I always feel nostalgic about International Lolita Day, but I don’t often remember to celebrate it. I love that there’s a rallying day for the fashion community, and I wish I gave it more attention when it comes around—especially since it occurs twice a year, on the first Saturday in June and the first Saturday in December. That should mean that I at least remember one of them, but sometimes it doesn’t quite work out that way!
This year a dear friend of mine reminded me about the upcoming event and invited me to afternoon tea in time… and not just any friend, the very person who initially came up with the concept for this frilly “holiday” back in 2005 and organized the first celebration with the EGL community on ye olde Livejournal! 💖
The event on this first Saturday in June was hosted at Serenitea in Oak Park. Although it isn’t located in Chicago, it was easily accessible from both the Metra commuter train and the CTA green line. (I rode the L to and from; I prefer to take public transit when it’s available.) The tea room is a very short walk and fairly easy to identify. The location is rather small, but it still has a separate room for parties, which in general I prefer for meetups.
I regrettably forgot to take any pictures… I wore a pair of new shoes that savaged the backs of my ankles and distracted me from collecting a good record, so please forgive my lack of thoroughness in this “report”.
The afternoon tea menu is available with options for vegan and gluten-free needs, which our party appreciated. The gluten-free items were served on the same plates as the items containing gluten, so guests with very strict needs may benefit from making additional requests and confirming that there is no cross-contamination. The selection of finger sandwiches, scones, and desserts seemed like pretty standard fare for a tea menu. It had a more rustic and homemade appearance and feel than hotel tea service. Each guest selected their own tea from a fairly large list of loose leaf options that were served in petite teapots. The teapots are cute, but they are extremely difficult to pour from without sloshing half of the tea all over the table; better teapots, possibly equipped with drip-catchers, would immensely improve the experience!
The seatings for our group involved small tables that sat four at each. This can make the group seem divided, but it did make conversation at the individual tables a bit easier to follow and participate in. We did an introduction round-table and milled around a bit, particular between courses and after most of the food items had been consumed. There was an attached shop room with vintage-themed tea goods that several people used as a spot for photos; it was possible to do this without bothering any other customers or guests. One attendee brought a small printer and graciously provided instant photos for everyone else! 📸 I love those cameras at meetups.
When our reservation ended we took a few pictures outside. There was brief discussion about extending our time together, but the ominous clouds overhead caused most people to vote for heading home. I managed to just barely beat the rain other than a few sprinkled droplets during the walk back to the train station! ☔
Overall, I had a lot of fun celebrating International Lolita Day this way (despite my injured ankles that are still slowly healing…), and I enjoyed getting to see several friends that I hadn’t spoken to in a few months as well as meeting some others for the first time! Perhaps I’ll remember to see what’s planned for December… ❄️
In early February I went to tea at The Langham. I adore having tea service at hotels, and this was one I had not been to before, so I was very excited. (Also, it had been quite a while since I had tea at a hotel, as my financial situation has changed and I have to take care in regards to this kind of extravagance.)
The Langham serves their afternoon tea in the “Pavilion” space. This was a lovely dining area with large windows and bright design. With off-white chairs and couches, marble tabletops, and lots of shiny chrome, it looked very open and illuminated.
A few days ago, when I checked the mail, I saw a bright pink envelope tucked in among the bills~ At first I thought it was a birthday card from a relative, but when I looked at the addresses the return address was unfamiliar. I opened it to find this card:
Isn’t it pretty? What a lovely pattern~
I still didn’t really understand what it could be, unless it was from a friend I don’t usually receive cards or letters from, but then I opened it up!
There were two photos inside! I actually didn’t realize there were two–for a few days I only noticed the first one, the large group photo!
It was the promised card from the Angelic Pretty tea party at ACEN~! ♥ I am so happy to have received it! Angelic Pretty is very busy of course, so I didn’t even have a timeline of when I thought the attendees would be receiving the photos, but I remembered that they were taken and we were told we would receive copies. Having the photos arrive in a pretty pink envelope, in a lovely pink card with the design of “Little Bird’s Symphonia,” is so thrilling~ ♥
The card has signatures inside from Asuka, Maki, and RinRin~ I’m particularly happy about this because I didn’t make it to any events during the convention where they were autographing anything, so I missed my chance to have anything else signed. (I also forgot to take a moment and have my picture taken with only the special guests–whoops! I get too distracted when there’s so much going on.)
I love the pictures, and I definitely want to do something special with them~ I haven’t yet decided on anything, but at the very least it would be nice to have them framed for display~ ♥
Perhaps I could frame the pictures with some of the other papers I’ve saved from the events, scrapbook-esque~
I had little bits and pieces of things from the events still in my purse even though the tea party was several months ago, so I took everything out for one picture~ (Although I realized in retrospect that I could have included two postcards and an illustrated file that I also received at ACEN for Angelic Pretty-related reasons, but I didn’t think about it at the time.) I don’t usually save many things, especially not paper, but the tickets were so lovely that I didn’t want to throw it away!
