Sunday, 16 October 2016

Words pale with velvet

The light. A yucky, packed-earth parking lot tucked off a busy sidewalk becomes an ethereal respite when a few clouds of light and shadows play on the walls.

I shot hard on burst mode with a high shutter speed. A burst does multiple shots all in a row. A setup like this pushes my photographic skills the most - what about this setting? what about that setting? 

Always, always, when I put on this velvet coat, I leave myself. Those are my wool vintage Gianni Versace pants and a chartreuse silky blouse from bcbgmaxazria. There's a better view of the blouse on my Instagram, here. I had on double scarves but tore off the second one, the blue one; I couldn't breathe in all that matchiness.

I'm sure residents of the glass-walled highrises around me learn a lot about the life of a +50 style blogger when they see me playing in lanes below them. I can almost hear their greedy eyes as they spy me strolling in there, "Honey, she's baa-a-a-ck," and imagine their grab for the chips and wine. More likely, if they're into that kind of thing, there is far more dramatic action going on in this parking lot at other times of the day and night than a middle-aged woman twirling.

I'm thinking in feelings lately, colour, light, movement, which can be calming but also occasionally frazzling. Words are sleeping. Last night I made this video below, short and quiet.

That's all from here. I have to haul up my winter coats from my space bags in storage. Dreading going down there...

I'm linking something from here up to Patti at Visible Monday, Not Dead Yet Style, and Catherine, #iwillwearwhatilike, Not Dressed as Lamb.

Edit: I also can't forget a huge thank you to Sally of Already Pretty for including me in her Lovely Links last Friday! Such an honour.

Monday, 10 October 2016

My herd of Roombas and greetings from Turnip Head

What a mess. And my maid is still on leave. Has been for a couple of decades now.

So what did I do? What any right-thinking person would do! - I purchased a herd of robotic Roombas (photo below). Over 100 of them now graze in my living room. Each time I wade slowly through the throng I am reminded of that 1973 National Geographic article "One Strange Night on Turtle Beach" - you remember the one. 

Somehow I ended up in my sketch wearing my new vintage men's overcoat and oxford-style shoes. Oh, and that's Turnip Head in the window with her friend, advertising the Big Sale! Hallooo!

It's about all those thousands of baby sea turtles that hatch on the beach and then scramble to the ocean before they're eaten. Except in this case the Roombas are the turtles; I guess that would make me, uh, the ocean. 

They seem to have imprinted me as their mama. Their little eeps and chirps greet me with such joy, with such expectation, like I'm going to vomit up a breakfast of, I don't know, sewing machine oil and dust. 

This is a Roomba, sold by a company called iRobot. They roam and vacuum your floors using remote sensors. Pets are often afraid of them, but some enjoy the ride. A Roomba costs about US$350.

Of course I would not need Roombas if my maid were here! For now my herd is in the east wing, which I'm afraid leaves the west wing, head, breast, thighs, legs, beak and feet terribly neglected in this funky chicken abode. 

Seriously, does my maid think my faux furs dance their way in and out of cold storage by themselves? Who does she think transports my precious jewels to and from the safety security jumbly pile? Who polishes the plastic cutlery? 

Turnip Head again, wearing a silky Asian-inspired jacket I got from Patti (Not Dead Yet Style) during the clothing swap last year at the blogger meetup in Vancouver. I wore that eggplant jacket this week, very "composer" outfit if you ask me, an outfit to flourish in.

It's all too much. Sigh. I need a nap. Maybe I should go feed the Roombas.

Sorry, it was this or nuthin'! Time for the big autumn clean (is there such a thing?). My neighbour has a Roomba and his cats don't even freak out about it anymore. 

A clearer view of the vintage men's overcoat, belted. And a leather money holster thingy around my neck instead of a bag. I wear it like this because it's comfortable and it leaves my hands-free. My hair is half-way to nowhere. 

It's getting darker and darker here. I think I'll soon be forced to install twinkle lights on the underside of my umbrella. Desperate measures.

I'll link something up with Patti at Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday because if I don't there will be consequences! I'm so happy that Patti's family made it through Florida's hurricane okay. Whew!

It was Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend too. You don't think chocolate goes on sale tomorrow, do you? Or pumpkin pie? 

Edit: I'm linking my sketch up with Catherine's Saturday Share at Not Dressed as Lamb as well. 

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Designer coat three ways - fun, feline, and fierce

With great excitement I tore open the box from Shanghai express. My new coat! - courtesy of Yuzhe Studios, a young designer duo who studied at London College of Fashion. After finding my blog and Instagram, they asked if I'd like to wear one of their handcrafted pieces. Does a cat meow?

O-my-o-my-what-to-do-what-to-do. It didn't take long to figure out - put that sucker on and see where it takes me.

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret in overcoat from Yuzhe Studios

After being cooped up in shipping, Coat needed a stretch and fresh vigour, so my first styling called for intensive colour caffeine. I poked her: "Coat, wake up!" She merely yawned, "Are we there yet?" 

