Sunday, 22 January 2012

Birthdays, with beautiful things and added trepidation.

So, in nine days I will turn 26. I'm not really looking forward to it... it will signify the beginning of my 'late' twenties, the end of youth. The horror!

I am looking forward to the actual day though, my friend Fiona has kindly booked the day off work so we can spend the whole afternoon trawling the local charity shops, then in the evening Aerospace Boyfriend and I have a table booked at Bistro 1847, Manchester's swanky vegetarian and vegan restaurant where I went for a delectable meal just before Christmas with Miss Matilda, her fiancé and Old Fashioned Susie.

I was also thinking about having a party at home, but whereas I imagine my parties to look like this...

...the reality is it'd probably end like this... I will probably just organise a trip to the Chinese buffet with a few friends like I do every year when I invariably leave my birthday plans to the last minute.

Mmm, buffet.

I've already received my presents from Aerospace boyfriend, look at my gorgeous little birthday chaps!

On the right is Herschel, I haven't got a name for the green and white fella yet.

So, onto the birthday dreaming... there's no way I'm getting any of these things, and I can't afford them myself, so do feel free to buy these things for yourselves to remove the temptation of my etsy watch list.

This vintage plus-sized stretchy knit dress from that purveyor of all things enviable Butch Wax Vintage... if her stock is that good, her personal wardrobe must be absolutely phenomenal!

I would team it with these chic 1950s black velvet or these delicious black satin stilettos (I want them both so much!), a mini beret and my black catseye sunglasses, then I would pretend to be a glamourous French spy, conducting lascivious affairs in order to extract top secret microfilms from the Russians.

Next something more cutesy... this rare pink lucite adorable swan brooch, and this useful vintage seahorses sweater guard, for holding cardigans oh-so-frivolously round the shoulders.

This one is sort of a necessity... I've now been going swimming (almost) every Wednesday evening for a year, swimming a mile each time, and my swimsuit is shot. It's a plain black tankini I got when I was eighteen but never wore, I took the tags off it last January and this January it is full of saggy, see-through patches where the chlorine has broken down the fibres. What I really want to replace it is one of these gorgeous swimsuits from For Luna, endorsed by the legendary MGM aqua-spectacular star Esther Williams whose engrossing autobiography I recently read.

The 'All For Eve' lipstick by Daniel sandler, which is vegan and supports research into women's cancers.

Miss L Fire Tahiti sandals, perfect for Summer, with a practical low wedge heel and in colours I actually wear!

These amazing Irregular Choice Chinese satin wedges... because you can never have enough glittery red shoes! Plus they fit in perfectly with my current Oriental obsession... I'd wear them with a devastating cheongsam and swan about covered in lotus blossoms.

Oh how I wish these adorable bastards were vegan, curse you Irregular Choice and your continued use of dead cow skins! I NEED red shoes with little plastic bluebirds all over them! Especially seeing as my feet have shrunk for no apparent reason, so I'm now a size five-ish instead of a six-ish.

My other big wish is a proper musical saw, I'm finding that I can make a lot of very exciting spooky noises on my vintage woodsaw, but it's proving impossible to coax a real tune from it. Aerospace boyfriend has a video on his phone to prove this... it features me doing a very tortured double-chinned violin face, and he insists on showing it to everybody.

...and that's about it for the things I desire but can't afford... that and everything on my Amazon wishlist.

Birthday shenanigans will no doubt be documented here in a couple of weeks, until then I shall continue to live in dread. Toodle pip!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Review: Revlon 'Just Bitten' Lipstain

I picked this up when it was first released in the UK, and have been using it ever since. Despite it being a felt-tip marker type thing, it has not dried out! I've been using it since about June, not every day but fairly regularly.

The first downside to this product is that the packaging colour isn't much like the actual colour of the product, so I'd recommend using a tester on the back of your hand instore before you buy. I'm guessing the majority of my readers will be users of vintage red lipcolours rather than plums or browns, and the packaging of the two red shades is almost exactly the same - 'Flame', an orangey-red which is the colour I use, and 'Gothic' which is a deep, blue-based vintage red and would be great for Winter, so read the label carefully!

