2015 Fashion Adventures

inceAt the end of 2015, I had to confront a hard truth: I’ve lost interest in dressing up.  It’s not a complete abandonment.  I still think J-fashion is really cool, and I do bust out my ensembles for special occasions.  The reality is that I won’t go out of my way to attend meet-ups or to relentlessly pursue sales on brand items.  On the flip side, I won’t stop my yearly recaps or suddenly become very mundane with my fashion.

I also will continue to take a peek at the new style tribes that are covered by Style Arena.  This year had a couple of intriguing ones.  The Shuffler caught my eye because Kareshi learned that dance form but dresses the total opposite of that group.  “Survival game fashion” is something akin to what I’ve done before although I’ve combined it with another style, like visual kei below (this was from when I was in Japan 6 years ago).  I’ve always enjoyed military chic so this is probably the one tribe from this year’s group that fits my aesthetic.

I did buy a new piece this year: a black Baby the Stars Shine Bright blouse.  It was going to be worn to my friends’ wedding in November, but I decided to debut it at a neo-Victorian meet-up at a Sherlock Holmes special exhibit.  Unfortunately I got the meeting times mixed up, and Kareshi did not get a full outfit shot like I had thought.
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I paired the blouse with my pinstripe pants, a cloak in gamekeeper’s tweed (which reminded me of Holmes’ infamous deerstalker), and a magnifying glass necklace. This not-quite-steampunk/not-quite-ouji mash-up is my favorite new outfit of 2015.

My favorite outfit overall is my steampunk ouji number that I covered in 2012.  It’s unassuming enough to be my con ensemble for when I’m working press (I think the newsboy cap helps me feel as thought it fits).  I wore it to Anime Matsuri, where I sat in on the boystyle panel with Akira and Shiva from Atelier Boz.  They stood by the door to shake hands with all of us, and Shiva said I looked really cool.  Although the outfit is one of my all-time faves, I don’t think much of it because it’s not as fancy as other steampunks or oujis.  Shiva’s comments made me feel really good since sometimes I feel like I’m just stumbling along and throwing together clothing.
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Speaking of Anime Matsuri, being at the fashion show did remind me why I was drawn to J-fashion in the first place.  Despite having covered it already, I’m gonna share some more pics because everyone looked fantastic. I also want to go on the record and say that I hope for other cons to take on J-fashion that treats their models and guests more professionally and respectfully.

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Atelier Boz and Angelic Pretty

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Putumayo and Metamophose

Ironically 2015 had me closer to lolita than ever before because I finally had a fluffy petticoat and a proper blouse to go under my Baby JSK. As a result, I wound up putting together a gothic lolita outfit for the library’s annual Edgar Allan Poe Victorian Steampunk Halloween. As a part of the volunteer group, I had brought that there are other fashion subcultures that would fit so I took it upon myself to represent the lolis.

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With the poof, I could barely fit in the coffin.

With that ensemble, I attempted at byojaku make-up, a trend that caught global attention in 2015. A lot of people don’t like the fact that you look sickly, but I’ve kinda been a fan of the dead girl look a la My Chemical Romance’s “Helena” video. I went a little too light on the blush and too heavy on the eyeliner (the latter I always do). Maybe I should have watched one of RinRin Doll’s tutorials:

And here I was afraid that I wouldn’t have anything to write about. My style resolution last year was to just be myself and possibly try more ouji. The former has worked out perfectly. The latter didn’t go as expected, but I have been adopting a more androgynous style. I think this year’s resolution is to just keep doing my thing… and maybe do a better attempt at byojaku make-up.

Listening to: “PoW!” by FEMM

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#28DaysofBlackCosplay

“28 Day of Black Cosplay” is a really cool hashtag started by Chaka Cumberbatch of Princess Mentality Cosplay for Black History Month.  Black cosplayers have faced a lot of racism, as well as a lack of representation in the media that they love, so this gives them a chance to find solidarity and proudly show off their hard work.  I’ve decided to use this opportunity to show off the cool black cosplayers I’ve met because they don’t always get the recognition that they deserve and maybe all the photos everyone is sharing will encourage others to not be afraid to take up cosplay.

