Thursday, March 31, 2011

Iconic Love Letter: Rufus Wainwright

Throughout my life, I've been around musicians. My mom is a huge beyond amazing music buff, while my father himself is a musician. Both the Uncle's on my mom side played in bars, and I met all of their friends when taken to such occasions as a little one. Of course, I wasn't the coolest kid in the bunch back then, though I did sport a neat glitter coat from time to time in those days. One of the musical families that's always been in my own family in a real life basis has been The Wainwrights. Living only a few short minutes from the majority of their homes, various members of the Wainwright family have come in and out of my life. The one that sticks the most prominently to myself is Sloan, Aunt to our iconic subject today!

Sloan went to high school with my mom's side of the family and has been a part of their lives ever since. Because of that I was introduced to all of the Wainwright's music. One day though, something changed drastically for me. Aside from the careless tune I'd hear at the tender single digit ages, one song brought something in me that made me connect very deeply to one particular Wainwright. I'm sure all of you have heard Rufus's cover of Across The Universe, which changed my musical appreciation forever. Today on Iconic Love Letter, you will be introduced to Rufus Wainwright.

Rufus Wainwright, Son of Loudon Wainwright III, was born July 22nd. He grew up in a strange combination of suburban live style with some riches to be had. One of the first big breaks of his was at age 12, starring in a small film called "Tommy Tricker and The Stamp Traveler" (link here) in which he wrote one of his first songs "I'm-a Runnin"(This would lead him to be skilled at writing songs for other films later in the future). Even then you could tell he was incredibly complex and different from most kids his age. He slowly would become one of the most talented singers and songwriters of his generation. But wait... why is he being talked about as an icon on a Lolita Fashion blog?

Well, if you can imagine, Rufus is one of the most lolita appropriate songwriters. Though sometimes sad, his lyrics are filled with whimsical stories of fashion, quests of love, and most of his early lyrics relate to fairy tales. The best? He even wrote an opera - which takes much skill! Ready to learn my favorite things about this icon of mine and soon to be one of yours? Lets go!

It's easy to say that I first fell in love with Rufus because of his relationship to music. He makes some of the most beautiful melodies I've ever heard in my life, along with the most beautiful lyrics. But even beyond that, Rufus is someone to study, as well as to study his icons. One of my favorite albums of Rufus's isn't even his own music. Rufus in 2006 decided to re-create a famous Judy Garland concert, which resulted in the Live album "Rufus! Rufus! Rufus!". He sings circles around these classic tunes, especially my favorite shown in this clip. But for those new to Rufus, here is a small list of my three favorite albums and the best tracks on them for your listening pleasure.
  • Rufus Wainwright (self titled album) - "Foolish Love"
  • Want One - "I Don't Know What It Is"
  • Release The Stars - "Going To A Town"
All of these songs have very deep and emotional meanings, but absolutely beautiful to listen to. "Foolish Love" though has some of the best images out of all his songs.

"I will take my coffee black
Never snack
Hang with the wolves who are sheepish
Flow through the veins of town
Always frown
Me and my mistress, the princess
Oh, all for the sake of a foolish love"

He has so many more songs that speak volumes in their meaning, much of which are based on person experiences. "Dinner at Eight" being the best example, about his depressing relationship with his father. Though for me, my favorite lyric comes from "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk (Reprise)"

"still there's not a show on my back
holes or a friendly intervention
i'm just a little bit heiress, a little bit irish
a little bit tower of pisa whenever i see you
so please be kind if i'm a mess
cigarettes and chocolate milk"

Rufus always continues to inspire me lyrically and musically. He even puts elements of other famous tunes that you know and makes them have a modern dance oriented twist. My favorite example is "In Between My Legs" where he takes the famous "Phantom of the Opera" theme and gives it a bit of flavor and epic build up in the song itself. Speaking of Opera's what about his own? It's called "Prima Dona", which works so well for Rufus. I myself have not seen the show, but if you're interested you can find the details out here.

