased them from me in the past! Moments like that truly are the best thing; knowing that people are wearing and appreciating your work is unbelievably motivating. I spent a lot of the day feeling the fuzzies, to be honest.

My friends Sammi and Nicola came to help me, taking over so I could rush off to use the toilet, and do the many other duties that cropped up during the day. I had a quick chance that morning to have a wander around the event, and I bumped into my fellow blogging friend Miriam! She looked super cute, and we decided to get some pictures at the gorgeous backdrop in the photo area. I'm so happy that she got such a fabulous picture of me!

My coordinate matched the backdrop perfectly! It was my first time wearing a proper, full coordinate with Miracle Candy, and I'm so pleased with how it turned out, from the candy cane hold-ups that were a lucky find on eBay, to the candy patched I attached to my beret the night before (also from eBay!) I think this is the best coordinate I've ever done, so I was feeling super content!

Miriam's coordinate was so pretty! I always love her cute AP look that have the perfect balance of wearability and fanciness! We've now met in Paris and London! I wonder which city we'll get to hang out in next!? We'll have to see where future events take us!

Soon it was time to get my models ready for the fashion show. Goodness, what an experience that was. We entered the crowded, narrow changing room. The scent of stale sweat was in the air, and it felt hot and cramped. There were people undressing, casually pulling off shirts and changing into elaborate dresses. It was absolute chaos, and I loved the feeling of anticipation, and the energy that emanated from the space. Bizarrely, I felt totally in my element. I managed to find a little alcove for my models and one of their friends, and together we managed to get everybody looking just right Seemingly all of a sudden, it was time for everyone to file out, and get ready to walk. I wished my models the best of luck, and rushed off to get my camera so I could film them in the show. 

Maddie joined me for the show, we ended up in the last row but one. At first I thought we had the worst seats, and then I realised this meant we would be able to see very clearly the entirety of all the models' walks. The fashion show began.

I knew my girls were further down the list, so I waited patiently as the other indie designer's pieces were presented. There were some really interesting pieces, and familiar faces wearing them. 

Somehow, I managed to get a very lucky snap of none other than my blogging buddy Cupcake Kamisama, who was an absolute sass queen during her walk. I am so pleased I got to meet her and have a chat with her, though it's a shame we didn't get a chance to get a photo together as planned. Still, I'm sure we are bound to cross paths again!

Finally, it was my three models' turn. You can see how they did here in this video, and again here (be prepared for the cuteness). So, let me just say how unbelievably proud I felt watching them. When it was all over, I teared up and it took every ounce of self restraint for me not to let it spill over and ruin my makeup. To have models wearing my designs in a fashion show is something I could only dream of this time four years ago, when I attended my first big lolita event, Frock On! On that day, I had a handful of handmade ribbon bows to put in the bring and buy, and the fact a few of them sold motivated me to do more, to learn more, to let Sugar Trampoline take shape. To be a vendor with a whole booth's worth of items this past weekend, and people who recognised my brand... really, it was a dream come true and I will never forget it. 

Here's me with my models, Rachel, Sophie, and Queenie! I love how they each brought their own individual style and vibe to their pieces.

I feel so privileged to have been able to work with such lovely people, and I hope I will see them again at future meets or events!

After the fashion show was over, and had been such a success, is when I felt I could really relax! Sales continued over the afternoon, and I got to chat to so many different people. It was great to have so many of my friends all in one place, coming to see how things were going for me, and stopping by for a quick chat in the busyness and chaos of the day. I even got filmed! You never really feel like you got to say everything you wanted to say to certain people, or as though you took all the pictures you wanted to take, but that's OK I guess. Rather than be disappointed, I can only be proud of how far I've come-- at previous events I felt isolated, anxious and out of place, often feeling too awkward to talk to people as much as I would have liked. I have so much more confidence than I ever have, and even though I still have a long way to go, I'm pleased with where I am right now, and I 100% made the most of my time at this event!

I finally got to meet Rosalynn, who I've been following since the very start of her Lolita Wonderland blog! It was great to chat to her, and especially to meet her in a super sweet AP coordinate!

With Emmy and Taylor! It was lovely to see my local old comm pals, and I loved how they twinned!

Reina and Wing stopped by my stall for a quick chat and for this lovely snap! It's always great to hang out with these two gorgeous people, who are two of my oldest friends through lolita fashion!

Maddie hung around for a bit and I was pleased I got to see her awesome ringmaster style coordinate! She also patiently took photos of me at my stall. I'm always grateful for people who are OK with helping me get the picture I want, haha! She was remote vending some of her beautiful brooch series.

