Female Tony Stark

Natasha StarkEnter Femme Tony Stark.
Also known as Natasha Stark in an alternative universe known as Earth 3490. (In comic lore, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four went searching alternate realities for a universe in which the Civil War did not happen, thus avoiding the atrocities that came after. (If you don’t know what the Marvel Civil War is, don’t worry, you’ll find out next year when Captain America 3: Civil War premieres in theaters! 🙂 In the meantime, if you can’t wait that long, check out your local comic store for the comic bearing the simple title, “Civil War.”)

Natasha StarkBut how would a female version of Iron Man look?Probably with the same air of arrogant sex appeal that Tony Stark does. As my makeup artist put it, “Stark looks like he bought a $5,000 Armani suit, went home and slept in it. Then got up the next morning and walked into a photoshoot. All that money, a bit of bedhead, marinated in scotch.”

Natasha StarkAlas, I don’t have Stark’s bank account (or Marvel’s movie financing division either) so I had to settle for a little less on the expensive scale. I’m relatively new to the brand H&M (as a store only recently opened near where I live), but I’m already a fan. They have good-looking clothes for half of department store prices (and less than my usual go-to place, Express). Although, I wouldn’t mind if they started carrying size 0 for teeny gals like me, H&M’s size 2 tend to do the trick.

Natasha StarkI’m always on the lookout for a well-cut blazer on my meager budget. H&M didn’t fail to deliver. I went to simply browse the store’s summer collection only to walk out with not one, but two sharp blazers. (I had to break a few hearts when friends asked where I got the khaki and black leather blazer, only to reply that I had bought the last one.)

“Sometimes you gotta run before you can walk.”

Natasha StarkAlthough they’re not pictured here, the khaki and leather blazer perfectly matches my Express slacks (seriously, it almost looks like they’re cut from the same fabric). It would appear the black blazer also has the same advantage. This pleases me greatly.

Is it better to be feared or respected? I say, is it too much to ask for both?

Natasha Stark“…What are you?”
“Genius, billionare, playgal, philanthropist.”

Natasha Stark

Natasha Stark I’m female.
FE = Iron.
Male = man.
Therefore, I am IRON MAN.
Photography: RBC Image
Hair: Abraham Saucedo
Makeup: Courtney Walters
Khaki Blazer with Leather Sleeves: H&M
Black Blazer: H&M
Arc Reactor: Custom made by Pixelbash Props
White tank top: Forever 21
Black tank top: H&M
Watch: Target
Belt: Target
Pants: Express

The Joy of Hooping

HooperThere are few greater joys in life than finding that one physical activity that you love. For me, I’ve never been a major gym rat or fitness nut. I’ve been blessed with naturally thin physique, so that coupled with a severe dislike of lifting weights for the sake of lifting weight has kept me looking alternative forms of exercise.

neck hoopingThankfully, I got involved with martial arts early in life and developed a love for exercise that engages both the body and the mind. Later on in high school I discovered dance which opened up a whole new world for me in terms of isometric conditioning and mind-body interaction.

Then in college came hooping.

hoopingOh yes, you read that right. Hooping. As in ‘hula hoop'(ing).

I adore hooping. Be it simply moving with the hula hoop around my waist or eliciting oos and aas from an audience with some crazy off-body movement. It’s fun, it’s energizing, it’s calming, it’s refreshing, it’s simple, it’s hard, it’s all of these things. There’s so many different things that one can do with a hula hoop. So many different things that can be brought inside that circle (pun intended). It can be a soulful dance, full of slow explorations of what your body can do or a fast-paced frenzy of wild energy. I never get tired of picking up my hoop and learning a new trick (or better yet, sharing the simple joy of hooping with others). There’s nothing quite like it.

hooping joyI had hoped to take my hooping further to become an instructor and spread this joy to others (or even to choreograph my own hoop routines and do geek-themed videos ala Lindsey Stirling). But alas, those dreams got put on the backburner when my accident happened.

hula hoop portraitBut my dreams didn’t die in the car accident. They just took on a different form. Hooping became a small part of my recovery, with hooping with my arms, then eventually my waist was used as an unofficial part of my physical therapy. Now, I’m back to the level I was hooping at before the accident (with the exception of not quite being able to dance fully just yet. My left leg isn’t quite up to strength. But soon!).

