Thursday, December 27, 2007

Evoking the Goth Magick

RFyre's naughtier twin

This is the second in a two part series on GothWear in Second Life. Our first post reviewed formal wear designer Raven Pennyfeather and her RFyre shops. This review looks into a set of designs at the Evocative and Evocative Magick shops that compliments RFyre, owned and operated by Paul Lapointe and BastChild Lotus.

Where RFyre starts at the eyes and goes to the heart, Lapointe and Lotus go from the eyes to the belly and deeper. The GothWear designs at the Evocative shops are edgier and sexier, but possess the same high standards of texturing as the RFyre designs.

Lapointe and Lotus have been a team for about a year now. Lapointe specializes in clothing design and high quality armor for Second Life role players, while Lotus delivers a great selection of jewelry, both gothic and high fashion. Between them they create a synergistic set of styles sure to please those whose fashion tastes in Second Life stray from the merely realistic to the fantastic.

For the record I now own three outfits from Lapointe/Lotus, and two nice sets of jewelry. These were not simply impulse purchases. A very close friend showed me the shop and told me that some of these things would suit me, and she was right. Why do they suit me? Why would they suit any dancer?

Because Lapointe/Lotus clothing is dam sexy, that’s why. For someone wanting to make a statement on the stage, to be noticed, to be dramatic, it works like cash money.

There are two main locations to find Lapointe/Lotus designs. The older location is at the Evocative Sim, and the new locationis at a sim called Evocative Magick. The layouts are different, but full of the same great products. The new store is an improvement though, for one important reason. When I explored the first shop at the Evocative sim I found myself getting turned around and lost frequently. It was hard to tell the difference between one location and another, especially since they tend to use some of the same designs for different genres. The new shop at the Evocative Magick sim has the shops in separate buildings so that you can tell where you are, with no mazes of displays to navigate.

In an interesting way the duplication of designs in different sections of the stores is a strength for Lapointe and Lotus. It shows how the designs work well in multiple genres. For instance, one of the outfits I loved can be found both in the Neko gear shop and the Gothic Obsession shop. The outfit works quite well for naughty times on stage, even minus kitty ears and tail. The urban wear is great as goth, and vice versa. These designs cross genres very well.

I met a girl named Curveee Lilliehook while on one of my research trips to their shops. Curvee told me that it was her first time visiting Gothic Obsession. I asked her if she saw anything she liked, and she said that she’d already fallen in love with some leather low-cut pants. I just smiled; I had bought that same set the day before.

I spoke with Lapointe and Lotus in preparation of this article, and enjoyed the love story aspect of their business. Paul was working a shop already when BastChild walked in, and a relationship soon emerged. She told me that she started with designing furniture and progressed to jewelry and clothing. She laughed when she told me that her first design was a lamp that Paul loved, and how supportive he’d been all along. I don’t know how the lamp looked, but if her jewelry is anything to judge by it must have been a damned good job.

I only have one critique, aside from the difficulties I had navigating in the old store. The selection is still a bit limited for my tastes. But this may not be their fault. It may be more a case of “I really love this stuff and want to see more.” I’ll leave that decision up to the reader’s judgement. And I hope you do go and have a look. Go to Evocative Magick and check this place out for yourself. If you like goth/urban/neko, I think that you’ll be glad you did.

For those of you who like to stay at the leading edge of fashion releases, Lapointe and Lotus have started their own blog. I’ll be hoping to see the designs coming off the presses there myself. Though the blog is still a bit rough it bears mentioning that I got one of my best belly laughs watching a video they have linked at the bottom of the page.

I give Lapointe/Lotus a big smile of approval for their great designs.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Burning the Fyre Darkly

Raven Sets the standard for formal GothWear

I love my job, I love my boss, blah blah blah. Oh wait, I really do come to think of it. What kind of second life is it where you can meet some of the most talented designers in Second Life, get handed leads by the dozen and explore cool and beautiful places, and spend virtual money on virtually wonderful clothes all at the same time? A GREAT one, that’s what kind.

This is the first of a two part series on GothWear designers who’ve done a marvelous job of designing goth/punkish clothing. Loyal readers already know my predilection for this genre, and my willingness to reward good designs with easy access to my PayPal account. For the first installment we visit RFyre, creator and vendor of beautiful gothic formal wear.

Just to remind you of my criteria for great commercial sims, there are three targets that I hope for a commercial vendor to hit. Great designs, in an unusual setting, at a great price. RFyre hits on all three, though if you want the newest top of the line styles coming off of Raven Pennyfeather’s computer you’d better be ready to pay her a fair price for her work.

And it will be worth it. I cringed upon receiving this assignment, knowing my own lack of willpower in her shop. Like most all great designers I’ve met Raven was very gracious in answering my questions during an obviously busy time for her, and after spending some time with me she asked her Assistant Harper Beresford to follow up with details. Harper was just as friendly and helpful as Raven.

The sim is lovely. Isle RFyre is a compact but extremely well laid out island. Three simple but spectacular features welcome anyone willing to venture outside the shop. A wonderful Spartan statue by Starax Statosky, a lovely seaside resting place, and a residence decorated by Raven and some of her friends. I hope I’m not causing her a problem by mentioning the house, but I presume the lack of ‘no trespassing’ signs and security orbs speaks of her willingness to share.