I grouped together my badge–an exhibitor badge from my time volunteering at the Angelic Pretty booth (oooh, a specialty-type), my raffle ticket place card from the tea party, the small ring that I won at the tea party’s raffle (I hadn’t even opened it yet, haha~), the card, both photos, and my tea party ticket! ♥ Even though it was a while ago now, I still keep thinking about what a lovely time I had. ♥
Receiving the photos from the tea party was wonderful, and I’m so happy that Angelic Pretty was able to take the time to be guests at ACEN, and that they arranged so many special events for the fans in the area! I feel so lucky to have been able to be a part of so many fun things! I’ll definitely have to do something nice with these photos; they’re images of such wonderful memories~ ♥
After all of the hustle and bustle on Saturday, I was thankful for a relaxing Sunday morning. I didn’t help out at the booth and my only commitment was the tea party. Instead I woke up and was able to take my time getting ready while I packed up the room. The time of the tea party overlapped the check-out for the hotel room, so we would be checking out before heading over.
I was worried about being late, but we arrived in time for me to snap a few pictures in the hallway just before the door opened and the Angelic Pretty staff members announced to us that we could enter~
It was a flurry of ruffles and pastels and cakes and decorations as everyone lined up to enter the room.
I was really thankful that everyone was orderly and polite. I always get worried about some kind of intense and crazy mad rush at any sort of event of this nature. Once inside, we chose our own seats. It wasn’t difficult to find a place to sit at any of the given tables, and I was lucky enough to sit among friends~
A selection of small sandwiches and desserts were already placed at the center of each table along with sugar and cream. I believe the sandwiches were roast beef with goat cheese and avocado with roasted red pepper tapinade. It was a good thing that they offered a vegetarian option, as there were quite a few vegetarians in attendance~ Each place setting was indicated with a teacup and a small flyer for the tea party. On the back of each flyer was a number that was used later during the tea party for a raffle~
We were all restless while Maki, Asuka, RinRin, and staff got themselves set up near the table at the side of the room~
A long table was set up at the side of the room, in the center of the layout of tables. On the table were all types of Angelic Pretty goods, wrapped up with cellophane and ribbons. These were the prizes for the raffle at the end of the tea party~ There were also small speakers and a microphone.
When everyone was settled, convention staff introduced Maki, Asuka, and RinRin. Maki and Asuka then gave brief speeches–translated by staff–thanking everyone for their support of Angelic Pretty and providing some of their thoughts, inspiration, and plans for future collections. After Asuka and Maki were finished speaking, RinRin also gave a small speech about her own thoughts and involvement. It was very nice of them all to take the time to do so~
When they had finished speaking, tea was served. I was delighted to see that they were serving tea from Teavana. Teavana isn’t one of my favourite tea companies, but they sell fairly tasty teas and blends. The hotel in which the tea party was hosted does not offer a tea service on a regular basis, so I had worried that we’d be given hot water and single tea bags of black tea. While that’s no travesty, it would be somewhat of a let-down given the price of the tea party tickets–so having brewed loose-leaf tea poured by wait staff was a wonderful surprise!
Gendo was one of our many dapper waiters, and he took his position very seriously!
The convention staff who volunteered for the tea party were very courteous and dedicated. They dressed for the occasion, as well–in dapper suits with bow-ties, crisp white half-aprons, and white towels draped over one arm. I appreciated their attention, given that a lolita fashion tea party at an anime convention probably didn’t register as a significantly big deal in most people’s opinions–but the staff treated it as if it were a very big deal. That helped make it a very special and fun memory for those who attended~
While the tea party guests enjoyed their tea and sandwiches, Maki, Asuka, and RinRin went from table to table, taking group photos with everyone and chatting a little bit. (The other Angelic Pretty shopgirls in attendance were kind enough to act as translators.) It was very exciting to get to speak to the designers and the model for a moment and to have a group picture taken. There were also pictures taken of each half of the room–there were too many party-goers to fit us all in one picture. To avoid confusion, it wasn’t possible to have that same picture snapped with every attendee’s camera, but we were promised that copies of the group photos would be mailed to us after the event.
After group photos, it was time for cupcakes! And immediately after cupcakes were served… a raffle!
An excited raffle winner steps up to receive her prize!
The raffle was a lot of fun–they started off with small gifts, like rings, and moved up to cutsews, purses, and finally a set with a jumperskirt, socks, and a hairbow~! ♥ Maki and RinRin stood in front of the table to display the prizes to the crowd, while Asuka drew numbers and announced the winners. I won a small ring, which was very exciting–I typically have terrible luck when it comes to any game of chance! I really enjoyed watching the winners get chosen; it was thrilling to hear a number be called, then watch as someone stood up and cheerfully made their way towards the front. So many of my friends were lucky, and so many other attendees that I didn’t know until the tea party, too~!
I believe that those who didn’t win a prize through the raffle didn’t walk away empty-handed; if I remember correctly, they were given postcards which Asuka, Maki, and RinRin autographed.
It was then announced that there were gift bags at the door, which we would receive on the way out after having a chance to personally thank and say goodbye to Asuka, Maki, and RinRin. However, before that could happen, the Chicago community had something to give to the designers.
