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Thursday, October 28, 2004

STATE OF PLAY, STATE OF SECOND LIFE

Notes and images for a panel talk I intend to give today at State of Play II: Reloaded, a conference hosted by New York Law School and Yale Law School, devoted to exploring the legal and social issues provoked by next-generation virtual worlds. My chosen topic: the emergence of online worlds-- in this case, of course, Second Life-- as a potential medium for political expression.

POLITICAL BLOGGING IN 3D
A STATE OF THE SECOND LIFE UNION ADDRESS

SECOND LIFE DEFINED
A persistent, streamed, user-created 3D world encompassing hundreds of individual geographic regions, each contained on a separate Internet servers, merged together to form a contiguous continent. (Along with dozens of private and publicly-accessible islands off the mainland.) Released commercially in the summer of 2003, it has grown from under a thousand users to well over 10,000 residents who log in from all over the US and Canada, the EU, Asia, and assorted countries throughout the globe.

MY ROLE IN SECOND LIFE
I began as a game writer and freelance technology journalist for Salon and Wired, among other publications, contracted in early 2003 by Linden Lab to cover the development of Second Life as an emerging online community, in the role of an embedded journalist, for a blog called New World Notes. (Since then, my role has been expanded to include evangelism; for example, speaking on what I've learned about Second Life in my reporting, in forums like this.) My in-world avatar is "Hamlet Linden", modeled after myself, but wearing a white suit, in tribute to Tom Wolfe-- and sometimes, as a large, strange bald man with a bottle of whisky and a .45, in tribute to Hunter S. Thompson.

Second Life gives its residents the freedom and tools to create virtually anything-- homes, vehicles, custom clothing and weapons, for example-- and so, a recurring theme in New World Notes is what the residents build, and why. What do their creations say about their online experience, and how do they reflect aspects of their first lives, offline? Very early on, I discerned a political component to many of these projects-- as in a "Cannabis Carnival" I reported on a year ago, a theme park (with rides) advocating for the legalization of marijuana. I was struck by how the creator's political expression had been realized in fully interactive 3D form-- there's even a site-specific roller coaster, you can ride on-- and also, by the sign at the entrance, warning people to change the system from within, and meanwhile, to obey their country's laws regarding drugs. Even then, this resident was fully aware of the tension between what he expressed through his alter ego avatar, and his legal rights as a citizen in the real world. He'd draw in customers with his rides, and they'd often be inspired to discuss the issue with him, and each other. It's this communal aspect that also strikes me, along with the immediacy of the expression. It takes only minutes to import a text message, for example, and display it as a billboard on your property-- and just as long to get a reaction from passers by.

SECOND LIFE POLITICAL EXPRESSION AS "IMMERSIVE BLOGGING"--
Immediate, interactive, 3D/stereo/avatar-driven conversation conducted in a shared virtual space.

Some further examples...

WORLD ARCHITECTURE AS IT SHAPES POLITICAL CONFLICT AND AFFILIATIONS

Some political expression has emerged from the architecture of Second Life itself, as implemented by the developers. For example, a grouping function enables residents to customize social units, based on activities, interests, or in this case, political affiliation. One of the largest Second Life groups is "Leftists, Liberals, and Lunatics", and there are several LGBT groups, as well-- an act of political expression, conducted through the abstract remove of their avatar. This level of anonymity seems to encourage even more expressiveness. During this year's Pride March through Second Life, several attendees told me they are still in the closet, in real life, or at least very uncomfortable with such open, public advocacy of their lifestyle, as a pride march usually entails. (Unless it happens online.)

In other case, the definition of the interactive space shapes the subsequent political expression that emerges. This is most evident in the Jessie region of Second Life, an "Outlands" simulator where violent combat is not only allowed, but encouraged. Because of this, an influx of wargame fans took over Jessie last year; many of them were politically conservative, and as it happens, from the American South. This helped turn Jessie into a political war zone over the actual war in Iraq, and to this day, Jessie is still known as the "conservative" simulator, and also to this day, is still a flashpoint for political debate. (Recently, a leftwing resident purchased a small plot of Jessie land, streamed a liberal radio station onto her property, and erected a giant anti-Bush billboard-- and provoked the very kind of reaction she was hoping for, from outraged Jessie residents.)