The shop itself is large, dominating the craggy hilltop within an ominous looking fortress. Raven manages to prevent that ‘cavernous warehouse’ feel by breaking up the space masterfully, with the bottom floor dedicated to her designs, a basement with mix and match and outdated pieces along with some other vendors, and the upper floors studded with galleries for other vendors in theme. I was extremely pleased to find some Zoe Llewellyn pieces in the basement. You may recall my review of Temenos and Zoe’s fine work in an earlier post.

Always on the lookout for a good bargain I was also delighted to find a collection of $50L hairs in the underwater basement. Although the color choices for RFyre hair were pretty basic, it was easy for me to find a few in black that suited me well. One of the few advantages that those of us of Asian origin have in Second Life is a pretty good guarantee that you’ll find your hair color in any vendor in the grid. Swimming while shopping was fun; it gave me a chance to use some animations in my AO that rarely get exercised.

The shop is rarely empty, though lag doesn't seem to be a huge problem. I met a well dressed neko named Kithin who was visiting on the referral of a friend. He'd never been to the shop before, but was soon stationed in front of a vending station contemplating the purchase of a nicely detailed outfit. Kithin told me that he might soon be moving a few of these designs into his wardrobe. My guess is that he will.

It’s Raven’s full costume formal designs that sparkle in the fyrelight best. You’re greeted with some of the nicest, most detailed medieval/Victorian/goth formal wear for men and women that you’re going to find anywhere in Second Life. To date I’ve purchased five complete outfits from RFyre, and despite the inevitable piece or two in the collection that just doesn’t fit my style or body shape, the majority of the outfit always hits the mark and gets worn repeatedly.

On this trip Raven showed me a newer outfit called Fete which had recently hit the shelves. The red shade set was sinfully juicy, and I could practically feel the smooth velvet and satin swishing against my thighs, nearly sending me in a headlong rush to my closet to brush real life formal gowns against my cheek.

In short, the textures are rich and detailed, the prims fit well even though I’m not standard SLBarbie shaped, and the overall feel was elegant and delicious. This observation was backed up by the full-caps WOW that I got from my loved one when the outfit was viewed on me. The only critique that I would offer is unfair, since so many of my outfits are used for more than one kind of dancing. I find it useful for the, ahem, *underthings* to be sheer and/or skimpy cut, for those times when that special person will see me wearing them. The panties and undershirt could have been a bit naughtier. But as I say, not a fair critique, since the aim of RFyre is formal wear in a gothic theme.

Raven Pennyfeather has done a wonderful job and is to be congratulated. She is assured of my future purchases if the trend in sim and clothing design continues, and I’d suggest that you stop on by for a peek at RFyre of your own sometime. For those of you who like to watch new outfits come online via blogs, you can watch the new House of Fyre blog to get new release info on her designs. Her wares can also be purchased on SLExchange.

Next we review a nice companion designer to your RFyre wardrobe, LaPointe/Bast Cat Designs.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Get In The Christmas Spirit At Santa's Workshop!

I spend most of my time in SL blowing things up, from my BlackBurn Oil Drums to various things I give hit points with my BHP System. However, when I set foot on the snow-covered land at DarkDharma Daguerre's Avatar Isle, the year's chaos, hustle and bustle dies away, to be replaced with modern holiday music and the silent snowfall.

The store is magnificent. The way it is set up inside, there is such a soft sell of its products you could walk completely through without buying a single thing, and simply enjoy it as a reminder of how Christmas used to be. Or you can load up with a great selection of folk art, decorations and cutouts to ready your home or business for Christmas!

The free presents under the tree were great! Each package made the most of opening gifts. One was called "A present just for YOU!" and another cautioned me not to shake it. How cool!

The downstairs area, a kitchen and living room, are impeccably designed, with Christmas sounds coming from all around. These pictures don't do the experience justice, what with the snow outside and music accompanying the decorations perfectly.

I noticed a stairway leading up, and wondered who could be upstairs waiting to wake up and get their presents... would it be Mr. and Mrs. Claus?

It was the first time I had ever seen elves in SL. I set all my sounds to 0.0 and walked in so as not to disturb anyone sleeping.

These elves (L$200 apiece) were so cute I almost went back to Lionel's House of High Explosives, but Christmas comes only once a year, so I read each elf's thought balloon (take a look in the picture above -- they are charming) as I walked back and forth across the second floor, from the fireplace to the stairway.

Every square meter of Santa's Workshop has something cheerful, homey, and Christmasy. If you're down in the dumps and don't like the holiday, come by here. DarkDharma will show you how it was meant to be.

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Dark or Not, It's a Piece of Paradise

Dark Paradise has great prefabs for that special build

Back on the trail of great sims, I couldn't help but notice the great build that a neighbor had put up in my home in Winterfell. A quick peek beyond the wonderfully intricate textured facade took me to Darkling Tempura and Desari Deledda, who is putting together some furniture and artworks worthy of notice.

As you know, a shopkeeper who sets their creations into a lovely themed surrounding gains quick access to my paypal account. Desari and Darkling have made this happen at Dark Paradise. You can stroll along a lovely water feature, gaze at the intricate scrollwork on the columns, or be impressed by the huge Starax Statosky sculpture dominating the pool.

The furniture is well constructed, perfectly textured, and the poses built in worked fine for my friend and I. This is not always assured, since out heights differ greatly, so worthy of mention.

In addition, the prefab houses were marvelous, showing clean design and masterful texture work. As I said, any house that can capture my attention from a distance of 300m is worthy of my notice.

One critique, in investigating the story and review I came across the Dark Paradise website which was rather dated in its information. More current info might have been nice, but may be available through regular client log in.

Regardless, Dark Paradise is well worth a visit.

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