Everyone looking over the scrapbook~
As part of a community-wide effort, led by several girls who put hours and hours of hard work into selecting and printing photos, assembling supplies, and piecing together the pages, we had put together a scrapbook to showcase our love of Angelic Pretty. It was presented to the designers to thank them for being special guests at our local convention so that we could have the chance to meet them and see their designs. I was happy to see that Maki, Asuka, and RinRin were surprised to have this brief interlude; they hadn’t expected something like this. As they stood together and flipped through the pages, I could see they were all so moved by this gesture that most of them were tearing up. Some of the shopgirls started crying outright, and then we were all sniffling. For a moment, we all understood just how much of an impact lolita fashion has had on our lives, and it was very touching~ ♥ It will be a very happy memory for me.
After that, it was time to leave. I was very happy to take part in such a fun event. It was the most fun I’ve ever had at ACEN; I hope that everyone else’s memories are as bright and sparkly as mine~!
P.S. I know that this is very late! I’ve never been very good at updating regularly, but I’ve been downright awful at it these last few years. I still adore the fashion, I’m just lacking in inspiration to write about it~ And I keep forgetting to take photos of anything! u_u Oh boy! I never learn!
I apologize for the brief delay–I caught a cold and have been spending the past few days bemoaning my stuffy nose and sore throat. n_~
Saturday morning began bright and early–models met with the hair and makeup volunteers at 7am. I was lucky in that I didn’t have to get up as early as some of the other girls with farther to travel, but I still wasn’t as early as I wanted to be. During the fitting they had requested that model volunteers apply whatever base makeup they could before coming to the room for hair and makeup, that way the ladies doing hair and makeup would have more time to style everyone. I don’t exactly wear makeup regularly, so even trying to provide a starting point for the makeup artists took me longer than I had hoped.
My little sister came with to help backstage; she took plenty of pictures during the process.
When all of the models and workers were assembled, work began immediately. We were asked to change into our first outfits, and warned to be careful and tidy. It was a bit nerve-wracking to spend time around makeup in a pretty and expensive dress that wasn’t mine! The shop staff and designers were always very mindful of keeping the clothes in the best condition possible. When we sat down to have our hair styled or makeup applied, Asuka cautioned for us to fold and smooth our skirts and sit in a particular way–to avoid wrinkles.
There were three volunteers doing hair and makeup, along with hair and wig-styling help from Maki and Asuka. Due to the number of girls in comparison to the number of stylists, we were again asked to do whatever of our own makeup we could manage, including putting on false eyelashes. I had a very hard time with that! Thankfully the other girls were more than willing to help each other out, so I received an on-hand tutorial on how to apply them. We crowded around one mirror and applied and adjusted as best as possible. Some models were asked to wear multiple pairs of eyelashes for extra impact; I felt lucky to wear only one pair!
When we were fully dressed in all the elements of our first outfits and were waiting for a turn with the stylists, we practiced walking and posing. RinRin made herself available to coach us all, particularly for posing. She was very kind and thoughtful. ♥ Each outfit had coordinated props, and RinRin helped everyone come up with five different poses that utilized the props and looked as cute as possible. (The format of the runway required each outfit to pause for poses at five different points, and the designers preferred that we did not repeat the same pose each time.) She was always willing to provide another critique or suggestion so that we’d all be at our best. I was very thankful for her input!
The ladies who volunteered for hair and makeup were very friendly and very efficient! We were lucky to have their assistance.
The extra curly hair that would be pinned into my hair was packed in with my outfit, so I had it handy and available when it was my turn for hair styling. My pigtails were adjusted to be pulled as high on my head as possible, then wound into buns to provide a base for pinning on the curly hair. They used lots of bobby-pins and hairpins to keep it securely attached to my head. (To test how well it was pinned, the stylist asked me to jump up and down. This is a kind of silly and dangerous thing to ask me, because I took her very seriously. It stayed in place without a shiver!)
This is my serious face. I wore it whenever I wasn’t being reminded to smile!
As soon as my hair and makeup were all set, I went back to practicing. It might seem foolish, but I took this very seriously. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a model–but that doesn’t mean I wanted everyone in the audience to know it! I was very lucky to not only have RinRin’s suggestions to focus on improving, but also critique from my little sister. She was absolutely invaluable during the time backstage in preparation, because every time I did something I shouldn’t have done, she called me on it so that I could start over. I don’t know exactly how much time I spent walking back and forth across a small mock-up of the runway, but it wasn’t a short period of time!
The designers wanted the models to walk slowly, but with spirit. We needed to look up and keep our chins up–no looking down. (This was extra-hard for me! I tend to look down, sometimes subconsciously.) All of our turns were supposed to be right turns, despite the fact that natural inclination is to turn left when facing the audience at the last stop. And, most importantly, we had to express happiness and cheerfulness! ♥ I drilled myself on the first issues, that way I wouldn’t have to think about them during the actual fashion show and could then be as happy and cheerful as possible–because I’d really feel that way. I am very thankful that I took the time to practice; if I hadn’t, I am sure I would have made a fool of myself on stage!
As the starting time for the fashion show crept closer, the models for the Hangry & Angry fashion show joined us in the room, as the hair and makeup stylists were now their hair and makeup stylists. In only a few minutes it was time to head backstage! We were all very nervous, but also very excited!