Your fave kawaii shopkeeper.

With Sammi, who helped me out so much that day (as did Nicola, who gave me some very needed onigiri later in the afternoon. Too kind!) I loved the stack of pancakes she made to match her dress! This is a very civilised photo compared to our photobooth snap, where I thought it would be a great idea to carry her on my back for one of the frames!

After getting a very short, and interrupted sleep the night before (I actually had some nightmares... I guess it was the stress of the pending event!) and rushing around all day being here, there, and everywhere, I was absolutely cream-crackered by the time the evening rolled around, to the extent I didn't have the energy to stay for the ending raffle. At 7pm, I packed up my stall, toned down my coord to make public transport easier, and headed home. 

If it wasn't already clear, I had an absolutely incredible time at Dream Masquerade Carnival! It was a huge push outside my comfort zone and I loved every minute of it. It was a confidence boost seeing people admiring my brand's offerings, and having several people stop by my stall after the fashion show to ask when my cherry print series would be available (soon. Just let me have a couple weeks off from sewing first, haha!), and to sell a lot of pieces of the course of the day. I did better in a single day at DMC with only a few hundred attendees than I did over three days at Hyper Japan, with tens of thousands of attendees. It's clear what my niche is, much as I might try to run away from it.

Surprisingly, and somewhat annoyingly depending on how you look at it, this past weekend really re-ignited my love for lolita. I don't think I have ever felt so good in any outfit ever, and I don't particularly want to give up on that feeling, or the strong sense of community I felt surrounded by people who have grown to become good friends over time. 

So, Saturday of Dream Masquerade Carnival? An absolute banger where I made memories I will cherish for years to come. 

Friday, 28 July 2017

♥ New Video! A Very Pink Haul ♥

Hey everyone!

I had a few days off from work this week, which has been pretty refreshing. It's mainly rained these three days, but it's been a peaceful sort of gloom. I love to crack open the window and have the sound of gentle rainfall as background noise.

Most of my free time has been spent sewing and working on my business, but I surprised myself and on the spur of the moment, recorded a haul video!

I've been trying to push myself out of my comfort zone more, and I realise a big part of why I didn't make videos regularly is because I would spend so much time picking apart my appearance, mannerisms, voice, and personality afterwards. I'm trying to move beyond that now, and have a lot more love for myself.

I enjoyed making this video and it was fun editing it (even if faffing around with YouTube's soon-to-be defunct basic editor because you don't have an actual video editing programme on your computer isn't the best thing in the world!) I hope this can serve as being one piece of that journey towards being kinder to myself ^_^


I hope you enjoy it! 

Sunday, 23 July 2017

My Thoughts on "So Pretty/Very Rotten" by Jane Mai and An Nyugen 📖

Hey everyone! Long time no see!

I've been pretty quiet lately as work has more or less taken over my life! I work full time, but I also work on my business in my free time, and I have an event coming up I've been frantically preparing for on the off chance I get time and energy to spare, so things are pretty chaotic for me at the moment! It has been nice, though, when I do find those snatches of time before bed to do something calming, such as reading. 

As someone who got into lolita fashion during a time when livejournal was the central hub for the community, and an English literature grad, I became very interested in purchasing "So Pretty/Very Rotten", as it had been a long time since I had heard of a lolita related project heavily focused on experiences, essays, and interviews like this. The following is my personal response towards the book. I hope you enjoy it!

I really like the colours and artwork used for the front cover! It's romantic, and suits a book about lolita fashion perfectly!

The lace design used on the back is really cool!

When I received it, I was at first surprised by how chunky the book was. I expected it to be maybe 150 pages maximum, but ended up with over 300.

However, this is by no means a text-heavy volume, with most of the pages dedicated to several lolita-centred comics.

From what I've seen on other blogs etc, the general reception to this book has been very positive, and I do understand why. I have a huge appreciation for people who carry out careful research, and put the time and effort into creating content to be enjoyed by the community at large. The book consists of brief, but interesting, interviews with Novala Takemoto, who is apparently in the process of putting together an extensive book detailing the history of lolita fashion from its beginnings to present day.  There are comics introducing us to a variety of characters, many of whom seem to be "broken" or incomplete in some way. There are also essays looking into what makes up the aeesthetics of the fashion, its influences, as well as musings on the subculture at large. Others who reviewed the book seemed to see it as an interesting introduction to lolita fashion and the thoughts of the community's members. 

