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I may be just as insufferable as I was last year, but dammit, I think I produced some pretty good art in 2014. If 2013 was the year I “actually took on some semblance of a recognizable style“, then 2014 was about figuring out how to work my goddamn camera.

These are my favorite posts of the year. This isn’t just a “hey give me a lots of clicks” attention grab; I have slightly more integrity than that. I just really enjoy seeing where I am artistically. And, y’know, getting lots of clicks. I’m only human.

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bloody snowmy tacky manifesto

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garden of earthly delights & something is terribly wrong with the princess

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loonette’s heyday & girl on the burning tightrope

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my precious & by the sea (mr. t)

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steam for a day & curvy girls with floral curls

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curious little beastie & decadent decades

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mad as a hattrix & rockabilly religion major

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the traveling yellow skirt freak show & the other holy grail

 

 

 

the demon and his dames

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This Saturday was my first cabaret since September; Nightmare and Carbon Leaf stole me away in the interim. Since I’m ~too cool~ for the whole “sexy Santa” thing (that, and Josh finds it an active turn-off), we went the more hipster route. Holly and I dressed as the holly and the ivy, and Josh…you do you, Josh. He dressed as the Krampus (the Austrian Christmas demon) complete with basket and switch, and won the costume contest for it. Alas, his only gain was a signed poster – none of the free porn of contests past.

By the way, my “Ivy” dress is for sale on Etsy!

All photos copyright Zinfandel Photography.

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Everyone wanted a turn under the switch.

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mad as a hattrix

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Sooo…I didn’t actually get to wear this anywhere. I’ve done five nights of shows and I still have one left; partying is just about the last thing I want to do. But I had to put this costume together to feel like I was doing something Halloweeny for myself, not just for the ravenous public. And let’s be real: very little about this was actually a costume.

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it was a bridesmaid’s dress

Free porn, you guys! The first prize for Green Mountain Cabaret‘s cult classics costume contest was the critically acclaimed Dickin’ Around, brought to us by the producers of Cumming of Age and A Barely Legal Christmas. Who, other than pun fetishists, actually gets off on this stuff?

This past Saturday, Josh was slaughtered on GMC’s stage. Our friend Sarah, one of their featured dancers (“sugar shakers”), enlisted his roguishness for a combat number. I’ve never seen him strut like he did that night – and we’re talking about a man whose ego has its own magnetic field. Sarah’s boyfriend Gregg and I showed up hours early for front-row seats, hoping for a wink from our lovers. “I wanteed to toss my vest out to you,” Josh told me later, “but stage management nixed it.”

Each number was a tribute to a different cult classic. In Josh and Sarah’s case, Heavy Metal. I also identified Repo: The Genetic Opera, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Doctor Who. Other than that? I was lost. I can identify vintage from any era, but damned if I don’t live under a pop-culture rock. Hell, burlesque shows are about the only getting-out I do.

I love burlesque. I love the whole mad eroticism of it. The skewed axis on which your world operates for one precious evening, where naked butts are normal and catcalls become a good thing. I love the melding of sex and art – and the absinthe doesn’t hurt, either. I’ve been taking classes for six months. Mark me – one of these days I’ll be a stage kitten.

Anyhow, Gregg and I got our own spotlight later that evening, when our respective Tyler Durden and Marla Singer were hauled onstage as the winners of the costume contest. Infinite credit to Zinfandel Photography!

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Helena Bonham Carter allegedly asked Fincher and co. to give her the most haphazard makeup they could, because she didn’t think Marla would care about such things. I don’t know how to feel about this, given that Marla’s makeup isn’t too different from my normal palate.

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Gregg and Josh could damn well be brothers. We joke (but it’s not really a joke) that he and Sarah are Josh’s and my bizarro-world equivalent.

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But actually.

Next month’s theme is nifty fifties! Knock on wood, but that costume contest will be MINE.

 

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The second installment from Saturday’s shoot with Brent. For these, I envisioned a medieval morality play mated somehow with Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared. Almost traditional – witchy imagery, fairy-tale elements – but just unsettling enough. Josh and I tried for a genderfucked Snow White aesthetic, what with the pomegranate, his pretty pretty princess mask, and my crone-tastic posture. I really like how even the background, with its draped sheets and oddly stark light, captures that candid theatrical feeling. Like the caravan of players in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead – coincidentally one of Josh’s favorite movies.

