Thursday, 18 May 2017

Finding My Style



Wardrobe Planning Prep

I can't help it lovelies, I'm growing old. And nothing hits you in the face with your own aging and mortality like losing someone you admire. I awoke early this morning to a thunderstorm with an upset stummy, and as I lay in bed with my cat joyful picking my arm my husband broke the news to me that Chris Cornell has suddenly passed. I have fond memories of listening to Soundgarden's album Superunknown repeatedly throughout my youth. I can't have a blistering hot windy day and not think of Soundgarden and Chris' distinct vocal talents. I didn't care for Audioslave and what came later but I never forgot the way that his music made me feel, and not only that, I'll never forget that he was genuinely a great person. It's really sad news. As we grow older all of our idols get older still, some pass away and some, like Bill Nye the Science Guy, grow up to be douchebags. It's disheartening but it reminds me to make my own positive changes in this life, to make great art and not be a douchebag.

Grappling with my age has been difficult this year. I'm trying to find my niche in the fashion world. I know that some people take the stance that you wear what you want and I partially agree to that. I'm concerned that I'll hit that point where I'm making an ass of myself, like my 10th grade english teacher, who was like 50 and wore mini skirts and hooker boots with blouse unbuttoned as she perched herself upon the corner of her desk. WHAT WAS SHE THINKING?!

When you're developing your own personal style you base it on a set of morals and beliefs. Everyone has different viewpoints. In my teacher's vision she clearly believed that provocative, skin revealing clothing was sexy and empowering. Adult version of me could have shown her how to style sexy without looking like she's auditioning for a PTA porno. I'm sure much of her wardrobe decision making was also driven by a revolt against aging gracefully. I have no issue with 70 year old ladies wishing to wear bikinis, as long as those bikinis fit and are tasteful. We shouldn't have to resign ourselves to 2" shoulder pad suit jackets, neck scarves, and boring ankle length skirts. The key to dressing young and original as you age is not to go full steam in the opposite direction of "old peoples clothes". You have to find a balance between the two.

This is why throughout my wardrobe purge I'm reassessing my needs, morals, and my beliefs about myself. Am I young enough to wear certain things? I'm still shapely, my skin is aging but looks fresh to most who comment on it, I don't have deep carved out lines yet and my legs are nice and slim. I'm still able to get away with revealing clothing and I am going to ride that out! But I don't want to wear the "young stuff" anymore. I don't know how to describe it... it's a certain look. Like everything is shrunken or everything is oversized. Does that make sense? It's like this: I don't feel comfortable in the shorts that I bought from Ardene's. I feel like an idiot in them. They're short and there's nothing wrong with that but they're cut like shorts for an eight year old girl. I also feel like a shithead wearing t-shirts. I have no idea where that comes from but I just can't wear those things anymore! Maybe it's become synonymous with being young? It's like how I could never do pastel goth. I don't want to look like those goons on Instagram who are manipulating their lips and eyes to three times their natural size, blanketed in a sea of baby pink and ice blue, they look like an army of Easter Bratz dolls. Jesus it makes me uncomfortable just thinking about it.

So I've been combing through the e-catalogs to see if I can get some inspiration for my wardrobe building process. It seems like I'm being drawn to the classical designs. I'm not into this weird "Part Time Unicorn" oversized pink sweater shit. I still like a good mini skirt but I'm drawn to long sleeves in my tops. I like pants despite not owning a pair lol. It's something I might try again some day. As for dresses my love of a good fitted dress lives on. I'm attracted to the a-line skater shape because it hugs my body in just the right way. I also like flowy chiffon things because I find there's something distinctly mature about it. Here's some of my inspiration (at the top of this post as well):




What are your thoughts? As you've aged what have you gravitated towards? What's become your "safe zone" in fashion?

Best,

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

McCall's Women's Cosplay Patterns Eventide, Red Reign and Cloak: Phantasy

New Cosplay Patterns!

I think it's been awhile since we've seen a batch of three patterns released at once and I'm always excited for that because the more the merrier! Today I'm look at three new women's costume patterns from Cosplay by McCall's, Eventide, Red Reign and Cloak: Phantasy. Let's look 'em over!
Eventide
Shawl Collar Jackets