Did I have a lot of fun reading this book? Well, not really. I didn't find it to be particularly informative (but hey, I got into lolita rather a long time ago after all), and it certainly did not uplift me with its often brooding themes. But I will say that this book surprised me. My initial reaction was that I hadn't enjoyed it. I closed the book one night before bed feeling a little empty, and like the ending had been very abrupt and inconclusive. On reflection, though, I realised the book had probably done what it set out to do-- it made me think.

I enjoyed the variety in the artwork-- some of it was soft, simple, and adorable like this! Also, I appreciated the well-dressed wlw couple!
So many of the sentiments in this book hit really close to home: that sense of being made unhappy by something that once brought you immense joy, the struggle to remain passionate and healthy-minded in the face of a increasing sense of competition amongst your peers, and the pressures of consuming more and more in what started off as an alternative, rule-breaking subculture which encouraged modification and creativity in clothes.

A huge reason for me losing a lot of interest in lolita fashion is because of the way in which the fashion changed (the current trends bear little resemblance to the fashion I initially fell in love with, and certainly don't feel like a street fashion anymore) but also the way in which the community became overwhelmingly large, and as a result felt less like a subculture as time went on. Everything became too accessible and no longer "special", over-saturated, and oftentimes meaningless as common interests held by its members became fewer and farther between. I could be surrounded by people at meets and yet feel inescapably lonely and discontent. These comics explore some of these sentiments, from a grotesque exaggeration of someone who would do anything to fuel their creative pursuits, to a short story involving an emotionally distant girl who eventually leaves the fashion altogether, to another to shrouds herself in the beauty of these clothes to escape the sad reality of her living situation. There are moments in which this book takes disturbing turns and poses the question: do we see ourselves within these characters? I think for many of us, the answer would be yes.

This was not a feel-good read for me, but it left a huge impression on me, and a desire to do my own explorations of similar topics. Why is it, I wonder, that even the most beautiful things can be so ugly, so rotten at their core? Perhaps it's just a law of nature, that "yin and yang" that means that everything is interconnected, both the good and the bad. All of those clichéd expressions are true-- there is a fine line between love and hate, and while exploring that can be scary, it's absolutely necessary.

I really enjoyed this illustrated lookbook accompanied by a really lovely, anecdotal commentary!
I think the parts I enjoyed the most were the passionate accounts of how different people got into lolita fashion in the first place-- what their first introduction was, what getting their first pieces felt like, and why it was meaningful for them. But of course, those inevitable counter stories about drifting away from the fashion had their place, too, and I couldn't help but be overcome by a wistfulness for simpler times. I was a mere teenager in the noughties when I first got into this fashion, and while so much has changed with it, so much has changed within myself, and reading this book felt like a way of confronting and coming to terms with that fact, as I have been for a while now.

As this book managed to get me mulling over it for days afterwards, it's only natural that I would recommend you get yourself a copy. I expect you might have a different reception to it, but this is what it did for me, and I never have any regrets about reading anything that makes me think, or allows me to continue on with a newfound perspective. I didn't always find it enjoyable, and there were parts that I felt could have done with a re-write because they were clunky to read. But certainly, it instilled within me the motivation to write this review, but also reminded me how important it is to keep writing in general. It's important to document any alternative fashion, subculture, or interest. I'm very much an "archivist" and I would like to think that here and there, I have contributed in some way to archiving thoughts, feelings, insights and information that will give people an understanding of what lolita was for someone in the 2010s.

My rating for "So Pretty/Very Rotten" is 4 out of 5 stars. Jane Mai and An Nygen deserve a pat on the back because this book is a wonderful achievement.

Did you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear your responses to the topics it covers in the comments! Thank you so much if you read all the way to the end, and I'll see you next time 

Saturday, 10 June 2017

🍒 International Lolita Day: Summer 2017 Edition! 🍒

This year's summer ILD fell on a gorgeous sunny day. I knew I didn't want to go to any official meetups, so instead I organised to hang out with some friends instead. I traveled up to Oxford to hang out with Sammi, Maddie and Nicola for a fun picnic in one of my favourite places: the Botanic Garden!

I've not been there in far too long, and I was particularly excited to return at a time when everything would be in full bloom. The place looked simply magical; we were surrounded by all manner of flora and fauna, and the weather was absolutely perfect for a picnic. I can't help but feel very inspired here, and ended up taking a lot of photos.