IN-WORLD POLITICAL EXPRESSION AS A MODEL FOR ANALYZING REAL WORLD POLITICS

Often, the political expression is fairly simple-- a matter of copying political satire off the web, for example, and importing it into Second Life, say-- but it still offers rich potential for picking out archetypal narrative that's comparable to real world events. Case study: after a real world advocate for John Kerry created an in-world campaign headquarters, another resident immediately bought up the property next to hers, and created a "Swift Boats"-style anti-Kerry headquarters. (Provoking annoyance from many of their neighbors, some of whom weren't even American, or couldn't care less about politics either way.) Pretty much an entire microcosm of the current American political climate, conducted on 16 acres of virtual land.

Another simple but potentially powerful example of political expression: one resident set her property to a public radio station's Internet stream, broadcasted the third Presidential debate from her land, and invited residents of all political persuasions to listen in and discuss it together. Their conversation (which I live-blogged for NWN) was an informative exchange of politically engaged citizens, at least on a par with "neighborhood diner"-type interviews the mainstream press usually conducts, after a debate-- and perhaps much better.

POLITICAL EXPRESSION EMERGING FROM THE NET'S GLOBAL CHARACTER

Because MMOs are an Internet-based medium, bringing citizens from many countries into the same immersive space, the emergence of new political conversations is inevitable-- even from unexpected places. I recently profiled a resident who logs into Second Life from an airbase in Iraq. (He's a military contractor who shares a satellite Internet connection with his tentmates-- an interesting case study in itself, on the dislocation between perception and reality in Iraq.) Hearing where he was located, another resident he met jokingly accused him of being with the CIA-- but given worldwide opposition to US presence in Iraq, future encounters might not be as light-hearted. (A few American servicemen with Second Life accounts have told me that they prefer not to reveal their real life roles in the US military, to avoid conflicts with anti-war residents-- especially those who are non-US residents.)

We also saw this in September, when a large plot of land was devoted to building 9/11 memorials and tributes to the fallen. Many of them were angry and resolute, and the aggegrate inspired a somewhat dissenting reaction from an international resident-- who created a twin towers sculpture made out of peace signs.

VIRTUAL POLITICS GETS REAL

From the beginning of this year, Linden Lab has allowed the third-party buying and selling of Linden Dollars, the world's currency, for real money. This had led to several in-world fundraising efforts, charity auctions, parties, and other events, where all the proceeds are converted to cash, and contributed to real world non-profit groups. The most recent beneficiaries were victims of the recent hurricanes to hit Florida, but the first such effort was made this June on behalf of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. EFF's advocacy of online freedom and fairer digital copyright standards is very much directly pertinent to residents of Second Life, so it's not surprising that they chose this group. (Not unlike nature lovers contributing to the Surfrider Foundation or the Sierra Club.)

THE FUTURE OF SECOND LIFE AS A POLITICAL MEDIUM
Some possibilities...

1 - CURRENT CONTENT ENJOYMENT TRENDS CONTINUE, POLITICS REMAINS MINORITY ELEMENT
Political expression remains a recreational diversion for a minority of players, with little influence on the rest of the world. (Especially if resident membership increases at a gradual arc.)

2 - MEMBERSHIP EXPANDS FAST ENOUGH TO GIVE POLITICAL EXPRESSION A SNOWBALL, POPULARIZING EFFECT
Successful political events (such as the EFF fundraising effort or the debate stream) usually lead to similar events-- more so when there's a large enough potential audience, to engage. (Think "The Daily Show", but in-world.) The ability to transfer the world's economy to real world currency may also add to this effect. Social networking programs have already become a campaign medium, so next major election, I wouldn't be surprised if candidates create official campaign headquarters in Second Life, spreading the word, and more key, raising money.

3 - INTERNATIONAL MEMBERSHIP EXPANDS GEOMETRICALLY, THREATENING BALKANIZATION; PROMISING GLOBAL COMMUNITY
Balkanization: regions divided according to language difference and global location (due to bandwidth concerns), leading to quasi-nationalist regions which don't interact with each other. (Except perhaps with hostility; another recent example: Orkut's balkanization of English speakers and Brazilian account holders.)

Global community: bandwidth and communication issues are resolved enough so that the influx of international residents leads to cosmopolitan societies, not American, not Europeon, not Asian, but a unique synthesis. A distinct, national ethos, for a society that only exists online.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2004

FOXY'S SELF-FINANCED HOUSE OF HORROR!

A young small business owner with a weakness for Manolo Blahniks decided that she wanted to create an installation unlike anything she was familiar with in Second Life, one that would preferably feature zombies and blood-sucking ghouls. So she plunked down $400 of her own money to rent the land she needed for what she had in mind, and then converted $400 more, to hire the staff to make it happen. Just the thing for Halloween, Sim Horror is a macabre, sci-fi tinged adventure (if it was a standalone videogame, it would easily fit in the genre known as survival horror.) It begins in a chamber of dancing flames, with a corridor that takes you past a graveyard and an industrial area full of rusty machinery, all beneath a foreboding sky.

