wrong side of the tracks

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This was my original concept for what ended up being my “baroness samedi’s in town” shoot, which ended up being one of my favorite things I’ve ever created. My original character was a mysterious traveler seemingly blown in on the breeze. No one knew why the skull on her staff gleamed so bright or why her toes pointed so sharp, and no one was sure they wanted to. I ended up reworking the shoot and scrapping these photos, but I look through my outtakes every once in a while, mining forgotten treasures. I’m glad I decided to post these after all.

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I’ve been really inspired by raw Appalachian themes lately. Think gauzy witches, wild eyes, folk magic, and Martha Redbone. It might not be showing in my outfit posts, but it’s been consistently on my mind. Evident in the books I’m reading and the music I’m mainlining on my way to work. Our Lady of the Forest (no spoilers, please), Eva Cassidy, Delta Rae. As much as I love Christmas, I’m distantly looking forward to prancing about in the spring thaw and reclaiming my place as a maybe-sinister forest nymph. 

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mall goths and other stories

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Sometimes I just don’t feel right without pagan bling, crinolines, and a big ol’ fascinator. I’m Hot Topic incarnate, right down to the black lipstick and early-’90s Polaroid vibe. I’m playing a character in this shoot, deliberately channeling a very specific feeling, but deep down we all know it’s not really a character. Who among us didn’t have the Spencer Gifts/Inkubus Sukkubus/”you’re not my real dad!” phase? (Who among us ever really left it?) I still headbang to Voltaire doing 70 on the highway. I still keep The Satanic Bible front and center in my bookcase. Too bad I missed my era. I never got to take those 3emo blurred Polaroids for real. Is it unbearably inauthentic if I try to recreate their look in Photoshop?

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Josh, bless whatever passes for his heart, bought me this dress form last month. I love dress forms. They’re delightfully eerie and they have a practical use. One day, knock on wood, I’ll have a whole collection. I need to design more photo shoots with them. They make such creepily evocative props.

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Y’know, I was nervous about posting these. It’s hard to be shitty in the name of doing good. It’s hard to make deliberately bad art and hope people make note of the deliberation. But even harder than trying to be polished is letting oneself not be polished. I think these photos fit the mood I’m trying to convey. And that’s because of, not despite, their terrible, terrible quality. They remind me of the humble, awkward selfies Agent Starling finds in Fredrica Bimmel’s room.

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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.

nonchalantly bloodstained

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Franceta Johnson posted an incredibly salient rant today about how tiresome the “glorified selfies” aspect of style blogging can get. She yanked the words right from my brain: there’s practically nothing inspired about three posts a week featuring the same poses, same background, same suspiciously grainy mirror shots. Your outfit better be hella impressive if you’re going to rely on those tropes post in and post out. I suspect that, too often, formulaic photo technique and unvarying background makes fashion photography less of an art form and more of a consumerist “this bag speaks for itself” label circlejerk. And that’s so not what I want my work to be about. The materialism of much of high fashion culture gives me serious misgivings. I love clothes because of the stories you can tell with them using nothing more than fabric draped around a human form. I’m fascinated by just how many volumes color and texture can speak. A $1,000 dress isn’t worth a damn thing if you can’t give it artistic relevance.

I’d really like to move away from your average “stand and pose” fashion photography. We (read: fashion bloggers) all succumb to that sometimes, but if I’m modeling an outfit, I damn well want to model it! To move in it, to play its nuances off the background and the light, to make my photos suggest a story more than the sum of their individual parts. I like working in themes. I like syncretism. My favorite magazine, Vogue, treats its clothes as costumes and its sets as artistic playgrounds. It contextualizes and refines the outfits and the sets until each photo is a complete story unto itself. That’s what I strive for in my fashion photography.
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Today I’m trying to parody the “lazy Sunday” aesthetic. No big deal, I’m just hanging around my kitschy little apartment, absurdly fancy as usual. To further queer the imagery, I played with the light and turned the shots dark and dramatic, not what you’d expect of a cute retro kitchen.
Oh, and the whole shoot was a little inspired by Amanda Palmer’s “The Killing Type” (super super NSFW).
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The shock value works on another level, too: “No big deal, I’m just drenched in blood.”
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Dress & Belt: Downtown Threads Shoes: Old Gold Tights & Bow: Spirit Halloween Glasses: Zenni Optical
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My Karen Walker face.

i was never here

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On my best days I feel like a ghost. Silently transcendent, able to engage and disengage effortlessly with my world. Humanity moves through me but doesn’t linger; any dwelling is my choice and my choice alone. On my best days I’m the Buddhist I never quite got the hang of being.

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I love vintage first and foremost because of its history. While certain fashion eras do appeal to me on the merit of their designs, I find that my appreciation takes a distinctly modern point of view: I wear these precious metals and stiff, splitting fabrics because they’re so old. “Vintage-inspired” doesn’t cut it; I want the real thing, skeletons, spiderwebs and all. Some vintage ladies dream of jetting back to when the eras they love were shiny and new, but I like my musty leather and shirtwaist frocks with a few decades of history stitched into their fading weave. Wearing the past makes me feel storied, like I’m collecting my inheritance as a citizen of this planet. On my best days I have a foot in every world.

