Thursday, 30 January 2014

Jan 2014 Ox Loli Meet- Fudge Making!

Last weekend, the Oxfordshire Lolitas had their first official meet of 2014! This time we made fudge at the Fudge Kitchen in Oxford.

I was having a total outfit dilemma. I had to wear things which I wouldn't mind getting fudge on and also it was raining heavily all day, so I had to contend with rain water too. I went for a simple kuro outfit in the end, using mainly Bodyline pieces and finished with off-brand and Taobao. This photo is probably the only good outfit I got from the day. I was walking to the train station and literally 5 minutes after I left, my new Innocent World umbrella broke and I got totally soaked! I had spent ages curling my hair for nothing! My hair accessory was falling out because of the wind as well. So by the time I made it to Oxford I was already a frizzy-haired, soaked mess! In case you were wondering, I did manage to fix my IW umbrella but it has become apparent that I shouldn't use it on really windy days (and we get a lot of windy days around here at the moment).

After meeting everybody, we headed over to the Fudge Kitchen shop. We were given a massive tray of free samples. I believe we were given some of practically every flavour in the store. I don't think we managed to finish it all in the end! I was really fascinated by the way the fudge is made there. It is a bit different to how I make it at home and involves a lot of folding to get the bar shape they sell in store. I was on a team with James and Sammi and I was pretty pleased with my group's effort! Ours turned out really well.

The optimum weight for the fudge being sold in the store is 175g. So we had a competition to see who could get the closest to that weight. Jenni won in the end, but in some ways, there was more than one winner. We got to keep our fudge afterwards, so if your fudge came in too heavy (like mine did) you got extra fudge to take home!

Hayley, Jenni and Michelle were on the other team. Their folding technique wasn't as good as ours but they were better at the creaming part.

Claire and Martin, who were looking after us, were amazing. They are clearly very enthusiastic about fudge. Martin even went outside at one point to compete with a guy outside who thought he was the new messiah, trying to get people to convert to the religion of fudge. I know I am a fudge convert!

We got given 2 additional free bars of fudge, alongside the bar of fudge we cut from our own batch. So with the free samples too, you get a massive amount of fudge for the price you pay for the experience. I would highly recommend it if you live close to a Fudge Kitchen. It was also great to do something a little bit different at a lolita meet, provided you don't mind getting a bit of fudge on your frills!

Monday, 27 January 2014

Sewing Lesson by Metamorphose

Today I am looking at Sewing Lesson by Metamorphose. This series includes 3 dresses, a skirt, a blouse, 3 hair accessories, wrist cuffs, socks, a lace collar and a necklace.

This is the Yoke A-Line dress. Due to the style of the dress, there is no defined bodice. The sleeves are suitably puffy and look a decent length. The gathered cuffs are finished with small bows and gold lace, which help to finish them off in pretty style. The cuffs look very stretchy and flexible too. The chest area has a yoke. The yoke is a good size and seems to suit the dress. The ruffle and braid around the yoke edges looks smart, but also adds a touch of cute. The yoke is mainly plain, although there is some pleating and ruffles in the centre to stop it looking too boring. The yoke is then finished off with pearl buttons. The buttons look quite pretty and are spaced out really nicely. The collar is kept simple, just finished off with gold lace. The simplicity seems to suit the dress and doesn't look too stuffy. The yoke is topped with a bow. The bow is a good size that suits the dress. Despite the simple bow shape, it still looks quite cute and it sits on the dress very well. The braid on the bow helps to liven it up a bit. The back doesn't have any shirring and the dress doesn't seem to have much size flexibility. The overall shape is quite sack-like and not the typical lolita silhouette. The shape wont suit everybody. I worry the yoke wont sit correctly on a large chested wearer and a smaller wearer may end up looking a bit swamped. The dress is kept relatively simple, so the print is displayed well. However, there doesn't seem to be very much of a print, as it looks very narrow. It just looks like a little squiggle of detail at the bottom. The bottom is then finished off with some braid and a simple ruffle, which matches up well with the rest of the dress.

This is the Open Front Pinafore dress. The bodice looks well fitted, although the overall bodice shape is a bit simple. The straps are a decent width and are lined well with thin gold lace. They look strong and supportive, although I think they could of gotten away with the straps being a bit thinner. The waist has a small solid coloured bow, which I don't think works too well teamed with the ruffles on the bodice. The dress would look fine without that bow there. The front has large ruffles, which look pretty and give the bodice some extra depth. I feel like the neckline could do with some more detail though, as it looks strangely plain in comparison to the rest of the dress. As the name of the dress suggests, the front of the dress opens up and is buttoned the whole way down. I've never really been a fan of this kind of dress design, as I feel it cuts through and leaves an obvious gap in the details. It looks so flat in comparison to all the ruffled detail surrounding it. The back has a panel of shirring which is concealed by a ribbon corset. The ribbon looks quite bunched together, so it is not very neat looking. The shirring panel is also quite small, so I don't think it will offer too much size flexibility. The stock photos show the skirt has a lot of volume to it. The skirt has a very rounded shape to it. The top of the skirt has further ruffles going down, which meets a horizontal line of ruffle. The skirt ruffles look quite pretty and because of the narrower print, it doesn't really obscure the print too much. It is also not overly distracting either. The bottom is finished off with a thin line of lace and a wide ruffle.

