Test Shoot – Kyle Matthew Williams

Kyle Matthew Williams Briana photoshootA month or so ago, I finally got to meet up with Kyle Matthew Williams after months of us trying to schedule a photoshoot. It was a hot, muggy summer day in Decatur, but we were determined to shoot. We kept it simple, only one outfit (as we weren’t sure how long I’d last since I haven’t done many shoots since the accident).

A notable thing about this shoot was it was the first shoot where I wore heels post-accident (where I actually walked around. I was wearing heels for Femme Tony Stark, but I was seated or in static poses). It was oddly easy. I’m not sure if this is scientifically accurate, but it feels almost easier on my hip to walk in heels as I’m walking on the balls of my feet and not rolling through my entire foot (i.e. my entire hip socket). I could be completely anatomically wrong on that, but that’s what it felt like.

Kyle Matthew Williams Briana photoshootI’ve had black and white photos of me done before, but not quite like this. It has a wonderfully raw, journalistic quality to it that I’m quite taken with.

Kyle Matthew Williams Briana PhotoshootKyle was alot of fun to work with, quick, but picky with lighting (which I see alot of photographers not take into consideration when shooting outdoors). A kindred artistic and geek spirit, I look forward to working with him again!

Kyle Matthew Williams Briana PhotoshootKyle Matthew Williams Briana PhotoshootKyle Matthew Williams Briana PhotoshootKyle Matthew Williams Briana PhotoshootKyle Matthew Williams Briana Photoshoot

Preen 2014 Star Wars Collection

Preen star wars fashionWhile Rodarte’s Star Wars line of gowns was such a surprise that it leaked over to be reported everywhere by the geek community, another runway line slipped under the radar. In fall of 2014, Preen debuted a Darth Vader-centric fashion collection, complete with screen-printed blouses, dresses, and parkas.

Preen Star Wars dressesIn contrast to Rodarte’s more literal silk chiffon gowns, Preen’s designs opted more for almost a pop art feel, but with some serious edge, thanks to geometric patterns, cutouts, and angular features. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the choice of fabrics and cuts do make those dresses look quite comfy to wear (and it bucks the trend of geek wear not being ‘fashionable’, even by hardcore fashion-snob standards).

Justin Thornton of Preen even joked with journalists who poked around at the idea of Preen copying Rodarte’s previous Star Wars line.  Thornton chuckled, “Yes, we [saw Rodarte’s line], but it was too late to change. But, they used the goodies and we had the baddie!” Coincidences certainly do happen in fashion, though it certainly makes for something interesting talk.

As it turns out, Disney had  invited Preen to work with them (with Thornton being a big Star Wars geek, there was no turning that down). So they were surprised as anyone when Rodarte stomped down the runway first in their Star Wars collection. (Personally, I’m incredibly curious how all that was handled in the copyright wing of Lucasfilm. But they do have a pretty generous policy with their characters being used under certain guidelines.)

Sci-fi chic was definitely the way of things on the 2014 runways. According to Thornton’s partner, Thea Bregazzi, the massive hooded parkas worn by eager movie-goers waiting for the original 1977 Star Wars: A New Hope release inspired the look the oversized metallic foil hooded parka seen below. (I love reading the creative thought process behind designs, to know there was an inspiration behind it more than simply shapes and textures.)
Preen 2014 parkaDid I mention the stormtroopers ‘guarding’ the models backstage? Oh yes, that was a thing.

470352739 preen+instagram+1Photos: If It’s Hip, It’s here.comSavoir Flaire.com, Getty Images, Preen’s Instagram

Her Universe Fashion Show 2015

Her Universe Fashion ShowYear Two of the Her Universe Geek Couture Fashion show debuted at San Diego Comic Con on July 9, 2015. After last year’s successful show, many designer hopefuls raced to submit their dreams on paper in hopes of being selected. 25 of those hopefuls got to walk the runway in front of a very excited crowd of fellow geeks, female and male alike.

The top judges award was given to Kelly Cercone for her vintage take on Joker in the style of Christian Dior (aptly named “Joker’s New Look“) While I’ll admit, it took me a second to get who the outfit was portraying, the end result is quite playful in the way you might imagine the Joker could be. Suddenly the flouncy number gives an extra sinister air of what femme fatale could lie beneath. (As an aside, the construction and stitching on the bodice is INCREDIBLE.)

Joker's New LookLeetal Platt recieved the audience choice for her quick-change Sailor Moon design, “Usagi’s Transformation.” I found it to be an incredibly brilliant design not just because of the dramatic on-stage transformation, but because Platt definitely did her research in pulling all the elements and colours from Sailor Moon’s animated transformation sequence from the show.

Sailor Moon Geek CoutureEven Ashley Eckstein herself joined in the fun with 3 gowns designed by the 2015 winner, Andrew McLaine. (From left to right, the designs are inspired by Princess Leia (it looks so comfy!), Black Widow (while beautiful, I feels this gown is better suited to Harley Quinn than Black Widow), and Haku from Spirited Away. The teal ruffles in the back to mimic the dragon’s tail is just brilliant!)

Ashley Eckstein Her Universe dresses 2015I’ll confess alot of the designs this year feel a bit too literal and tend more towards costumes than fashion (though that is purely my subjective opinion). Last year felt more fashion-esque vs. cosplay-esque. Although I can definitely understand there being any confusion among the designers as I haven’t quite figured out the final goal of the Her Universe Fashion Show. Is it to design more towards everyday pieces to gain the eye of Her Universe and Hot Topic for the prize of designing their next clothing line or creating Paris-level geek couture ensembles? My impression from the press releases and contest writeups have been the latter, but the reality seems to be favouring more of the former, looking to continue on similar designs as the Her Universe apparel lineup (skater dresses, rockabilly, etc.) Now, I’m not knocking that choice at all, but some clarification as the final contest goals would be helpful (especially as I’m considering possibly entering next year.*dun dun duuuuuh!*).

Here are the other creative designs from the show. (My personal favourites were the two winners along with Poison Ivy Green Love by Oseas Villatoro and Alien Queen by Jesse Thaxton for being the closest to regular haute couture. And lastly, Unicorn in the Waves by Jennifer Newman for being a serene, elegant ensemble (it’s begging for a chilly forest photoshoot to be done with it.).

Her Universe Fashion Show 2015Her Universe Fashion Show 2015Her Universe Fashion Show 2015Her Universe Fashion Show 2015Her Universe Fashion Show 2015Her Universe Fashion Show 2016But that’s not all….next year promises to be the most exciting year yet! Her Universe is teaming up with Blondie Girl Productions to shoot a TV show based around the Geek Couture Fashion Show that will follow the designers chosen for next year’s show. It will be a journey of getting to see the design processes of each contestant, from initial concept through sewing and fabrication to the final walk down the runway at San Diego Comic Con 2016.

It’s an exciting time in the ever-evolving landscape of female fandom.

Photos: The talented Deb Anderson over at Aggressive Comics.

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