I’m going to start off with a photo of Miss Cumberbatch herself as the lovely Princess Tiana from A-kon 23.
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Next is Samurai Pizza Kitten Cosplay as Zoe Washburn of Firefly. This past year, she participated in a race-based cosplay discussion panel at AnimeFEST called “Shades of Cosplay”.
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Now both Tiana and Zoe are black characters, but cosplayers shouldn’t feel like they have to stick to their own race. Some people assume that the default race for anthropomorphized forms of non-humans like the TARDIS and My Little Ponies is white, which has led to hateful comments directed at artists and cosplayers who choose a different race. It’s an absolutely ridiculous notion, and Ashley here shows that a human form of the TARDIS can be any race of one’s choosing (even if one episode of Doctor Who made the box a white woman).
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Not to leave out the male cosplayers, here is Rick Strife as… you guess it, Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII.
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A few years back, I interviewed Mika, who is a black cosplayer currently living Japan. At one of the Sendai Comiket events, she dressed up as Multi from To Heart.
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Even though most steampunks don’t consider their outfits to be “cosplay”, I wanted to include at least one black steampunk because the community has experienced the same issues as cosplay. This is Lucian Menkent of The Celestial Rogues.
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Lastly we have Choco Marzipan Cosplay in an original outfit she put together a photoshoot I organized with our friends.
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This is just a small sampler of the black cosplayers I’ve come across. I wish I knew the names of all the others because I’ve seen a lot of wonderful costumes that deserve to be featured with the proper credit. If you want more though, check out the “28daysofblackcosplay” hashtag on Twitter and Tumblr!

Listening to: “Rule Your World” by Crystal Kay

2014 J-fashion adventures

Resolving to allow myself to wear whatever I want, even if it meant abandoning the pursuit of different J-fashion styles, was probably the best decision I could have made.  It freed me from anything that limited my creativity and willingness to experiment.  As a result, I wound up knocking a few looks off my fashion bucket list and had several fun adventures worth sharing.

Despite this new energy, I didn’t see many new trends really catch my eyes.  My friends over at Kali’s Hourglass took to shironuri, which cropped up in 2012 but started to get more attention overseas in the past year.  While I think it’s gorgeous, it’s not something I will ever try (too much make-up and white for my tastes).
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Even the style tribes reported in Style-Arena seemed to rehash things that already existed.  I was amused at the concept of “Neo Bowling Style” since it’s something that has cropped here in the U.S. (with kids going bowling in prom dresses and burlesque dancers bowling for charity).  Also I inadvertently had a bowling lolita outfit when the shoes I rented wound up matching what I had worn to a meet-up prior to bowling.

At the Crow Collection fashion show, where Ramon and Radha did shironuri, I decided to attempt ora ora kei.  I’d been wanting to give it a shot, and there wasn’t a big gyaru contingent so I gave it shot with the clothes I had in my closet.  My make-up could probably use some work, but I enjoyed it.  I’m not sure it’s something I would wear regularly because of the make-up and accessories that are needed to properly represent the style.
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Another bucket list style was ero lolita.  Last year I pretty much gave up on lolita, but I still hang out with members of the local group and a murder mystery type of event at the art museum was too fun to pass up.  It was the middle of summer so I decided that it was the perfect time to try ero lolitaor as I called my look, burlesque ero lolita.  Again, not a style that is exactly me, but it was fun to try it out.
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Something that was more up my alley was my new steampunk look.  I’d been wanting to do an Asian steampunk look that didn’t involve throwing a corset over a traditional Asian outfit.  I reused pieces from older ensembles and came up with a Rurouni Kenshin-inspired persona of a former assassin who wears to chimes so that she doesn’t frighten people with her stealth.  It’s still a work in progress, but that was definitely one of my favorites.
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From Steampunk Illumination Society

My favorite J-fashion look for 2014 was the ouji ensemble for my birthday photo safari, which was one of the highlights of the year.
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The colors and make-up were inspired by Loki from The Avengers.  He’s one of my favorite characters so of course I enjoyed that bit of inspiration, and I think the androgyny is just something that is more my thing.

Thus my style resolution for 2015 is just to continue to do what works for me but don’t be afraid to explore.  I’d love to step up my ouji game and have fancier clothes, but I like being a bit rough too.  Maybe I can amp up the androgyny. We’ll see what happens.

