Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Exclusive Interview: I Do Declare

This weekend I got the opportunity to interview my good friend Kelsey, designer, production team, &general mastermind behind American lolita brand I Do Declare (also, she is officially custom-making my party dress for my birthday extravaganza - if that doesn't prove my trust in her skills what does?!)

Available on Etsy!
Heraldry skirt and buckle-back lace blouse

Lumpy: Tell me a little about yourself. What's your name? Where are your from? What styles of lolita do you prefer to wear?

Kelsey: My name is Kelsey and i grew up in Florida... perhaps no the best state for lolita because of the climate. My favorite style is classic lolita... though for this coming spring I'm starting to want classic lolita cuts and styles in sweet colors!

Lumpy: How did you get into fashion design, &what made you want to start designing lolita clothing?

Kelsey: Well, I started sewing costumes for myself and friends in my freshman year of highschool and discovered that I had a talent for it! Ever since then I've been designing and sewing. I started making lolita clothes for a few reasons but the most prominent was that I couldn't afford to buy any! haha and now I still love to make lolita clothes because it's hard to find a flattering fit for westerners in japanese lolita clothing... and I think that above all else your clothes should flatter you!

Lumpy: What inspired the name and the initial behind your brand?

Kelsey: My roomate actually came up with the name I Do Declare. I wanted something that evoked royalty without being pretty pretty princess about it. And I think that applies to the clothes also. I prefer simple lines and flattering cuts in my designs but in higher quality fabric.

Lumpy: What are some themes that you like to draw upon in your designs? Are there any recurring motifs that crop up in your lines?

Kelsey: Like I said, I like simple lines in my clothing but I also adore the Rococo period. I like to incorperate some of that wonderful 18th century style. Also I like to incorporate some prints... Recently I've been obsessed with heraldic imagery so I've been incorporating that into my clothing with things like the Heraldry print and the Antique Unicorn print! I'm working on something with a Lion next. I've used a few prints in the past like the Welcome to Wonderland print and the Dinosaur Mode Girl. . . both of them are a little more humorous than what I'm working on now but that doesn't mean I'm abandoning that quirkiness.

Lumpy: If you could use three words to I Do Declare, what would they be?

Kelsey: Haha This kind of question is always so hard! Classical, quirky and historically inspired. Although I suppose the last one is two words...

Lumpy: Where do you get your inspiration from?

Kelsey: I have to say first and foremost from history. I'm a giant nerd for the 18th century! Also my friends... I get a lot of great feedback from them.

Lumpy: What are you working on right now?

Kelsey: Right now I'm working on a line of showpieces for the upcoming Dances of Vice in March. The theme for the event is Spring in Wonderland so I'm doing rococo interpretations of some of the characters. I'm really excited about the whole thing.

Lumpy: What can you tell me about your current line?

Kelsey: The line for winter is the Antique Unicorn line. It's a print in silver or gold available on skirts, bags and shirts. Every item is hand printed so each one is a little different!

Lumpy: I know you've been participating in some alternative fashion shows in and around New York City. Tell me about that – how did you get involved? What's it like planning your own fashion show?

Kelsey: For the past year I've been doing shows at conventions along the east coast, I'd like to think I got started doing shows because my reputation as a designer got out though really it seems to have been a series of fortunate accidents! Planning a show is really a lot of fun! I like to recruit all my models first then dress them in something that I think will flatter then specifically. I think the audience will enjoy it more if they can tell the models like the clothes they are wearing!

Lumpy: I've heard that your going to be participating in a Dances of Vice Etsy store. What are you going to be doing with them?

Kelsey: I am! I was really flattered to be asked to participate. I've done a custom print for them and right now it's available on tote bags. I think I may do a few custom outfits for them as well.

I Do Declare exclusive print for DoV

Lumpy: What are your future plans for expansion?

Kelsey: I'm hoping to get some items started in production. As it is right now I make ever item by hand. . and I'd like to have some items produced like my favorite skirt pattern (pleated at the waist with pockets). Then I'll be able to add whatever print I like by hand. I'm hoping to be able to get that started by the end of this year.

