Long post today so I’m going to keep my chatter to a minimum (although if anyone is in the MOOD to listen to me ramble endlessly about anything, feel free to find me, Portia Pexington, in world😉 ). I freaking LOVE styling challenges, maybe I’ve said this before, and anything that allows me to mix fantasy and fashion together is bound to get my immediate and undivided attention.
The concept for this challenge is simple: style and photograph a fairytale inspired couture outfit featuring Wicca’s Wardrobe designs. For my first picture, I re-imagined Charles Perrault‘s Little Red Riding Hood and had a grand time giving Lil Red a modern spin. Even when I’m working with contemporary fashion, I try to give my outfits a bit of extra finesse; a big part of fashion for me is finding ways to blur those lines between genres, to do something that speaks to my experience as a role player and lover of many different styles without sacrificing my aesthetic standards.
Kind of a snooty thing to say, huh? Well, have you ever heard Hans Christian Andersen’s story of the Emperor’s New Clothes?
I’ve gone ahead and pasted it below, only altering a few things to allow for an Empress instead of an Emperor and some female presence in the story overall. It really is a funny story about how easy it is for people to be fooled when their pride is on the line and, maybe I’ll catch a bit of heat for this, I feel like it’s applicable to some of what we see in Second Life fashion as well. It’s so easy to get caught up in what one person or another TELLS us looks good; so easy to just nod and go along with people who feel like theirs is the only opinion that matters and if you happen to disagree with them, well, you’re wrong.
We’ve all felt this pressure before and we’re going to feel it again. I only hope that we remember to have faith in our own perception moving forward and that we are strong enough to stand up for what we think looks and feels good.
You do you, my sweeties, and the rest will take care of itself.
Many years ago there was an Empress so exceedingly fond of new clothes that she spent all her money on being well dressed. She cared nothing about reviewing her soldiers, going to the theatre, or going for a ride in her carriage, except to show off her new clothes. She had a coat for every hour of the day, and instead of saying, as one might, about any other ruler, “The Queen’s in council,” here they always said. “The Empress is in her dressing room.”
In the great city where she lived, life was always gay. Every day many strangers came to town, and among them one day came two swindlers. They let it be known they were weavers, and they said they could weave the most magnificent fabrics imaginable. Not only were their colors and patterns uncommonly fine, but clothes made of this cloth had a wonderful way of becoming invisible to anyone who was unfit for her office, or who was unusually stupid.
“Those would be just the clothes for me,” thought the Empress. “If I wore them I would be able to discover which women in my empire are unfit for their posts. And I could tell the wise women from the fools. Yes, I certainly must get some of the stuff woven for me right away.” She paid the two swindlers a large sum of money to start work at once.
They set up two looms and pretended to weave, though there was nothing on the looms. All the finest silk and the purest old thread which they demanded went into their traveling bags, while they worked the empty looms far into the night.
“I’d like to know how those weavers are getting on with the cloth,” the Empress thought, but she felt slightly uncomfortable when she remembered that those who were unfit for their position would not be able to see the fabric. It couldn’t have been that she doubted herself, yet he thought she’d rather send someone else to see how things were going. The whole town knew about the cloth’s peculiar power, and all were impatient to find out how stupid their neighbors were.
“I’ll send my honest old minister to the weavers,” the Empress decided. “She’ll be the best one to tell me how the material looks, for she’s a sensible woman and no one does her duty better.”
So the honest old minister went to the room where the two swindlers sat working away at their empty looms.
“Heaven help me,” she thought as her eyes flew wide open, “I can’t see anything at all”. But she did not say so.
Both the swindlers begged her to be so kind as to come near to approve the excellent pattern, the beautiful colors. They pointed to the empty looms, and the poor old minister stared as hard as she dared. She couldn’t see anything, because there was nothing to see. “Heaven have mercy,” she thought. “Can it be that I’m a fool? I’d have never guessed it, and not a soul must know. Am I unfit to be the minister? It would never do to let on that I can’t see the cloth.”
“Don’t hesitate to tell us what you think of it,” said one of the weavers.
“Oh, it’s beautiful -it’s enchanting.” The old minister peered through her spectacles. “Such a pattern, what colors!” I’ll be sure to tell the Empress how delighted I am with it.”
“We’re pleased to hear that,” the swindlers said. They proceeded to name all the colors and to explain the intricate pattern. The old minister paid the closest attention, so that she could tell it all to the Empress. And so he did.