To get the shade shown here, you'll need to apply about three coats of the stain. It is great for gaining a gradual change of shade depending on the occasion, time of day or how deep you like your colour. However, any dry bits on your lips will pick up way more colour if you just apply one coat, so either go for the full coverage of a few coats or make sure your lips are well buffed before applying.

The stain itself is alcohol based, so you draw it on, wait about thirty seconds for the alcohol to evaporate and the colour is stuck firmly to your lips. The other end of the applicator contains a clear balm which you layer over the top, this adds a subtle shine and stops the lips from feeling dry. Apply all the layers of colour you need before adding the balm, don't try to apply colour over the balm or you'll ruin the felt tip.

This is what the lipstain looks like on a drunk woman at a punk festival at 1am. Here I had been wearing the stain for around thirteen hours, had reapplied it maybe once, and added more balm a couple of times. I had been drinking pints of cider (that's the kind with alcohol, Americans), eaten a greasy dinner of chips (fries) with pickled onions and baked beans, and the heat in the venue was around 30C. All I lost was a bit of colour from the centre of my top lip so it looked a bit pinker, less orangey - no feathering, minimal reapplication and no dryness as long as I kept adding balm after eating. Since, this lipstain has survived nights out, trips to the Chinese buffet, three-hour swimming sessions and it's also totally kiss-proof! It's also pretty difficult to remove... not a problem if you wear lipcolour every day, but if you're planning to go bare-lipped after wearing it you may wish to try something like a waterproof makeup remover or isopropyl wipes to get rid of the last traces.

I would't be without this lipstain now... I'm only hoping that the obviously 'Twilight' inspired names ( Midnight, Gothic, Dawn, Twilight, Instinct etc.) don't mean that this is a flash-in-the-pan lipcolour that will be withdrawn as soon as the interest in glittery vampires wanes. They're now up to fifteen shades in the US, so hopefully it'll continue to flourish here in the UK too.

The other great thing - it's vegan! I'm not 100% that all the shades are, but the ones I examined the ingredients labels of certainly were. Revlon also do not perform any animal testing, highly unusual for an American firm where vivisection in the name of beauty is still commonplace (although they do use animal ingredients such as silk and cochineal in some of their other products).

Revlon 'Just Bitten' Lipstain is currently on offer in Boots for £5 instead of £7.99 (although their colour chart is way off - this set of swatches is fairly accurate, though obviously they'll look different depending on your skin/lip tone.)

Upcoming photoshoot, and a feline menace.

This week my friend Berni and I went to Rose & Lee Vintage Living antiques showroom to scout a location for an upcoming Kalandra Jane Designs photoshoot, which will feature the fabulous burlesque performer and model Millie Dollar (also here) and the hairstyling and makeup skills of Bethany Jane Davies.

On the day, I hadn't washed my hair and we were only there to do some lighting tests, so Berni took a few shots of me and managed to make me look good despite me feeling less than glamourous!

Puss the cat was an absolute menace - as soon as I sat down she wanted cuddles and flopped all over me, but when I had to get up she was a fizzing, yowling ball of rage. Can't blame her though for being a bit temperamental, she was taken in by the owners of the antiques warehouse after being abandoned when a neighbour moved away.

This amazing golden Rococo boudoir set will feature heavily in the photoshoot, stay tuned for more glorious pictures from Berni Harris Photography!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Current loves

This started off as a post about growing up and accepting the responsibilities of adulthood. I wasn't happy with my inability to articulate myself wittily enough whilst discussing such a tender subject, so have saved that diatribe for another day and decided to just show you all the stuff I am currently obsessed with, most of which are things that make me reflect on the aforementioned situation.

Pastel bubble hair. Having a quarter/third of life crisis as I approach my twenty-sixth birthday has given me a craving to dye my hair again, having been blonde for a few years now. Growing up, I always loved these ladies' hair, even though they are all wigs (and one of them isn't really a lady). In fact now I think about it these three are probably my ultimate style icons.

Tom Waits. Music for grown ups, definitely... a guy I was at uni with used to play his albums in our studio and I just didn't get it, at the time I was listening solely to hardcore European crust punk, willfully closing my ears to everything else - if it didn't have a strong ethical message, I didn't want to know. Here's a song which as well as being great and having a cool video, is apt for the subject at hand and was covered by the Ramones - a band that kind of get maligned by members of the modern punk scene as being too frivolous, which is utter bollocks.