“We tried to create like an abandon-type feel to this area,” Ms. Xevious tells me. “It’s all inside of a cube underwater, to give it that creepy feel it has.”

I’ll hold off on revealing too much of Sim Horror’s story, but it involves a satanically-cursed town with blood-splattered homes, near an evil creek and a death valley maze, all swarming with dangers that must be avoided, and a series of goals that must be accomplished, before you’re able to confront the source of all the evil plaguing the town, in the bowels of hell itself. (Using Second Life’s XML functionality, player scores are recorded and displayed on a website, tallying items collected and goals met, with the winner taking a cash prize exceeding 20,000 Linden Dollars-- or well over $100, at current market rates.)

Foxy counts Sim Horror a success; as of late yesterday, with a week of operation left, it’s attracted 669 ticket-buying residents. But at just L$75 a shot, she won’t be making anything like what she spent to put it all together, or even for the leasing of SimQuest and Jamaica, the two simulators she owns, or the Linden Dollars she spent, to pay a thirty-plus staff that includes builders, scripters, writers-- and bouncers.

“I don’t mind paying the monthly fees,” Foxy explains. “I had to pay off all my workers and scripters. Yeah, I pay them, [and] some of them have land on one of my sims. I don’t build, I don’t script, but I love to plan, and create up ideas, and have people [build] them for me.”

When Foxy Xevious first came to Second Life, she actually hadn’t planned on building something so ambitious.

“I came here and didn’t even know you could do [something like] this," she says. "I did the going-to-clubs at first, and then after awhile, I just wanted to do something more to keep me busy and having fun.” Now, she says, “I barely ever leave my sims.” Because by then, she had noticed that so many other residents were also spending most of their time in nightclubs, too, and in shopping malls, as well—and she wanted more.

“I see a lot of sims right now and they are all doing the same things,” she tells me. “All that space just to do the same things.”

“Well,” I observe, “nightclubs and malls tend to be real popular.”

Ms. Xevious nods, and presses the issue. “But I think there needs to be an equal balance of things. I think clubs and malls already have a high percentage of Second Life. I’m sure there’s a lot more that can be done here if people wanted to.” So SimHorror is something of a clarion call. “My plan was NOT to do clubs, or casinos,” she says, “or everything that is out there [already]. My plan was to inspire people to try different things. Not everyone has the money for sims, but even if they buy land next to each other, they could pull off more group projects.”

“There have been a lot attempts to create a themed area like yours,” I say cautiously, “and even a few with a game component, but they haven't sustained. People go, enjoy-- then go back to the nightclubs and the malls.” And that’s true enough, in terms of sheer numbers: Second Life employs a metric called Dwell to monitor foot traffic at sites and events, and as I write this, on October 25th, 18 of the top 20 sites are, in fact, nightclubs or shopping malls.

“Oh cool,” says Xevious. “So I did something not a lot of people do.”

“The challenge," I continue, "has been to create a game or theme area that people keep going back to, again and again.” I mention ‘Dark Life’ by example, an impressive attempt at creating an in-world RPG, which did enjoy a brief surge in popularity for a time, then gradually tapered off, in later months.

“Well,” she replies, “I can tell you this. People keep coming over and over, and bring their friends.”

If she’s phased by my attempt to flick a few cold drops of pragmatism her way, she doesn’t show it. Then again, it could be that the confidence is earned. In her first life, Foxy Xevious runs a title business she owns. “I work from home,” she says. “I handle a lot of requests from major banks, lenders, etc. I subcontract the work out, [the vendors] charge me, and I charge my clients my fees… I have over a thousand vendors, all in the USA.”

“OK, don't be offended, but you look pretty young in your First Life profile to have a thousand contractors!”

Ms. Xevious chuckles. “I’m 28. And it’s me and my sister who work together and started this—I’ve been doing it for about five years, and I have a lot of free time, [though] it requires a lot of time on the phone talking to my clients.” And while she talks to banks and such, her bloody vision keeps on cooking up in the computer nearby.

Next up for Bedazzled, the group she heads up and finances: “’Project Unreal’, we call it. It’s gonna be about three-four levels… sort of like Unreal Tournament. I want to dabble with some effects.” (Yet another attempt to recreate the first-person shooter experience in Second Life.)