Thank you so much for talking to me, Kelsey, and best of luck on your plans for the future!

Miss Lumpy for I Do Declare

For more from Kelsey:

I Do Declare blog

I Do Declare on Etsy

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cropped Coifs

Before cutting my hair, I did a demonstration of some of my favorite styles. Now that I'm getting used to my new coif, I think I'll talk a bit about working with short hair for my fellow cropped cuties!

First of all, short hair itself is often regarded as more of a style than long, so it requires less effort. That doesn't mean you get to slack off, though! If anything, it means you need to take better care of your hair. Short hair shows greasiness and frizziness much more than long in my experience, so get a few good products or procedures you swear by - for example, I wash my hair with baking soda &vinegar right before I go to bed, then sleep on it, scrunching it to form curls periodically while I'm trying to fall asleep. Keeping your hair clean, shiny, &healthy is important no matter the length, &it is especially so for us shorties because we'll have less going on with the way we style it. Have a few stand-bys for bad hair day protection - longer hair can just be put into a bun or braid, but for us, not so much! Almost all of my friends swear by snoods, but other hats or claw clips if your hair is long enough will work well too. And for prevention, invest in a good dry shampoo, which will clean your hair without being washed out if you're in a rush, or keep some baking soda or baby powder on hand &lightly run it through your hair from roots to tip. It'll dry up the grease &ickiness, but don't do this for more than one day in a row or it'll be noticeable.

When I had long hair, I used it to accessorize itself - tiny braids or loose loops were staples for lazy days because they could hang with my waves or be pinned back for extra cute. Now, however, I find myself relying much more on outside implements like clips, headbands, and hairbows. I got a pack of glittery, bright-colored clips from Hot Topic on super-sale recently that I adore, which I really recommend - keep a few hair clips or bobbypins in your purse in case you find yourself wanting to snazz up a bit in a pinch. It's very important to invest in accessories if you have short hair - cute little star-shaped hair gems, flower bobbypins, and feathered headbands are all some of my favorites for daily wear. For lolita, I wear... well, all of those of course, but also mini-hats, hair bows on elastics or bobby pins, and of course, headbows. The latter presents its own unique challenges - long hair will be able to hold its own with a huge, head-eating bow, but short hair needs to be highly teased or otherwise styled HUEG so it doesn't just look flat &dead in comparison to your big, perky bow. However, a side bow looks very sweet with short hair of almost any type - curly, straight, boy-short, etc - and depending on your type of hair you can vary the size &style. For example, a long, flattish sidebow looks nice when my hair is curly, but when it's straight I prefer a double-sidebow headband. Do your own experimentation, though - head to your local Claire's or Icing store &try on their selection to see what works best for you.

So, what can you do? Here's a brainstorm of some of my favorites:

  • Pull the front sides back &secure with a barrette or bobby pins and a bow comb. Bonus points if you braid them!
  • Similarly, starting at your part, twist the hair tightly in on itself all the way across your hairline, behind your bangs if you have them. Secure behind your ear with a bobby pin. Cover the pin with a rose corsage.
  • Gather all of your hair across the crown by inserting your thumbs behind your ears and pulling back. Secure with a ponytail, then curl the shit out of it. Top with a tiara.
  • Too short for full pigtails? Using a similar method as above, gather the hair from your crown into two small ponytails above and slightly behind your ears. Use small bows or hair clips in these so the accessory doesn't overwhelm the style.
  • If your hair is at least chin-length, you can probably do french braids if not regular ones. Try two small ones, it's easier on short hair than one because the hair doesn't have to reach as far to join the braid.
  • Put your hair in pin curls before bed. Wake up &take them out. Instant pseudo-curl-fro - tease to enhance! Wear a small sidebow with it.
  • In the end, if you miss long hair, you can always buy a wig or clip-in extensions - they're easier to wear with short hair sometimes, too!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Letting the Spectacle Astound You