Rufus is known for more then just being an incredible singer, but also a man of amazing dress. If one was to take the elements of Elton John and mix them with the class of Carry Grant, you'd get basically the form at which Rufus is in terms of style. Rufus will sometimes come out in a special colored suit or on occasion will come dressed as Judy Garland a-la "Come On Get Happy" era. Either way, Rufus is both dressed up and casual, but either way looks polished to a T on every occasion. For that he should be given complete respect.

Rufus is known for doing lots of things amazing behind the scenes as well as on stage. Like mentioned, he has an incredible musical family that every time during Holiday season put together a special group concert in New York and England. Rufus has does a lot of charity concerts, mostly for Gay Rights organizations and AIDs funds. He also does a lot of local work for New York foundations and does local community shows to support them. Rufus has also be involved with numerous interesting relationships, including his friendship with designer Marc Jacobs. He's also friends with tons of celebrities, but in my opinion always looks better then all of them put together. But the best of all is his marriage to his partner Jörn Weisbrodt and his daughter Katherine.

I love Rufus more then I ever thought I would back so many years ago. He's incredible in what he does and in turn does it better then anyone else that attempts to duplicate his style. Though I'm not sure if I met Rufus back in my childhood, I like to image that the people that told me I did were right. I would have like to have thought I'd encounter such a magical and fantastic person such as Rufus. He's one of the those people that only comes once in a while and when he does you cherish him forever.

Interested in learning more about Rufus? Check out his website here. LVF will be celebrating Rufus all month long by having his music as the Tunes of the Month. I encourage you to check out all his albums and see if he is playing a show near you sometime, it's a treat to see and also Rufus has a sense of humor like no other. Enjoy Rufus and embrace his fabulous into your Lolita life!

Dress Up Time #11: The Last Unicorn

Recently I was given a request by a friend to do a Dress Up Time article, specifically on a story with whom I hold very dearly to my heart, The Last Unicorn. Now overall, this entire franchise is pretty spectacular.The story is extremely engaging and have stood the test of time at this point. It tells the story of a unicorn who believes she is the only unicorn in the world left, and to see if she can find anymore of her kind she goes out on a quest. It turns from a "lone wolf" adventure, to a buddy trip and then a dramatic romance. Did I mention the original material was written in the 60's? It's just fantastic.

So what is the subject of this post then? We will be covering the complex two in one character deal of The Unicorn/Amalthea. This will be based more on the movie, since out of the two, that is what I am most familiar with (even if the book is my favorite book of all time.) All of the characters of story bring about a realism that most fantasy characters don't posses to me. Maybe it was due to the time that it was written, but The Last Unicorn is unique in its ability to connect with these creatures that exist elsewhere and only in our imaginations.

But what about our main character, The Unicorn/Amalthea? She's seems one dimensional at first, but becomes a complex layered innocent female creature. She is then later transformed into a human girl and learns the emotions of regret and love. When transformed into Amalthea, she is dressed in the most beautiful of lavender shades and falls for the prince of the castle (Played by my old man crush, Jeff Bridges). Overall, it's easy to be jealous of her style and her adventure minus the regret part - but we love this Unicorn no matter what! Now, how do I dress like this amazing characters? Here is a unique La Vida Frills take on how to bring some whimsy and Unicorn flare to your outfit!

The key thing to remember when bringing Amalthea into your outfit is that she is a creature born into nature, so your outfit should include a flower or woods like theme. I chose to base this outfit on her lavender color palette that shows up more as the movie progresses! I first chose as a dress piece Angelic Pretty's Sugar Pansy Baby-Doll JSK in Lavender. This is probably my favorite piece from the brand so far this year, and matches the world of the Unicorn so well. You can also go with a cream or super white colored JSK as well, though I find lavender to be more fun and magical!

Then you want to go out and find a lavender and white combo cardigan of some sort. This specific cardigan I've seen in several variations over the years, but was found on a UK website called Make sure it makes as closely to your dress color as possible.

Next comes the accessories. I found a bunch of Unicorn headbands and headdresses all over the net, but this specific one I found on etsy (link here) is beyond the prettiest. If you can't get a unicorn horn, I recommend making a crown of flowers instead that'd match your dress color. You can pair that with Unicorn shaped or decorated hair clips to continue with the theme. Also on Etsy I found a beautiful Unicorn cameo, which perfectly matched the dress (link here). The ring is from Locketship, who has an entire Unicorn collection (link here).

