Life In the Age of Gaga

If Lady Gaga ever enters Second Life (which is highly improbable), she would find herself at home. Her psychics-defying outfits, her outre and untouchable sexuality, her “alienness,” as James Parker calls it in his great essay, “The Last Pop Star,” in this month’s Atlantic.

If Lady Gaga ever walked into SL, I would take her directly over to Eshi Otawara and say, “RL Diva, meet SL Diva.” And I would tell Eshi, “Have at it.” Something would happen, and I lay odds it would be something good.

Life in the Age of Gaga

Eshi’s latest outfit, a nod to feminist representation because it’s an artistic take on a female body part (it’s called the “Deadly Kitten Dress”—get it?), would suit Lady Gaga just fine. How often have we seen the giant male “attachment” in SL, the one the newbies wear running around Neva’s, poking everything in sight, the one that gets constructed over and over again in buildings and forums and blogs (I am speaking somewhat metaphorically here, of course). Isn’t it time we took the female avatar for what it is and make her show what she’s got?

Life in the Age of Gaga

That little gem dangling in the middle there? Yeah, it’s what you think it is. The folds of replicated sculpties surrounding the ensemble and textured with satin ruching? Yep. The furry fronds all around? Yep, those too. Eshi has set the flexi on them so that they take forever to fall into place—kind of like the slow opening and response of the organ which they are meant to decorate. This isn’t slambamthankyouma’am. Eshi, just like Lady Gaga, keeps giving us a great show. And just like Lady Gaga, there’s a lot more to it than shock value (though that does play in).

Life in the Age of Gaga

So what are we to make of this overt representation? And how is Eshi like Lady Gaga? They are both women, women whose aim is to take their visibility, make art of it and make more of it than has ever been done before. (This is why Parker calls Lady Gaga “The Last Pop Star” in his article. He thinks she will never be topped. I am not sure Eshi will either.)

Life in the Age of Gaga

“Watching her stalk onstage with her retinue, one has a particular sensation—of aberrant sensibilities on the march, rive gauche visions, a whole underworld of transgression breaking the surface.” ~ James Parker

Hair: [LCKY] Daikirai – Black by Olli Braveheart for [LCKY]

Skin: [LeLutka]-LOLA_stan-makeup4(D Brows)hairbase and [LeLutka]-LOLA -Lipstic_German Red by Minnu Palen for Lelutka

Ensemble: Deadly Kitten Dress – Red by Eshi Otawara for Eshi Otawara *

Black and White

You know, you always wish it could be, but it’s not…

Black and White

I am showing LeeZu Baxter’s newest dress, the Lily, in black and white, in an untouched photo (shot just like this in SL). The dress shows LeeZu’s definite attempt to push the edges all the time, to try new things, be innovative with her design. She scores on the top, which has a wide boatneck with three-quarter length sleeves and a high sash. The skirt is a mix of sculpty and flexi, bordering on the disastrous but she pulls it out of the danger zone with great translucent flexis and a cool texture that shades it.

Black and White

I have had this very cool skin by Mochi Milena in inventory for a while and have found the ideal use for it. It’s really for an artistic look, a startling different representation. Even walking around in the stark colors of SL, this skin made me look very different, as if in a different story or time. It’s quite beautiful, especially with its faint blush.

Black and White

Finally cute little flats from Fallingwater Cellardoor. This sweet dress shouldn’t have heels or fancy boots. Simple flats is where it’s at.

Black and White

There is no black-and-white situation. It’s all part of life. Highs, lows, middles.
~ Van Morrison

Hair: BP* OKAPPA Hair by BettiePage Voyager for BP*

Skin: [PF] Skye  <Grey> by Mochi Milena for [Pink Fuel]

Dress: [LeeZu!] Catch Lily Dress /black by LeeZu Baxter for LeeZu! *

Shoes: (Shiny Things) Saturday Flats – black by Fallingwater Cellardoor for Shiny Things

The Art on My Back

I have always tried to be a proponent of the artistry of the people who work in SL, be they builders, graphic artists, virtual goods makers. Putting a cost on content is not a disclaimer for someone’s art—it’s the necessity of feeding the artist. So all the creations I show with my avatar are beautiful pieces of art that I collect and savor.

The Art on My Back

The first artist on tap is Anyusha Lilienthal, whose pretty dress is the basis of this entire ensemble. With its lovely paisley on green textures, almost Indian print, and its lovely skirt (with shifting alpha textures that are used in a very effective way to make the skirt seem light and floaty), this dress is a must have for the pretty and casual girl.

Then add on the wings that Feather Boa, the one self-proclaimed artist of the group, has offered as a gift at her gallery. With their steampunk aesthetic (a cool little engine on the back), whirring gears and pretty glowy animated sculpty wings, they are a lovely piece of wearable art that she is offering as a gift to friends and fans.

The Art on My Back

I show an absolutely beautiful necklace from Manna Yoshikawa. The textures have amazing depth and patina for both the metal and precious stone part of the necklace. And she cleverly includes a tie at the back with flexi tails, adding grace to an already lovely piece.