HoopingRight before these pictures were taking by my friend James, I had been invited to a cosplay dance-off at Atlanta’s anime convention Momocon. I’ll confess I was quite nervous as I hadn’t hooped in public since before the accident. But as you’ll see in the video below, I had nothing to fear.

Dress: Double slit maxi dress from Bebe
Photographer: James “Frameshot” Garner (photos used by permission from Anime Geek Gaming Nation)
Video: The Aficionados

The Perfect Spring Maxi Dress

Long green dress olympic ringWell…perfect for me. 😉

I’ve never been a fan of floral prints or pastels, so spring fashions have always boggled me. When shopping amongst an array of hydrangea printed skirts and bright yellow sundresses, I tend to stand dumbfounded at what to do with the brightly coloured frocks. Should I wear them? Can I take a Photoshop desaturate tool to them?

I’ll admit, I’m a dark colour girl (there’s a reason black will always be classic). But in addition to the dark jewel tones, I like (and look best in) forest tones. Earthy hues like greens, browns, rusts, and any other colour that might make one think that I am, in fact, an elf.

Bebe long green dressI stumbled across this pristine piece while on a out on a retail therapy excursion due to a rather stressful week. While perusing through the racks at Bebe, I saw a long piece of pale olive green fabric nestled in between the loud and/or pastel prints. My elven heart was immediately drawn to it and its silken feel. I tried it on, wrestled with the price (as on clearance it was still a hefty sum for my meager pocketbook), walked away for an hour to decide if I really wanted, decided I did, went bought, and smiled about it all the way home.

long green dressI wore it the next day while out visiting friends at one of Atlanta’s anime conventions, Momocon. I got stopped quite a few times by folks thinking it was a costume or just oggling over it’s formal, but casual vibe. A friend was kind enough to snap some photos outside by the 1996 Olympic Ring statue (or “incognito Stargate” as I like to call it).

long green dressAGGN-MomoCon2015-BrianaLamb-JGarner_0014AGGN-MomoCon2015-BrianaLamb-JGarner_0015AGGN-MomoCon2015-BrianaLamb-JGarner_0016Ah, but that wasn’t the only part of the fun. Here’s a sneak peek of Part Two of the photoshoot….

aggn-momocon2015-brianalamb-jgarner_0001Dress: Bebe Double slit maxi dress
Cuff: Forever 21
Photographer: James “Frameshot” Garner (photos used by permission from Anime Geek Gaming Nation)


Helmut Lang’s F/W 2012 Game of Thrones Inspired Collection

Helmut Lang FW 2012 Jon SnowWhile most of the focus of geek fashion has been on small startup companies made by geeks for geeks, let’s not forget the big players – the big fashion houses who also happen to be inspired by the same beloved fandoms. Alas, they occasionally slip under the radar due to being ‘just another frou-frou runway show in some posh city that’s way too expensive’. But even if the pricetag is too much for the common person to afford, it’s still nice to know that there is a common ground of inspiration. That something as simple as a TV show can unite both sides of the aisle.

Helmut Lang FW 2012 Ned StarkHelmut Lang FW 2012 DaenerysOne such show that slipped under the radar was Helmut Lang’s Fall/Winter 2012 collection that was, in fact, Game of Thrones-inspired. Nicole and Michael Colovos said they looked for an “interpretation of The Game of Thrones guardians,” and as a result, “their dual existence of forest life and a stark minimal world is embodied in the mixing of hard and soft fabrics, tree bark printed leather, and minimal body conscious silhouettes.” The collection still manages to stay true to the brand’s modern aesthetic while still having recognizable elements of it’s TV show muse.

Helmut Lang FW 2012 Jaime LannisterThe urban-medieval outfits feature enough leather, leggings and boots to qualify for a good jaunt around Westeros. Speaking of boots, LD Tuttle designer, Tiffany Tuttle teamed up with the Colovos’ to collaborate for the F/W 2012 collection to create a 5-piece capsule shoe collection to tie the outfits together. Edgy silhouettes and asymmetrical cuts with luxe leathers with hues of black and red harkened to the Night’s Watch, with a luxury that would be worthy of a Khaleesi’s closet.