This is the Chiffon Drape Pinafore dress. The bodice looks well fitted, but the overall bodice shape is a bit dull. The straps are a bit thin and despite the braid detail on them, I think they look a bit dull. The straps have small bows at the bases, but I think they need to be a bit better. The waist area has a bow. Whilst the bow is an okay size, it appears to blend in to the background a bit and it doesn't appear to sit well on the dress either. The bow's shape is nice though. The bodice has 2 lines of braid with a dark coloured ribbon corset between them. Although the criss-crossed ribbon is spaced out well, something about it just feels a bit too basic. It is very simple looking and I think I expect something a bit more from a well-known brand. The middle of the bodice has a droopy bow, but it doesn't really contribute much to the design. The back has a panel of shirring, which is concealed neatly by a ribbon corset. I really like the shape of the skirt. It is full, flares out well and has a nice, rounded shape to it. However, I cannot understand what Meta was thinking when they came up with this skirt design. Why would you design a skirt like this for something with a border print? Yes, you can pull the gathering down, which doesn't look so bad. But with the gathering done up, the border print is completely obscured and bunched together. I think it looks dreadful! You could do this sort of design quite well with a solid coloured piece but not with a print! 

And here we have part of the print close up. This series is available in ivory, pea green and brown. I do think all 3 colours are fine with the print, but none of them really stand out as one that really appeals to me. As for the print itself, I think it is cute enough, but the sizing is a bit 'off' on the dresses. I like the idea behind the print though. Who knew sewing implements could be so cute? The cotton reels and lace are cute, although I think the scissors could have been drawn a little better. The ribbon in the print helps to tie all the floating objects together a bit and pulls things together. It is a pretty good way of including the brand name in the print as well. As for the smaller floating parts which make up the non-border part of the print, I think they are a bit sparse and there could have been a little bit more done with it.

Whilst I may not be a fan of the dresses and the print from this series, I think the beret is absolutely adorable! It is a cute idea to turn a measuring tape in to part of the ribbon design. It's a shame it doesn't match anything in my current wardrobe, otherwise I would snap it up right away. The little scissor charm is cute too.

I have to be honest, I am really not impressed by this series. I think it is a cute idea, but the dress designs are just awful in my opinion. I think you can all guess I wont be buying this series and if I was, it would be difficult to pick out my favourite dress or colour. Possibly the pea green colour, as it looks the most interesting. I would choose the skirt over any of the dresses (and I am not particularly fond of the skirt design either). Oh Meta, I really wish you would release a series I can fall in love with... Fancy Egg feels like such a long time ago.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Kawaii! Japan's Culture of Cute Book Review

My husband kindly gave me a book on Kawaii culture for Christmas and I have since managed to finish it. So I thought today I would give a mini review. The book is called Kawaii! Japan's Culture of Cute and is by Manami Okazaki and Geoff Johnson. 

The book is a decent size and as you can probably tell from the cover, it is pretty colourful! The book has lots of photos, so it is fun to just pick up the book and have a quick flip through it. The photos are definitely a strong point of this book.

Rather than being a guide to all things kawaii, the book is actually a collection of interviews with various faces from the kawaii scene. If you are a fan of Japanese fashion or kawaii culture in general, then you should definitely recognise a few of the faces in this book. I can't say that I learnt very much from reading the book, although I did discover some new artists who I hadn't heard of before.

The interviews are typically a few pages long, with massive photos accompanying them. This is pretty short, although the questions do get straight to the point. Rather than teaching people about kawaii, I would say the interviews are more about giving an insight in to what the interviewees personally feel kawaii is about. It has a more personal feel to it, rather than teaching the reader. However, one thing that I did notice is that the interview questions got a bit repetitive after a while, which is a shame. I think the interviewer could have mixed things up a bit more. But the people being interviewed were very varied and the book talks to people in the toy industry, fashion models, shop staff, artists from both the past and present and many more. Hopefully there is enough here to keep any kawaii fan happy. I was a little disappointed that some people didn't get a full interview and I would have liked to have known more about them.

The photos really dominate the book, but they are absolutely fascinating to look at. A lot of the time, the photos take up the whole page. Rather than just taking store photos or using pictures of the interviewees, the book includes more personal photos too. For example, this photo is not of the Swimmer shop, but of one of the staff's bedrooms! 