Everything was a blur once we got backstage! We were all anxious for the fashion show to begin!
Backstage we went over the layout for the quick change–outfits in one area, accessories in the other. As soon as we stepped off the stage we were instructed to remove our hand and other small accessories, so that when we got back to the dressing area backstage we could immediately place those items in the bag that accompanied our first outfit. We did our best to memorize our order, so that we knew who we would be following or followed by. The rule was that there must always be at least three girls waiting to go on stage, so if you looked up and only saw two you needed to get ready faster! RinRin walked down the runway to practice the timing for the lights and music during the different parts of the show.
The fashion show was arranged in two parts–the first featured outfits that had already been released and that were for sale in the Angelic Pretty pop-up shop. After the first part, there was a brief video of a previous fashion show–I believe it was one from Paris–to provide a little bit of extra time for the models to change. The second part showcased outfits that had not yet been released! (This was so exciting!) When the second part of the show concluded, all of the models followed each other on a cheerful walk-through, then circled back and repeated the walk-through, remaining on the stage. For this finale, Maki and Asuka came out, saluted the audience, and everyone exited behind them.
When the fashion show finally began, the excitement of the past few days was finally an experience! I blessedly forgot all of my anxiety as soon as I stepped out on the runway. I only hope that I conveyed my happiness to the audience! ♥
The rush to get backstage again and change for part two of the show was nerve-wracking! As soon as I stepped off the stage I made a mad dash down the hallway, skidding to a stop just in time to bolt through the door into the dressing area. My accessories were ready to go into the bag, and someone was waiting to accept them. I unbuckled my shoes and one of the fitters passed them to the next girl whose outfit they were for. Someone unzipped the dress and I ducked into the curtained area with the clothing racks, quickly changing into the blouse and jumperskirt for the next outfit and heading back out. I put on my socks while someone else helped to put on my shoes, then added jewelry while someone else adjusted my hair accessories. It was a great team effort! We were done with plenty of time to spare–much better than rushing right up until the last moment!
This outfit isn’t my usual style, but it was so much fun to wear! I loved that wand!
My second time on stage was even more thrilling because I loved my second prop–a card-themed baton! I didn’t really know what to do with it when I first practiced during the fitting, but Maki cleared up my confusion; she told me to “give the audience magic” and gestured with a wave of the wand. I am all about magical girls, so that’s what I took on as inspiration! ♥ (Also, the models were constantly told to make our movements big–and with a big prop, that’s even easier!) I really hope that the audience received as much “magic” as I tried to give them!!!
All of the models, plus the designers and RinRin!
After the final walk-through and the finale, everyone backstage was bouncy and jubilant! It was a relief that all of the anxiety was over, and now there was absolutely no tenseness. We had fun taking pictures with each other and chatting until we finally had to put our real clothes on and return the fashion show attire. It was a really fun experience, and I am so happy to have been able to participate! I will treasure these memories forever! ☆
After the fashion show I returned to the Angelic Pretty booth to help out for a few hours before the independent designers’ fashion show that evening. After all of the bustle that morning I enjoyed standing in front of the booth greeting people and passing out flyers for the Meet & Greet with Maki and Asuka and the autograph session. (Neither of which I was able to attend, but it was still fun promoting it!) It felt relaxing even though I was still on my feet.
When it was time to prepare, I gathered together some of the other girls who would be modeling for ICK! by Industrial Kitty. When we headed up to the hotel room to prepare for the fashion show, we were met by the makeup artists and hair stylists and the other models. It was quite crowded for a while in the room while we were all getting ready! I helped out with a few last-minute tweaks to the different outfits; I’ve developed a knack for sewing on buttons. It was lucky that we had planned in advance to have several hours to get ready, because we used every minute of it!
I got a little bit lost when we headed down to the room for the independent designers’ fashion show, but thankfully a lolita I had met earlier at the convention pointed us in the right direction. It was pretty chaotic when we got to the room, though. The room was really, really small–far too small for a fashion show–and it was already full of attendees even though there was still a gigantic line snaking around the downstairs level of people who wanted to get in to see the fashion show! There wasn’t any space for the models and designers to stand while we waited for the show itself, but we kept getting chided about blocking the flow of traffic in the hallway. It was very uncomfortable for a while, particularly as there was nothing we could do about it. Each of the designers had at least five models, and there were quite a few designers–so that’s a lot of people.
Finally someone authorized us to wait in an area behind the room, which also became where we would enter and exit to walk for the actual show. I’m not sure what happened beyond that point; I couldn’t see or tell anything about what was going on in the room, nor did I have any idea about how large it would be. My first glimpse of it was when I waited near the door only a few models prior to walking in. I hadn’t realized just how small the room was, but it was really, really tiny and utterly packed with guests and photographers. There wasn’t much room for the models to walk around, just a little space at the front of the room and part of an aisle down the middle, so each model was in and out very quickly.
