Thursday, 25 September 2014

A Weekend of Revelry!

On Friday I headed to the train station to meet up with Sammi, Luna and James. Our destination? London!

We stayed in the Premier Inn in Holborn (which I can tell you now was a really lovely hotel! I quite miss being there!) which was just a short walk away from the venue of the Tea Party Club's 7th Anniversary event, Revelry. 

We spent our first day in London visiting various shops on our itinerary, such as Treadwell's, an occult bookshop. We also checked out vintage shops but left feeling pretty disappointed by their selection of clothing. I was tempted by a jumper which was kinda terrible in a good way but I sensibly put it back!

The next morning, Sammi and I got up around quarter past seven and got ourselves some breakfast from the McDonald's which was very close to the hotel. It was pretty tranquil in there at this time, and we didn't need to rush ourselves. Back in our room, we did our makeup and got dressed in our coordinates for the event whilst watching TNA Wrestling! One wrestler named "Crazzy Steve" (no, that is not a typo) particularly amused us! His tactic seemed to be to irritate his opponent as much as possible. Very strange.

Here's Sammi's coordinate! She looked so beautiful, and I loved the fact she used her actual wedding veil!

Luna had already gone ahead as she had modelling rehearsals to do, so Sammi, James and I walked to the venue together to meet up with her there. There weren't nearly as many people there yet as I'd expected. We had to wait around for a little while as some last minute preparations were being made inside.

Once finally in the venue, we were greeted with event totes (black this time, which I really liked) and a handful of free items. Then we were able to explore. The first thing we did was check out the Bring and Buy room. It became cramped in there pretty quickly as the space was a bit awkward, but I was still able to browse the rails. I decided against a pink tartan dress, and we moved on to the main vendor's room. 

There were a lot of brands in attendance, mainly indies, with Meta, G.L.B, Syrup, and Grimoire towards the back of the room. Sammi was able to bag herself a Princess Wardrobe dress set from Meta, the exact one that I have so maybe we will twin in future!

Throughout the day, we were able to attend various attractions. One was a Q & A session with the Japanese guests. I actually found it quite interesting, and I love hearing about the creative process behind coming up with clothing and prints. I found it funny when someone asked about the possibility of there being an English Gothic and Lolita Bible. I guess people have forgotten/simply don't know that there used to be one! 

A very useful area we discovered during the day was a balcony which overlooked the main event room. We set our things down there with James to look after, but it also served as the perfect spot to take pictures from during the fashion show. Nobody's heads were in our way and we could see the models for the entire length of their catwalk.

I was so excited when Luna emerged in a beautiful lavender jumperskirt, and took photos like crazy to make sure I got at least one decent one of her. Sammi and I were like proud parents!

All of the models together! The girl in white looked particularly angelic in her old school coordinate.
I really loved the navy blue Grimoire dress but decided against buying it from Hitomi in the end as it looked too small for me. 

On returning to the bring and buy after the first time, I managed to snag myself a super old school Baby dress in black, with white lace! How wonderful! I've wanted to add more old school elements to my wardrobe for a while so I was pretty excited about this.

The next event to happen was a talk with the Gothic&Lolita&Punk no Kai founder. I missed this as I wasn't in the room when it started and couldn't find a way to get back in without interrupting or seeming rude. 

Throughout the day there was a treasure hunt and quiz, but we didn't bother committing to it as we were all over the place and too busy. It was fun seeing everyone else participate, though, and we kept seeing groups of people peering into corners for the scrabble piece clues.

Happenings of note: Luna and I got photographed by the G.L.B! I don't imagine they will use our photo, though, as we were squashed into a corner by someone else who refused to make space for us, so I'm sure we look flustered. Oh well-- it was nice that they wanted our photo at all!

 I was also able to get a photo with Chinatsu Taira, the Meta designer! Note our gold shoes, haha!

At the end of the event was a raffle as usual, in which I won a squidgy macaron phone charm which had been made by Sammi! I was pleased I'd inadvertently chosen one of her donations. After this was the obligatory group photo. It must have been third time lucky because I actually managed to be properly visible unlike at Frock On and Enchanted! Yay!

