Saturday, November 27, 2010

Review: Secret Shop Shoes

After five months of patiently waiting, the two pairs of shoes I ordered from Secret Shop through taobaonow finally arrived.  The delay wasn't the shopping service's fault, but they kept me periodically updated. 

Both pairs were Innocent World replicas, as I had been needing more classical styled shoes which other cheap alternatives (bodyline) didn't really provide.  After fees and shipping, I paid about $50 per pair.  I don't think Secret Shop is allowing individual shoe orders anymore, however, and you have to go through some distributor for nearly $50 a pair before shipping. 

The bordeaux pair I was most anxious for, as I have a few pieces in my wardrobe I was hoping they would match.  Unfortunately the shoes are slightly redder than I had hoped, but they'll still look nice.  The little rose bouquets are adorable, though they're only one-faced so you can see the grey underside. 

I found it amusing that they used an Angelic Pretty logo for the inside of the shoe.

The scallops are nice, though the edges are not as clean as on the black pair or the pair from IW that I own.  It's also not one continuous piece, but at least they put the break to the inside.  You can also see the material is slightly wrinkled here, it's not as strongly enforced as the toe or the back.

These impressed me with the quality.  The straps on these are thicker and sturdier than the other pair.  Bows are luckily nondetachable (as I always manage to lose those).

The heels on both pairs are the same.  They seem secured well and nonwobbly, unlike a pair of bodyline heels that I've had.

They used their own logo for the inside of these, which I prefer.

Decent grip on the soles, so I don't have to worry about sliding around.

I've never had a pair of shoes that clasped quite like these before.  The closures are hooks that you slide the strap into, and the adjustable "buckle" part prevents the strap from sliding through.  It's faster than buckling, sure, but it doesn't seem as secure...

For comparison, my pair of Innocent World shoes have a normal buckle. 

The secret shop shoes next to my Innocent World shoes.  It's difficult to compare since I don't own the originals of the replicas, but overall I'd say the Innocent World ones are better quality in terms of little details and construction.  The material on the replica shoes is a bit rougher, but it doesn't detract from their appearance.

Here they are worn with the pair of Secret Shop socks that I threw in with the order as an impulse. 

I love that Secret Shop put out some classical shoes, but the waiting time was slightly irritating as it kept getting delayed.  I'm very satisfied with these and can't wait to incorporate them into my wardrobe.  It's just a shame ordering from Secret Shop is more difficult and expensive now.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Motifs: Horses

Despite my fascination with the furry legs of Clydesdale horses when I visited Busch Gardens over a decade ago and an army of My Little Ponies as a toddler, I was never a girl that wanted a pony.  The number of times I've actually been on a horse can be counted on one finger, and while it was fun for the day, my desire to have a horse still remains minimal. 

However, somehow I've developed a fascination with prints featuring horses and carousels.  Go figure.

It all began with my first order from Taobao- this dress from Rose Melody.  This dress is also responsible for my obsession with OPs, but I digress.  At the time it was a (far less elegant) replacement for my first dream dress, Merry-Go-Around by Innocent World. 

While I still have not managed to obtain this dress (if you're selling it, contact me?) I did manage to purchase the skirt version. 

Printed on chiffon, the Innocent World's carousel is quite elegant and intricately detailed while only utilizing two colours.

At PMX I purchased my third horse print, the Gertrude JSK in blue.

While it breaks away from the carousel theme, it has a very similar feel to it.

The print is once again on a flattened plane with the horses at strict profile, though this print has more of a sketchy quality to it.

I've joked making it a personal mission to deliberately collect horse related prints now, but it would be too expensive of an endeavor to ever seriously consider.  There's been quite a few released from different brands, and it's interesting to see how each approaches the same concept.

Angelic Pretty alone has a wide collection of prints with horses.  The first that comes to mind is the extremely popular Sugary Carnival.

I chose the black version to show the details better, since a lot of Angelic Pretty's pastel prints lack a lot of contrast, but personally I find the lavender the prettiest. 

There's also Starry Night Theatre, although I couldn't find a larger image or print detail.  The horses are much less prominent in it so you may have to squint.