On our way there, we decided to stop off in the covered market in the city centre for some bubble tea from a place called Coba. I've never been a fan of the proper tapioca pearls, but I do love the bursting fruit ball version. I went for a pineapple fruit juice with mango pearls, and it proved to be very refreshing on this warm day, as well as a really yummy combination of flavours.

We eventually got to the entrance of the Botanic Garden, paid our entry fee and after a little walking to find the perfect spot, settled ourselves down under the shade of a tree, and began spreading out picnic blankets and unpacking our food. This was the best picnic I've ever experienced, and I know it's because it wasn't entirely composed of shop-bought foods from the supermarket's ready-to-eat section! Everyone contributed something: Sammi made her signature couscous and potato salad, Maddie made a range of sandwiches with different fillings, Nicola baked her amazing chocolate cake, and I prepared a pasta dish with mixed tomatoes and mozzarella. Overall, we had a pretty healthy spread, and everything I ate tasted delicious!

We chatted under the tree for a while, and Maddie and Nicola, the artists of our group, spent a little time sketching. The atmosphere was incredibly relaxed, and I couldn't help feeling totally content. Every now and again, ducks from a nearby pond would waddle over out of curiosity, before being chased away by a toddler from another picnicking group nearby! Other times, I would find myself watching the clouds scudding their way across the sky while we nattered about this and that. I live for days such as these!

A few hours flew by, and we decided we wanted to explore the gardens before it got too late in the day. We walked around, aided by our visitor's map, and enjoyed creating a lot of nature photography. My allergies were terrible (my eyes are so puffy and red in all the pictures, made more glaringly obvious by the fact I was rushing so much that morning I didn't have time to put mascara on!) but I couldn't resist getting close to the flowers, smelling roses used in perfumery, and watching bees buzzing around busily as they gathered up some pollen. I sneezed a lot, but it was worth it!
So many different colours!

It's incredible that such vibrant shades can be found in nature.

I find the greenhouse pond utterly captivating. Lily pads are so pretty!

I am really bad at group selfies but I did my best! 

I knew we couldn't leave without getting some decent outfit photos of everyone, especially when the light was so good! We wandered into one of the many greenhouses and found an open space filled with pink flowers, benches to rest on, and the perfect decor for some fashion photography!

Maddie has such a lovely smile! She opted for a casual, fresh pastel AP coord, complete with a cutsew that looked so comfy and cute!

Nicola didn't feel like wearing lolita, but I love what she wore instead! A super ethereal 60s inspired hippie look that I knew I needed to get a portait photo of! 

Sammi went for a relaxed AP coord, perfect for lounging around at a picnic and doing lots of walking! I love seeing her food prints!

Aaand, my outfit of the day! I went for a retro-inspired look with my Metamorphose Sweet Cherry jumperskirt, and kept things super simple for the warm weather. Also, my pink hair has made a comeback!

Seemingly out of nowhere, the day drew to a close! Nicola let me take home some of her lovely chocolate cake, and I boarded my train, smiling occasionally into the setting sun... which then turned into big, dark storm clouds. I made it home just before it began to hammer it down with rain! I slept so well that night, completely tired out from the day's adventures.

As you can probably tell, my International Lolita Day was a roaring success! It was one of the nicest days I'd had in a while, and was without question my favourite ILD so far! I regularly count my blessings because my life is filled with some truly wonderful people, and to be able to have these glorious outings with them is the icing on the cake.

Do you celebrate International Lolita Day? What did you get up to? I'd love to hear all about it in the comments! Thank you so much for reading and looking, and I'll see you next time ❤

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

A Chilled Out Day of Shopping and Food 🍲🍧

On Saturday 13th May, I met up with Sammi and her sister, Nicola, who'd I'd not seen in ages.

I was so in the mood for a weekend adventure, having had a pretty tough week at work. I started a new office job last month, and a mere few weeks in, the person mentoring me set off for a two week holiday to California, leaving me to blunder through despite not really knowing what I was doing. Somehow, I made it through this trying time, and things seem to be falling into place as time goes on!

On this day, we took the opportunity to do some shopping for this and that. Sammi and Nicola decided to do some fabric hunting, I collected my contact lenses from the optician's, and we also looked for the more mundane items like toiletries. After having sufficiently worked up an appetite, we headed to Bolan Thai, my favourite local restaurant.

I've never had a meal there that wasn't amazing, and the staff are incredibly friendly and accommodating. They are happy to leave you to chat for hours, and actually come back to offer you water if you're still there after ages! I wish more restaurants had such a relaxed atmosphere, but I do feel lucky to have this one so conveniently located for me.