After each designer’s models had walked on we planned to do a final walk-through and exit the room out the back door. It started off pretty well, but when I walked into the room I noticed a weird sound in the music. As I reached the back of the room near the door, I realized it wasn’t something in the music, it was the building’s fire alarm system. Someone had triggered the alarm system for a full evacuation of the hotel. As soon as the models for ICK! by Industrial Kitty exited the room, we followed our designer upstairs and out of the hotel. The evacuation wasn’t panicked, but it wasn’t very orderly either. Some people didn’t really seem aware that it was an evacuation, or they simply didn’t want to comply. It was difficult to keep an eye on the people you were with whenever we entered a densely-populated area.
When we got outside, we decided to head to the hotel across the street from the convention center. There were a lot of people waiting right outside the front doors of the evacuated hotel–which is generally not safe and also very inefficient–and at this point emergency vehicles were trying to get into the area. Along the way we encountered other groups from the fashion show or groups of lolita who had also been evacuated from the hotel; we brought them with us and tried to pass along the message of where to meet. Once we reached our destination I went back out to see if I could notice any other lolita. I found one group easily because they held up an opened parasol–it was a great beacon! The evacuation was a very stressful time, but thankfully in the end everyone was alright and we found all of the community members we were looking for. I was pretty tired when I got back to the hotel, though!
It took me no time at all to fall asleep that night, although I had a heck of a time trying to remove the false eyelashes from the earlier fashion show! I didn’t really know how to take them off, and even though some of my friends provided helpful information, the glue was stuck very firmly to my eyelids. I’m not really encouraged to try false eyelashes again anytime soon! (I need more time for recovery, haha~!)
And so my report on ACEN continues! I stayed with a friend on Thursday night, because I was concerned about getting back to the convention center early enough on Friday morning. She was graciously hosting two other friends from out of town, so Thursday evening involved trips to the airport and early Friday morning a house bustling with frilly girls. ♥ As volunteers at the Angelic Pretty booth in the convention’s Dealer’s Hall, we had to get there bright and early! Everyone was out of the house by 7am, and after running a quick errand we hurried to our destination!
Helping out at the booth was a really fun experience! I was very thankful to have something to dedicate myself to and focus my attention on, even if it was only chit-chatting with customers and neatening clothing racks. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not particularly fond of attending conventions; knowing that I was “working,” even in the loosest sense of the word, kept me both from boredom and anxiety. I did my best to follow any instructions or suggestions from the official employees; they were all very adept at their jobs and very knowledgeable as can be expected.
So cute, so frilly, so tempting!
There was another benefit to being stationed at the booth in the Dealer’s Hall–I saw all of my friends~! ★
The Angelic Pretty pop-up shop was a highlight for everyone in the community, even those who usually don’t purchase their clothing from the company. For those with different style preferences, the booth offered a wide selection of garments and accessories not only from Angelic Pretty, but also from Chantilly, Atelier Pierrot, and Black Peace Now. With fluffy frilly cupcake princess fashion on the Angelic Pretty side and elegant dark lovely enchanting fashion on the Harajuku Hearts side, there was a little bit of something for everyone! (h.NAOTO was also represented at the convention, providing even more of a variety, but as that was at a different booth I didn’t see it. I really didn’t leave my post during the weekend!)
As a result, whenever anyone from the local community wandered over I had the opportunity to chat with them while they browsed through the shop. It was lots of fun, and I don’t think there was anyone I missed an opportunity to say hello to~ I also spoke to many lolita (or starry-eyed-dreaming-of-lolita shoppers) I had never met before. Everyone was so nice, and so friendly, and the time passed so pleasantly! I really hope I’ll see some of my new acquaintances again sometime!
Paradise Rose, in Artist Alley–one of my stops during my lunch break!
A little bit later on the in the afternoon I took a break to eat lunch, give my husband a call, and say hello to two friends with tables in Artist Alley. (I had other friends with tables as well, some of which I sort-of knew about and others that I learned about as the day progressed, but I wasn’t able to visit everyone…I could only remember the numbers for the two who told me.) I briefly considered wandering around the hall for a bit, but the crowds seemed a bit too daunting; I hurried back to the booth to continue fluffing dresses and encouraging sales.
Maki and Asuka had signs advertising the fashion show taped to their purses, and Maki had one on her back as well! It was adorable!
When I returned the shop staff had printed flyers for Saturday’s official Angelic Pretty fashion show. Everyone present was asked to help spread the word and pass out flyers. Maki, Asuka, and RinRin were very dedicated and efficient at engaging passers-by, even though Maki and Asuka don’t speak very much English. I think they were simply too cute to ignore or refuse a flyer from, even for the convention patrons who weren’t stopping by the booth for any shopping. ♥ With the help of the other volunteers, fashion show flyers wound up in the hands of nearly anyone who walked by. I had a very clear view of this from my position on the outer corner of the booth’s space.
All of the excitement and promotion for the fashion show made me feel rather nervous, but also exhilarated! ☆
The rest of the evening before the Dealer’s Hall closed passed by in a happy blur! I didn’t attend any of the other lolita fashion events that day, although I know there were some, but I still had a nice time just fluffing around the booth. I was an opportunity I am very thankful for! I’m not about to run off and seek my future as a shopgirl, but getting to do anything–even the smallest of things–for a company I adore so much was absolutely fantastic. After everything was draped and secured, I filed out with my friends, still thrilled from the experience! By the time I got to my hotel room and took off my shoes my feet ached from standing all day, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. ♥
I intended to go to sleep early, to get plenty of rest for the fashion show the next day, but I was too wound up to fall asleep immediately. It went just fine even with that minor kink in my plans, and I enjoyed chatting with my little sister while she worked on some last-minute preparations for the Independent Designer Fashion Show occurring in the evening. We had no idea what would be in store for that!