Helmut Lang FW 2012 MelisandreHelmut Lang FW 2012 Theon GreyjoyPhotos: Style.com, H3D Wallpapers, Fanshare, Fanpop, Moonlight Library


My Little Black Dress

IMG_6826One of the staples oft’ recommended for a woman’s closet is the famous Little Black Dress (or LBD for short). Some would even say it is THE wardrobe essential. It’s a timeless classic and has the advantage of fitting into just about any fashion style. No matter if your personal style is old Hollywood Glamour, modern, preppy, goth, etc. the Little Black Dress suits all.  It can be dressed up and dressed down, depending on the occasion (and cut of the dress), making it incredibly versatile.

Misc7While the true history of the little black dress is a matter of debate, it is most often traced back to Coco Chanel with her Gallic chic stamp on both local French and global fashion. The next most notable LBD (if not of all time) is Audrey Hepburn’s famous black dress in the film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

IMG_6823Black also has the added advantage of being a flattering colour on anyone. Not only  that but it’s a universally slimming colour (especially if there are well-placed seam lines to suit an individual’s body type. Example: Princess seams for a flattering torso).

IMG_6798My current LBD is a sleek little number I bought in New Zealand from the store TEMT a few years back. I like the mix of business and cocktail dress that it exudes. I can wear it as-is to a cocktail party or night on the town or throw a business blazer over it for a client meeting.

Heist4(This was an outtake from a Selina Kyle photoshoot I did a few years back, hence the odd about-to-steal-something pose. 😛 )

Dress: TEMT
Tights: DKNY
Shoes: Aldo via thrift shop

Photographs: Me, Kirk Hughes (bottom two)

Rodarte Star Wars 2014 Runway Line

Rodarte Star WarsRodarte set the fashion and geek worlds abuzz when it took over New York Fashion Week’s runway in 2014 with model bedecked in floor-length gowns with prints of iconic Star Wars imagery – from death stars to Tattoine to Yoda (and yes, George Lucas was spotted in the audience.) The designs may not be my cup of tea, but I certainly love seeing geek imagery stomping down major fashion runways!

rodarte star warsA few months later, designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy teamed up with photographer, Todd Cole to do a shoot of the collection at none other than  Skywalker Ranch. (Is anyone else jealous of that model? Because I know I am! A thin, straight-haired brunette shoot couture fashion AT Skywalker Ranch? Oh yes, do colour me jealous. I don’t mind.)

Rodarte Skywalker RanchThe sisters are self-described sci-fi geeks so it was only natural for some of that to come out in their work. In their own words, “We don’t remember a time when we hadn’t seen Star Wars. We were born after the films came out, but they seem to be a part of our growing up, from all ages. We were drawn to the mythology behind the films, to the characters and the ways in which they were crafted. In later years, we were able to see the beauty of the films —  the landscapes and craftsmanship required to make the films so complete and whole. Every detail of the world created for Star Wars was thought out and brought to life as if it were real.

Rodarte Skywalker RanchOur Fall 2014 collection was inspired by our nostalgia for our childhood, delving into the ephemeral space of our imagination, highlighting our fascination with storytelling and cinema, which culminated with the inclusion of artwork from Star Wars in the five couture gowns ending the collection. More than anything, this collection is about the limitless possibilities of youth and how our imagination transformed our backyard into a great adventure. In the end, the dresses represent something intangible — the instantaneous and overwhelming moment of impact that changes the way you see the world. They represent the instant where you learn to keep your eyes wide-open to the vast potentiality of everything.

Rodarte Skywalker RanchThe Star Wars films seem to have become a part of who we are. In a broader sense, they have melded with the collective conscious of our cultural DNA. They are a heartbeat that joins so many people together or a complex nervous system, connecting far off worlds with the very real and universal human experience. On top of all of this, the films of the saga are, simply put, fun — just like jumping into the ocean, one’s first kiss, or seeing the stars on a clear night.