The book does delve a little bit in to the history of kawaii and how the culture grew, especially at the start of the book and with the first few interviews. It is interesting to see how kawaii evolved from it's early stages. Of course, there are also some very familiar faces too. Any book about Japan's kawaii culture should definitely feature characters such as Hello Kitty!

But despite being more of a collection of opinions instead of a guide, that is not to say that I didn't learn anything. For example, there is the suggestion that maybe there is such a thing as being too cute. After thinking about it for a while, I kind of get what the book means. I know there have been times where I have worn lolita where I have felt that an outfit has pushed the cuteness a little too far! I also found it interesting that with kawaii, sometimes imperfections are important and something being too perfect may not actually be kawaii. The book also gives an insight in to why so many Japanese mascots don't have mouths or have an indifferent facial expression.

So after reading this book, I think I would definitely recommend it. If you were introducing somebody to kawaii for the first time, then this may not be the first place to start, although that's not to say that they wouldn't learn anything from it. Despite reading similar books, there is enough fresh material here to keep me interested. Although I found the interviews interesting, it was the pictures that initially caught my eye. The book is definitely eye catching and is good for a quick flick through or to properly sit down and read. I really enjoyed this book and after reading it from cover to cover, I have kept going back to have another flick through.

The book is published by Prestel and I have found it available from many large online retailers.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Labyrinth by Baby the Stars Shine Bright

Today I am taking a look at Labyrinth by BABY. This series includes 3 dresses, a skirt, 2 blouses, a cape, wrist cuffs, 5 hair accessories, tights, socks and a straw bag.

This is the OP. I thought the bodice material looked a little loose and baggy in places. The sleeves are very long. The chiffon part of the sleeves flares out beautifully and looks so soft. I am very undecided on the use of stripy chiffon though. The lace used on the sleeves is quite wide but it looks pretty and suits the sleeves. It is very soft lace and it drapes nicely too. I wouldn't have bothered with the ribbon bows where the main material meets the chiffon though, as it just adds unnecessary bulk to an already heavily detailed area. I really dislike the waist bow on this dress. I think the overall shape looks a little peculiar and it looks too big. Also, I wish they hadn't used the floral part of the border print for the bow and had instead used the solid colour. It just looks a bit out of place. Thankfully, it is detachable.

The lower part of the bodice is relatively simple, with a line of pretty pearl buttons. But the buttons are alternated with fabric roses, which is a little bit different. The roses/buttons are spaced out well, although I would have maybe had one or two fewer. The wide lace along the top of the sleeves and the heart shaped neckline is beautiful, but I think it makes the shoulder area look wider and it is maybe a bit too fussy for my tastes. In the middle is a ribbon bow. The bow is a nice size and sits nicely on the dress. At first glance, I thought the ribbon was quite plain, but it actually has a rose pattern on it. I really like the lacy panel and collar. The pleats give it a bit more depth, so it doesn't look too flat. The collar doesn't look too stuffy or frumpy looking.

The back has no shirring and is fairly simple. The wide lace from the front continues on the back though, so it is not completely plain. The stock photos show the skirt is very full and will hold loads of petticoat underneath. It has a lovely subtle bell shape to it. Although the printed part of the fabric ends a bit higher than some dresses, you still get a decent amount of the print on the dress. The bottom of the dress has many layers of soft tulle and is topped with ribbon bows. I think the tulle could have been layered a bit better and give it a neater appearance. I also wouldn't have bothered with the very bottom layer of tulle, as there is already plenty. The very bottom line of tulle also looks a bit basic and cheap looking in comparison to the other parts.

This is the Charlotte JSK. The bodice looks quite well fitted and is a pretty shape overall. The straps are a bit on the thin side, but suit the style of dress. Whilst I like the ruffle on the straps, I wish they hadn't used the floral part of the print for the ruffle. The bodice has two ribbon corsets on either side. The ribbon is thankfully spaced out nicely and it sits well on the dress. The ribbon appears to be of a good quality, but it is also very shiny. The ribbon is lined with rose shaped lace, which looks a bit bulky, but also helps neaten the edges. The middle part of the corset is slightly pleated, but with all the detail on top, you barely notice it. The middle has 3 ribbon bows, the top one being slightly larger and using the rose lace. In between the bows, there are also more of those mini fabric roses. I think the bodice is a bit too crowded and I would have just had the top ribbon bow and lose the bottom 2 bows. With the bows gone, I would also not include the fabric roses. The top part of the bodice is gathered, and then the neckline has a simple ruffle. Again, the gathered part of the bodice uses the floral part of the print. I just think it looks very strange having these odd blocks of floral all over the dress, and I am not a fan of it at all. The back has a panel of shirring which is tidily concealed by a ribbon corset. The stock photos show the skirt has plenty of volume and flares out well. It has a lovely, slightly rounded shape to it. The skirt is plain on the front, so the print is displayed beautifully. The back has a chiffon bustle, but again they have used the stripy chiffon, which I am not a fan of. But the bustle tiers are layered neatly and spaced out well. The bottom is then finished off with a line of ribbon, topped with small bows and more of the little fabric roses. I think this is a beautiful way to use these roses and it is definitely a bit different. Underneath the ribbon, the bottom hem is finished off with a line of pretty lace and a wide line of plain looking tulle. I would have made the tulle a bit narrower. The tulle also looks quite cheap in some of the close ups.