The swindlers at once asked for more money, more silk and gold thread, to get on with the weaving. But it all went into their pockets. Not a thread went into the looms, though they worked at their weaving as hard as ever.
The Empress presently sent another trustworthy official to see how the work progressed and how soon it would be ready. The same thing happened to him that had happened to the minister. He looked and he looked, but as there was nothing to see in the looms he couldn’t see anything.
“Isn’t it a beautiful piece of goods?” the swindlers asked him, as they displayed and described their imaginary pattern.
“I know I’m not stupid,” the man thought, “so it must be that I’m unworthy of my good office. That’s strange. I mustn’t let anyone find it out, though.” So he praised the material he did not see. He declared he was delighted with the beautiful colors and the exquisite pattern. To the Empress he said, “It held me spellbound.”
All the town was talking of this splendid cloth, and the Empress wanted to see it for herself while it was still in the looms. Attended by a band of chosen men, among whom were her two old trusted officials-the ones who had been to the weavers-she set out to see the two swindlers. She found them weaving with might and main, but without a thread in their looms.
“Magnificent,” said the two officials already duped. “Just look, Your Majesty, what colors! What a design!” They pointed to the empty looms, each supposing that the others could see the stuff.
“What’s this?” thought the Empress. “I can’t see anything. This is terrible!
Am I a fool? Am I unfit to be the Empress? What a thing to happen to me of all people! – Oh! It’s very pretty,” she said. “It has my highest approval.” And she nodded approbation at the empty loom. Nothing could make her say that she couldn’t see anything.
Her whole retinue stared and stared. One saw no more than another, but they all joined the Empress in exclaiming, “Oh! It’s very pretty,” and they advised her to wear clothes made of this wonderful cloth especially for the great procession she was soon to lead. “Magnificent! Excellent! Unsurpassed!” were bandied from mouth to mouth, and everyone did their best to seem well pleased. The Empress gave each of the swindlers a cross to wear in his buttonhole, and the title of “Sir Weaver.”
Before the procession the swindlers sat up all night and burned more than six candles, to show how busy they were finishing the Empress’s new clothes. They pretended to take the cloth off the loom. They made cuts in the air with huge scissors. And at last they said, “Now the Empress’s new clothes are ready for her.”
Then the Empressherself came with her noblest nobles, and the swindlers each raised an arm as if they were holding something. They said, “These are the trousers, here’s the coat, and this is the mantle,” naming each garment. “All of them are as light as a spider web. One would almost think she had nothing on, but that’s what makes them so fine.”
“Exactly,” all the nobles agreed, though they could see nothing, for there was nothing to see.
“If Your Imperial Majesty will condescend to take your clothes off,” said the swindlers, “we will help you on with your new ones here in front of the long mirror.”
The Empress undressed, and the swindlers pretended to put his new clothes on her, one garment after another. They took her around the waist and seemed to be fastening something – that was his train-as the Empress turned round and round before the looking glass.
“How well Your Majesty’s new clothes look. Aren’t they becoming!” She heard on all sides, “That pattern, so perfect! Those colors, so suitable! It is a magnificent outfit.”
Then the minister of public processions announced: “Your Majesty’s canopy is waiting outside.”
“Well, I’m supposed to be ready,” the Empress said, and turned again for one last look in the mirror. “It is a remarkable fit, isn’t it?” She seemed to regard her costume with the greatest interest.
The nobles who were to carry her train stooped low and reached for the floor as if they were picking up her mantle. Then they pretended to lift and hold it high. They didn’t dare admit they had nothing to hold.
So off went the Empress in procession under her splendid canopy. Everyone in the streets and the windows said, “Oh, how fine are the Empress’s new clothes! Don’t they fit her to perfection? And see her long train!” Nobody would confess that they couldn’t see anything, for that would prove them either unfit for their position, or a fool. No costume the Empress had worn before was ever such a complete success.
“But she hasn’t got anything on,” a little child said.
“Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?” said its father. And one person whispered to another what the child had said, “She hasn’t anything on. A child says she hasn’t anything on.”
“But she hasn’t got anything on!” the whole town cried out at last.
The Empress shivered, for she suspected they were right. But she thought, “This procession has got to go on.” So she walked more proudly than ever, as her noblemen and women held high the train that wasn’t there at all.