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These photos turned out a little pale and overbright. I could have fixed them, but instead I ran with the concept and utterly washed them out for a “between worlds” sort of effect.

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No matter how far afield I wander, I always make it back to fashion inspired by witches and ghosts. It’s what I am.

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Slip (worn as a dress) & Blue Bangles: Old Gold Boots & Silver Bracelet: Battery Street Jeans Hat, Tights, & Necklaces: Gifted

deadly she-beast

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First of all, I’m very proud to announce that “punk girl meth porn” and “grandma’s special old hats” were two of the search terms that led to My Kingdom for a Hat this week. Y’know, meth porn is a damn hard genre to break into. Finally some recognition!

~

This past Saturday, I represented Wings of Sin in Crosswalk: A Fashion Show Styled by Sound. All proceeds went to the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS), which was pretty cool. Wings of Sin specializes in “post-apocalyptic” fashion: organic, animalistic, and eerily utilitarian. In the great pantheon of goth subcultures, it’s definitely tribal goth. Its creator, Melaney, takes things a step further by actually being a belly dancer: she performs with her troupe, the Accaliae, at underground events around the state. I saw her at Spectacle of Sin well before I knew I’d end up modeling for her shop. She’s fantastic. I want to be her.

(Does anyone else think that the use of “sin” in pagan/goth/fetishy naming convention is getting a little old? Other words exist, darklings! I don’t hear “bacchanal” used nearly enough.)

This was my second-ever fashion show. I have, however, been in more plays and cabarets and choir concerts than I can count, and I’m no stranger to infectious backstage chaos. It’s a series of pleasant little disasters. (Maybe my walk down the runway really was post-apocalyptic.) It all makes me feel so alive.

Forgive me the poor quality of the backstage shots. The lighting wasn’t exactly prime for a shoot, but I wanted to capture some of the energy anyway. My mom snapped the runway ones.

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About nine designers participated in the show, each with a distinct look. It was easy to tell which group each model belonged to. We Wings folk definitely got some side-eyes. Let’s put it this way: I had, by far, the FEWEST tattoos.

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I wore a black infinity dress, which I hiked up to my neck and left plunging in back, and a chain-link necklace. All the accessories were mine, and I did my own makeup.

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From Damaged Goods t-shirts. I loved this model.

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From my favorite designer after Wings of Sin, Scandalous Fox Paws. I absolutely loved their medieval-inspired dresses, so much that I contacted them after the show asking if they needed models. Here’s hoping they get back to me!

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Copyright Where Clothes.

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I realize it’s blurry, but that’s meeeeee! The announcer introduced us Sinners as “deadly she-beasts”. I wish I could have someone follow me around and preemptively introduce me that way.

By pure coincidence, I was first down the runway. We shuffled ourselves at random, and I ended up in front. My friend Zoe tackled me afterward: “you opened the show!”

“It was arbitrary.”

“No one has to know that!”

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Copyright Where Clothes.

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Copyright Where Clothes.

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Copyright Where Clothes.

psychobilly (qu’est-ce que c’est)

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Sometimes you just have to go full screaming loligoth.

Despite my frequently fluorescent appearance, I’ve long considered myself goth at heart. I feel most at home in the underbelly of the world, consorting with the macabre. Pondering death, and the attendant thrill in the pit of my stomach, makes me feel alive.

Goth was the first subculture I really identified with. I’ve since found less cliche ways to indulge my penchant for the dark, but I still smile on girls tottering down the street in towering heels and loligoth corsets. I cringe to remember twelve-year-old Skye thinking her Hot Topic kneesocks were the absolute height of MySpace cool, but sometimes I like to indulge her. This is how I desperately wanted to dress all through middle school.

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So I went fully magenta. Bleach and all. You might recall that my hair used to be like this. I started phasing out the bleach about a year ago in hope of still having hair by the time I’m forty. I tried to get into more subdued hues, but I just never felt it. Hot pink is my natural color. I feel my very best topped by a mop of magenta. So after considerable deliberation and consultation with a hairstylist friend, I’ve started bleaching again. Feels so right.

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I bought these shoes when I was 11 to give me a height boost under a long dress I’d bought for Halloween.

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Dress: Hell Bunny Shirt & Voltaire Necklace: Gifted Skull Pendant & Hair Bow: Battery Street Jeans Belt & Skull Necklaces: Old Gold Shoes: Dirt Chic Tights: Sox Market

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no rest for the wicked

I’ve been thoroughly addled on NyQuil. Bronchitis is a big ol’ nasty bitch. I’m hoping to get out of bed and do an outfit post tomorrow, but no promises.