In this pattern we're presented with one long and one waist cut shawl collared jacket. They're essentially the same jacket just modified for the shorter look in version 2 (right), which also features bell sleeves. I think it's painfully obvious that version 1 is the far more successful design. I dislike the shawl collar...it's reminiscent of some weird 80's high fashion that maybe Prince would've worn, but I guess it'd be cool if you're channeling your inner Ruby Rhod. The fit is off and I think it's exacerbated by the satin bell sleeves in version 2, while it looks more natural in version 1 probably because the material has more structure. You can see in version 2 there are diagonal wrinkles extending across the torso from the underarm area toward the apex of the bust, this is a fit issue, it means there is an excessive amount of material in this region and it would have to be pinned out. Switching between versions 1 and 2 there really is no apparent difference in the construction in this area, it seems that the material is working against it in version 2. In version 1, it's possible that the length of the garment is ironing those wrinkles out by weighing it downward, I also think the tabs on the waist help disguise these fit issues. Overall, I'm tempted to try version 1 but if I do, I'll be redesigning the collar and investigating fit issues in the bust and armscye.
Red Reign
Bolero Jacket, Corset, Skirt and Hoop
So the more that I'm exposed to her work, the more I realize that I don't like it. Ichigo Black and I do not meet minds aesthetically. Her first releases with the brand (Belle Noir and Belle Rogue) were promising but now I feel like she's regurgitating the same design elements only they're coming out far worse than before. The corset is the only successful piece in this pattern. The overskirt is fine if combined with a normal skirt. We all know that I loathe the exposed hoop skirt trend, I get that it's popular but I can't see how...It's not high fashion to me, it just looks like she's wearing scaffolding. As strange as it is to admit it's not the worst element in this pattern, the bolero is. The asymmetry on this piece is not successful. The eye has difficulty following the flow from right to left. The left shoulder appears deflated, and the sleeve is costumey and not in the cool way but the "I got it at Walmart on clearance" kind of way. The collar sits a tad high and the bolero itself lacks structure, but the worst offender is that back appliqué. I had to look at the diagram to understand just what is going on here.
Firstly, there are no back darts. This piece is in desperate need of shaping and back darts would eliminate that boxy effect you're seeing in the photo on the right. It's corseted but it's not functional. I normally don't find this problematic but I'm befuddled by the fact that they chose to place a lace insert underneath the faux corset closure, it confuses the eye and takes away from the detail of the corset back, which begs the question why have it there at all? Why not place the red fabric underneath it or leave it nude to add contrast? I don't get it. And to add to that, the ensemble has a corset underneath it, so why have a corset on top of a corset? And let's get to the most excruciating part, the bat appliqué. I only saw the front of this costume when I received the promo photos and I had that meh feeling about it, but to see the back...just, wow. It's pretty hideous. It doesn't flow with the contours of the shoulders and it looks super home made. It's like if you were eleven years old and wanted to be goth but couldn't figure out where to start so you glued some half-assedly cut out bat wings on to the back of your hoodie. Don't shake your head, you've been there.
Cloak: Phantasy
Capes
M2092


It's not printed on the envelope but according to the website this is is another Ichigo Black design, thankfully it's not as atrocious as that last piece but this one lacks oomph. I'm not sure if this designer is getting burnt out or what. Her designs have always lacked adequate construction and often times the details are sloppy or confusing. It's really hit or miss. :/ In this pattern there are two capes, one asymmetrical long cape and one shorter cape with a keyhole style draped back. The shorter version, version 1, looks decent on the front with a high collar that has hook and eye closures. The back has a rhinestone detail and embroidered appliqué but it's a little underwhelming and looks slapped on there. The drape on the lower portion of the cape is alright but there's something weird about the way it sits in the capelet. I don't know if it's been tucked, picked up or ruched, the diagram implies ruching. Perhaps this wasn't the most successful technique to employ for this design. The asymmetrical cape is cut well, I can't get a good look at the collar, it's difficult to tell if it's set correctly. The epaulet with the chains could look good with some tweaking. I dislike the bib. It's weird. Not a top, a bib, like half of an apron. I think it attaches to the cape itself? It would've been best to leave it out altogether because it's doing nothing for this pattern. It's also disappointing to see that the designer has yet again resorted to using a faux corset closure. Surely she's had enough of these things? Looking at historical clothing catalogs, I can see that exposed corsets weren't as commonplace as some people assume, it was mostly in their lingerie, instead their clothing had buttons. Whatever happened to buttons? You can do some cool shit with buttons.

Conclusion

I like the jacket pattern well enough and the cape pattern has its place, clearly I hate Red Reign and I'm not about to recommend it to my friends. It's always interesting to see what the new batch of patterns will be, like a Kinder Surprise Egg, sometimes you get the cool toy and sometimes you get that thing that looks weird and you have no idea what the hell it's used for so you give it to your sibling. What will the future hold? I'm always excited to find out. What are your thoughts?