The ingredients are always delightfully fresh and perfectly cooked. I particularly enjoy their sweet and sour dishes such as this one!

We stayed for a few hours, catching up on one another's lives. We talked work, relationships, friendships and much more. It was a lot of fun getting to chat to Nicola outside of a lolita meet, which was previously more or less the only environment I'd get to see her, and would always be a situation where we wouldn't get the chance to talk at length! She's an artist, so it was incredibly interesting hearing about her convention vending experiences, and thinking of potential conventions we could split table costs at!

After we had our fill of yummy Thai food, we decided to have a wander around the shops, and mainly found ourselves browsing homewares! We spent a particularly long time in TK Maxx, which is such a treasure trove of ornaments and decorative boxes and novelty furnishings that it's hard not to get carried away in there!

The lighting in there is surprisingly good so we couldn't help heading to a big mirror to get a group photo! As you can see, I got myself a really impressive toiletries haul that day!

Sammi and I ended up accidentally doing some Mickey Mouse twinning, so naturally, we needed to capture some evidence of it. 

Well, it's a good thing I was wearing bloomers, as unbeknownst to me, my bag hitched up the back of my skirt! This picture makes me smile because while having it taken, Sammi and I kept smiling for the camera... even though we weren't even looking at it.

After doing a bit more wandering around in candle shops and the like, we decided we were in the mood for dessert, and headed to the local ice cream parlour, situated most conveniently at the train station. I enjoyed my peach amaretto ice cream cone so much I forgot to take a picture of it! It was a lovely end to such a positive, relaxing day, and I'm very much looking forward to more days like this. 

An outfit shot. I think we've already established I have a huge love for monochrome! While I enjoy the dramatic contrast you get when you coordinate it with red, pink is my favourite colour, after all!
Hair accessory: gift 
Bunny bolero: Baby, The Stars Shine Bright
Necklace: Claire's
Dress: Lazy Oaf
Bag: Lazy Oaf
Shoes Bodyline

It's definitely easier to get through the working week when you have fun plans to look forward to at the weekend, and I've been doing my level best to keep my social calendar filled up! I was so grateful for this relaxed day out, and as we get further through May, I'm looking ahead to International Lolita Day coming up soon, for which I've got some plans for!

What are your favourite restaurants to go to? Do you enjoy looking at homewares? I'd love to hear all about your shopping preferences! As ever, thank you so much for looking and reading, and I'll see you next time! 

Friday, 19 May 2017

Lolita as Formal Attire 💜

I've seen a lot of discussions over the years in the lolita community about whether or not lolita is acceptable to wear for [insert event]. I'm inclined to say that it can be dressed up or down for pretty much anything, and all you really need to worry about is how practical it will be for you, and the attitude of the people who will be attending the event. As with anything in life, it's important to be respectful of other people's feelings. For example, it would seem a little inappropriate to turn up to the wedding of someone you don't know very well in a shiro coordinate. It may also be taken rather offensively if you turn up to a sombre occasion, such as a funeral, wearing an OTT sweet coordinate without asking anyone's permission. Balance is key, and you have to be sensible enough to realise when it's better to put the frills away that day.

Thus far, I've never run into any problems wearing lolita for various non-lolita occasions and events. I've worn lolita to a school prom, to two weddings, and a baptism, as far as formal events go, and I received nothing but compliments on my attire. One thing I do like about the fashion is that once you've amassed a cohesive wardrobe, you never really need to worry about buying dresses for upcoming formal events, provided your personal lolita style isn't too outrageous! But like I said, if the attitude of the other people going to the event is more relaxed where self expression through clothing is concerned, you probably won't need to worry too much.

My most recent formal event was a baptism, and for the occasion I wore Trick Hat, Pricked Heart. It's what I sometimes refer to as my "Holy Grail" dress, as the only time I ever saw it come up for sale is the time I bought it... and that was rather a while after I first wanted it! I'm not sure if it's a legitimate rarity or if those who first bought the dress on release simply love it as much as I do and would never part from it. Either way, I always feel so happy to see this piece in my collection, especially after I spent a while assuming I would never own it, and it was fun to give it an outing after having not worn it at all in 2016.

My family are totally unfazed by my alternative leanings, and my extended family don't even bat an eyelid when I rock up to events in a lolita coordinate, so I had no worries there. I went for something relatively casual, as honestly, I feel the print speaks for itself.

Hairbow: Handmade
Bolero: New Look
Jumperskirt: Trick Hat, Pricked Heart- Alice and the Pirates
Bag: Angelic Pretty
Shoes: Bodyline

I really like the way I match my bedroom here! I always love having the fairy picture on the wall, but it looks particularly lovely with this dress!