“I’m just good with ideas. Not with making things. I need a team for that,” says Foxy. Now out of her skeleton and troll avatar forms, she’s a svelte woman with long dredlocks and a glittering silver belt. “This is all new to me. I never thought I would invest so much money into a game. My family thinks I’m crazy, but they know that I enjoy it and have a good time.”

I ask her if she spends so much money on material expenses, and she laughs.

“Only on shoes. I love shoes," Ms. Foxy Xevious tells me, standing there deep within the bowels of hell. "I have over a hundred pairs.”

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Monday, October 25, 2004

THE ROCKSTAR FASHIONS OF ZAIGE LUMIERE, UP-AND-COMING DESIGNER

Part Seven and the final segment in a series, featuring Selectees of New World Notes Fashion Expo 2004. (Context here, here, and here.)

Today we present the fashions Zaige Lumiere, an up-and-coming designer (defined as a resident of under six months.)

"I've always enjoyed fashion and design," Lumiere tells us, and he invests generous amounts of time in-world, to make his fashions.

"My best work took a few days," he says. He counts Ambyance2 Anubis, Munchflower Zaius, and Launa Fauna as his favorite in-world designers.

As for his own upcoming designs, he only smiles coyly.

"I'm always making more, spur-of-the-moment outfits."

ZAIGE LUMIERE'S FASHIONS ON DISPLAY HERE

- "Black Plastic" (Male)

- "Black Plastic" (Fem)

- "Glitter"

- "Pinstripes and Sheer"

- "Worn"

Zaige's fashions can be found at his gallery in the winter sim of Anton (72, 122), and also on the second floor of Naughty Jazzze, a boutique in Mauna (244, 128).

[Update, 10/26/04: made gender pronoun correction. Profuse apologies to Mr. Lumiere!]

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Sunday, October 24, 2004

THE STUNNING FASHIONS OF MUNCHFLOWER ZAIUS

Part Six in a series, featuring Selectees of New World Notes Fashion Expo 2004. (Context here, here, and here.) Today we present Munchflower Zaius, whose fashions can be purchased in Indigo, at a boutique called Mourning After-- "173.2 meters Northeast, 22.1 meters Down," says Zaius.

MUNCHFLOWER ON THE ORIGINS AND STYLES OF THE FASHIONS SHOWN HERE

"I searched for the best of my designs which I created as much as possible from base textures. I created them as I create everything, in Photoshop. (How very boring.)

"Style, wow. I really don't know anything at all about fashion. It boggles my mind that I've made it this far. I really think the look and feel of anything is determined as much by the person wearing it as the person who created it, so that's the best answer I can give you there."

MUNCHFLOWER ON WHAT SPURS HER

"A driving, obsessive-compulsive Photoshop addiction. I like being able to make my own things, and amazingly, there are a lot of wonderful people out there who happen to like the same sorts of things I do. I've been designing since shortly after I came to Second Life, but only on a personal basis until a couple months ago, when I decided I wanted to go bonkers with it and have a store."

MUNCHFLOWER ON WHAT INSPIRES HER

"I can't say any real world designers inspire me at all. I seriously don't have any concept of fashion. Music inspires me, people's art inspires me. Deviantart.com is a fabulous site full of art from all facets. I go there for inspiration. I look to abstract concepts for inspiration."

MUNCHFLOWER ON THE COMMERCE OF SECOND LIFE FASHION

"I do amazingly well. I'm still blown away by how much I make from it, by how much people like it. By the fact that ANYONE likes it, let alone so many people. This is my real life job, and I do well. I won't say how much I make. I don't think it needs to be common knowledge... I'm not giving a number, but I do alright. I make a nice supplemental income.

"So far my designs have been doing just peachy, advertising themselves. I don't have a real need to advertise."

MUNCHFLOWER ON THREE FELLOW DESIGNERS WHO INSPIRE ADMIRATION

"Oh, thank you for this one. Here's a question I can answer without feeling weird.

"I worship Jennyfur Peregrine's work. She, shortly after she started designing, went completely mental with it. She's super-productive, and she makes everything from base textures. I so envy that; I wish I was better at it.

"Zaige Lumiere also does everything from base textures. He's extremely prolific and does excellent work. The two of them will have me out of business in a month.

"It's hard to narrow it down to three. I fall in awe of so many of the people I see. I stumble before Phobos Designs. Ferran [Brodsky] and Surreal [Farber] make everything. Clothing, animations, scripts.

"All three of the above mentioned are far better than I am. I so bow to you."

