Razzle Dazzle

“Chicago Diamantes” is one of the latest releases from seriously talented prim master Tiffy Vella, founder of Eclectica Jewellery.  I have known Tiffy for going on three years now, when I had the pleasure of watching her hone what were her already substantial skills under Shenlei Flasheart’s tutelage in a program for emerging designers that Shenlei created and I curated.  Tiffy’s craftsmanship and artistry rendered me fairly speechless then.  Her artistry still does, as evidenced by her latest release.  

The fire and elegance in “Chicago Diamantes” really defies description.  This ensemble conveys some serious regal stature liberally mixed with some serious hot sexiness.  When Tiffy generously dropped this ensemble on me and I tried it on, I could think of no better way to showcase the breathtaking smokin’ fire and intensity of this set than to wear it with silk and bare skin. 

Look at this crafstmanship, gorgeous design, outright seduction.  This is an ensemble that knocks your socks off without even trying.  Frankly, this is an ensemble that doesn’t have to try to be hot.  It just is.  Be forewarned, though…when you wear “Chicago Diamantes” be prepared to rouge your knees because you’ll find you most definitely will want to roll your stockings down, as the tune goes…

And…all…that…jazz…

Fashion Details

Jewelry set:  “Chicago Diamantes” by Tiffy Vella of Eclectica Jewellery, includes earrings, necklace, and bracelet

Skin:  “Amber Glam (Medium)” by Nena Janus of League, includes cleavage/no cleavage, freckles/no freckles, hair/no hair options

Hair:  “In Space (Magenta)” by Rita Groshomme of Curio Hair, a long-time fave that is still available

Extend a Helping Hand

Recently, very delightful soul Moggs Oceanlane commented on a photo in my flickr stream.  It was a joy to be greeted with her always smiling, friendly spirit, particularly after not having run into each other on Plurk for months on end because I haven’t been on Plurk for months on end.   But no matter the amount of time that passes, Moggs remains consistently gregarious and generous.   When I saw that she waved hello via flickr, I couldn’t help but smile at Moggs’s always very kind words of encouragement and support to everyone she knows.  So, I clicked on her name and zipped over to her flickr account, where her first two photos in the stream grabbed my attention.   They are lovely artistic images made even more significant because they call attention to an important inworld humanitarian effort:  “Extend a Helping Hand.”

Extend a Helping Hand is a fashion event put together by Sanura Sakai to provide support and assistance to those Queenslanders affected by the recent massive flooding in Australia.  (That link sends you to Sanura’s facebook page and photos of the flooding that occurred in her hometown.) Extend a Helping Hand runs from January 11th through February 8th.  If you have a chance and haven’t yet already done so, please be sure to take the slurl to the event location and check out the many wonderful items for sale there.  For every purchase, a  healthy portion of your lindens and in some cases 100 percent of the proceeds from your purchases there go toward the Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal.

In this weblog entry, nearly everything I show comes from Extend a Helping Hand (see fashion details below), with the exception of a Fifty Lindens Friday accessory and the hairstyles I wear.  If like me your inventory is filled to the gills but you still want to help, donation vendors and donation booths are available at individual stores across the grid, as listed on Kat Johnston’s weblog.  

Thank you, Moggs, for your delightful, warm spirit and for spreading awareness about the Extend a Helping Hand event.  That’s so like Moggs to look out for her fellow pixels and her fellow souls.  In truth, that’s so like very very very many of the grand souls in the inworld community.

Extend a Helping Hand Fashion Details

Gown 1:  “Estaria Moon” from Miamai

Gown 2:  “Antea Purple” from Miamai; Necklace “Sen” from Miel’s 50L Friday offering

Wetsuit: “Vocal Green” from The Tarnished; Skin (not including the ears and face tattoo) from “Yin Yang” by Violent Seduction (also at the Extend a Helping Hand event)

Boots:  “Heidi Rainboots” in yellow from SLink (with an squeeee *adorable* frog hitching a ride on the lip of the boot!)

