First up today I am looking at Ribbon C'est Bon Belle Journee by Baby the Stars Shine Bright. This series includes 3 dresses (one is non-print), a skirt, 2 hair accessories, a blouse, a tote bag, socks and an outfit for Usakumya.
First up is JSK I. The bodice seems well fitted and the bodice shape looks interesting. I think the straps look a suitable width and are supportive enough. The straps are also lined very neatly with some thin lace, which stops them from looking too plain. There is a ribbon corset on the front of the bodice, where the ribbon has been spaced out fairly well. The ribbon is a little bit shiny, but nothing too intense. What is interesting about the ribbon corset is that Baby have concealed the sides with a line of scallops. Usually, this would set off my in-built scallop alarm (I don't usually like scalloping) but the scallops have been well shaped and the neckline bow conceals them a bit anyway. There are also some lines of cute heart shaped lace going along the sides of the scalloped parts, which also helps to keep everything neat. The neckline features a line of lace, which is of a reasonable quality and has been nicely shaped, so it tapers off gently at either side. The lace is mostly concealed by the 3 bows on the neckline though, so I guess the lace is mostly there to fill in the empty gaps underneath. The middle bow is a little bit on the big side, but nothing too intense. I do feel the lace lining this bow emphasises its size though. The shape of this bow is cute, although the bow does seem just slightly droopy in some of the stock photos. The other 2 bows on the neckline are bows that have been placed at the bases of the straps. Not only are the bows super shiny, I can't say I am really feeling the use of different patterns on the bows. One is polka dot and one is solid coloured ribbon. As there are no other areas on the dress that has this mis-matched bow idea, it sort of feels a bit mis-placed having the different bows here. I wouldn't have bothered with the polka dot bow and just made it the same as the other side. The back has a panel of shirring, which has been topped neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt is quite full and it flares outwards plenty. There is more than enough room for petticoat and I think this skirt has the potential to look really cute. The skirt is also kept quite basic in design, so the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off with a thin line of cute heart shaped lace and then a line of not-so-cute, but still good quality wider lace.
This is JSK II. The bodice seems well fitted and although the bodice shape is quite simple, it is still fairly cute. I think the straps are a fairly reasonable width and they suit the style of the bodice. They are neatly lined with lace on the outsides too, with this lace complimenting the lace going along the neckline really well. The waist area features 2 lines of lace, giving the waistline the appearance of having a belt. This nips in the waist area nicely and I think the lace sits on the dress perfectly. It all looks quite neat and tidy. There is a waist bow, which is really big in size. In this instance however, I think I can forgive the bow being a bit on the big side, as to be fair bows are a big part of the print. Also, the tails of the bow have been folded to create an interesting shape. It gives the bow more depth and movement. I also really love the use of lace on the bow, as it has been executed so brilliantly. The bodice features a slightly raised panel on the chest area. It wouldn't bother me too much, but the shape of the hemline on this raised part looks terrible. It is very slightly scalloped, but it doesn't really have that defined a shape. I wouldn't have bothered with this raised panel at all and would have just stuck with the lace, which I feel has been used quite nicely on the bodice. The chest panel is topped with a bow which I feel is a bit too big, considering there is already the large waist bow. This chest bow is also a bit too shiny, although the shape of the bow is pretty. The back is fully shirred, so there is lots of size flexibility, but it means the shirring is exposed with nothing to help cover it. The stock photos show that the skirt is very full and flares outwards lots. I really like the shape of the skirt in the stock photos and think it has a lot of potential. The skirt is again kept very simple in design, so the print is displayed excellently. The bottom hem is then finished off with the good quality, but slightly boring lace. I was a bit surprised Baby didn't use the heart lace as well here, like they did with the other dress.
Finally, here is one part of the print...
... and another part. This series comes in ivory, pink, red and black. The colour choices remind me of the sort of colours that used to be popular choices for Baby in the late 2000's, which is sort of the feeling I am getting from the print as well. I for one am glad that this sort of series is making a bit of a comeback, although I think a mint colour way could have looked really cute. As for the print itself, it is adorable. I love the way that Usakumya and friends are peeping out from underneath the masses of ribbons and bows. The bows and ribbons are drawn nicely, with a lot of movement going on. I feel all the cute critters are perfectly positioned. The gaps in the print are also filled up with dangling hearts and bows, so there are no areas that look too empty.