Until then, enjoy my (more or less SFW) Spectacle of Sin pics, featuring my good friends Liam and Annika. (No cameras were allowed at the event itself, so you’ll have to be content with our pre-gaming shots.)

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Annika beckoning her minions…

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Note our friend Lisle in the background. He didn’t attend, but he pre-gamed with us.

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anatomy and androgyny

I did a linkdump post before, back in July. That was a summary of influences on my current style; this one, I hope, will foreshadow things to come. Here are some looks I hope to attempt in 2013.

androgyny

Here’s the thing: my body isn’t androgynous. Far from it. That’s half the fun, though: androgyny, to me, isn’t middle ground. It’s the extreme ends of masculinity and femininity, combined. A boyish outfit, snug on my curves, is something I really want to try. Source.

corset II   corset III   corset IV   corset

There will soon be more corsets in my life. I’m partial mostly to the red and black ones, but I included the green one because I like the way it combines a demure print and an overtly sexualized shape.That’s most of the reason why I like corsets in the first place: I wear them with relatively tame bottoms and enjoy teasing the eye. Source 1 and Source 2.

fetish boots

Speaking of fetish gear! I’d wear these with a cute ’50s shirtdress and let the contrast speak for itself.

high-waisted shorts  high-waisted shorts III

I woke up one morning thinking of dressy shorts and high-necked blouses, and I haven’t been the same since. My ideal pair of dressy shorts would be structured cream-colored cotton, slim through the hips but voluminous in the thigh, with a button fly. If I can’t find them, I’ll just have to make them. I’d tuck my snakeskin blouse into them and wear a red belt. Too bad my hair isn’t long anymore – a topknot would look fantastic with this. Source 1 and Source 2.

middle earth map dress   ms. frizzle cosplay   ms. frizzle cosplay II   pikachu dress   space skirt

I’m really not a nerdy girl in the traditional sense – I’ve never been much for fantasy, gaming, or hard science. (I prefer a good horror film or psychological thriller: my favorite movies are Amadeus, Black Swan, and American Psycho.) That said, I’m a perpetual sucker for clothing inspired by books and movies (told you I was costumey), and I absofuckinglutely love Ms. Frizzle. I might feel a bit fraudulent wearing that map-of-Middle-Earth dress, but I’d get comfortable quickly enough just from the sheer brilliant novelty of the thing. Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, Source 4, and Source 5.

red shirtdress   rose dress   vintage skirt   striped skirt   vintage dresses spider floral

If I’m certain of anything, it’s my love for well-structured vintage skirts and dresses. Especially in red. There’s nothing new to report here except that I hope to acquire more and design new ways to wear them. (The third shot looks like something I already own, honestly. I probably have most of the pieces. Maybe emulating and photographing it will be tomorrow’s project!) Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, Source 4, and Source 5.

red skinny jeans

I owned red skinny jeans once upon a time. They didn’t fit very well (or at all, frankly – they were bunchy in the crotch and too short in the leg), but I was 15 and they were red and I thought I was the hottest shit imaginable. (I was just starting to wear red lipstick then. I had some semblance of style, but nothing I’d want to emulate now.) I’d like to find another pair and do it right this time. Instead of snow boots and a snarky t-shirt (keep in mind that I was FIFTEEN), I’ll do heels and a proper blouse. Source.

skull dress   skull dress II   skull dress III   skull dress IV   skull pants

Do I really need to explain? Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, Source 4, and Source 5.

vein tights

I have wanted tights like these for years. YEARS. I first had the idea when I was 13, and my friends and family looked on in horror. Who’s laughing now? Source.

(My ideal design would include ligaments and tendons too. To the drawing board!)

in my element

I recently made a contact on ModelMayhem interested in doing some “goddess-themed” work with me. He told me to select a location with palpable energy, somewhere I was very comfortable and could really collude with my surroundings. With my parents’  permission, we drove up to my parents’ house and shot in a little copse I used to call “fairy rock”. What resulted was some of the best work I’ve ever done.

All rights reserved by Robert Eddy of First Light Studios.

I’ve always felt the most myself when dressed as a witch. Such garb doesn’t create a pagan identity, of course, but it’s cultural shorthand for connection to my ancient forebears. It’s an easy way to be publicly “out of the broom closet“: partaking in a tradition that does not begin or end with me. That’s fascinating. (In the real world, I’m a religious studies major, and that occasionally bleeds into my fashion work.)

This morning it was sufficiently chilly, so I thought I’d secularize this outfit a bit and wear it out.

I made it more prosaic with the addition of my glasses and a jacket. That spiderweb jacket goes with everything. And it tones down the pagan sensibility from “woodland goddess” to “Halloween kitsch” – more appropriate for daily wear.

An excellent dress for curves. It fits me perfectly.

This is my favorite kind of goth. Understated, elegant, and powerful. I was never much for Hot Topic babybat baubles. “Delicious evil” trumps “screaming emo” any day of the week.

Dress: Handed down from Mom Necklace: Beachside shop in Maine Jacket: Battery Street Jeans