Don't forget to get an adorable purse to match! I chose one of the infamous silver heart purses from Forever 21 (inspired by Betsey Johnson's original design.) I recommend also going for a unicorn themed bag, one that looks vintage in maybe a cream tone if you aren't one for sparkle.

To finish the outfit off, pick up a pair of flower decorated shoes. These specific shoes come from my favorite guilty pleasure, Irregular Choice. Then chose an adorable yet simple pair of lavender colored tights. If you can't find the right shade, go for either a white color or a simple tiny flower pattern.

Now that you have your outfit, I recommend getting yourself a copy of the original novel by Peter S. Beagle (his fan site here) and go take yourself on a magical adventure through the woods as you read this enchanting story. When you're done on your quest, go make something yummy to eat and watch the movie as well! Either way, I'm sure you'll feel just as magnificent as a Unicorn. It's perfect for spring that is just in bloom!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dress Up Time #10: Red Riding Hood (2011)

Red Riding Hood, a new retelling of the classic fairy tale was released to theaters this past weekend. In honor of the new film, LVF gives you an new entry in our Dress Up Time Series! With the new version, the entire story and characters get a fresh look! Amanda Seyfried in my mind is the perfect actress for the role. With own set of "big eyes" and beautiful innocent complexion, she is the character with a yet more grown up look. But how to achieve the Grandmothers Cottage Visit appeal? Let's go deeper into the story of this blondie!

First, it's best to know as much about the original and central character, as well as this new version. The original story was that of a young girl who is asked to go on a trip to her grandmother's house. What was just a run of the mill walk in the woods turns into a deadly run for Red Riding-Hood's life as she's continuously chased and hunted by a "Big Bad" Wolf. In this new version, the story is made with a more hardcore thriller motif of using the element of real Werewolves. Did I mention it also has a dangerously cool priest played by Gary Oldman?! (yeah, I have an odd crush on him.)

But whats truly interesting about this story is how it has been taken into the world of fashion and especially lolita. From Baby's embroidered print from 2007 to Putumayo's gothic iconic image, Red Riding Hood has been used countless times and she never looks the same. Personally my favorite is the Baby print, mostly for the cute chibi-like designs of the characters all over the print and all of the items that came along with the series, my personal favorite being the cardigan.

But what exactly makes her so interesting? Well, I think we can all connect with having being sent out by our parents to go on a small journey or trip to do something that's much more grown up then we have ever done in our past. Sometimes the adventure goes well, while in this case for our heroine it doesn't exactly go as planned. We can account the "Big Bad Wolf" to many moments and people in our lives, from the bully at school that seems to ruin everything, to even a test that seems to get in the way of you passing a class. There is always something in the way of you getting to your goal, whether it be Grandmother's Cottage or otherwise.

But how exactly do you capture a modern Rori take on Red Riding Hood and incorporate it into your coordinate? Here's an idea!

First off, bit a very simple colored JSK. I chose a cream color, but even a very soft blue (which she wears in the movie) works very well. You want the Red Hood to stand out the most, so don't wear anything too complicated in terms of the dress. The hoodie to wear with the outfit of course is the most important. I chose Alice and the Pirates Red Knitted Style Hoodie, which is ridiculously comfortable and beautiful. Then, pick a basket in which you'll take to Grandmothers house. You can decorate it with tons of Wolf and Red Riding Hood themed brooches and pins. I found this Etsy shop to have a lot of cute ones. Then, chose a tame but beautiful rose or cream colored pair of tights. I chose a real rose patterned pair, but even soft bold colors would work. Chose a pair of comfortable almost slipper like boots, which are worn in the film. Top it off with a pretty Wolf themed necklace, which I found here. Then you're off to find that nasty ol' wolf!

So there you go, the lowdown on how to achieve the Red Riding Hood look! I also bet you're curious if the movie is any good? Sadly, it isn't great - but I found it ridiculously silly and had some attempts at some interesting plot twists. It's more a rental, but it does have some absolutely beautiful cinematography. Don't waste your popcorn movie money on it though, just save it for later. Though, it is worth mentioning Gary Oldman rides a pretty epic white horse!