Skin:  “Belle” skin, eyes, shape (which, yes, I modified) from Cupcakes

By all appearances

Botgirl’s recent post about Gracie Kendall’s 1000 avatar project presents Gracie’s pictorial documentary in an interesting way:  as a complete counterpoint to virtual identity narcissism.  By “virtual identity narcissism,” Botgirl offers the example of photostreams of individuals whose visual conversation consists primarily of hundreds of self images.  (That was alot of “of” in that sentence, whew!)  I find Botgirl’s point interesting and compelling.  I admit to being one of those who runs a visual monologue, if you will, with images in my flickr account almost entirely of myself.  I share my primary reasons for this in a comment to Botgirl’s post, and her reply to my comment continued the conversation in a great way but in a way that also served as a challenge (whether or not Botgirl intended to offer a challenge). 

I love to explore different skins primarily because I sketch faces in RL.  I’m very curious about the effect created by different skins.  I do also change my shape to fit the skins, because frankly, my features aren’t such that I can switch into different skins and make no modifications whatsoever.  (If I don’t make those modifications, the effect is often freakish.)  I’m astounded by claims of being able to do this with a sea of inworld skin lines.  Yet through conversation with my v v wonderful friend when we happened to talk about this topic in particular, I came to realize that even when I change my shape, I don’t really change my features too drastically.  I often move the sliders drastically, yes, but that’s to get the skin to fit my features… features that I clearly identify with in a deeply fundamental, intrinsic way.  When I realized this, I also realized a challenge had presented itself.  So what I’ve been exploring a bit is to try to truly alter my features, again without going into the land of the absurd although that could be an interesting exercise as well.  Anyway, here’s my first attempt (which took a long time believe it or not).  In my flickr stream, I call this photo “Felicia the Bull” because the horns with flowers reminds me of The Story of Ferdinand:

Dale asked me what I’m learning so far from trying what we had talked about together.  As I shared with Dale, what I’m learning from this first attempt is that I do see a difference in the features, yes, and at the same time, I do still see myself in spirit and in features.  I’m also learning that my beliefs, the very nature of my identity as expressed through my features pulls at me incredibly strongly.  And I’m also learning that it’s really very difficult to create a plain face (which was what I had intended to do with this first attempt).  It’s really truly quite difficult (again without going into the land of the absurd to do it).  I’m not sure if that’s because of how powerfully identity calls, or the gorgeous skins that are all so perfectly made up, or the system tendencies or all of those combinations.   That said, I plan to keep going with this experiment because now I’m very curious to see if I can create vastly different features.  (Even my RL sketches tend to favor very attractive faces, interesting enough.) 

As I think again about Botgirl’s original question and go beyond the comments already made, some of the reasons for countless self images with no real discernable difference in features could also include a very real sense of self-knowing, of recognizing identity, of self-awareness as communicated by the features.  It could also be a subconscious proclamation of existence, a way to create and ensure that a mark is left on the world:  I am here.   I was here.  I will forever be here. 

Or as Neil Diamond sang:  “I am I said.”

* I really like this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote Gracie uses at the header of her Avatar Project weblog:   “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson.   Reminds me of a specific lyric I love and use from John Hiatt’s song “Child of the Wild Blue Yonder:” a full blooded woman dreaming, with the power just to be. 

** As an aside, I view Gracie’s 1000 Avatar Project as a great visual representation of the richness of the SL community.  This project has to be a PR dream for the Lab.  Surely, the Lab has heard of a similar celebration and promotion of community that Mashable embarked upon with a photo wall project where they took the photos of their Facebook fanbase and created an entire wall of these images in their headquarter offices.  Not only great PR, but talk about a way of keeping your customers front and center in your mind.  Not a bad idea at all.

Eternal

Two of my all-time favorite fashion webloggers recently made mention of a fashion challenge.  Specifically,  Strawberry Singh recently tweeted about Achariya’s challenge to dress from head to toe in “vintage” items; in other words, in those creations that can no longer be purchased in SL.  I really like this challenge.  It’s a wonderful way to celebrate the many impressive creative talents SL has enjoyed — and continues to enjoy — through the years.  I chose to share those designers whose work I really relied upon for several years.