MUNCHFLOWER ON THE ASPECTS OF HER FIRST LIFE THAT SHAPE HER STYLE

"In real life I'm a secret agent for the underground Aztec Goth movement. We like to eat hearts. I'm not sure how that influences my fashions, but I'm sure Goth must have something to do with it."

MUNCHFLOWER ON THE HOURS INVESTED IN HER DESIGN

"Oh he'p me lord, I have no idea. Far too much. If I'm not actively messing around in Photoshop I go mental. In a bad way. I'm always working. In order to tell you how long my best work took, I'd have to decide what it was. The highcutlowcut Dress took forever. Anything that involves lining up seams or top and bottom [segments] always takes a long time. I don't think I have a best work. I have lots of decent work, but I don't think I've reached my best yet."

MUNCHFLOWER ON ANY DESIRE TO ENTER THE REAL FASHION WORLD

"Not one bit." [grins]

MUNCHFLOWER ON WHAT SHE DOES AFTER HOURS

"Oh, hanging out. How I miss hanging out all the time and doing nothing. I still go clubbing, as it were. I like to have myself a simulated dance on a regular basis. I like meeting new people and being insane. I used to like making skins, and I'm getting back to where that's fun again."

MUNCHFLOWER ON HER FASHIONS FOR THE FRUGAL, AND FOR THE EXTRAVAGANT

"Almost all of my fashions are really cheap. Most of my designs sell for a hundred Linden Dollars and under. Way cheap!

The big spenders can look to my sets. Anything from the Relic sets or the Linsner Line will [cost] you up to 500 Lindens, and even then that's not too shabby for an eight piece outfit."

MUNCHFLOWER, WHEN ASKED TO SPEAK ON THE FUTURE OF MUNCHFLOWER FASHIONS

"Well, I would, but then I'd have to kill you. I'm working on a monstrous line of clothing right now, sixteen or so pieces (men's and women's ) based on some abstract concepts. It looks to be like fun for the whole family."

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Saturday, October 23, 2004

THE FANCIFUL FASHIONS OF FEY BRIGHTWILLOW

Part Five in a series, featuring Selectees of New World Notes Fashion Expo 2004. (Context here, here, and here.) Today we present Fey Brightwillow, whose fashions can be purchased in-world at Fey's Designers Unlimited Store in Tehama (160, 223).

FEY ON HER FASHIONS SHE IS SHOWING HERE

"'Goth Plaid'-- this was a design that started from me doodling one day. I wanted to do something a bit different, a bit Gothic with a splash of color. There are five Prims in the hat, which I feel completes and sets the whole look off.

"'Goth Elegance' - this is a formal gown designed specifically for a client, a design I created. It has layers of sheer veils in front with side flounces and a long train in velvet, and another layer in silvery webs. The blood red colour set off with black gives this ensamble grace and style. Total prims... [smiles] a lot.

"'Chains & Locks' - this design was thought up after doing some research on Gothic and D/s clothing. It was modeled at the fashion show for Alana Monde and David Valentino at Perilous Pleasures a few weeks back. I came up with several ideas in this line. This particular style being one of the more popular outfits. Lots of chains, locks, black vinyl and pure sexiness.

"'Burgundy Tux' - has a touch of the old west dress and elegance. Deep burgundy jacket trimmed in deep gray. Black slacks, tailored vest and spats. Very detailed, and makes a guy look dashing.

"Wedding Dress, Antique & Gold' - this dress was designed after a picture Jade Jenson gave me of a prom dress; she wanted something similar for her wedding. Done in antique cream with gold trim laced throughout the bodice and skirt. The veil is also sheer cream with gold setting it off. I believe it is one of my best designs yet. Prims... in the veil, twenty four."

FEY ON WHAT INSPIRES HER FASHIONS, AND ON WHAT INSPIRED HER FASHION BUSINESS

"I can get my inspiration from just about anything. Movies, pictures, going out and watching people in real life.

"I do fair in the fashion business, I keep busy and enjoy what I do. I've done a couple of fashion shows, the first being with Baccara [Rhodes]. That started of a grand friendship and business of Spellbound. My main advertising is word of mouth. If people like what I create they tell their friends.

"I started creating clothing and costumes in Second Life because friends during Beta [pre-June 2003 - HL] saw what I was making myself. They encouraged me to design more and open my own store. At that time, there was only a couple of clothing stores in our world. So I searched for what I considered a perfect spot (At that time there was only fifteen or twently simulators.) I bought the land in Tehama in March of 2003 and have been there ever since. The store officially opened April 1st of 2003. The rest is history."