My weekend at Anime Central (ACEN) was even more wonderful than I could have imagined! ♥ It was a really fantastic time, despite crazy things like full hotel evacuations that coincided right with the end of the independent designers’ fashion show. (Yes, that really happened. Yes, it was absurd. Yes, chaos reigned in the streets around the hotel. YES, all frilly folks were accounted for and okay!!!) I was astonishingly lucky to be able to not only take part in the Angelic Pretty fashion show, but also to help out at their booth in the dealer’s hall and attend the formal tea party. It was magical~ ☆
Although the convention itself began on Friday, the fitting and first rehearsal for all volunteer models occurred on Thursday evening, from 4:00pm until 7:30pm. I felt very lucky that I had taken Thursday off of work when originally planning my time off–before I knew anything about the open call for the fashion show. Taking the train to the convention center isn’t difficult, but it can be time consuming. I doubt I would have made it to the fitting on time if I had work that day, unless I had left early. I wasn’t the only one–there were a few girls who couldn’t make the fitting due to their travel arrangements. I did my best to plan for it, however…and wound up getting there an hour early! XD Whoops!
I feel like I should add a disclaimer at some point stating that I am not a model nor have I ever proclaimed to be one. The extent of my “modeling experience” has been helping out friends when they are involved in fashion shows for school-related or independent projects–and even that is something I’ve only done a handful of times. I’ve helped with a few local community-organized lolita fashion show in past years, but most of those occurred when I had first started wearing the style. It’s been quite a while since I was involved in anything like that. Although I’m kinda scrawny and am pretty easy to zip up in a dress and direct to walk across a room, I don’t have the skill (or talent) of a model. (I’m also utterly the wrong height.) I applied to model in the Angelic Pretty fashion show on a whim, just because I love the company so very dearly.
It’s hard for me to find the right way to express how I feel about Angelic Pretty. Many lolita ♥love♥ Angelic Pretty, so it isn’t as though I have some attachment to the company that no one else has. I’m not their most devoted customer or fan. I don’t collect the newest prints or aspire to the styling featured in magazines. I don’t know all of the tidbits of trivia about designers or models. I’ve never visited one of their stores. I simply adore the clothing. Wearing a lolita outfit from Angelic Pretty makes me feel like a truer version of myself–happier and more self-confident. I don’t disdain any of the other brand companies, but I’ve always been more partial to the designs and inclination of Angelic Pretty. Their presence at ACEN was more than I could have ever hoped for. I applied to model because any opportunity to interact with the company sounded amazing to me.
Thankfully, it was amazing. The reality of it out-shined anything I could have dreamed.
Waiting far too early with my luggage at the designated meeting spot, chatting on the phone with my younger brother to pass the time, I spotted Maki, Asuka, and RinRin. That moment sparked recognition that this was real; while I was planning for the trip or reading the email with instructions or traveling toward my destination, there was always a hint of, “Maybe this will be cancelled,” or “What if it doesn’t work out.” I didn’t jump up and chase after them–I continued my phone conversation and started chatting with the other girls as they arrived, but there was so much more excitement! ♥
Watching the designers and model at the fitting and practice increased my admiration for them. They are all very dedicated, professional, and inspirational. All of the models selected from the model call were volunteers, and we were both treated with confidence that we would perform suitably and provided with direction and instruction to compensate for our lack of experience. (I don’t mean to discount any of the other girls’ talents or abilities; I simply feel that it would be unfair to classify any of us as professional models.) The designers treated every detail with seriousness and consideration that demonstrated their adroitness. I really enjoyed witnessing their passion for their work.
At the fitting we tried on the outfits the designers had preliminarily assigned to us and they made comments and minor adjustments styling or accessorizing. Discussions and notes with hair and makeup volunteers followed. (I particularly adored that Maki and Asuka had drawn sketches of the hairstyles they wanted for each model; very simple and very charming!) Models were asked to bring wigs and most of the hair styling was performed on wigs rather than actual hair. I don’t own a wig, and rather than fit a borrowed one on me they decided to pin curly fake hair to my head in two voluminous pigtails. Watching Asuka and Maki try to describe what they wanted to the hair stylists to do with the false hair became utterly adorable when the Japanese explanation was punctuated with “Mickey! MIC-KEY!” and gesturing like the iconic round mouse ears.
While other logistics and arrangements for the fashion show were discussed by those directly involved, the participants practiced with the hand props for their outfits. Every coordination came with props of some kind to accompany and accent the outfit: cupcakes and forks for those wearing Sugary Fairy Cake, lollipops and candy for models wearing Toy Drops, parasols or purses for outfits without a print, and birdcages and flower baskets to coordinate with the newest birdcage series. The layout of the stage involved five different places for each look to stop and pose. Finding five different ways to pose with a give set of props could be pretty difficult! I was definitely not as original as some of the other volunteering models; I probably repeated the same motion quite a few times. ~_~
Every last minute of the scheduled time for the fitting was used. In fact, I believe we ran over our allotted time. There was always some other instruction to add, another notice to announce, more critique to be delivered, and such~ I wasn’t working terribly hard, but I felt exhausted by the time it was over…although my evening wasn’t over yet and the convention had yet to begin!