Monday, 1 May 2017

April 2016

Last of the Personal Updates

I'm no longer featuring personal posts on the blog, you may have noticed 60% of the posts have dropped off, I unpublished them. Don't worry, I was not haggled by anybody! I'm doing it for the sake of my new blog and business which you'll be linked to in the coming months. I highly doubt anyone will make the connection between the new blog and the old blog, but in the event that maybe they could it's better to clean Bien Aimée up and eventually put it to rest. I'm a terribly foul-mouthed opinionated person lol, considering my potential clientele will likely be comprised of middle aged women and grandmothers I don't want to scare anyone away. I'll still be goth and love Halloween, I just won't swear as much (if at all...that's going to be a huge challenge as I was raised in a family of boys). 

So, as this post will be deleted/unpublished in a few months time (long enough for you guys to read it and be done with it) I figure I'll give you some brief updates to my life. 

Spring is here and I'm loving every minute of it! The trees are budding open with fresh lime green leaves, the flowers are in full bloom. Flashes of red, yellow and pink tulips adorn the garden beds and the much beloved almond, cherry and flowering Magnolia trees are bursting forth with new life. This is my season, as much as Summer is and Fall, each has its own unique flavor. As I told my husband while lounging on the loveseat, "You know what summer means? Vampires." Because I always get a weird hankering for all things vampiric in the summertime. In the fall it's pumpkin spice [insert food or drink here] and warm sweaters with baked goods. In spring it's gardening and sun hats, pink lemonade and romantic black and white films. And sewing, when I have the energy for it. 

I remember in 2015 I had been hospitalized, post hysterectomy, and I was terribly ill. I was bed ridden and missing the spring experience. The flowering trees only open for about two weeks, as the tulips and daffodils are quick to die off. It's a very short window before the leaves are completely open and everything begins to transition into summer. Ever since that year I have been all the more determined to immerse myself in the season and drink in every aspect of it. My favorite thing this year is the bumble bees who've been scoping out my Fuji cherry shrub (I just bought my mom one for her garden). These things bring me tremendous spiritual peace - spirituality! Another thing I always associate with spring. 

This is what I need in my life right now as I've been away from work for months and haven't shown many signs of improvement. There's good news and gray news? That's a term I just made up to describe news that is neither good nor bad. The good news is that I do not have EBV. Shocking I know. I had been both comforted and shattered by this diagnosis as I fought with all my energy to get my immune system up in order to overcome the virus (as you may have read, EBV reactivated is untreatable and can be overcome if only the body can get it under control - if not you suffer with it for months or years). It turns out that the doctor didn't read it correctly, he identified that I tested positive for EBV, it was the internist who notified me that I had overcome EBV, the bio markers indicated that the virus was in remission. Surprise! That was amazing news but I felt like storming into the hallway and cursing my brains out, why? Because it wasn't accounting for how bad I've been feeling lately. The internist was equally confused. He has no idea what's wrong with me and his resident suggested I might see an infectious disease specialist some day. They both decided to run more blood work on me testing for some serious looking crap and I'll be having an MRI to look at my brain and spine to ensure nothing weird is going on there - particularly in regards to MS which the internist felt could be a possibility and I could just be asymptomatic (I have some but not all symptoms associated with MS). 

That's the gray news. We're back to square one with no diagnosis, no explanation and I've already written my boss to tell her that I have mono only to have to retract that diagnosis...but I'm probably not going to bother. It's not legal paperwork or any such thing, it's just a conversation between her and I and I figure it's no trouble, I was suffering with EBV, I'm still suffering with something, what difference does it make? 

The future

A cat figure I made for my dad,
based on his cat, Pippin.
I have two art figurines being finished off today and tomorrow, I'll have to make the forms for five more, including hands for a devil doll I'm working on. Half of which will be stocked at the brick and mortar gift shop the other half will be listed in my Etsy shop. I have to finish the Halloween inventory by July at the latest, then it's Christmastime. I'm also making two or three "Canadian" themed pieces in honor of the 150th birthday. 

The new blog will feature my art, my home reno projects, my sewing, and maybe some writing pieces here and there. It won't be as fashion oriented as this was but I'm finding I'm getting a bit burned out lately and don't have time to invest in developing mood boards and rummaging through catalogs.

It's up to any of you if you want to read the new blog, this blog or both. Just know that Bien Aimée won't run indefinitely, it will shut down some day I just don't know when.