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret in overcoat from Yuzhe Studios

Before she knew it, I had turned Coat inside-out and clapped the snaps off-key to create a wonky pucker and asymmetrical hem. The pockets became awesome hip wings which added to the fantastic geometry. And I wore vivid silky scarves in a waterfall of bows and a colour-punched dress and blouse. AWAKE.

Coat's finished seams down the sleeves looked good on the outside, and the snaps with hand-stitching functioned perfectly in reverse as well. My initials, which Yuzhe Studios hand-embroidered at the neckline, were also visible - such a great detail.

Loose-limbed now from our colour therapy, we shrugged off the imp and unleashed some of Coat's deeply serious chic appeal. 

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret in overcoat from Yuzhe Studios

Coat is dreamy soft, a snuggly wool you want to wrap yourself up in on a chilly day. In this second styling she is black cat with an emerald collar, stretched languidly on a red velvet divan surrounded by unread books of philosophy. 

"Bring me chocolate milk on a silver salver that I might dip my strong yet dainty paws in the brown juice of the gods!" Moving right along... Somehow I knew she'd appreciate the gold glitter ankle socks. 

These photos have a very European feel to them. I'm sure I'm on my way somewhere Important (the cafe for a cookie, for example). 

Melanie Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret in overcoat from Yuzhe Studios

I'm also wearing O's rockstar silky shirt and my gigantoid palazzo pants with mitten clips because the pants are trippingly long without higher heels. Huge sunglasses complete the look.

Below, one last styling. Coat doesn't like to be type-cast (we are so compatible!) so we went with a fierce-ish styling with a tuxedo shirt, fitted black moto jacket, my DIY eyes-on-knees jeans, white athletic socks, and combat boots. This bunch of boulders under the overpass made the perfect studio.

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret in overcoat from Yuzhe Studios

And that's it! Hearty thanks to Yuzhe Sun and Alex Lee of Yuzhe Studios in Shanghai for this piece and the fun I had styling her. While I didn't fark this coat, they said they wouldn't mind if I did, which captured my heart. Already Coat has earned a place of honour in my closet.

You can read more about this designer team, their fantastic mission, and their studio HERE. In addition to a selection of hand-crafted denim and wool pieces, they also have some vibrant silk designs. Gorgeous. This coat is the "double-sided oversized bi-colour wool coat."

I shall link these outfits up with Patti at Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday, and Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for #iwillwearwhatilike. I'll see you there.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Camp stool, chips, a Herrera gown, and Alley Oop

Money, models, class, decorum, and who decides what's what, all of this in the midst of fashion week mania and surreal politics - I had to make a video or let my angst and creative juices rot me away from the inside. So I grabbed my Carolina Herrera gown, unworn since I bought it for an obscenely low price at My Sister's Closet close to a year ago, and let whimsy take its course.
Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret, Herrera gown

Black beehive hair, blue lips, blackened eyes, drawn-on lashes, mitten clips, and a faux-fur collar which I upcycled with long red ties - the "costume" came together in minutes, which happens when I'm at an expressive threshold.

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret, Alley Oop

The outfit was an instrument, not something I would normally wear, especially the wig and makeup. And while a gritty alley would have worked for the location, it felt too predictable. The newly-painted alley (Alley Oop), on the other hand, was terribly cheerful; in fact, so cheerful with this outfit, it was bad - oooh, lovely.


The VIDEO. Click:

Music: Behind Closed Doors with Otis McDonald. 

As props for this fancy dress I chose chips and my camp stool, and my role would be to bridge or merely play in the rough gulf between them all, emphasis on play - transforming grossness into a morning of fun and free expression. The following are all stills from the video.

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret, video still

Feeling slightly vulnerable in a costume, on my way downtown it was important to maintain my creative spark and strength. A focused, confident and smooth stride took care of that; I was a woman on a mission after all. And my Chanel sunglasses hid my steely gaze. Heh.

Melanie Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret, video still, eating chips

Shockingly, I received quite a few compliments, probably because I owned my image despite walking outside my comfort zone - strength is a draw. Plus, those who didn't like it at least had the good graces to stay out of my way. Heh.

Now that I've mastered the wearing of this outfit, I could wear it again without that sense of theatricality, even with the extreme makeup. Probably I won't, but attitude is everything. It's magic!!

And I gave away some business cards, the very first one to a woman I met in Alley Oop, Eyoälha Baker. She was there taking photos for her Jump for Joy Photo Project. You'll have to see it to appreciate it, here. So much positive energy!! I'm glad my first card went to her.

That's all. My second post in less than a week. !!! I loved editing this video. I learn something new every time - it's such a challenge. This photo is from my concrete box when I got home.

Melanie Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret, Herrera gown

I hope you are all having a good week and doing what needs getting done to get through your day - whether it's making a video or a pot of stew.

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