Listening to: “9lives” by Shoko Nakagawa

Hibari’s Hi 8: Top cosplay photos of 2014

Last year, I shared the top 5 most viewed cosplay photos I’d taken.  I’ve come to realize how silly it is to do five when I have a theme of eight with “Hibari’s Hi 8 Countdown”.  I also made an error by not crediting the wonderful cosplay when I know who they are.  So for my 2014 list, I’ve resolved to increase the number to eight, count backwards, and give proper credit when possible.

8. Nurse Joker and Scarecrow – Sci-fi Expo 2014
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7. Steampunk Faye Valentine, Cowboy Bebop – All-con X
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6. Queen Amidala – Dallas Comic Con 2014
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5. Barbarian from Diabolo and Nebula from Marvel (Schmall Cosplay and Reese)  – Dallas Comic Con 2014
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4. “The Trouble with Tribbles” Captain Kirk (Cam Wilkinson) – Sci-fi Expo 2014
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3. Klingon family – Sci-fi Expo 2014
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2. Oscar the Grouch and his wife (The Zods) – All-con XAll-con X Saturday10

1. Catwoman and baby Batgirl (Kyatto and her beluga) – Dallas Comic Con 2014DCC14-08

Listening to: Mischievous of Alice” by Yousei Teikoku

Continuing the conversation on con harassment

This post can also be known as “What we have learned from Cherry City Comic Con and the Steampunk World’s Fair”.  Many have already written about either situation, but I wanted to reach out to those who may not be aware.  This ties in to what I was trying to achieve through my “Beneath the Layers” interviews, which were halted not because the conversation was finished but because cosplayers and con-goers were now speaking out on their own.  The events that happened emphasize the fact that we still need to raise awareness about harassment at conventions and speak out against the negative attitudes that create an unsafe space.

Here are two sites recapping what happened with Cherry City Comic Con: Sideshow Housewife and The Escapist.  In a nutshell, a con-goer named Chana noticed a disproportionately greater number photos of female cosplayers were posted (without permission) in the event page and made a comment.  Snarky replies followed, and she privately messaged the con to ask for a refund.  The organizer, Mark, quoted her in a friends-only facebook status, calling her crazy.  Black Mariah of Fangirls: Dames of the Round Table screencapped it and initially shared it on a private forum.  However, when Mark deleted her comment on his status and blocked her, she made the screencaps public.  Fellow Fangirl Taffeta Darling also shared it and was subsequently called sexist by Mark.  There is more to the story, but Mark’s unprofessionalism and the others who chimed in on calling Chana “crazy” is the crux of this debacle.

A convention organizer who laughs at someone’s concern about the treatment of women and then silences voices of dissent when he publicly shames her does not actually care about the safety of its attendees.  Even if there’s an anti-harassment policy, nothing will be done when people don’t enforce it.  That’s not to say Mark is all of Cherry City Comic Con, but the fact that there are toxic individuals like him in positions of power brings attention to a problem in fandom.

On the flipside, when an event has very explicit rules which were written in response to voices of concern, we get the situation with Steampunk World’s Fair.  Personally I think Jeff Mach Events Harassment Policy is fantastic.  It has been revised to address issues people had with it, which just shows how much the organizers are listening.  However, the backlash to both the initial draft and the revised version, which can be seen in their facebook group, indicates that there problem is not just with the conventions or at the conventions.  The community still contains attitudes that blame the victim, worry more about false accusations than perpetrators wandering free, and who see an attempt to make a con more safe as an attack on their freedoms.

Much more work needs to be done by con organizers, cosplayers, photographers, and fans.  Call me a pessimist, but I get frustrated when nearly every week, I hear about harassment, bullying, and other issues that we face while trying to do something we love.  I get pissed at the lewd comments people think they can get away with posting on a female cosplayer’s page and the defense of bullies in the community.  I know the problems will not go away until society itself can change.  Thankfully we do have wonderful people like the Fangirls and Jeff Mach Events leading the way to making conventions and fandoms a safer, friendlier place in whatever way possible.  Let’s keep the ball rolling and continue the conversations.

Listening to: “Fushicho -FENNIX-“ by WING WORKS