Rodarte Skywalker RanchPhoto credits: NY Post, People Style Watch, Star Wars.com

Awani the Deer Faerie

Deer faerieLast in my lineup of characters I’ve played over the years the Tennessee Renaissance Festival is Awani, the deer faerie. The theme for that year (2012) concerned the colonization of Virginia by England. But we had a real treat this year as one of our cast members was playing, to my knowledge, our first ever Native American character (and she actually is Native American). She and I were partners-in-crime in 2011 when we both played foreign European noblewomen, so I thought it only fitting we should be again. So while she played a Croatan ambassadress to England, I played Awani, the North American white-tailed deer faerie who follows her over; a sort of spirit guide, if you will. (Which was a fun bit to play as  I got to dig into my own Cherokee roots (well, that little 1/16th of my ethnic makeup. Eh, numbers). Now, onto the really fun part – the costume!

Here was my initial design of the character…
Deer faerie costume designSince the general costume theme of the troupe of faeries at TNRF was animals and plants found on a nature trail, I tried to think of what thing in nature I could pull off and what would play to my strong suits. I settled on the deer due to my love of earthy elements, specifically the colour brown. I have dark dark brown eyes that come out black in most pictures. That coupled with having been described as having “big doe eyes” I figured, why not a doe? Thus Awani, the deer faerie was born.

Unfortunately the patrons that come through the TNRF gates aren’t always that bright. Some are truly lovely, but most of the time, you have to kinda smack them upside the head with your design. So I kept all that in mind while I sketched out this faerie. Now I’ll admit, I took liberties with the design as does only have small antlers and no spots. But the easiest way to communicate “deer” to someone is the antlers.

Ideally I want to have a decent-sized rack of antlers (depending on how much weight I can balance successfully on top of my head). That way anyone, even if they’re um….slightly or not-so-slightly inebriated (which they will be at faire, unfortunately) they can still tell I’m a deer. I was inspired by Kato of Steampunk Couture deer outfit. It had a structured, yet unkempt appearance that I really like. There is structure present, but at the same time, it has the feel of running through the woods with hair getting caught in the wind. Very organic.
Steampunk Couture deer antlersThe trick was making a lightweight, but realistic looking rack of antlers that I could attach to my head without causing neck strain, be too top heavy, and/or attached securely enough that if I decided to get animated – as I do – they wouldnt go tumbling. Alas, this plan didn’t quite work out as, at the time, I wasn’t well-versed in materials. So I ended up going with an actual pair of antlers, that my wig stylist epoxy glued to the wig she made.
The wig was made by the illustrious Aria Durso (who, sadly, is no longer in business). It’s actually a blend of 4 different wigs (as evidence by the different colours). However, the very dark hair is actually mine. I would pull out pieces to tease and then blend into the wig around the antlers. Though goodness me, did I learn about wig pain….I had to make sure to take Aleve every day and secure it with about 50 bobbypins!
Awani the deer faerieEars
I used the faun ears from my friends over at Aradani Studios.

Faun ears Makeup
The makeup was fairly simple in terms of colouring as I wanted to keep it natural looking. But we added in heavy black eyeliner (as deers have), false eyelashes (so my own lashes didn’t get lost in all the black), white spots, and a black nose. After looking at many deer makeup looks online, I opted for just painting the bottom of my nose black as I felt that wasn’t as cartoony looking as painting the entire nose black.

The dress was custom made out of layers of cotton and flannel. The outer part was dyed with RIT dye to give it a skin-like colour with the middle part left undyed to give the effect of a fuzzy underbelly. In keeping with the rest of the faire’s cast, we opted for a corset underneath, thus grommets were put in for a tighter structure. Matching bracers were made and tied with silk ribbon.
Oh the tights….all members of cast were required to wear tights. I wanted to do a two-toned pair to mimic deer legs. (as they’re lighter on the inside. It also works wonder for the illusion of having smaller legs!) So I bought a pair of cotton tights to dye. Oh that did not go well….the dye didn’t take (and certainly not in the fashion we were hoping). But I couldn’t come up with a solution by the time faire started, so I went with what I had (and had to put up with the “dirty legs” comments all season).