Meanwhile, I will be posting on the other blog for some home reno projects. We bought a new dresser that needs to be stripped, painted and stained, likewise I need to paint the fireplace mantel, a little side table which I've cleaned up and need to repair, as well as this new set up we have for hubby's video game collection (it's a weird dresser bookshelf hybrid). I have an old secretary that's dying to be painted and the hardware maybe needs to be replaced. I might even make a cool gothy frame for its windows as I got my mom's scroll saw back! We're working on a new planter, not like the one described in my garden post, it's a vertical herb garden planter and we've bought everything for it, I'm really excited to finish that! It's a super cool DIY project, which if you're a condo dweller you might want to try out for yourself. 

Anyways, I hope all is well with you guys and if you do want to know what becomes of me personally don't forget you can reach out, there is a link to me for email in the sidebar under my profile pic.

Cheers,

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Cosplay by McCall's Abigail & Hat Madders


Women's Fantasy Costumes

Another pair of patterns are emerging on Cosplay by McCall's website - unfortunately the website is currently down (?) but you can see them in all their glory once it's fully operational again. For now you'll have to settle for a sneek peak.



Abigail
Misses' Dress
M2089

This is another pattern designed in partnership with Anachronism in Action. It features a fully lined vest and decorative trim on the seam lines and skirt. The package also comes with instructions and pattern pieces for a petticoat and a bum roll (don't laugh! that's the correct terminology, it's like a bustle but smaller and looks like a sausage wrapped around your waist), it also provides tips on underlining which is often a technique used in formal wear to add structure to a garment and stabilize fussy materials. I can only read this through the eyes of a non-conformist who doesn't have cable - I can't speak to it's popular culture origins, instead I can interpret it solely as a costume. It's nice. I like the vest, the gussets are a cool touch. I wish I could see the back of it or the sketch diagram to see what details I'm missing out on as it's difficult to critique it without the nitty gritty details. The fit looks acceptable and the construction is good. Overall, it's a pretty feminine ensemble and I could see this popping up at Renaissance fairs across the country.


Hat Madders
Costume Accessories
M2093

This is difficult to do a cold read on. The description I am provided with: "Pattern includes a unique Top and Bow Tie for any fractured fairy tale or mashup you construct. Also included is a headdress for your inner unicorn and a choker and cuffs to complete any steampunk or fantasy cosplay." We're only seeing half of this pattern by the sounds of it, I'd like to know what the headdress, choker and cuffs might look like but for now all we can go off of is the bow tie and hat on the cover of the envelope. The bow tie is...what can I say? It's a bow tie. It doesn't fail to convey it's bow-y-ness. The hat. looks. busted. I am not a fan of exposed cage anything, I know that it's been a popular trend among Steampunk enthusiasts and has appeared in many specialty alt shops as a skirt with bustle. I just view it as awkward and an inconvenience, and in this case rather unfinished. The whole thing looks unfinished. Surely Ichigo Black has done better than this before but this is...not her shining moment. The brim is buckling and flopping in a weird way, likely due to the selected materials. The skeletal framework of the crown is relatively well executed but it fails to impress me as it looks like a tomato cage perched atop the models head, swaddled by a scrap of duponi, or maybe it's taffeta? Regardless, the hat band is busted. And the name of this pattern? It's as though McCall's themselves weren't even taking it seriously. This is a missed opportunity. Folks, creativity madders, and I have seen many a comment on the Cosplay by McCall's blog begging for armor and fantasy style accessories. I can only hope the other half of the accessories contained in this pattern make up for the shoddy hat design, we'll give them the benefit of the doubt for now. 

UPDATE!



The headdress, choker and cuffs seen here are way nicer than the Mad Hatter cage hat, I'm not sure why they didn't make it on to the cover. You can also see in the photo above that the hat continues to look less than ideal from more than one angle. I just don't understand why the hatter accessories took center stage, I'd much rather see the unicorn. Maybe it's because it doesn't require as much sewing?? The unicorn accessories are nothing ground breaking, just some super embellished cuffs and a headband, but they look good and I can see Lolita fans wearing them.

Conclusion

I'm underwhelmed by the accessories pattern but only being able to see 50% of the contents makes this review unfairly skewed. That being said, I can't see any one buying the pattern for the bow tie alone! I know that it's a part of the branding to have a big glossy high fashion promo photo on the cover of each envelope, but when it comes to multiple looks or styles (in this case accessories) it could be beneficial to feature all of them on the cover, perhaps using two or more models interacting with each other so that all options can be viewed (the way it was done on the patterns Shapeshifter and Laced). I just feel like if I were presented with this picture in a catalog I'd skim right past it, expecting that the hat and bow tie is all that's inside the pattern.

I'm always curious to see the future of Cosplay by McCall's and I'd like to see more prop building and armor crafting in the works, but perhaps they didn't have as much success with their initial attempt, Flight.

What are your thoughts? If any of you are cosplayers, what would you like to see?


Best,


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