The next day, we decided to hit up Chinatown, and ended up doing purikura at the Photo Sticker Club.

I still have the weird music that was on a loop in my head: "mehmehmehmeh meh meh mehhhhhhhh!!!" It was my first time doing purikura and I had a lot of fun. I ended up wearing my new Baby dress so that I wouldn't have to attempt to pack my petticoat in my already bulging suitcase!

We made a trip to Japan Centre, where I was able to get myself some matcha biscuits. Soon after that, it was time to head home!

My only other purchase from the Saturday was this tote bag by Syrup. I thought the ribbon straps were adorable, as well as the cute cat! Plus I have a major thing for tote bags and have way more than any person should! I really liked that it came with a mook.

I had an absolutely amazing weekend. I have never holidayed in London before and it was a really positive experience, and I felt blessed to be able to share it with my best friends. I can't imagine any event will ever reach the highs of Frock On (which is my all time favourite so far) but Revelry was pretty good and I'm glad I went. I am really looking forward to whatever our next trip will be.

To finish off with, nice pictures of my coordinate for the day!
I went for Infanta's Snow White jumperskirt, an Anna House blouse, Bodyline wristcuffs, Baby bag, and Bodyline shoes. The ribbons and pearls clipped to my bodice are handmade, as is the feather headdress which I'm pretty proud of! 

If you managed to read until the end then you are awesome-- thank you very much! I hope you enjoyed this post and I would love to see your comments. See you next time! 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

A Casual Tea Party Meetup!

Last Sunday I had a lovely day out in London with two friends, Wing and Reina, who I hadn't had a chance to have a proper catch up with in so long (literally years... I am terrible).

We decided to go to BB Bakery in Covent Garden. I had never been here before and had no idea what to expect. When I got inside I was really excited because they sold adorable desserts, and all the food and tea came served in the most amazing crockery.

I was rather in awe when all our orders were placed on the table!
Everything was so flowery and gorgeous! I have never been somewhere like this before and would really love to again. Somehow, eating and drinking from such special plates and cups made everything so much more magical.

The tea was loose leaf, and it tasted amazing. I don't normally drink tea or find it appealing, but I couldn't get enough of it here! 
For dessert, I decided to try their fruit tart as it looked most enticing, and I was not disappointed! Lovely rich raspberries and blueberries on top of yummy custard and a crumbly base... I was in heaven!

We had a cosy nook in the basement of the café to ourselves, so we were able to just sit comfortably for hours talking about anything and everything. We even refilled our tea pots and continued to drink very weak tea, but none of us minded. 
I dressed pretty casual for the occasion. I was happy with my coordinate, even if I always seem to wear Alice's Ribbon Kingdom! It really is my go-to jumperskirt.

After our meal (which was really reasonably priced due to a special lunchtime offer), we got someone in the café to take a group picture of us. They had a really great sense of humour and even took a selfie after obliging us with photos on all of our cameras!

The three of us! Wing wore JetJ, Reina went for Emily Temple Cute, and I wore Baby. 

We then decided to have a wander around Covent Garden, which I really enjoyed as I don't get to have a good tour of London very often (if ever). We went to Art Box, where I bought myself a cute pink chocolate bar pencil case, and a chocolate themed pen to match. 

Sadly, when we went to the purikura, the machine wasn't working, but I saw pictures of my friend Sammi on the front desk which was pretty unexpected!

We headed to Japan Centre and ended up crowding around a copy of Kera magazine, whilst a middle aged French couple bitched about us (yes you two, I did understand what you were saying!) There were some really lovely pictures in it but I simply couldn't justify the £10+ price after basically having experienced all there was to experience, seeing as I don't know any Japanese. Still, it was fun actually looking at a copy in the flesh!

Before we left, I got myself an apple and almond bread for the journey home, and soon, it was time to say goodbye!

I had a really amazing day and I can't wait to hang out with them again! 

Saturday, 13 September 2014

My 21st Birthday!