The beautiful boots from LeeZu Baxter and Enktan Gully that I have been so fond of showing lately make an appearance here. The textures and bohemian shape match the dress in their artistry and beauty.

Finally, I show a newer skin from Tuli Asturias. The freshness of the copper lip compliments the dress beautifully. I could not have had a better color combo.

The Art on My Back

Fluttering my wings:

Hair: [Uw.7R]  Hinata-Hair   size-L   Noble brown by Din Raymaker for Uw.St

Skin: []::Tuli::[] Bella (fair/br) F.Y.L.O. copper by Tuli Asturias for Tuli *

Dress: * Ibizarre Harlow Dress (green) by Anyusha Lilienthal for Ibizarre

Necklace: .:MANNA:. Mayween L’aventuriere (Necklace)  by Manna Yoshikawa for .:MANNA:.

Boots: .*Courtisane*. La Vivien /Greens by LeeZu Baxter and Enktan Gully for *Courtisane* *

Wings: Digital Angel Wings 3.0 by Feathers Boa available at Feathers Bay Gallery

Written while listening to Chuva by Luciana Souza. Thank goodness for songs in Brazilian.

Precarious Perch

I went to the Shoe Fair, benefitting Toys for Tots, right before Thanksgiving, hoping to score some pretties for my feet.

Precarious Perch

I found quite a few beautiful shoes, but none were as unique and sculptural as those made by 2408 Alekseev. With their gracefully intertwining vines and flowers, the precarious sole and serpentine heel, these shoes are a piece of wearable art.

I have to say, I had a few problems fitting them (though they come with resize scripts and an amazing range of skin tones to match to), so I contacted the creator, 24, as she likes to be called, via notecard. She responded quickly and helpfully (and cheerfully and humorously). Turns out I have very small and delicate ankles, so she had to shrink the shoes down considerably. Go figure.

She IS featuring two pairs for one at the Shoe Fair, benefitting Toys for Tots, so you may want to purchase those so you can check out her work.

Precarious Perch

When the outfit is all about the shoes, you can’t wear something long or they will be hidden, so I chose this flirty party dress from Kuranosuke Kamachi. Going to DeLa is a hit or miss for me sometimes–Kuranosuke uses sculpties in risk-taking ways that sometimes don’t pan out. But for this dress, the work is impeccable. The skirt is a marvelous fluff of stiff satin.

Precarious Perch

I styled with simple but elegant jewelry from Tiffy Vella. When an outfit has one point of interest, there is no reason to over do it. The jewelry balances the outfit with a touch of elegance without excessiveness. And Tiffy’s work is always beautiful and exact.

Precarious Perch

Walking in glass slippers…

Hair: [V] Vignette Sophia Charcoal by Rachel Boram for Vignette

Skin: *YS & YS* Zara 02 Smoke Black EB HairBase by Monicuzza Babenco for YS & YS *

Dress: =DeLa*= Dress “Leona” Black by Kuranosuke Kamachi for =DeLa*=

Necklace and Earrings: Eclectica Deco Pearl Strands Choker and Earrings by Tiffy Vella for Eclectica

Shoes: 24 wow 18 gold by 2408 Alekseev for 24 Shoo-Shoes and Haute Couture

Pastiche

I have several favorite designers in SL. That has become apparent from my blog. One I have touched on but not spoken extensively about is LeeZu Baxter. (READ this blog and not just look at the pictures, please.)

Pastiche

I only know LeeZu through her through her work, which is fantastic, imaginative, funky, ground-breaking, artistic, and timely. LeeZu’s work is not for the avatar who wants to slouch around SL wearing jeans and t-shirt; LeeZu is for the avatar who wants to look chic and cosmopolitan and edgy. She takes inspiration more from John Galliano than from Ralph Lauren.

Pastiche

That being said, I show here an outfit I have photographed before but not for this blog. With its myriad embellishments, it could almost be over the top, but LeeZu keeps it in a fine thin silhouette, pushing the shapes only as far as they can go to look whimsical and innovative without looking overdone and absurd. She combines fabric textures—here a ripped satin with lace with an alligator leather with a scrunched up heavier material in the pants, frayed at the bottom. And somewhere in there she has a little paisley. Sounds like a lot is going on but the pastiche works for this ensemble because she keeps it all in the same color line—ranges of black, brown, and gray, in this case—and muted.

Pastiche

I was glad to receive a set of Courtisane’s new boots for review. LeeZu has contributed her textures to the work of Enktan Gully for the brand. Ingeniously made, they include scripted and unscripted boots. With the scripted boots, you can decide to change colors of separate parts of the boots to include any of the colors in the pack you purchase. For example, for the All Black boot, I could change the tip of the boot, the main body of the boot, the flower, the lower cuff or upper cuff to white, gray or black. This allows for a myriad of combinations. All I have to do is click the boot.