Here is the Elaine JSK. The bodice looks fairly well fitted. The shape is simple, but looks pretty. The straps are a bit thin and basic looking. They have used the floral printed fabric for the straps on this dress too, although with the simpler style of straps, it doesn't stand out as much. I think it looks better than the other JSK straps. The waist bow uses the floral part of the print again. Luckily, the bow is on the small side compared to the other dresses, so it is not as obvious. Judging from all the photos, this bow is not detachable. The bodice has a line of rose themed lace going up it. It looks pretty, but it doesn't really stand out, as it is mainly concealed by the bows on top of it. The lace is topped with 3 bows, which uses that rose print ribbon. The bow size seems to suit the style of the dress and they are spaced out reasonably well. The neckline is finished off with a soft ruffle, which matches up perfectly with the bottom of the dress. The back has a panel of shirring, which is concealed well by a ribbon corset. The stock photos show the skirt has plenty of volume. The skirt looks a bit triangular in some of the photos, but with the right petticoat it will look beautiful. The chiffon layers are a massive part of this skirt, but you still get a reasonable amount of the printed fabric too. I think the 2 parts are fairly well balanced. The edge of the printed fabric has large scallops, which are nicely shaped and continues the same around the back as well. The scalloped edge is finished off with its own ruffle of chiffon and is topped with ribbon bows. It has been done very neatly and the end result is beautiful. The bottom has further layers of chiffon, which are neatly layered underneath. The layers sit on top of each other well and the spacing is good. They have used the stripy chiffon again, although I much prefer it being used here, instead of the stripy chiffon sleeves on the OP. The very bottom layer of the dress is a tulle ruffle. For some reason, the tulle seems to work a bit better on this dress than the others.

And here we have the print close up. The print is available in ivory, pink lavender, orange and sax blue. I never thought I would be choosing an orange dress for my favourite colour way, but for this series I can definitely see why orange was the most popular. That sunset like background is stunning. All four colours look wonderful, but orange is by far the best in my opinion. As for the print, I love how it has been drawn so softly and looks like it has been painted, not printed. The floral foreground is so pretty, as is the water with the reflections in it. The girl on the boat and the castle in the background are nice finishing touches too. I do wish BABY would release more prints like this one. The entire print has a romantic feel to it and it matches up well with the slightly more OTT dress designs.

So overall, I am fairly impressed by this series. There are bits I would change about some of the dress designs, but they are more tiny little niggles rather than big issues. The print is beautiful and it just goes to show that orange can work in lolita. Would I buy this series? Yes I would. My top pick would be the Elaine JSK in orange, mainly for the beautiful chiffon part on the skirt. I am not surprised to see this series is proving popular and I am really looking forward to seeing all the beautiful outfits people will come up with for it.

Friday, 17 January 2014

It's Finally Happening!

A few weeks ago I wrote the post about what I wanted to see in 2014, and this post was published on Thursday the 9th of January. Little did I know, that less than a week after publishing, one of my dreams was already coming true!

On Monday I was alerted on Tumblr that Angelic Pretty is releasing a print with a duckling on it! The series will be called Melody Toys and as predicted, the Maki-drawn duckling is adorable! It looks like I can finally cross "Angelic Pretty releasing a duck print" off of my lolita wish list. 

I have to admit, I am a little apprehensive, because I haven't seen too many pictures of this series so far. I am not too keen on the gingham and I was a little unsure about the dress cuts when I saw them. I will take a more detailed look in to the series when it comes out.

Will I be buying it? Who knows... We will have to see nearer the time. But more than anything else, I am just glad that Angelic Pretty is finally realising just how cute ducks are!

Monday, 13 January 2014

Print Discussion Double Post

Due to taking a break over the Christmas period, it is probably about time I caught up with the recent brand releases. So today there is going to be a double post. First up is AP's Wonder Queen. Keep scrolling to see Night Ship Alice by Alice and the Pirates.

First up today, I am looking at Wonder Queen by Angelic Pretty. This series includes 3 dresses (there was also an additional simpler special set dress released), a salopette, a skirt, 2 cutsews, 2 blouses, 3 hair accessories, tights, socks, a brooch, 2 bags, wrist cuffs and a few pieces of jewellery.