Last Saturday I turned 21. To celebrate, I decided to have a day out with my best friends.

And my hair was down for once! 

The four of us started off our day by heading to Ed's Easy Diner, which I'd never been to before. Their menu was mainly made up of different kinds of hot dogs and burgers. I decided to try a chilli dog.
Despite how it looks, it was very yummy! Next time I would like to have the pulled pork dog. I tried a little of Sammi's and it was delicious!

After our meal, we went about the shopping centre for a bit, stopping off at a bubble tea stand. I didn't bother getting one as bubble tea hasn't really been my thing thus far. After this, we went on a walk out of the town centre to a vintage shop called Frock and Roll. They have quite a good selection of clothes, though they are often in very small sizes. 

We ended up being more distracted by a random hobby horse in the end! The maturity being displayed here is astounding...

Sammi managed to find a pair of pretty white gloves, and Luna a pair of dusky pink ones. I left empty handed! I was hoping to find some cute pastel cardigans for pop kei purposes, but perhaps I'll have more luck later on in the year.

It was a nice sunny day so we decided to take some pictures by the river (thanks for being our photographer as ever, James!)
Luna and Sammi looked so cute and summery! 

As things got into the evening we decided to find a pub to retire to. We shared a meat platter which included "sliders" (which I had to google before we ordered because none of us had a clue what they were).
The food was underwhelming but I had gotten really hungry since Ed's all those hours ago, so I still ate it. I somehow managed to splatter barbecue sauce on both my blouse and my face! How am I 21?!

After a long, fun day together we said our farewells at the train station, and then I went home to do the usual birthday celebrations with my family. I couldn't be bothered to find 21 candles (plus I was sure something would get set alight...) so I settled with 12, which is of course 21 backwards so perfectly acceptable.

Wouldn't luck have it-- I really enjoyed my brother's birthday cake (his birthday was a couple of weeks before mine) but I didn't like the taste of mine at all! Oh well... visually, I am pleased with the one that was chosen for me. It definitely suited my lolita sensibilities, so I was content.

To finish off, I'll leave you with a more formal outfit picture!

Hair comb: Cloudberry Lady
Blouse: Primark
Jumperskirt: Alice and the Pirates' St. Mephisto Cathédrale
Shoes (which disintegrated over the course of the day, caused me foot pain, and destroyed my tights): An*tai*na

Overall, I had a really amazing day and I can't wait to spend time with my friends again! We're going on a mini holiday to London next week for the Tea Party Club anniversary event, Revelry. If you're going, come say hi to me!

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend, everyone! 

Sunday, 7 September 2014

My Thoughts on Novala Takemoto

To follow on from the musings of my previous post, I thought I would continue to do a bit more analysis as to why the idea of a lolita lifestyle has become something to edge away from. It's sad that I cannot claim to be a lifestyler without it sounding rather tongue in cheek, attention-seeking, and a bit strange. But given the image created by other self-confessed lifestylers over the years, I am really not surprised!

* * *

As I thought more and more about the topic, I found myself coming to the conclusion that one of the reasons why we have grown to avoid the lifestyle label is because of Novala Takemoto.

Now, there are some things I like about him. I appreciate his intent in dispelling the stereotype that a straight man cannot have a feminine side, or be understanding of femininity. He does, in fact, embrace it entirely, and there are many photos of him from Gothic & Lolita Bibles depicting him in cutesy outfits. 

However, a lot of his thoughts come across as being unrealistic, and downright disturbing.

Consider, for example, his piece entitled "I Don't Need Things Like Friends". I do not see this as a mindset shared by many, and for good reason. This essay centres around some sort of maiden complex, and is thus not built upon reality, but a romantic fantasy. Given that this essay is supposedly aimed at the young, lonely girls who would write to Takemoto regularly, I can't help but find it disconcerting. It is disappointing to see that this early figurehead for lolita fashion took a harmless, and relevant idea of there being a lifestyle which naturally accompanies the life of a lolita, and bastardised it into his own bizarre, potentially damaging construction.