I opted for a pair of brown woven flats with cushioning for both prancing about and for the airyness of them. The only addition was sewing in a pair of strings to bind my feet in so the shoes wouldn’t go flying off.

These were made by the faerie director of TNRF and myself out of wire wrapped in brown floral tape with silk fabric attached that we hand painting to match the dress (spots included), along with two wire extensions off the top too mimic antlers.

Kirk_Hughes Kirk_Hughes3Derek_deweese15Sometimes the faeries can be completely oblivious of the Troll (King Ik) behind them…

David_Merritt6 526637_10100662546583515_1472616705_nFaeries….you can’t take them anywhere.

Terry_Burns Wild_Canary ME_David_Merritt2Photographs: David Merritt, Steampunk Couture, Derek Deweese, Kirk Hughes,  Wild Canary

Tennessee Renaissance Festival 2011 – Countess Elaine de Francias

French renaissance festival countessAs many artist do, I have my various outlets of creativity (because let’s face it, despite the fact that I get to do something I love, production art is still work!). Costuming and modeling are my primary avenues, with the Tennessee Renaissance Festival having been one of the greatest releases of all.

Tennessee Renaissance Festival by Daniel_MeigsEvery year, Tennessee holds its own Elizabethan faire full of stage acts,  jousting tournaments, live music, human chess, and character performers.  For three years back when I lived in Tennessee, I would audition for cast. I did it once before in 2007, landing the role of a peasant pickpocket. In 2011, I moved up the chain a wee bit to a french countess, sister to the Prince of France. (In 2012, I flitted around as a deer fairy. More on her in the next post!)

French Countess by_Daniel_MeigsOne of the great things about our faire is the immense creativity that goes on behind the scenes; from character development to costume building. All of our costumes are hand-built and custom designed. It would get all my creative juices going to spend months planning, preparing, and designing. It’s heaven for a preproduction gal like me.

Alas, my original design (which was basically a Renaissance version of Belle’s green gown from Beauty and the Beast) did not get approved as another lady in cast had a similar colour scheme (and whose garments were already made). So I yielded to the costume director whose daughter, in turn, let me rent her costume (it helps having a body twin around!). At first I wasn’t sure about the gown I was  given as the colours of baby blue and light gold. They were certainly not colours I would’ve chosen for myself. But after seeing the final result I realised I have a thing or two to learn about colour…So although I did not design this costume, I did design/pick out the accessories, hair, and makeup. Here is the final result of me in 2011 as Countess Elaine de Francias, half-sister to the Duke of Anjou (one of Queen Elizabeth I’s favoured suitors):

ME3It was a challenging character to play as I’ll confess, I’m not the best with verbal improv (physical improv is another story). But I was chosen for the role as I was one of the only people on cast who could do a believable French accent. Well….believable to American ears. I imagine I would embarass myself in front of an actual Frenchman. But the accent worked in my favour as my limits with verbal improv would arise and I could simply explain it away with a “I don’t speak English well”. It went over well and added more believability to the character.

Kirk_Hughes3 IMG_4896(My fellow cast members, who were all playing Englishmen and women were more than happy to get in on the English-French rivalry.)

ME_ScottCraigAll in all it was a very interesting experience, even though the next year, I went back to a more physically-active character. But I enjoyed my time as the Faire’s “Renaissance Disney Princess” that year. (So many little girls would come up to me thinking I was a princess. It made my day to see the big smiles on their faces.)

Tennessee Renaissance Festival noble womanCostume –  Esther Cancasi
Parasol –  Vintage via Ebay
Hair jewels – Claire’s
Earrings – Vintage via Ebay
Basket – Goodwill

Stay tuned for 2012’s TNRF costume – Awani the Deer Faerie!

Photographs: David Merritt, Daniel Miegs, My City Social, Derek Deweese, Kirk Hughes, Scott Craig, Chris Jarvis

Tennessee Renaissance Festival 2007 – Kit Tanner the Pickpocket

tennessee renaissance festival peasantSometimes it’s good to remember where one has come from, especially in any sort of creative journey. I first heard about cosplay in 2005, but wasn’t able to get around to for years. But I was heavily interested in costuming and had my first opportunity to try it as a cast member at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival in 2007. It was my first time doing any sort of improv acting, costume designing, or live theater.