This is the OP. The bodice looks reasonably well fitted, although it looks a bit bulky. Also, I feel the dress looks very top-heavy and a bit unbalanced, but that may just be down to the sheer amount of detail the dress has. The sleeves are suitably puffy at the top and I definitely believe they have a regal looking shape to them. The bell shape at the bottom of the sleeves flares out a great deal and if I am honest, it is too OTT for me. The tiered ruffles are layered neatly and the sleeves are rich in detail, but if the shape was a bit more subtle I would probably like them more. The bodice has a solid coloured panel, which is topped with criss-crossed braid and pearls. The braid is spaced out perfectly and the pearls are a beautiful finishing touch. The chest has a printed bow on it, which has a good simple shape to it and sits nicely on the dress. However, I don't think this printed bow is needed at all because the dress already has loads of detail to it. The neckline is also lined with lace which is of a good quality, although I would have used narrower lace at the front. The thing that really makes this dress stand out is that collar. I am glad that AP have kept it relatively plain, although it looks strangely simple in comparison to the heavily detailed dress. The shape of the collar is interesting and definitely does remind me of the Red Queen. However, I am not a fan of the collar at all and I am relieved to see it is detachable. In my opinion, it just looks a bit too costume-like for lolita. The back does not have shirring. It is nice to see that the print lines up nicely along the zip. The stock photos show the potential for the skirt to flare out quite wide. It has a full, rounded shape to it which suits the OTT style of the dress. However, the skirt length appears a bit on the short side. On top of the skirt are these narrow, long panels (no idea what to call these). These bits of material are a bit more solid coloured, so help to break up the busy print background a bit and are decorated the same way as the front of the bodice. I love the use of gold fringe along the edges. But I do feel they add more bulk on to an already busy dress. The bottom hem is finished off with pretty gold lace.

This is the Soldier JSK. It looks as though the bodice is well fitted. The bodice shape is simple, but suitable and looks good. The straps are a good width for the style of dress. They are lined with twill, which is a bit different, and the stripy twill matches up well with the military theme. I love the little epaulettes on the shoulders. It is a very cute idea. The waist area is kept neat. There is a detachable brooch on the waist, which I think works quite well when placed to one side, like in the stock photos. The brooch is a good size and I like how it is lined with gold lace and finished with some fringe. The bit dangling from the middle of the bow part of the brooch fits in quite well, although it does blend a bit with the print. I like how the solid coloured panel on the bodice helps to break up the busy print a bit. The panel has been kept simple too, with two rows of buttons on either side. The buttons have a pretty emblem design and are spaced out well. The neckline has a bow. The size of the bow is suitable and it has an interesting shape. The gold details make it more interesting too. It is detachable if you dislike it though. Something I also like about the bodice is the way the print changes direction. It mixes things up a bit and gives the bodice a different look. The back has a panel of shirring which is covered very neatly by a ribbon corset. 

Again, I am unsure about the correct terminology here, but I really like the small panels sitting on top of the skirt. It is quite a unique design and they sit well on top of the skirt. The solid colour matches up with the solid panel on the bodice. All four of these panels are topped with braid and buttons, which ties in well with the military theme. It adds a bit of extra interest to this dress but doesn't look anywhere near as OTT as the OP does. I don't believe I have seen a lolita dress with this sort of detail before and I really like it.

The stock photos show that the skirt has the potential to flare outwards well. You can create a very rounded, plump shape. The skirt length looks longer than the OP's skirt. Aside from the waist area, the skirt is clutter free too, so the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off with gold lace.

This is the Bustier JSK. The bodice material looks a bit loose in some of the photos and I think the overall bodice shape could be nicer. The straps are a very good width for the dress and are lined neatly with lace. The waist area has a brooch which is completely identical to the one on the other JSK. The waist is not too defined but the use of solid colours helps to break things up a bit. The use of a solid coloured bodice and less OTT detail makes this a good choice for those who want a more mature, demure looking dress. Although, that's not to say this dress doesn't make an impact! The front of the bodice has a panel of criss-crossed ribbon. The ribbon is spaced out neatly and doesn't look over-crowded. The sides of the panel are lined neatly with braid as well, giving it a very tidy appearance. The folded over flaps on the chest are also very neatly lined. The folded over style adds a bit of extra depth to the dress and looks very smart. The neckline is finished off with a small solid coloured bow. The bow size suits the dress and the shape is good too. This bow is detachable, but I think it looks better with the bow on. The back is fully shirred. The solid colour does help the shirring blend in a little bit, but I am still not a fan of how full shirring looks! I find the back of this dress a little strange. The dress does not have waist ties, which will make it harder to wear if you are smaller. There is also a random bow brooch on the back which seems a bit out of place. Most people probably wouldn't notice it. The stock photos show the skirt is very full. You can create a very rounded shape. The skirt looks a reasonable length as well. The skirt is kept clutter free and the print is displayed brilliantly. The bottom hem is then finished off with pretty crown themed lace, which matches the main colour of the dress.