Starting at the top, hair styling from none other than ETD.  Anyone born somewhere in year 2006 until about 2008 or so most likely has a closet loaded with ETD.  Now more than three years later, ETD hairs are still often my go-to choice.  And I say this even as I stalk Elikapeka Tiramisu‘s new store “Elikatira” and snap up nearly everything she makes.  Her hairs are not only gorgeous but they fit like a dream, which is not always the case with my head shape (51 on the slider scale).  The skin I’m in is one of my very first skins…actually it’s my second skin to be precise.  It’s called “Sissy” and I bought it sometime in 2007 after catching a glimpse of it on another female.  I loved it so much for its peaches and cream tone and sweet face that I IM’d the wearer clear out of the blue and asked her where she got it.  (I always love those kinds of sharing conversations with strangers.  It’s fun to learn about the grid and shops and things in that very open, innocent way.)  As I discovered in our conversation, this skin was an exclusive.  I was amazed then (and I still am) by how quickly she volunteered to ask her friend to sell the skin to me and how she insisted that I have it.  It was actually very generous of her to be so sharing of something that had been created specifically for her.  I think she was pleased that someone else thought the skin to be as lovely as she knew it to be.  As far as I know, her friend never made another skin and didn’t have a shop in any case, so it could very well be that only two copies of this skin have been worn on the grid…well, three if you include the creator.  But even if more than 3 own this skin, this is a skin that I never saw coming and going.  And I really like that.  Plus, it had such an innocence and freshness to it and, you know what, it still does.

The dresses I show are Digit Darkes.  They are  “Studio Dress (plume)” above and “Lotus” below.  I chose Digit Darkes to share for this challenge because I used to live in these clothes.  I love how wonderfully feminine the designs are while still being flexible enough to dress up or dress down.  With that much versatility and gorgeous design, what’s not to love about Digit Darkes.  The only thing not to love is that the line is no longer available. Digit Darkes creations are constructed so beautifully and move so very well.  The chain necklace worn with the dress above is from another Digit Darkes outfit called “Fall Collection 7.”  And while the pose I use in the figure below doesn’t clear the flounce of the skirt from my leg, trust me, that is a hemline that loves to dance.

Finally, Storm Schmooz shoes finish off the look.  And the off-center ponytail in these last two photos is “Alison” from Frangipani.

It’s hard to believe all of these items are vintage.  They’re so beautiful and hold up so wonderfully well.  Truly, they’re more classics than vintage.  But if for this weblog challenge these items constitute “vintage,” then I really can understand why everything “old” is new again.

Working the craft

While still in the midst of NaNoWriMo(s), I know how challenging a daily post can be, particularly when creating a work of fiction.  But honestly, any daily writing — whether for work or for a hobby or interest on a specific topic — is challenging.  Because a great deal of my professional work involves writing everyday — marketing pitches, fully fleshed out stories of brand experiences, blurbs, brochures, advertisements, you name it — I don’t necessarily feel like adding more writing to my plate when I’m home unwinding.  Yet the discipline of doing the craft is important, so I’ve signed up for WordPress’s weekly post challenge .  As for the 18,000 words to go for NaNoWriMo(s)?  Yes, you can be sure posts related to that effort will count toward the weekly post challenge.   Beyond that, it’s a mystery to me what I’ll post every week.  I have no predictions.  Actually, that’s also true of the remaining 18,000 words for NaNoWriMo(s)!

Bonne écriture…at least that is the hope!

The Futility of Predictions

…particularly, when we live in a world where “we can’t anticipate what the economy will look like next week.”  I paraphrased that last bit (and, admittedly, out of context yet) from this video of Sir Ken Robinson’s discussion about uprooting the current model for education.   He talks again about the disconnection of our times:  how we live in a world of exponential change and yet we still view life through mental models geared for the industrial age.  His focus in this piece is on the education sytem.  He shares some controversial views and some fascinating views in an attempt to challenge much of what we “know to be so” and encourages us to create from a place where we don’t necessarily know things to be so…in other words, from a place not so entrenched with practices built for a past-age.  A much more difficult place to be reactive about – a much more natural place to be creative with – since it’s not quite as grounded in the past.

The 11 minute video is a visually and intellectually engaging piece.