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merry clothmas

I’m pulling a leaf from Kaelah’s toothy little book and compling a “best of” post. 2013 wasn’t only my first full year of blogging. It’s the year my outfits and photography actually took on some semblance of a recognizable style. A far cry from 2012’s “throw some fabric at my body and hope it sticks”. I’m still a born-and-bred eccentric, but now I’ve got a bit more nuance.

This was also the year I started actually applying basic design principles to my shoots. The old stand ‘n’ pose can be fun, but I want to make art on lots of levels, not just the fashionable. I look now at my old webcam shots and want to burn every last one. I keep them on the blog because some of the outfits are passable, and also because it’s a nice reminder of improvement.

Here you’ll find my top 12 posts of 2013. Check back tomorrow or the next day for some 2014 inspiration porn. I’m also planning to list a few new Etsy items over the next couple of days.

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waterhouse heroine & windy witch 

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little red & splatter (plus a link to the bloody-shoes tutorial I did for Floral Prints + Common Sense!)

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strange doll & noontime ghost

boc IV

prairie luxe & baroness samedi’s in town

boc V

grandma chic: dapper flapper edition & i was never here

boc VI

more mooring & keep matches away from me (plus links to Brent Gould Photography and Owlhurst Loft Vintage)

thinking too much as usual

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I’m becoming unbearably preppy. Suddenly red plaid is all I crave. Sometimes I worry that I’m losing my costumey edge, but then I remember that everything is a costume. Deliberate or not, if it affects social perception, if it carries any kind of connotations at all, then it’s a costume. Getting dressed is fun on an artistic level – colors and textures and cuts, oh boy! – but also on a sociological one. What does this piece say, why does it say that, and what other statements might you be able to wring from it? Red plaid, for instance, screams Christmas – but why? It’s kind of thrilling to be able to bypass people’s logical minds entirely and hit them right in the associations. They’ll identify my outfit as “Christmas-y”, but flounder to explain why exactly that is. I’m not claiming that I know, either, but I know what the connotations are and how to play with them. Tell me that’s not at least a little bit magical.

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I took these photos in my dad’s Kung Fu studio. I’ve always appreciated how the bay window looks out on a miniature panorama of seasonal variety. It’s especially interesting in the winter, when the valley below is icy and stark, but the plants inside stay green. I enjoyed playing with that contrast for this shoot.

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This outfit looks very much like something Marlen of Messages on a Napkin would wear.

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Oh, and I made my first Etsy sale yesterday! This vintage Lanz of Salzburg dress. Here’s hoping it starts a trend!

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Skirt (worn as strapless dress): Battery Street Jeans Top, Vest, Tights, Socks, Hat, Scarf, Shoes: Gifted Coat: Second Time Around

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inner child stirred awake

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For the past few winters, I’ve been grasping at the “effortlessly toasty” aesthetic, rife with peacoats and Christmas choirs and suspiciously absent the slightest hint of a runny nose. You know what I mean. Let’s pretend our hems never drag and our gloves never soak through, even in the tyranny of a Vermont winter. More importantly, let’s not pretend we don’t curate our lives. I’ve been hearing a lot about how presenting only the bits you choose to share is somehow disingenuous, how the needy public is somehow owed the admission of private pains and flaws. A lot of bloggers seem to wonder if they’re “faking” by only displaying their most polished selves, by not sharing unflattering outtakes and two-a.m. pajama-clad selfies. If that’s faking, then I’d rather not be real. Who decided that anyone gets to ask for more than what I’m willing to give you? Keeping part of my life for myself alone preserves my sanity.

You’ll get some pretty pictures today, of course, but that little screed has been on my mind for a good while now. Yes, what I share here is real, but it’s augmented. It has to be – what art is any good 100% raw? I’m honored to have such a platform for my  work, I really am. But at the end of the day, I don’t think any creator can afford not to distinguish between spectators and friends.

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I’m not as unfriendly as I sound, I swear. Really, it just comes down to one more reason why I love clothes so much. I get to display exactly what, and how much of it, I want. I get to speak clearly without opening a vein.

And today I’m speaking “inner child snowed awake”.

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I’m really enjoying feeling like an overly starched storybook schoolgirl. Cliche can be a lot of fun to mine.