Pony Applique, for simplicity's sake:

Probably my favourite of the bunch, Carnival from 2006.  It's old and expensive, but there are plenty of replicas floating around.
And then just recently, a couple more!

That was more than I anticipated, and I didn't even include a few of the rocking horse prints...

Metamorphose also has their own Merry Go Round dress:

And of course the recent Twinkle Journey... though they're technically  I think Meta, being the innovative deviants that they are, deserve some credit for breaking profile format with having the mother pegasus twisted.  It's also the only one where the design extends beyond a single plane with an established fore and background.  So while it's not my favourite of the bunch, bravo for doing something a bit different.

Not wanting to be left out on the fad, Bodyline also produced a carousel print that's been quite popular and sold out rather quickly in everything but yellow.

So if you made it this far, which horse print is your favourite?  Did I forget any important ones?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

After PMX

Sunday night we got picked up by one of Sheila's friends who drove us around for some fun outside of the con hotel.  First we decided that we were all starving and needed something to eat.

We decided on a cute restaurant called Genki Living.  It was my first time having Japanese crepes, and they were very different than I thought.  Very good, too!  Their crepe shell is crispy and slightly sweet, and it's folded into a flat triangular cone.

Lauren had a strawberry and kiwi with vanilla icecream.

Mine was tuna salad with corn and lettuce.  I also had a jasmine green milk tea with tinytiny tapioca pearls.

Adorable taiyaki!  The one I tried had peanut butter in the middle.  I'm going to have to find a place around here in KC that sells these, because I'm already craving another.

Okonomiyaki!!!!  It smelled delicious but I was afraid to try it in case my dress got dirty, but I got a bite or two.

Afterward we went to seek dessert in the same shopping area and ended up at a cute Japanese patisserie.
 The desserts were all so cute, it was difficult to choose. 

What we ended up getting.  The chocolate one was raspberry flavored, very smooth and rich, with a raspberry filling.

 I was actually unaware of Lauren's creepering until after the photo was taken.  

Then we went upstairs to an arcade.  There were so many games I never even heard of, including a zombie typing game that Dani played.

Sheila played DDR while I watched in amazement.  I've never played before and was getting too tired to try that night. 

In fact, I spent the entire night watching as everyone else played games.

Lauren won her race like a pro!

We then went to get some purikura pictures!  It was my first time and it was a lot of fun.  I don't think there are any of these machines in KC :( 

After heading back, we were faced with the challenge of packing.  Though I managed to sell some stuff, we of course were leaving with a lot more than we brought with us.

The glorious bed of burando!  While I was taking a shower, the other girls laid out all our dresses to take a picture. 

By some miracle we got everything in suitcases.  Then it was time for bed!  It was a long day and sadly we had to leave in the morning.

Monday, November 22, 2010

PMX Day 3

The last day of the con started quite early, as Sheila had to be downstairs in the lobby at 7am in case she was needed as a backup model.  Being a light sleeper, I was unable to get back to bed after she had left the room.  Wearing my red panda suit as I was too lazy to change, I gave into my thirst for morning tea and dragged Dani downstairs with me where we split the last granola bar I had brought along.  It was then that Sheila tracked me down to say that the designers were interested in me as well but I had to hurry upstairs to put on foundation and my wig.  Everything was entirely rushed and last minute since I had no chance to prepare, but Sheila and I still had doubts that they'd even need us.  When we joined the models, it was obvious right away that most of them weren't lolitas or even con goers at all.  They were all very pretty and wearing trendy clothing.

Feeling out of place, Sheila and I separated ourselves from the rest of the group and waited for further instructions.  A staff member then did a role call and then called us over to say we were both needed to fill in since a few models didn't show up.  Mrs. Isobe and Miki Nohmoto had us gather around to assign us the coordinate that we would be wearing for the show.  Sheila was picked for AatP while I was grouped as a Baby model.  Even at this point none of it seemed real.

The dress I was chosen to wear, found here.

The hair and makeup process started, which was a very new but cool experience.  I had to admit to the makeup artist that I didn't know how to apply false lashes and that the last time I tried I glued my eyelid open.  After that I had my wig styled by Miki into two cute curly fluffy buns.  Not only is she an amazing designer, she knows how to work magic with hair.