I was cast as a peasant, so lowest ranking member on the English Elizabethan hierarchy. But I was okay with that, as the lower-end peasants had to be alot more physically fit to keep up with all the groveling. (In fact, we would actually make a game out of it to see who could get lower in front of the Queen and nobility. I may have dug myself into the dirt once…) As it went with the peasants of cast, we had an occupation and then what we really did. By occupation, I was the town skinner and tanner. But in truth, I was the town pick-pocket. This ended up working out beautifully as I had designed my costume to have furs and pelts (just tails really) hanging off of my belt, but it upset quite a few kids, so I ditched the belt and went full force into my role as pickpocket.

5-5-2007-13And it was glorious.

Peasant escorting noblewomanI would plot with one of the noblewomen backstage that I  was going to steal their jewels when they were in the lanes. Then we’d part ways and as the noblewoman would have an audience that she’d be entertaining, I’d sneak my way behind her (but always where the audience could see). She’d carry on as if nothing was amiss, meanwhile the audience would be shouting for her to turn around or that something was about to happen.

Now it would be up to the noblewoman how she reacted. Sometimes she’d whip around and I’d have to drop to the ground to bow with pearls in hand. Sometimes I’d get away with the jewels. Sometimes, she’d run after me to get her jewels back. And one time, she actually just threw her massive hoopskirt over my head (I was on the ground)! To which she just told the audience, “What thief?” *makes a move like she’s kicking me*

Apparently that character was such a hit, I had people remembering me when I worked at a local Starbucks three years later!

Mug Peasant with bowl on headPeasants were rather fond of sticking things on their heads and walking around (I love that mug. Still have it!)

woman swordsI even got to try my hand at SAFD (Society of American Fight Directors) combat with rapier, whip, and props. Being part of the ‘human chess match’ was, by far, my favourite activity of the entire festival. For months beforehand each of the fighters would train in combat and stage choreography. (So all those movie swashbuckling moves? I may know a few of those. 😉 ). I have the main moves so firmly subplanted into my subconscious that I can still teach it to someone else 8 years later. Shows a little of how much I loved it! Alas, in the end, I didn’t get to fight with the pretty swords. I was part of the peasant prop fight with a weapon that was none other than squirrel-chucks. Between that, the sack-of-cats gag we did, and general humour of the skit, I’m STILL hearing from people that remember that fight.

prop_fight10prop_fight9prop_fight11 prop_fight5 prop_fight3 prop_fight2Yep. We’re a bunch of crazy folks. It’s true. (but fun!)

Costume –  Made by various members of cast and myself
Boots – Target

Stay tuned for 2011’s TNRF costume – French Countess Elaine de Francias!

Photographs: Chip Talbert, Dad, Chip Talbert, fellow cast members, Kirk Hughes

Tennessee Renaissance Festival 2015

Blue and Burgundy FairyA couple weeks ago I got to visit the Tennessee Renaissance Festival, where I had been a cast member for three years before moving to Georgia. It was truly an amazing learning experience to hone improv acting and movement skills, so I was happy to return there to play and see old friends of years past. It was especially special this year because of my brush with death in the car accident. So it was important to spend time with the people that I love and were so supportive of me during recovery.
11251912_10202690522503005_5863705612425070491_nSure enough, when I arrived, some of the cast knew I was coming, but most didn’t. It made my heart burst with joy and my cheeks almost burst from blushing at all the double-takes, big hugs, squealing of my name, and people almost dropping character in surprise. I truly felt loved.
IMG_20150516_121723Now I couldn’t show up in regular clothes. But I also had no costume to wear either. *Cue fairy rescue!* The costume was borrowed from the faerie director at the festival, who is a good friend of mine and body twin. (Rumor on the street has it that her husband has banned me from wearing her clothes because we look too much alike from behind. 😛 )
11109707_10206666872333377_5817657433569075481_n10989171_10202690521502980_1618963901099406589_nPhotographs: Doug Wong, David Merritt, Kirk Hughes, and well…a selfie with my phone.