I ended up posting this coordinate in a casual, daily lolita coordinates group on facebook and was surprised by the positive feedback. I'm not sure if I'll post again, but it was fun to have that little bit of interaction with the lolita community at large for a moment, as it's not something I do much of these days. 

So... have any of you ever worn lolita to a formal event? How did you go about coordinating your outfit? I'd love to hear about it!

Thanks for reading and looking, and I'll see you next time 

Saturday, 22 April 2017

A Cake Mission 🍰

This month has been super action-packed, so I've not had nearly as much time as I would have liked to immerse myself in the blogosphere. Hopefully I can get things back on track! I'm kicking things off with an account of a really lovely day I had with Sammi and Maddie earlier on this month. We decided to meet up in Oxford, with the aim of settling ourselves down in a café.

It was a lovely warm day, and naturally, all the eateries were rammed with people. We found ourselves walking from café to café, trying in vain to find seating for the three of us. We eventually walked towards Cowley, way out from the centre of Oxford, where we discovered a place called Tick Tock, which had interesting, South American style decor, complete with (you guessed it) all manner of clocks adorning the walls. 

We were relieved to find somewhere to sit at last, but this wave of gratitude was short lived as we looked a little closer. Underneath the quirky decor, it seemed we were in a crappy, greasy spoon caff, and as we covertly surveyed the plates of the other punters, we found the menu on offer to be the exact opposite of the quaint spread we were after. It didn't help that there was an old man seated behind Sammi who kept letting out the most horrendous, sickly-sounding coughs. 

We were just thinking about leaving when we found ourselves swooped upon by a waitress. We awkwardly placed drinks orders, deciding to use this time to gear ourselves up to find somewhere else for food. Somehow, they managed to do a poor job of serving basic drinks. I ordered an apple juice and had a random bottle of some processed crap slammed down in front of me. It was lukewarm and piss poor. About ten minutes later, I was carelessly slid a hot glass, fresh from the dishwasher, and not quite what I wanted to involve myself with on such a warm day. Sammi's iced latte was dire and Maddie was served a pint of the most underwhelming tea. We paid and continued our journey as quickly as possible. 

We tried a very hipster-style café, taken in by the macarons displayed in the window. Turned out they sold nothing else of interest so we simply made use of their WiFi and navigated our way through Google Maps. We walked back down the Cowley Road and ended up at a café called Pastiche. They had all manner of sweet treats in the window and we knew immediately we'd found a winner! Not only were there a ton of lovely desserts on offer, they were all priced very affordably! It was a shock to the system compared to my recent London cake date!

The staff were incredibly friendly and enquired politely about our lolita outfits that day. Soon, we were settled in a corner, chatting away and enjoying our fruit layer cakes. I had a pot of Earl Grey to myself that was very refreshing and tasted amazing. Essentially, this is my favourite sort of day! I love silly conversations, deep and meaningful ones, funny ones... and cycling through all of those different topics over the course of a day over tea and cake is always energising and fun!

As the day wore on, we found ourselves getting peckish and wanting something savoury. It turns out this café specialised in a full range of savoury pancakes. I opted for a mixed cheese crepe, which included cheddar, haloumi, mozzarella and feta. It was absolutely delicious!

While in the café, we couldn't help discussing our coordinate plans for the upcoming Tea Party Club event. It was a lot of fun brainstorming various wild and wonderful ideas, and speculating about different aspects of the weekend. It's the most excited I've been about a lolita event in so long!

Before we knew it, evening was drawing in and it was time we got some outfit pictures in  before heading home. 

Sammi was on-theme in her macaron print! I love how long and glossy her hair is at the moment!

Maddie pulls off neutral colours so well, and always manages to look refined and elegant!

For this little adventure, I went for a simple summery outfit with my Metamorphose Gingham Cherry, and of course my Mickey bag had to make an appearance! 

I used the belt from my Vintage Poodle dress, just to try something a little different.

I loved when Maddie asked if she could touch the bag as it looked so soft!

It was lovely to catch up with these two, and explore a bit of Oxford I've never really seen much of in the past. I only wish I'd gotten some cake to take home with me! Maybe next time! There's definitely going to be a lot more cake adventures in my future!

Do you ever struggle to find seats in cafés where you live? Do you have any favourite dessert places? I'd love to hear about your own adventures for the perfect slice of cake! Thank you so much for reading, and I'll see you next time!