So overall this is a really sweet series and exactly the sort of thing that I have come to expect from a Usakumya themed print. It does feel a little bit like this series could have been released in 2010 rather than 2016, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. There are a few small things I would change about both dresses, but they are still pretty decent designs. Would I buy this series? No, because it is far too cutesy for me! But I think it is a good series, if you are in to that sort of thing. My top choice would be JSK I in pink.
I am also taking a look at Aquarium Carnival by Angelic Pretty today. This series includes 3 dresses and a head bow. Several marine themed items have also been released, including a bag and a blouse. The Jewel Marine socks have also been re-stocked.
First up is the OP. The bodice shape is a bit lumpy and bumpy, and I think the cause of this is where the bodice splits across the chest. I feel that AP should have made this join between the ruffled chest area and the bottom half with the lace corset lower down. That way, the wearer wouldn't have to worry about the details potentially cutting across their chest awkwardly and sitting funny, and it would also make the bodice look a bit more balanced. I also don't think the line of chiffon going across the chest really helps with the appearance and it sits strangely. The see-through chiffon sleeves are very cute though, and I love that part of the design. The material is gathered well to create quite a nice shape, and the lace and bows on the sleeves are so pretty. The lace especially is a great choice, as it has a gorgeous design to it. There are also some pearls dotted about the sleeves, which are a lovely finishing touch. I am not a fan of the very square neckline shape though, and I feel it needs to be a softer shape. There is a line of lace topping the waistline, which again has a fantastic design to it and I appreciate that AP have gone to the effort of shaping the lace so it tapers off in the centre. I think as a result, the lace sits quite well on the dress and doesn't make the waistline look too bulky. The bodice features several lines of thin lace, which have a suitably ruffled appearance and looks very frothy. However, I can't say I am fond of the criss-crossed lace, styled to look a bit like a ribbon corset. I just don't feel the lace really works in place of ribbon and also, the bodice has enough detail already that I don't feel this lace is needed. The chest details and the thin lines of ruffly lace could have been enough by themselves. The chest area is topped with 2 bows, which in my opinion look a little bit cheap and tacky. The materials are not of the best quality and I don't see the need for 2 bows here either. One bow, made of better materials, would have sufficed. The back has a panel of shirring, which is concealed neatly with a ribbon corset. The stock photos show that the skirt is quite full and flares out reasonably well. It should hold enough petticoat to create a decent shape. The skirt has been kept simple in design, so the print is displayed beautifully. The bottom hem is then finished off with this gorgeous shell shaped lace layered over 2 chiffon ruffles. I really love the soft, floaty bottom to this dress.
Here we have the Peplum JSK. The bodice is an okay shape, but I am slightly concerned it doesn't look that bust friendly. I also feel the bodice shape is a bit simple, and is maybe lacking something. The straps are quite thin and look a little bit flimsy, but wider straps maybe wouldn't have suited the style of bodice. However, I am a fan of the way the outsides of the straps are lined with beautiful lace layered over a chiffon ruffle. The materials have been shaped excellently and are layered so well. There is a waist bow and a double layered over-skirt at the waist area. Although I think the waist bow has a pretty design with the pearls and lace, I am not sure it really compliments the over-skirt that well. Maybe it is the size and shape of the waist bow? It feels a bit too solid and bulky teamed with the over-skirt. Both the waist bow and the over-skirt are detachable, and I assume the bow and over-skirt are detachable from each other. It does seem a shame to detach the bow, but that is what I would do with this dress. I feel the over-skirt needs more material, as in some of the stock photos the over-skirt looks like it hasn't got enough material to sit nicely on the dress. It is a slightly strange shape as well, although I am glad that the over-skirt ends way before the border print starts. I think the over-skirt could have looked really amazing with this series, but AP have not quite pulled it off. So sadly, I would probably detach it and make an over-skirt of my own for it. The bodice features some subtle lines of lace, which helps to break up the empty space without being over-whelming. The neckline then features some wide lace which is layered over a chiffon ruffle. I like that this matches the strap details, but the lace and chiffon on the neckline needs to be a bit better shaped. It needs to gently taper out before it hits the armpit area, which would have looked a bit tidier. There is also a double pearl chain dangling from the neckline. I personally feel the length of the chains could have been better, but it looks okay. I do like the teardrop shaped pearls dangling from the bottom of the 2 chains. This detail is detachable as well, but I think I would leave this chain attached. The back has a panel of shirring, which has been well concealed with a ribbon corset. However, the wide trims from the neckline on the front continue all the way on to the back and the sides of the shirring panel, which looks a bit messy. The stock photos show that the skirt is very full and flares outwards generously. I really love the plump bell shape in the stock photos. Aside from the over-skirt, the skirt is again kept simple, and so the print is displayed perfectly. The bottom hem is then finished off with the shell lace, layered on top of a single chiffon ruffle. It would appear that some of the shell lace is a bit obscured here, compared to the use of this same lace on the other dresses. It still looks pretty, but I would like to see more of it!