It took a few hours to get everyone ready, but it all came together.  It was fun watching the models transform from normal looking girls into lolitas and you could tell a lot of them enjoyed the process.  Their reactions ranged from confused (mostly over the petticoats and bloomers) to delighted, although some complained of the clothes being slightly uncomfortable.  They were even surprised when they found out that I actually wear lolita and that I came all the way from Missouri just for the designers.

After I was finished dressing, I went in to get my pictures taken by a photographer, which was a bit intimidating.  We were all brought together and given directions on what to do for the show and did a couple practice runs, but sooner than I expected it was time for everything to begin.  I was nervous that I was going to mess up, but I pushed all that aside.

Everything went better than expected!  I didn't fall off the stage, which was my primary worry.

It was a huge honour and nothing I ever would have expected to happen with so many other beautiful girls at the con and my complete lack of modeling/runway experience.  Having the chance to dress in a completely different style than I normally wear was fun and I think Sheila has discovered a new love for boystyle.  The best part was that we were paired together for the final walk and got our photos taken together by the photographer after the show.  I can't wait to get copies of these.

After the show I was quite sad to give all the glorious pink back, but I was especially attached to the Usakumya.  My motherly instincts must have kicked in.  People kept asking me if I was creeped out by the bag's red eyes, but honestly that makes me love it even more.

Dani and Lauren waiting for us outside.  They looked so cute with their black and pink dresses and red hair.

We quickly grabbed something to eat because Sheila and I were starving and then went upstairs to change into our own dresses for the day.

Trying to change... the wig posed quite a problem.  I ended up not wearing my IW outfit as I planned because the runway makeup was way too overpowering for it.

Instead I went for a coordinate consisting only of clothing I had bought from the con and a good mix of IW and AatP.

We went back into the Fashion Boutique after changing to see the deals for the last day.  Innocent World had a 30% off on everything and they were selling all the outfits from the fashion show for $500 each (including everything, even the petticoats and shoes) but unfortunately as tempting as it was, I had already spent enough money and the hotel ATM had a $200 limit.

Baby/Alice were also selling props from the fashion show and some of the dresses (including the one I wore).  I snagged the parasol another girl modeled since I went to the con intending to buy one.  It's a lovely pagoda shape with a gold BtSSB emblem.

I noticed the Usakumya that I had grown so attached to wasn't displayed and sensing my dismay, Sheila went to ask the American staff if it was for sale... at that point I was fearing it had already sold.  They told her it wasn't technically for sale because it had a slight amount of damage, but they might consider selling if somebody asked.  However, I had to wait for one of the designers to show up to get permission.  Once Miki arrived at the boutique I was able to ask, and she hurried off again to retrieve the bunnybear for me.

During this time they announced they were going to raffle off the unclaimed AatP prize outfit (the skirt and shirt above) until somebody won it.  I pulled out all my tickets and so did my friends.  It went on for a few drawings until I heard somebody announce that they won- my friend Lauren!  She won a pair of AatP tights the night before from the drawing, so for only putting 4 tickets in she was really lucky.

A few minutes later, Miki returned with the Usakumya and had it wave to me (my heart melted).  She pointed out a small amount of dust on the fur from shipping and asked me if it was okay.  I told her of course and asked how much, to which she offered me a nice discount.  While checking out, she told the translator that it was the bag I had modeled for the fashion show. 

She thanked us once again for modeling, gave us hugs and we wished her a safe trip home.  She looks amazing in Vampire Forest, I have a new appreciation for the print after seeing it in person. 

With Fujiwara... in which everyone wears black but me.  She was so elegant and poised! 
And with one of the adorable Innocent World shop girls!  She was very bubbly and helpful the entire time and even helped me choose between socks to match my op.  I think all four of us fell for her charm every time she asked us if we wanted to try something on and then buy it.

After there was nothing left to do at the con, one of Sheila's friends came to pick us up to show us a bit of the area.  I'll save that picture-heavy adventure for another post.