Beat writers - William S. Burroughs, Charles Bukowski, Jack Kerouac. I always loved Hunter S. Thompson and Chuck Palahniuk, and these are the guys they learned their style from, they grew up during the great depression and WWII and made their mark during the cold war years - as such their writing is gritty, uncompromising and chaotic. I'm currently reading 'Post Office' by Bukowski and 'Junky', Burroughs' semi-autobiographical story of heroin addiction and life on the edge of society.

Here's William S. Burroughs doing vocals on a track from Tom Waits' 'Black Rider' conceptual play/LP which they collaborated on, his voice is haunting. He was 79.

Geisha fashion - not really anything to to with the others, I just really like this at the moment. Here's a hat I made recently using Japanese Kanzashi flowers, intricately folded from tiny squares of fabric. I'm currently working on some more styles, for a Harajuku-inspired photoshoot I'm helping to style on Wednesday for Chimp Magazine. Hat by Kalandra Jane Designs, photo by Berni Harris Photography.

Daria! I never got to watch this when it was originally on - I was probably a little young anyway, but my stepdad and I used to watch Beavis and Butthead which was on around the same time (and from which Daria was actually a spinoff), back when MTV was still clinging onto its last shreds of counterculture credibility. It's full of all the sardonic wit a young lady needs, and should be required viewing for every girl who can't (or couldn't) wait for high school to end. You can watch every episode of Daria for free here, apart from the two feature-length episodes.

Perhaps inspired by the grunge soundtrack of Daria - Riot Grrl. I always resisted angry girl music as a teenager, totally rejecting any music made by women and seeing it as aggressive feminism, passé in a world where I surpassed my male classmates academically and always felt equal to my male friends. However, I obsessed constantly about boys I fancied - maybe if I'd listened to a bit of Joan Jett or L7 I would have felt a bit more secure about myself, rather than wallowing in introspection and worrying about how I was seen by my peers.

Micheal Cera films. Superbad, Youth in Revolt, Juno, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist - at first I hated this new brand of awkward alterna-teen angst comedy. I have now come to appreciate them despite the fact I still think they're a bit twee and formulaic, I like the departure from the plasticky teen movies of the late 90s-early 2000s. I'm sure there weren't sweet, goofy boys when I was growing up... they were all little bastards. Maybe I just scared off the nice ones with my forcefield of adolescent rage? Anyway... I like them.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

New Guinea Pigs!

Apologies to you all for not blogging for a few weeks, by the end of the year I was just feeling totally burnt out and rubbish, and really didn't have anything to write about. Sales in the run up to Christmas were terrible, I was feeling low and generally stagnant, so took a few weeks to just relax and spend some time with Aerospace boyfriend and not think too much about bills, business or anything else really. I'm happy to say that sales at Kalandra Jane Designs have now picked up and are going well, I've got some fabulous custom projects in the works and am also planning several events, stalls and photoshoots in the next couple of months.

Sadly on December 19th my guinea pig, Bela Lugosi passed away in my arms as we rushed him to the emergency vet at 6am. I'd had him over five years, so he was reasonably old, but his health suddenly took a dive and he started to lose weight rapidly one day, a few weeks after being separated from his friend, Mr. Sprout. Sprout had to have an operation to remove a facial tumour and Bela was doing more harm than good by trying to groom the stitched wound. We put the boys back in together once the stitches were removed, and they'd had a great evening bonding. I couldn't sleep that night, and when I checked the cage Bela was lying on his side gasping, with Sprout guarding him.

RIP, my lovely Bela Lugosi

I wasn't going to get another pig, but as soon as Bela was gone Sprout immediately began this pining behaviour too, losing weight through not eating and inactivity. A friend had some 11-week old baby males ready to go, and on Christmas day at my mum's they were waiting for me.

Here are my boys together, Victor, Mr. Sprout and Igor. We buried Bela in the garden and placed some bluebell bulbs on top. Sprout's weight has now gone back up, surpassing even his pre-op weight. The new boys are very timid, but they've all bonded well as a group.