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Coat: Josh’s Dress & Sweater: Classy Closet Belt: Downtown Threads Boots: Battery Street Jeans Hat: Old Gold Tights: Gifted

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no rest for the wicked

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We opened last night. And, of course, Murphy’s Law dictated that I left my camera battery charging away in my bedroom. As such, I have no evidence of the glory that was my costumes. I’ll do my best to snap some tonight, though. (But seriously, fuck Murphy.)

I took these photos last week, but I haven’t had a single spare moment to edit and post them until now. “After Halloween” has become my stock answer when invited to do anything. From now until the 31st, I operate on three settings: work, haunt, sleep. Last night Josh and I stumbled in at around 1 (his haunt opened last night too), glanced at the pile of clothes on the bedroom floor – let’s be real, they’re mostly mine – and agreed “we’ll clean it up after Halloween.”

I wanted to show you guys what a haunt in progress looks like, though. To most people, haunted houses are perfectly polished spook, but it’s funny how normal it becomes when it’s your bread and butter. The unusual nature of the work kind of gets lost when you’re clomping around all “where’s that goddamn coffin?!” I suppose the same is true for any unusual occupation: our work looks exotic, but we’re just people. And I appreciate anything that humanizes the absurd and the larger than life.

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The Forest consists of a series of self-contained scenes all united by a single theme. This year’s is Merry Olde England; particularly inspired past themes include Twisted Fairy Tales and Creepy Carnival. Groups of audience members are led by cloaked guides through a meandering trail, with scenes installed along the way. Actors do each scene 40 times on a light night.

The entire Forest is lit by pumpkins, carved by a crack team of volunteers. That’s mine second from the right.

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Our venue serves as a series of bike trails for most of the year. During Forest time, the lodge’s racks of helmets and rows of spare tires are swapped out for greasepaint, pumpkins, and capes by the dozen.

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Our super haunted headquarters, filled with super haunted things like…uh, couches, and snacks, and floorboards.

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I love that I work in a place where no one bats an eye at this label.

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My super spooky sweater. One day I will own tacky sweaters for every holiday, even the obscure sectarian ones.

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I’d really like a pet ghost.

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It’s just like any other volunteer event, except for the coffin sneaking into the frame. No biggie.

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The wax museum is one of our classic scenes, though with content modified to fit each year’s theme. As this year’s theme is Merry Olde England, the museum features the first three wives of Henry VIII. I filled in last night as Catherine of Aragon, and I got a few good scares by periodically disrupting my frozen stature to beckon to the audience.

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It’s still running! Get tickets here.

ravens land

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It’s not Halloween without a little Voltaire. You’re welcome.

Welcome to my second costume tutorial for Downtown Threads! My goal with this project is to design my own versions of a few classic costume ideas. Yesterday I wrote about my obnoxiously literal take on the French maid. Today I’m putting a conceptual spin on a Halloween staple: the raven.

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Too many animal costumes resort to big honking masks and bulky fur suits. I’ve never found much excitement in exact duplication. As you saw in yesterday’s post, I much prefer to costume the idea of something. I might not literally resemble a raven, but I resemble the common cultural shorthand of what ravens represent: mystery, cruelty, seduction.

Basically, I like designing costumes that look like outfits and outfits that look like costumes. There’s so much more overlap than many people realize.  It’s why I love designers like Westwood and Schiaparelli. This costume would work pretty well at a black-tie event. And most of my everyday outfits look at least a little like Halloween costumes. There’s history and semiotics in everything.

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To symbolize the cruelty and indifference commonly associated with ravens, I used this earpiece as a breastplate and layered the necklace over it. My raven proudly wears effects – a skull and a wing – from members of her own species. I might as well wear a bracelet of human teeth.

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My other goal with this look was a sexy costume for those who’d rather not show skin (or are just too damn cold to do so. Let’s be real; it’s OCTOBER). Not that there’s anything wrong with wearing a micromini, but it’s sure as hell not the only way to turn someone on. This costume is sexy in a menacing, I’m-gonna-eat-your-heart-for-breakfast kind of way. It’s always interesting to witness the marriage of sex and death, especially at this time of year.

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Remember that all these pieces will be for sale within the next few days! If you’re inspired by my costumes and want to steal them for your lovely self, check out Downtown Threads on Church Street.

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Dress, Shawl, Necklace, & Earpiece: for sale at Downtown Threads Fascinator: Battery Street Jeans Mask: Homeport Shoes: Dirt Chic Tights: Sox Market

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Caw.