This is the Standard JSK. Like the other JSK, the bodice seems very simple in shape and again not that bust friendly. The shape of the bodice is also very square and a bit boring. I also think the straps are far too thin and they don't like even the slightest bit supportive. They are lined neatly with pretty and good quality lace on the outsides though, and the pearls dotted along the straps is a nice touch. The waistline of the dress is over-stitched, so there is a bit of a ruffle going along the waistline. It doesn't look too bad, but I don't think I am a fan. There are also 2 large ribbon bows on the waistline with large tails going down the skirt. The bows themselves are a cute shape and the ribbon used only has a slight sheen. However, I feel the 2 bows need to be spaced further apart and more to the sides. It is a shame these bows are not detachable, as I would have liked the option to position them how I like. The bodice is mostly kept simple, with just some subtle lines of thin lace running up it. I suppose with the neckline details and waist bows, a lot of detail is not needed, but I think something a bit more interesting could have been done. At least the lace used is of a nice quality. The neckline has a very wide line of lace, which is topped with 3 polka dot bows and a pearl chain running between the bows. The bows are a cute shape and size, and I really love the idea of having the pearl chains dangling between them. I do feel though, that the use of polka dots is a bit out of place. The bows also have a jewel in the middle, which works quite nicely, although I feel it would have worked better with solid coloured bows. There is a narrow ruffle of tulle going along the neckline, which has been well gathered and helps to soften the very straight neckline. The back is fully shirred, which means plenty of size flexibility, but it also means the unattractive looking shirring is also exposed. I noticed the shirring isn't that noticeable on the darker navy colour way though. The stock photos show that the skirt is generous in volume and it flares outwards plenty. I like that the skirt seems to have a decent amount of length to it and I think there is more than enough volume to the skirt to create a great shape. The skirt is kept simple in design once again, so the print is displayed brilliantly, although the tails from the waist bows are a little bit distracting. The bottom hem is then finished off with a line of good quality lace layered neatly on top of a tulle ruffle. I am a bit surprised that AP didn't use the more decorative shell shaped lace here.
Finally, this is what the print looks like. This series comes in pink, sax blue, lavender and navy blue. These colours are pretty typical of a marine themed print and they all work very well. I think a green colour could have been interesting, maybe not mint, but a sea foam sort of shade. As for the print itself, I think it is well laid out with the border part of the print neatly set out. The dolphins look pretty cute, although I know not everybody is in agreement about that. I like the way their bodies are angled to make it look like they are swimming. The fact that the dolphins are wearing crowns is a nice touch as well. The shells and patches of coral fill in the spaces at the bottom nicely. I really like the pearl chains with the stars and moons dangling from them as well. The non-border part is suitably gorgeous as well. I like that the background has been kept relatively simple, to stop the print from looking too busy. I know some people will argue that some of the fish here are freshwater fish, but I think I could look past that! The bubbles are drawn well and I think it is really clever how some of the bubbles have a subtle AP logo in them.
So I feel this is actually quite a cute print, and it is really surprising to see that this hasn't sold well, at least not in Japan. I have to admit though, that I am not sold on the dress cuts. There are things I would definitely tweak with each dress. Would I buy this dress? Possibly, but not at retail price. It doesn't really fit in with my current wardrobe, so I would have to get an absolute steal on it for me to even consider it. And as far as marine prints go, I am still on Team Dream Marine. My top choice from this series would be the Peplum JSK, even though I didn't like the over-skirt. At least it is detachable. As for the colour, I am surprisingly torn. You all know I am usually a big fan of navy blue, but I find myself drawn to the sax blue and the pink as well. It is hard to say why this series hasn't done that well. Maybe it is because people don't like the dolphins or perhaps people are just a little tired of marine themed prints.