Saturday, October 23, 2010

Of roses and a slumbering princess

With Halloween fast approaching, you know what that means for us gothic types: it's time to put together a costume worthy of the most otherworldly fantasies of our spookily-inclined hearts. At least, it does to me. With that in mind, several days ago I headed to a recently opened thrifts store (Acts Thrift Store, for any interested readers here in LA).

Perhaps because of the approaching holiday, or possibly as a result of my improved thrifting skills, I came across many goth-and-lolita-friendly finds. For those who, like me until recently, were mystified by the elusive Way of the Thrift Store Goer (so to speak), I've found that the way to find treasures is to keep firmly in mind what types of material you are willing and not willing to have in your wardrobe.

You don't have to have extensive knowledge of various types of fabric (heavens, I can't claim I do either). But when you consider a certain item, look at the fabric and try to decide if you're willing to wear that type of fabric. If not, there's not much you can do except use the item's design as a pattern for a similar item. On the other hand, a horrible item made of wonderful fabric can be used for raw materials, even if your DIY skills can't salvage the item's original design.

(Note~ Much of my thrifting knowledge has been gleaned from more experienced thrifters, such as The Lady of the Manners and Miss Lumpy. Their names link to a thrifting post from each of them, in case you're interested. Actually, to tell the truth, I couldn't find an entire thrifting post from the the Lady of the Manners, so in her case the linked post is merely one of several Gothic Charm School columns that has a paragraph or two of wise words about thrifting.)

Now, what treasures did I find? First, I have to tell you a bit about my planned Halloween attire. For the longest time I was torn between several options, but I believe I've happened upon a costume idea that incorporates them all. In short~ gothic Sleeping Beauty, thus combining one of my favorite fairytales with one of my favorite subcultures (the other being lolita, naturally).

For a longer explanation, well, I shall explain. Have any of you heard of the Visual Kei band Lareine? They aren't active any more, but I found out about them because their singer, Kamijo, went on to create the band Versailles, which is my very favorite musical group. If you like roses, vampires, French aristocrats, and a dash of symphonic and power metal, all mixed together in a fantastical epic saga, I highly recommend Versailles.

Little by little, and especially in the past few weeks, I've come to love the sentimental, romantic atmosphere of Lareine as much as I love the dramatic, unearthly grandeur of Versailles. One of my favorite Lareine songs is "Kyokutou no Koibito," which I have seen translated as "The Far Eastern Love." Judging from my still developing Japanese skills, it could also be translated "Lover from the Far East." Take your pick, my dears.

To tell you the truth, I'm really not sure how exactly the title ties into the rest of the song (although I love the title all the same). The song seems to be about a version of Sleeping Beauty with black roses twined in her hair, slumbering "in the midst of briar roses" while her prince searches for her with a sword of glass. From what I can gather, at least. Here are the romaji lyrics at, and an English translation at this website, if you'd like to read them. And of course, a link to the song itself on Youtube!

Rather than wearing loli, I planned to put together a long, flowy gown type of costume--the kind of thing in which you might imagine a princess slumbering. At first, while wandering around the thriftstore, I was trying to make up my mind between a kuro outfit, to go with the roses, and a shiro outfit, which besides having that lovely ghostly look I've been craving, would also feel more like a costume.

That came out strangely, but I mean that while I love kuro gothic, and I'm sure I could pull together a kuro outfit that felt fantastical enough to me, it would take more work because kuro gothic makes up the greater part of the wardrobe I'm putting together. Shiro, however, while it will eventually have it's own place in my wardrobe, lends itself more easily to the "strange and wondrous" feeling a costume should have, simply because I haven't worn white in so long. Dear me, I'm not explaining this very well, am I? Ah well...

In the end, in true Dusk Rose fashion, I picked...both! Well, I will have a mostly white costume, with a few black accents. In addition to tying in the roses, this will give me another dose of the Yoh-esque black x white asthetic I've been craving recently. Speaking of Yoh, I've figured out another piece of art that probably influenced both my love for the black x white look (not exactly the oldschool type of black x white, though I love that too) and my costume choice. I present to you this gorgeous piece by Mayatosi, which I first discovered via Tumblr. Doesn't it have a gorgeous, sentimental air of melancholy about it?

Is it picture time? Yes, at last!

I found a couple of skirts each made of the same, slightly crinkly material, and will use fabric from the all white one to make the other a bit longer and fuller.  

(Is that a "bubble skirt," I wonder?)

 (Sorry, I couldn't get this one to completely stay on the windowseat.)

Speaking of black and white, I love that embroidery at the bottom. The design uses white (or silver?) thread as well as black, which is delightful because one of my favorite types of fabric is the kind with embroidery in the same shade as the background, such as white on white or black on black. A detail shot~

For the top half of the outfit, I took my own advice and sought out an average button down shirt with fabric I love. It's full of the above mentioned white on white embroidery, you see. Even if I can't salvage the blouse, I have Big Plans for that material. I just haven't figured out what said plans are, yet.

I also found this blouse, which has the virtue of poofy sleeves. (Always a good thing. Always.) We will see what DIY can do with it. In order to spare you yet one more in this deluge of pictures, I laid out my third blouse option along with it. Well, not really a blouse option--I bought this one mainly for the sleeve material.

The one feature I knew my costume had to have was long flowy sleeves that gathered at the wrist and just below the shoulder, so I plan to use the lace material to achieve that effect. The lace (which unfortunately you can't see very well) isn't perfect, but it's pretty soft and it has a pattern of roses! To go with the (to be DIY-ed) ones in my hair! Er, excuse my squeeing then, if you will.

If you're like me, you believe that corsets and the like are always a good thing (kind of like poofy sleeves, but even more so--if you can believe it that is). Accordingly, I've found some sort of corset belt-ish thing made out of the most lovely silky black fabric, which will tie in the other black accents very nicely.

The nice thing is that when I'm done with this costume, the separate pieces will fit will into my regular wardrobe, so all my sewing work won't be in vain. Speaking of my regular wardrobe, though, I found the most amazing tee shirt while costume hunting.

It has a chandelier! Besides featuring one of my very favorite motifs, this will make an excellent cutsew to go with my socks (see previous post)! Really, I've been needing more chandeliers in my wardrobe...but then, don't we all? (Oh all right, I mean that all of us probably have some outlandish motif or design feature we adore--such as carousels, or cake hats, yes? Or black roses.)


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