And here we have the print close-up. As we can see, the print comes in green, wine, navy and black. Wine is a very obvious choice and I wasn't surprised at all to hear this was the most popular colour. However, I think the more unusual colour choices of green and navy are very interesting. Although the wine is my favourite colour from this series, I think all 4 colours work very well. The print itself is very rich in detail, not just along the border, but the background as well. The stripy background design is quite striking and I think the tassel and fluer de lyss details suit the theme. I think the numbers are a bit random though. As for the border part, I am impressed. AP have managed to take the overused Alice in Wonderland theme and do something a bit different with it. You don't really see Alice prints that focus on the Red Queen. I love how the border alternates between hearts and card suit shaped parts. The castle is drawn well and I like how it comes out of the heart shaped frame. My favourite part though, is the rabbits and the heart shaped emblem between them. They add a small touch of cute, but don't look out of place at all. The entire print has been drawn so well. I feel like I discover new bits to the print every time I look at it.

I really like how brooches seem to be having a moment in lolita. I think the Wonder Queen brooch is especially well made. The design is detailed and the design is kept crisp and clear. The use of gold gives it a regal feel, which suits the series well. I also love the additional charm dangling down.

So overall I think this is a very impressive series. I do feel that at times the dresses are a bit too heavily detailed, especially the OP. Would I buy from this series? Possibly. It is not going on my wishlist, but I could see myself being very happy if I owned it. The brooch and tights are on my wishlist! If I went for a dress as well, I would go for the Soldier JSK, as I think the design is beautiful. As for the colour, I would probably want the wine, but to be honest I would be happy with almost any colour. A very strong release from AP.

Up next, I am looking at Night Ship Alice by Alice and the Pirates. This series includes 2 dresses, a skirt, a blouse, 2 hair accessories, socks and a necklace. 

This is JSK I. Despite the gathered design, the bodice seems reasonably well fitted. The wide waist belt helps to nip the waist area in a little. The belt is tied at the front by a ribbon corset. The ribbon used is not too shiny looking and the spacing is done well. Hopefully the belt will help to give the wearer a tiny bit more control over how the dress fits, because this dress does not have any shirring. I do worry this dress wont have much size flexibility, if any. The gathering on the front of the bodice adds a bit of texture and stops the front looking too plain. The neckline is topped with a dangling chain detail. The chain does look quite fitting with the pirate themed print, but it doesn't really stand out that much. I find the straps on this dress a little strange. They are a decent width for the dress and the gold braid helps to liven up what would otherwise be a plain edge. However, I dislike the way they continue down the bodice. I can't quite put my finger on it, but something about the design looks a bit awkward. As I mentioned before, the back has no shirring and is quite plain, apart from the gold braid continuing on from the front. The skirt appears to be a decent length and has a subtle bell shape to it. But the stock photos don't really show much volume in the skirt. Hopefully it can flare outwards a bit more than the stock photos show. The skirt is kept simple, so the print is displayed well. The bottom hem is then finished off with more gold braid.

This is JSK II. The bodice looks fairly well fitted and the shape is quite cute. The dress has 2 thin sets of straps. The inner straps are quite plain and, dare I say, almost look a bit like bra straps. The outer set of straps is also quite thin, although they are covered with a soft tulle ruffle, which makes them a bit more interesting. I would suggest removing the plain straps, although they may actually be quite useful, as the tulle topped straps look as though they may be prone to falling off the shoulders. Hopefully, with both pairs of straps, the wearer will get a reasonable amount of support. I personally would have just had the tulle straps and made them a bit wider, or just sitting a bit more inwards. The tulle used is gathered well and gives a soft, floaty finish. The middle of the neckline is finished off with a pirate themed bow brooch. The brand logo themed cameo in the middle is pretty and I like the use of dangling pearls too. The ribbon used for the bow part is a bit shiny and they probably could have made the bow colour match a bit better, but overall I think the brooch works fairly well. The rest of the bodice is kept plain and simple, but any more detail would probably look too much anyway. The back has a panel of shirring which is concealed neatly by a ribbon corset. The stock photos show the skirt looks a bit triangular. It could maybe do with being slightly rounder and a more like a subtle bell shape. The length is good though, and the pictures show that the skirt has a bit of volume and can at least flare outwards quite a bit. The skirt is left clutter free and the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off with more matching soft tulle.