Masquerade! Paper faces on display-
Hide your face so the world will never find you
I always say to keep your eyes open, because you never know when inspiration will strike you. On a blizzardy day last week, I was watching the Jim Carrey movie Yes-Man on TV with my boyfriend. While it was a cute, cheeky, enjoyable movie, there was one scene that actually really struck me, despite the obvious facetiousness of it. The premise of the movie is that the main character, Carl, attends a seminar and makes a commitment to turn his life around by accepting any opportunity that comes his way. The scene in question is one where, during a night of heavy drinking with his friends, he accidentally puts the moves on a beautiful girl with a huge, testosterone-rich boyfriend. Obviously, the boyfriend challenges Carl to a fight, who has to accept because of his "secret covenant," on one condition: that if he wins, he gets to take the man's pretty girlfriend to a ball - " 'cause she deserves that. Every pretty girl deserves to go to a ball," he slurs. After losing horribly and taking a few bystanders with him, his reaction is a tearful pout towards the camera and the realization that the pretty girl in question would never go to a ball.
This, oddly, got me thinking. At first, it was, "I'm so happy I've been to a ball!" thinking, among other things, of Dances of Vice. Then I realized, there really ARE a lot of girls in the world who'll never go to a ball. Is that a bad thing? Well, no, not necessarily. However, what is it that a ball really is? Is it just a place to drink punch and wear a fancy dress and sit around staring at the dance floor, waiting for someone to ask you to dance? If so, no - there is nothing wrong with not attending those balls. I'm thinking of course of the high school proms and homecoming dances and cotillions of my native twentieth-century Americana in this case - in fact, one might think it's better to avoid these cesspools of upper-middle-class adolescent debauchery. However, maybe this is skewed. We're lolitas, after all - nine times out of ten, don't we yearn for an era (bygone or non-existant) in which princesses are forever donning breathtaking gowns, staying out til midnight (but no later!), and being swept off their feet by the handsome, exquisitely-dressed gentleman in grand ballrooms with marble pillars and candelabra? The ideal ball is an ideal of escapism and beauty - a place of beauty and fantasy that any girl can escape to in her mind when the real world becomes too harsh. Like a lilting piece of music. Like a beautiful book of poetry. Like looking in the mirror and seeing a living doll stare back at you.
And what about these girls who never go to the ball? All of those girls, the ones who are content to live their lives the way they're "supposed" to, who go to class, go to work, party with their friends, and never think twice about what else life could hold for them - do they know what they're missing? Are they really missing it at all, or has it simply taken on a different manifestation in their lives? I don't dismiss the possibility. However, while my hippie idealization of the world is one where everyone appreciates &seeks out beauty, I know that this is vastly untrue in the world I have found myself. Therefore, I find it safe to assume and be disheartened by the idea that there are people in this world who will never truly find themselves captivated by the beauty the world can hold. Even worse are the people who, when surrounded by utter ugliness, cannot create a source of beauty to lose themselves in.
There are little girls who stare at me, eyes wide, as I walk through the supermarket or board a subway. This is to be expected of children, but even more interesting are those my own age, who see me in the cafeteria or walking to and from class, who get that same glassy, wide-mouthed look to them. Bewildered, they turn to their friends, who are already scoffing at the sheer immaturity of my dress, and fake a smile to save face, when in reality they are mystified - they have fallen under the same spell the dresses first cast upon my fellow lolitas and I. Will they ever be able to shake this enchantment? Can they ignore what just happened, can they decide it doesn't matter and forget the shattering of their universe, or reason it away? Probably. The human mind is capable of much, and as a lolita I constantly overestimate how groundbreaking &earth-shattering this fashion is to the rest of the world anyway. My school seems to have a good amount of artsy, "alternative" kids anyway, so it's possible that I've just been written off as one of them, which is fitting and doesn't bother me. But for the people who can't do that,who experience beauty and can't get it out of their heads, what recompense can they hope for? Only the one dancing in their minds.


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