A few weeks before Valentine’s Day I attended card-making crafternoon~ A friend hosted it in her lovely and bright condo, and I got to help with treats and supplies. I really love Valentine’s Day and the associated cards, so I was super excited about this meetup! ♥ I had a wonderful time, and I hope that everyone else did, too!
I don’t regularly make Valentine’s Day cards, but I really like to do so. There are so many easy ways to turn just about anything into a cute or beautiful card to give to someone you care about. You can use paper, cardstock, cut outs, glitter, stickers, glue, ribbons, lace, doilies, sequins, and so many other materials! I got so wrapped up in the idea that I raided the local craft store and bought a little bit of absolutely everything. I left with construction paper, glitter glue, and even pom poms~ I also realized that I own a ridiculous number of scissors–but that really came in handy for the actual process!
The card-making table before everyone arrived, covered in craft supplies.
Before the guests arrived the hostess and I made peanut butter chip cookies and strawberry cupcakes. The strawberry cupcakes didn’t turn out very pretty, but they were still tasty~ (I really wanted cupcakes with real strawberries in them rather than strawberry flavoring, and I added too many! It made them–predictably–too moist. I have a hard time practicing restraint when it comes to incorporating fruit into desserts.)
The peanut butter chip cookies came out very well~ The peanut butter chips were so tasty! I basically didn’t eat anything else during the entire meetup. A paragon of healthy eating I am not.
Some of the many tasty desserts baked and brought with to the party~
Guests added a balance of more savory items and a few more dessert items to the spread. Most girls brought their own craft projects with them in the true spirit of the crafternoon~ ♥ Someone decided to put on a thriller/suspense/horror movie on in the background–2LDK–and from that point on the party was punctuated by occasional shrieks of surprise or gasps of disbelief. It definitely provided quite a contrast to the making of Valentine’s Day cards, haha~
The card-making table in action!
I really loved to see all of the interesting and creative ideas that everyone came up with for their cards~ There was much use of ribbons, pom poms, glitter glue, coloured pencils, and markers. Everyone put a lot of thought into their designs. Usually the loveliest of card was accompanied with a statement like, “Oh, well, I didn’t do very well at this, but I wanted it to look a certain way,” even though the card was utterly gorgeous~ I know some really talented people. (Although I do believe that even the ugliest card can be wonderful if it was created with the best of intentions and care!)
I had so much fun that I forgot to take any pictures of anyone’s outfits! Not even my own! I’ve been absolutely miserable at remembering to do that, lately. Whoops!
I really love my local community. I’ve said it before and I could say it again and again until I am blue in the face and desperately in need of a glass of water. I mean it, wholeheartedly. I love my local community. I was thrilled when someone suggested having a beginning-of-the-year swap meet. During the years that I’ve been involved, there haven’t been any swap meets other than at the yearly anime convention, which I don’t attend. I thought it sounded like fun–everyone brings one or two things they’re hoping to trade or sell, and everyone has fun chatting and browsing through what we’ve all brought.
When I arrived, the swap meet looked a little bit like this:
An entire pool table covered in books, dresses, accessories, wigs, cutsews, and bags.
It was amazing. There were so many people, so many items available, and so much to do! Girls traveled in from nearby states just to join us. Every available surface was covered in sales items–couches, counters, pool tables, benches, tables… Eventually we spread out a few clean sheets on the floor to provide more place for display. There was even a clothing rack to hang things on.
Some of the items I brought had been recently dry-cleaned, so I left them on the hangers. I wasn’t the only one! Having a rack avoided wrinkles more than laying these things out.
Soon a laptop was unpacked and set up, allowing us to use PayPal if we didn’t happen to have enough cash. I think we all underestimated the scale of the swap meet, so that was really handy! I honestly didn’t think there would be so many people and so many items, so I didn’t bring nearly enough money with me to make change or purchases.
The meetup was graciously hosted in a beautiful and spacious house, so the setup kept goods for sale arranged in the immaculately-finished and gigantic basement, while the kitchen, dining room, and living room were set up with drinks, food, and tables. Nearly everyone brought something tasty to share; the selection was amazing. Savories and sweets abounded. I was particularly taken by someone’s homemade cake pops (one of the girls works at a bakery and usually arrives with sweets of immense tastiness), some made with chocolate cake and others with strawberry cake~ ♥
This hallway shows just a glimpse of how many people were in attendance and how intensely we all enjoyed looking over everyone’s offerings.
There weren’t, to my knowledge, and specific rules regarding what could or could not be bought or sold, so there was a wide variety of offerings–but no one brought anything too far off-tangent to see ridiculous. There was obviously a wide selection of shirts, dresses, shoes, socks, and other clothing items representing both lolita and Japanese punk styles. Jewelry and accessories were also very popular. There were some books and magazines, as well, and a few people brought CDs. (I was probably the most unrelated; I showed up with some My Little Pony figures.)