And here we can see part of the print close up. This print is available in ivory, green, navy and black. I thought I would instantly fall in love with the navy, but I actually quite like the green version. All four colours do work well with the print though. As for the print itself, it is not really anything out of the ordinary. I like how the pirate theme is stronger in the print than the inclusion of Alice. The print layout is pretty. I like how it has been set up to look like a pirate ship and you can see inside the cabins. The pictures inside the cabins are interesting and the Alice theme is never too strong. I especially like all the pirates themed items like the maps and compasses. It feels like quite a fitting print for a company called Alice and the Pirates!

So overall, I think this is an interesting series, but it is nothing ground-breaking. Compared to what we are used to seeing from AatP, this series feels more like a "filler" series than a really strong release. However, that's not to say that the series is not still pretty and I am sure it will look great in person. Would I buy from this series? Probably not. If I did, I would go for JSK II in green. 

What I found fascinating whilst putting this post together is that here we have two Alice in Wonderland prints where Alice is not really that strong a feature. Alice doesn't appear on Wonder Queen at all and her appearance in Night Ship Alice is only small. I like Alice in Wonderland, but even I can admit that there are far too many Alice prints released each year. If these two series show us anything, it is that there are still fresh ways to present the characters of Alice in Wonderland within lolita fashion. I really hope that brands take this fresher direction again in the future.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Things I Would Like To See In 2014

Well, 2013 was certainly an interesting year. I had a look at my post about what I wanted to see in 2013 and some of my wishes did come true, but quite a few haven't yet. But it is time to look ahead to 2014 and these are the things I would like to see.

Angelic Pretty to re-release Sugar Hearts and Honey Cake- 2013 saw Angelic Pretty re-release a fair few of their prints. Admittedly, my ultimate dream would be to see them re-release Puppet Circus, but that is highly unlikely. AP mainly seem to be sticking to more recent releases. So my picks for re-releases in 2014 would be Honey Cake and Sugar Hearts. I was never personally fussed by Honey Cake, but I know a fair few friends of mine who are desperate to get their hands on this series. I think Sugar Hearts is a series that started off with few fans, but then slowly grew a larger fan base. I would be interested to see a new dress cut for Sugar Hearts and possibly a new colour of yellow. I think Honey Cake could look interesting with a brown version. Also, it would be a perfect excuse for AP to re-release all the cute jewellery that were part of these 2 series!

For Metamorphose to have a "big hit" series- Poor Meta... I was having a browse through my wishlist about a week ago and I realised that I haven't really been that keen on anything Meta put out in 2013. Most of the time I find myself disliking their dress shapes or thinking their colour choices are a bit weird. Metamorphose is one of the most well-known lolita brands and I have always had a soft spot for them, but when was the last time you saw somebody get excited by a recent Meta release? For me, it has been a long time. I really hope that in 2014 Meta have a good series that gets the same hype as their most popular releases. However, I was impressed by their recent Winter lucky packs and I was sad they sold out before I had a chance to get one!

Bodyline making navy, mint, lavender and wine boleros- This is making a return from last year's wishlist. I love my Bodyline boleros and it annoys me when I can't get them in my favourite colours. I would have thought that mint and lavender at least, would be obvious choices to add to their cardigan colours.

More quirky shoe designs- 2013 saw some very interesting shoes being coordinated with lolita outfits. My personal favourite 'quirky' shoes were the violin shoes from Innocent World.

I thought these were a really interesting idea and they are a bit different. I know they wouldn't match a single thing in my current wardrobe, and yet I still want them! I feel like there is room for more exploration when it comes to shoes whether it is a different style of shoe design, or even something smaller like a pretty shoe clip.

For the BABY designers to come to the UK- I consider myself very lucky to be a UK lolita. We have had some incredible events, with some of the big lolita brands coming to visit us. So who do we invite next? I am personally hoping to see the designers behind Baby the Stars Shine Bright in the UK! Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't believe they have visited Europe yet.

For Angelic Pretty to release a duck print- Another returning entry to my annual list, and it will be staying on here until this happens! Can you imagine how cute little ducklings drawn by Maki would look? 

Some more practical, larger sized bags- I may not have liked Meta's dresses this past year, but I have really liked a lot of their bags. I find most lolita bags are too small to carry all of my stuff, but Meta have released some bags which are a bit more roomy. 

Take this bag for example-

Not only is is pretty, but it is large enough to carry all my essentials and it can be worn 3 different ways. Practical does not have to mean ugly. I would definitely use a bag like this outside of lolita, for everyday use as well.

More Chiffon Underskirts- My obsession with chiffon continues! I really love how brands such as Juliette et Justine have released chiffon underskirts. It gives the bottom a real floaty, soft appearance. It is also a good way of adding vital length if a dress is a bit on the short side. Chiffon underskirts have been shown to work great with classic lolita. Maybe we could see if chiffon underskirts could work with sweet lolita as well? I would love to see some pastel chiffon underskirts.

