glass slippers will cut your feet

cindy III

Cindy won’t forget herself that easily. You don’t spend two decades scrounging scraps and counting every moment of peace only to slide painlessly into luxury. Cleanliness feels too naked, finery too bright. Trust doesn’t come so fast, not even for Prince Charming. Too many nights she finds herself pulled hearthward, hypnotized, drawn to some semblance of her old life.

Lace doesn’t go with ashes. She aches for a way to hide.

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I love fairy tales. I hope that’s obvious by now. I love the archetypes inherent in them. Their demonstration that humans have always been the same. More than that, I love how many ways exist to twist and queer and bastardize them. The goth in me doesn’t want to let anyone have a happy ending.

How much sense does it make for Cinderella to sail right into royalty without even a nod to her crippling PTSD? Exactly none. Part of her probably wishes she still slept beside the cinders every night. She knows embracing her new life is the clearest way forward, but she can’t let go of the rags and ash.

Under her gold and lace, she still wears that filthy frock close against her skin.

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At least as a slave she was Someone. Now she is Other.

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Dresses, Shawl: for sale at Downtown Threads Mask, Pearls, Ring, Belt: Gifted

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ravens land

raven XVI

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.

raven I

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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.

raven II

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

raven X

Caw.

french maid

french maid II

Earlier this month, I approached Downtown Threads about doing a series of costume tutorials. They loved the idea. I currently have a whole chairdrobe of loaner clothes languishing in my bedroom. Until Halloween, I get to borrow interesting/eccentric/eyesore-tastic clothes from their main store and have my costumey way with them. I get blog traffic, and Downtown Threads gets free promotion. A win-win if I’ve ever seen one.

With two weeks to spare ’til that day of days, the first post drops today. Behold my own painfully literal take on a classic costume: the French maid.

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This dress reminded me instantly of a French impressionist painting. It got me excited to design a concept rather than a character. I did some research into the artistic dress movement and discovered that this dress fits it not only symbolically but more literally as well: its structure and texture are very much in keeping with the loose, muted, medieval-inspired dresses of the pre-Raphaelites and their ilk. I love it when pieces work on multiple levels.

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french maid I

For accessories, I turned to staples of the Impressionist period: summery hats, gold jewelry, and heeled shoes with narrow toes. The white tights have little historical precedent, but I think they still work. Most of the time, I’d rather capture the feeling of an era than go for strict accuracy.

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I’ve been meaning for years to get into the Society for Creative Anachronism. My friend Holly promises to drag Josh and me to an event sometime this winter. I need some motivation to refine my knowledge of historical dress. I can date pretty much anything from 1900 on, but I’m ashamed to say I’m utterly lost in older times.

My hair would probably scandalize the entire Society, though. Holly says they’re sticklers. I really enjoy having a few obviously-not-vintage things about me, though. My hair, my tattoos, the stud in my nose. It keeps my costumes fresh. No matter how timeless the rest of my look, there will always be something that breaks the flow. And I’m all about shocking people out of their collective comfort zone.

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Dress & Shawl: Currently for sale at Downtown Threads Bangles: Old Gold Hat: Gifted Shoes: Goodwill Tights: Sox Market

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two devils went a-haunting

halloweening II

I’m almost sorry for the dearth of outfit pictures in this post. Almost. I think the absence is more than compensated for by the garish, ghoulish delights awaiting you after the jump.

If you’re not into Halloween, feel free to skip this one. But if you’re not into Halloween, why are you even here.

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I’m a haunter. Not only am I madly in love with a fellow haunter, but we both maintain fairly important positions at competing haunts. I’m the costume director for the Haunted Forest, an outdoor haunt held at a local bike trail; Josh is the art director for Nightmare Vermont, a bloodier event that specializes in stage combat. The Forest is the campier counterpart to Nightmare’s gore porn, and we both throw in the occasional mindfuck. Needless to say, ’tis our season for near-constant shop talk, copious notetaking, and lurking obscenely around every Halloween store in the county.

These photos are a visual record of the hours we’ve spent over the past few weeks soaking up every plastic skull and bloodstained corset this county has to offer.

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Yes, you can do this with makeup. We often do.

On the 28th of this month (which happens to be Josh’s 25th birthday), we’re dragging ourselves out of bed at seven to help with makeup for Vermont’s annual Zombie Run. Zombie Run is a 5k fun run in which the entrants are divided into zombies and victims. The whole run is framed as a chase, and we do some pretty damn intricate makeup.

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Spirit Halloween is practically a museum. I could spend hours there, and Josh and I often do, tinkering with the animatronics and exclaiming over the displays.

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I’m totally coming here on November 1st and buying every one they have left.

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halloweening I

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When it comes to seasonal decor, I like glittery kitsch. Josh likes muted steampunk. We both like bloody and gothic.

halloween collage

I was really pleased with the variety of costumes in the little girls’ section. There’s not a damn thing wrong with a girl (or a boy!) who’d rather go as a princess than a vampire, but it can be hard to find a truly creepy costume for the spook-conscious little witch. I wish I’d been able to get my hands on blood-spattered tights as a kid! Hell, I’m disappointed that Spirit doesn’t carry them in adult sizes. Josh promised to help me make some, though.

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Sometimes people just really like tiny coffins. No judging.

i am samhain. hear me shriek.

“Angela Isadora Duncan (May 27, 1877 – September 14, 1927), was an American dancer. Duncan’s fondness for flowing scarves was the cause of her death in an automobile accident in Nice, France, when she was [a] passenger in an Amilcar. Her silk scarf, draped around her neck, became entangled around the open-spoked wheels and rear axle, breaking her neck.”

This year’s main costume is “partially decapitated Isadora Duncan.” I doubt I need say more.
For reference, the real Isadora Duncan looked like this:

The following is my approximation. I’ve kept this costume a secret for weeks now. It’s one of the best costume ideas I’ve ever had, and I couldn’t risk thievery.

She was a dancer, after all.

the second-best day of the year

FIRST COSTUME OF THE SEASON, EVERYONE.

Today I’m Crystal Lil from Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love (a book I love so much I ought to get royalties for plugging it). Geek Love (“geek” in the second sense) is about a carnival-owning couple who decide, with the help of various fetal poisons, to breed their own freak show. Crystal Lil, the matriarch, is a showgirl worthy of Palahniuk or Easton Ellis – “kind of a Gypsy Rose Lee who bites the heads off chickens and drinks their blood”.

Of course I had to play her.

The best part of this costume is the fact that I already owned all the components. My wardrobe is that comprehensive.

Five of Lil’s freak children survive to adulthood; she pickles the ones who don’t and displays their tiny corpses in jars. In that vein, I thought the skull was a nice touch.

I just happened to own a water bottle emblazoned with a skull and crossbones. It was perfect for Lil’s poisons.

My usual pic editor was offline today. I had to make do with a less consistently decent one, hence the lower-than-usual quality.

I dressed like this for class and errands today. Costumes are nothing if you can’t commit to them.