She was organized enough to bring her items in a suitcase that could double as a display, and tagged most of her items with prices. The rest of us spent a lot of time running around and trying to figure out who’s item we were interested in and how much it cost, hee hee.
I was really happy to find new homes for a few clothing items I just don’t wear and swap a Pullip for a dress. ♥ I also couldn’t resist a pair of knit gloves with usakumya on the back of one hand!
Overall it was lots of fun, and I hope we do something like this again. It would be really neat as an annual or bi-annual event. It was much easier to organize an event like this at someone’s house rather than at a convention. No-one worried about theft or vandalism. It was nice knowing that you could leave your things unattended downstairs while enjoying a snack upstairs without the risk of something “wandering off.” You can’t possibly do that at a busy convention. We were so lucky that the hostess organized such a fun meetup! It was really great, and I’m sure that if we did it again it could be even better now that the community knows what it’s like. It was absolutely worth taking a Sunday off of work for~!
On a Saturday in mid-May, I went with a group to the Chicago Botanic Garden. I have always loved the gardens there–it’s a very large property with many beautiful flowers and plants. I’ve been there several times with my family, but not too frequently in recent years. When I saw that there would be a meetup at the garden I jumped at the chance to go even though it was difficult for me to get there. The garden is not terribly accessible by public transportation, unfortunately, but I was lucky enough to convince my mother to pick me up from the train station and drive me to the garden to meet my friends.
The day was very chilly and wet, but that didn’t dissuade me at all. I simply picked a dress that I thought would be less-likely to suffer any damage if I were caught in the rain (no prints that might bleed or fabric that might be water-stained) and wore my ugly black coat over it. My family hates my infamous ugly black coat, but it is decently warm and extremely waterproof, so I rely on it when the weather seems liable to downpour. As the day went on I was very glad to be wearing it, as I would have otherwise been fairly soaked from the constant mist.
The walled gardens are so lovely. They feel like they belong in a fairy tale!
After assembling in the entrance to the garden we headed out to look at the flowers. It was a nice time of year to go–most everything was blooming, but most flowers didn’t seem too wilted. We were too early for the rose garden, though~ I hope I’ll still get a chance to see it this year. ♥ Despite the chilliness, everyone was willing to soldier on and explore.
We investigated the indoor greenhouses first, because they were warmer. There were some really lovely cacti in the desert area. I always forget how pretty cacti can be. After that we looked at the beautiful bonsai displays, which are arranged in the courtyards outside of the greenhouse building. The bonsai at the garden are on rotating display, so I always see something new every time I visit.
The Japanese gardens have this little house which provides a view of the rock garden, which you are not allowed to enter.
The garden is arranged on islands, with most of the gardens on the large main island, but several surrounding islands with other gardens. We visited the Japanese garden, which was very picturesque even with the somewhat-gloomy weather. I love seeing some of the architectural elements in that garden–there are several small houses and many statues. There’s one house that overlooks the water, and it seems to be a place where demonstrations are sometimes held, but I’ve never seen any. I always hope that one of the times I go there I’ll see something happening in that house.
We wandered through the waterfall garden, another one of my favourites. Waterfalls are so interesting. It is connected to the dwarf conifer garden, which we continued through as we kept looking in the different gardens. Then we went to the walled gardens, which are my ultimate favourite~ I love the arrangement of the plants and walkways, and the use of walls and gates seems to make things more private and beautiful. I had lots of fun taking pictures of lolita in the beautiful setting. I brought the fancy DSLR that I have been borrowing, so they turned out much nicer than my point and shoot could have managed, particularly on such an overcast day.
I know that some people are unfortunately missing from this group picture, but it’s still a good representation.
I did cause a bit of trouble at one point. There was a break for lunch, which I didn’t bring or plan for, so instead I snuck off to explore a bit away from the group. I probably should have told someone, because instead it was thought that I was missing or lost~ I am sometimes too good at causing mischief…
The carillon is one of my favourite parts of the garden. Somday I’d like to see one of the concerts~
I ought to have waited and then I would have had plenty of time to explore on my own! After everyone was done looking at the beautiful plants that the garden had to offer, they decided to head to a market for dinner. I didn’t have my own car, and I had made plans to be picked up at a certain time, so I couldn’t really try to stow away with anyone else or I would have inconvenienced my mother–and it was very nice of her to agree to ferry me back and forth in the first place.
Instead, I wandered around through the vegetable garden and orchard. There wasn’t a lot of produce to see at the time, but there were a few sprouts and some beautiful lettuces. It started to rain more intensely at that time–so much that I had to put the camera away so that I wouldn’t risk it getting soaked–but that was just in the nick of time~ My chariot arrived just when it was getting too inclement to stay outside. ♥
I hope that we’ll go back to the botanic garden again. When the seasons change, everything changes there! It’s almost like an entirely new place the next time you visit.
This blog expresses the opinions of one girl. Neither she nor this blog is affiliated with any companies listed. Content may not be reposted elsewhere unless by the author herself. The term "lolita" in this blog refers to the fashion style and not any sexual activities or fetishes.