And so, this is my current list of wishes for this year. As for my own personal goals for this year, I am hoping to give lace front wigs a try, I want to try to buy less dresses and more basics (such as pretty blouses and more hair accessories) and I want to take more time to put my outfits together and make sure to test run them to see if they look okay. I am also hoping to create a decent outfit for Enchanted in April- I already have a few ideas!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Christmas 2013 Haul!

 I hope everybody had a good Christmas! I certainly enjoyed myself. I was lucky enough to spend time with great people and I got given some fantastic presents too. In case anybody was curious to see what I got, I decided to do a post/review on the Japanese fashion relevant presents I got given.

Here is my cute haul in full. My presents were mainly from Bodyline, including blouse L373 in pink. I wont be reviewing this blouse, as I already have this exact same blouse in lavender and I am sure I reviewed it when I got that one. But in summary, I really like it and I am glad I have a replacement for my other pink blouse.

I was also given this book on kawaii culture in Japan. I am still in the process of reading it, so I will have to let you know what it is like when I am finished. So far, it is proving interesting reading. I haven't really learnt any new stuff from it, but it has given me a new insight in to all things kawaii.

I was also given 2 pairs of wrist cuffs from Stocking Shock. This is the Circus style of cuff. I really like the velvet bows and the star charms. I know the cuffs look a bit wonky in the photo, but they look much better when worn. Stocking Shock's cuffs are a bit smaller than some other wrist cuffs (I am looking at you, Bodyline!) but I actually prefer this. I don't like wrist cuffs that look too bulky. The gold lace used is very pretty, although feels slightly scratchy. It's a shame the lace isn't a bit softer, but at least it looks nice. The only other criticism I have is the lavender bows are a different colour to the main shade of lavender on the cuffs. 

I was also given tights LEG356 which feature a cute bunny design. In the past I have been a bit wary of getting tights from Bodyline because I once received a pair which were really thin and flimsy. I was really scared I was going to ladder them before I had even had a chance to wear them. These tights are a little bit thicker. They are still a bit on the thin side, but they don't feel as flimsy as the previous pair I ordered. The black part of the tights is bold and stays opaque when worn. The ears of the bunny are slightly faded in comparison to the rest of the black though. The size is one-size and I found them quite comfortable. I am about 5'4'' and slightly bottom heavy and I didn't have any troubles fitting in them at all.

Unfortunately, not all the items from Bodyline were what I expected.

This is cutsew L540 in pink. I made the mistake of saying I wanted a size L, because I have wide shoulders. I would have fitted the M size with stretch room to spare and the size L looks a bit like a tent on me. But this was my own fault for under-estimating the stretch capability of the top.

The design for the cutsew is very cute. The print on the front is crisp and stands out. I also love the frilly detail on the collar, finished off with pearls. It is nice to have a cutsew with a bit of detail to it, otherwise it can look far too casual. The material is soft and the frill has been gathered well. I would have maybe put a few more pearls around the collar.

I was less than frilled to discover that once again, my brand new Bodyline had arrived stained. This is not even the only stain I found. I am sure a lot of my readers will be aware of the recent saga with Venus Angelic and Bodyline. There are a few bits of interesting information I know about Bodyline. The first, is that Bodyline models will model the M size clothing. As we found out during the massive post Bodyline put up, Bodyline will resell the pieces worn by their models but they allegedly didn't with the ones Venus modelled because they smelt and the clothes got thrown away. From that comment, I am guessing Bodyline does not make an effort to clean their products before they sell them on. Another piece of information that is important here is that apparently in the Bodyline stores in Japan, they wont let you try the clothes on and instead will get your measurements so they can recommend a size for you.

Because my top is a size L and customers supposedly don't try the clothes on in store, this means that nobody should have tried my top on. But where did the stains come from? My only guess is they must have come from the warehouse. I appreciate their warehouse is huge and they can't check everything, but I still don't think this acceptable. As I have mentioned, this is not the first time this has happened and it is really putting me off ordering from Bodyline in the future. I don't want to be worrying about mysterious stains on my new stuff. However, it is worth pointing out that the rest of my order was free of stains. I guess it is just bad luck that I got a stained item.

The top is definitely too big for me, but I was thinking of removing the pearls from the collar and then using it as nightwear. The material is lovely and soft and does remind me of pyjamas. Once I get the stains out, it will be perfect for lounging about in. I am a little hesitant about ordering myself a size M of this top in case I am unlucky and get another stained item.

Well, it is a shame I am ending this post on such a negative note, but I am genuinely happy with all of my other presents. The important thing is I got to spend quality time with the people I love over the festive period. I hope all of you had a brilliant time over the holiday period as well!

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