The other week, I decided to purchase a copy of the Kamikaze Girls novel which I had never read, and I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. It is certainly more satisfying than the film, which I always found to be completely lacking in plot and purpose, despite how visually enticing it is.

Ichigo makes a speech towards the end, explaining to her biker gang the reason why she admired Momoko's friendless existence. She raises the point that people are intent on labelling their relationships with people to create a sense of security for themselves, for fear of being alone. After considering some of these opinions, I find them to be true in certain ways. I think many of us have been caught up in exhausting cliques at some point in our lives, where we were constantly being made to prove our loyalties. Momoko does not face this situation, as Ichigo does, because she is comfortable enough with herself to not need to prove herself to anyone, or sacrifice her own happiness for the sake of belonging to a larger unit. 

Despite this, I do not believe that promoting the idea that the ideal lolita lifestyle should be built upon loneliness, with only a "tv and potted plants" for friends, is a healthy one. To me, it's incredibly bleak, and it skips out what I consider to be one of the most enjoyable parts of being a lolita, and that is the social life you can build from it. I think it's important to impress upon not only young lolitas, but young people in general, that it's simply not worth erasing your personality or making yourself uncomfortable for the sake of being popular. Perhaps a better essay would have been "I don't need to be popular to lead a fulfilling life". I believe that would have made for a more wholesome, realistic read.

I think a danger lies in trying to depict members of the lolita subculture as being inherently different from members of society who stick to more mainstream things. Some people like to be seen as different, and have that "special snowflake" mentality about lolita fashion (which I find pretty ironic seeing as lolita has such a strong set of aesthetic rules from which we try not to deviate. Sorry, but this is not a "unique" person's fashion!), but most of us don't. Takemoto's writings paint lolita at large to be a movement centred around socially inept, cold individuals who pretend to be maidens, and that's really not the case. Is lolita not simply a passion in the same way sports, films, books, or model planes are for others? Why should any of these hobbies result in eccentric personalities?

I'm surprised that with the conclusion of Kamikaze Girls, in which Momoko finally appreciates all that friendship can bring, we don't see Takemoto stressing the importance of community, and how fulfilling it can be to have a special someone in our lives, even if we are not romantically involved with them. Instead, a common theme in his often eerie work (which you can find English translations of online with a bit of googling) seems to be fear of betrayal, with distancing yourself from others presented as a sensible long term solution.

I'm glad Takemoto was able to help with the process of spreading lolita fashion beyond Japan with Kamikaze Girls. But I do believe many of his writings to be questionable, forcing upon others an ideal that very few people within the lolita subculture would ever wholeheartedly share. Plus, I suppose I always find myself becoming wary of anyone who comments on something they have no experience in, or are not really a part of. 

Of course, he is clearly learned in the look of lolita, given the descriptions he was able to put together of Momoko's outfits throughout Kamikaze Girls. He has even done collaboration pieces with Baby, The Stars Shine Bright in the past. But from reading his work (and seeing his own bizarre outfits to be honest), I have gotten the impression he fell in love with this look, and in doing so, conjured up his own interpretation, his own "daydream carnival" of the mindset every lolita should have to go along with their clothes. I guess it's similar to the way in which some people are able to fall in love with the idea of love-- they love their own perceived, inaccurate musings which are based upon imagination, rather than true life experience.

It would be unfair of me to blame Takemoto completely for the current mentality towards wearing lolita clothing. Besides, I find myself really not wanting to. Somehow, I can't help but have an odd sense of admiration for someone so completely comfortable sharing these personal aspects of themselves (he claims Momoko is his alter ego) despite knowing they will be considered incredibly unusual. 

As discussed before, the current lolita climate has been affected by how accessible the fashion has become, people no longer getting into it via the lolita (and so, egl on livejournal) route, plus a general distaste for the idea that clothes can somehow affect your life on a deeper level. But perhaps it is also the extreme views such as those expressed by Takemoto, plus the hardcore, seemingly contrived quaintrelle image, which allowed the "lifestyle lolita" moniker to become an embarrassing joke which none of us wants to be the butt of.