Friday, May 28, 2010
F*** Yeah Bonnets! Custom Ophanim Bonnet Review
I've always had a love-hate relationship with bonnets. On the one hand, they can be infantalizing and childish. On the other, while lolita headwear certainly runs the gamut of whimsical creativity, there is nothing that is so iconic as the bonnet. All other types of hair accessory can, with creativity, be worn with normal clothing (though the traditional headdress would probably be a bit difficult), but the bonnet is so crazy, so extreme, so quintessentially lolita that there is no way they could be anything else. I have a policy that everything I buy for lolita accessories must be able to be, in some way, worn with regular clothes, so buying a bonnet, especially if I don't know how it would look on me, seemed utterly flippant.
I did dabble, though - I bought a pink BABY bonnet in the... fall or winter, I believe, but decided that it didn't suit me - the brim was wired strangely, the color didn't jive, the lace wasn't right. It was a bit too sweet for me - I decided that the bonnet that was truly for me was an ornate buckram one, Tripe Fortune-style, with chiffon and lace and bows and maybe even roses. So my quest for the perfect bonnet continued, to my own internal chagrin.
In February, at the Chocopologie meet-up I hosted, I chatted crafts with Caro-chan of F*** Yeah Lolita. She showed me a beautiful netted fascinator she made and mentioned that she would be opening up an Etsy shop soon. We talked inconsequentially about Etsy for a moment, and then she said that she was going to be adding real, handmade buckram-frame bonnets to the shop once she perfected the pattern. I DIED. I probably gave her whiplash from the torrent of babbling I let loose, about how long I'd been wanting one, how awesome Triple Fortune was, insisting she let me know when they went up, was she taking commissions... luckily for me she put up with my outburst of utter crazy, bless her heart.
Fast forward a few months, to about April. I got this absolutely beautiful dress commissioned from I Do Declare for my birthday and a photo shoot, and while I wanted to make a circlet for the photo shoot (what's a queen without her crown?) , I was at a loss as to what to wear for my birthday party - I couldn't wear the same thing twice, of course!! (Communal groan from the audience, I know, I know) I wracked my brain, and then thought back to that conversation. While nothing in her Etsy shop would have matched, I remembered that she said she was taking custom commissions, so I sent her a message. We hashed out a design over e-mail, Livejournal message, and text, and finally figured something out for color and style. She requested a month to make the bonnet, but because of delays from the post (she contacted Kelsey and asked her to send some fabric swatches and then scraps when she couldn't find a good match), she actually ended up making and getting the bonnet to me in a matter of days.
Construction: I cannot get over how beautiful this bonnet is. I've never seen anything like it in person - it's exquisitely crafted and the work is beautiful. When I think about how, due to time constraints, she only had about a day to make the entire bonnet, I am stunned. I don't think I could make anything that crazy-awesome no matter how long I took to do it. The quality of materials is also lovely. The fabric was the leftovers from my dress, so Kelsey and I originally selected that, but the accoutrements Carolyn selected (lace, ribbon, etc) are very high-quality as well. The stitches are all hidden and those you can see are tiny and neat. 5/5.
Communication: As I said above, Carolyn employed every means of getting in touch with me possible, including livejournal message, e-mail, and text message. She sent pictures over the phone in real time to get my opinion and help make decisions, and demonstrated an admirable knowledge of her subject in her recommendations, as I had no idea what would look better in most cases. She gave me detailed updates whenever possible and was always patient with my silly questions and long response times. 5/5.
Shipping: No problems here, either! I was originally only getting regular shipping, but since it was so close to the party, as a birthday present Carolyn paid the difference for next-day shipping so I would have it in time. It arrived in perfect condition just before noon on the promised day and wasn't shaken up, crushed, or generally damaged at all. It was packed in a plastic bag in a box padded with paper. 5/5.
Overall: I normally have an intrinsic problem with giving anything a perfect score, simply because pop music and sitcoms have made me wary of anything deemed "perfect," but here I cannot give anything less than 15 out of 15. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the product I received, everything was perfect and to my exact specifications, and I would recommend Ophanim and Carolyn's work any time. Caro-chan, thank you so much for an amazing addition to my wardrobe!!