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.