Pastiche

Otherwise, if I want to forgo scripts and wear a solid color (and who is really looking that closely at my boots in a lagging sim), I can don the simple, unscripted Black boot (or White or Gray). This is what good design is about—making a functional, versatile, beautiful and affordable piece.

Pastiche

The boots include LeeZu’s characteristic textures (below in Bisque), laid over a shape that is hardly traditional. The blunt toe and chunky wood heel are not for everyone. However, they are very modern in their approach, echoing the spirit of these times where the excess of over-manufactured pointy toes and sharp stilettos are being put aside for more organic, hand-crafted, and seemingly “humble” shapes.

Pastiche

The joy of LeeZu’s work can be truly enjoyed by the the sophisticated wearer. While it IS beautiful, the true appreciation of it comes in taking apart its sum total and appreciating how she got there.

Pastiche

The finest hodgepodge:

Hair: Kin-Mairi-[Flamered] by Kin Keiko for Kin Keiko

Skin: [PXL] July LT CE Red DEB by Hart Larsson for [ PXL Creations ]

Outfit: * [LeeZu!] NOIR Efraims Daughter Set by LeeZu Baxter for LeeZu!

Boots: .*Courtisane*. La Vivien in Black, All Blacks, Bisque, and Red by Enktan Gully and LeeZu Baxter for .*Courtisane*. *

Eshi, my sweet Eshi

You fit into me
like a hook into an eye

a fish hook
an open eye

~ Margaret Atwood

Eshi Otawara has a lot of fangrrls and fanbois. I happen to be one of them. Actually, I am more than a fan—I am her “stalker.” Almost every night I call Eshi on her home phone and leave her a message, usually in the vein of “Where are you? Pick up!” I “stalk” her because Eshi is a real life friend of mine, a great friend, one of the best I have.

Eshi, sweet Eshi

So with full disclosure, I am showing you this stunning piece Eshi donated for auction for RFL named Kabuki limited. I modeled it and then snatched it out of the hands of another bidder because from the moment I first laid eyes on it, I had to have it. Besides Eshi, I have the only existing copy in Second Life. Lion Jonesford of Lion Skins was generous enough to make the skin for this ensemble, which is also a one-of-a-kind.

Eshi, sweet Eshi

Why is it that Eshi is such a big deal? Well she has a big community of fans behind her—that’s true. One has to wonder how—she is outspoken, abrasive, rambunctious and obnoxious.

She also has one of the warmest hearts of anyone I have met. She has great integrity, generosity of time and spirit, and a real talent and vision for creation in Second Life. She is the genuine deal.

Her personality is clearly exhibited in her work. While there are billowing, almost airy skirts, brilliant saturated colors juxtaposed with black and white, shimmering curves and sweeping feathers, beautiful Asian-inspired birds and lovely floating petals, there are also signs of her bold, almost aggressive personality—an oversized hat pin shoved through the head (complete with ironically sweet anime flower), hair pulled back in a long exaggerated ponytail (but not one millimeter longer to push it from artistic into absurd), arms thinned and elongated by shimmering toruses, fish hooks emerging from a skirt and hovering around the body as a sort of armor. The tension between Eshi’s incredible goodness and her deep darkness imbues her work.

Eshi, sweet Eshi

Eshi is a brilliant designer, taking the challenges of building in SL and making them seem like “features not bugs.” She combines tortured prims, sculpties, and flexis in ways no one has thought to do and does it effortlessly. And she echoes the true shapes that are now being seen on real catwalks. (One just has to look at the current roll of new designers to see Eshi’s toruses perched on heads and clustered on limbs, her feathers sweeping behind.)

Eshi, sweet Eshi

Here’s the Fishook dress. (One of 30 in SL, and no longer available. Y’all should have bought it when she was a fledgling dressmaker!)

Eshi, sweet Eshi

Eshi will be the first to admit she doesn’t have graphics training. Her Photoshop skills are still developing. This isn’t about skill (though the girl can do things with prims and textures on prims that the rest of can only dream of).

What Eshi has is a beautiful and unique vision and an ability to think around the normal artistic and design discourses we all fall into in and out of SL.

There is simply no one else like her.

The info:

Hair: Otohime Black Kabuki by Eshi Otawara for Eshi Otawara /Chambre du Chocolat

Skin: Eshi & LionSkins-Kabuki (one-of-a-kind) by Lion Jonesford of Lion Skins

Dress: Kabuki (one-of-a-kind) by Eshi Otawara for Eshi Otawara /Chambre du Chocolat

More info:

Hair: ::DK:: Rigel – White Black by Helyanwe Vindaloo for Deviant Kitties

Skin: Pulse Skin-Climax/Valeries T2 Venetian Red BLK by Lorac Farella for Pulse Skins

Dress: Fishook Dress (black)- Chambre du Chocolat (Limited) by Eshi Otawara for Eshi Otawara /Chambre du Chocolat

Eshi’s store is gone. If you would like to see Eshi’s work exhibited in a manner that befits it, visit her exhibit at the Locus sim designed by DB Bailey. Eshi’s pieces are shown with textiles from the Stanford University Library.