FEY ON THE WORK AND TALENTS BEHIND HER FASHIONS

"Depending on how detailed an outfit is, it can take anywhere from four hours to several days. I really don't keep track of how many hours I put into something, as I become pretty immersed in the creation. Time just tends to slip away. I also have a bad habit of taking something apart and starting over 'til I am pleased with the look. [laughs] So I really have no idea how long some take.

"[In real life,] I do not work outside the home at the present. But I have always painted and sketched. Also I began sewing clothes at an early age. I designed my first outfit at 8. By my teenage years I usually tailored about three-fourths of what I wore. As an adult, I continue designing my own things once in awhile, along with clothes for my nieces, and even Halloween costumes. I don't do sewing as much any more, as it's very time-consuming. So I create in Second Life. In fact, some of the things I sell in my store are from styles I actually made myself in the real world."

FEY ON THREE FELLOW DESIGNERS SHE ADMIRES

"I've seen so many I admire it would be unfair to list only three. Many have their own style and flair. I think i'ts wonderful so many show off their talent and hope they continue such great designs."

FEY ON TRANSLATING HER TALENTS INTO REAL WORLD FASHION

"Oh, I'll probably continue designing clothes for myself and family members from time to time. But beyond that I don't plan on going further."

FEY IN SECOND LIFE, WHEN SHE'S NOT DESIGNING FASHIONS

"I enjoy going dancing. I find it relaxing; odd, but it does for me. I enjoy going to events once in awhile. Also, I like to wander the world and see all the wonderful things others build. The talent in Second Life is astounding, our world here just puts me in awe at all the creative minds."

FEY ON THE FUTURE OF HER FASHION

"I've been working towards a Gothic fashion show after being asked by Cinde Fate. I'm hoping to have that ready somewhere around Halloween. I'm pretty excited about it, as it stretches my mind on creating new styles.

"Also, I'm involved with the Gorean fair that is coming up at Black Tarn Island. Hoping to have time to add to the silks collection along with new harem style costumes and clothes. I believe this will be a fun and interesting event."

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Friday, October 22, 2004

THE SASSILY STREET SMART FASHIONS OF AIMEE WEBER

Part Four in a series, featuring Selectees of New World Notes Fashion Expo 2004. (Context here, here, and here.) Today we present Aimee Weber, whose *PREEN* line of fashions can be best found in-world at a store in Umber (88, 106). "It's the one with a giant Aimee Weber doll on the roof," notes the designer. [She also hosts an off-world website here.-- HL, 11/10]

AIMEE ON THE FASHIONS SHE HAS BROUGHT FOR US HERE

"The fashion shots I sent were my attempt to show the flavor and range of my creations. The relatively reserved and comfortable look in the subway ('Subway') contrasts the fiery passion of the transparent vinyl skirt and top ('Pizza Love'). I also threw in a uniform from my little known men's line 'Supply Line'... The final picture ('Bad kitty') displays some items from my upcoming winter line (accessory man not included.)"

AIMEE ON HER ENTREE INTO SECOND LIFE'S FASHION CULTURE

"I started SL back in January and instantly began making clothing exclusively for myself. I wanted to create a special look that projected an image of fun, punk, goth, and flirtiness. Plaid miniskirts, stripey tights, aggressive combat boots and candy raver jewelry were standard to the look. The reaction was more than positive. I constantly got requests for copies of my clothing, so by February, *PREEN* was invented. Having my own fashion line also served as the ultimate accessory... I get to wear the honor of 'designer' to every party."

AIMEE ON HER DESIGN PROCESS

"Well, it normally starts with me seeing stuff I like in the streets. I also keep a digital camera in my purse, in case I see something cool, like a building front, or a dumpster, or cloth pattern I like. And I just collect all these textures. I have them all over my computer. Then when I see a fashion I like, maybe a chickie with a cool skirt on the subway, something urban chic, I go home, I try to find textures that come close.

"Hamlet, I actually have directories filled with photos of BUTTONS I took. And zippers. So then I put the pieces together, do a bunch of shading, coloring, transforming. Each clothing item takes maybe four to five uploads before I am happy with it. Then I give out freebies to many of my friends around Second Life. I do it because I love them, but also it's instant feedback. It helps me know if I am moving in the right direction, and how much I should charge for an item."

AIMEE ON THE BUSINESS OF SECOND LIFE FASHION

"I really don't advertise *PREEN* very aggressively. Instead I like to give out free clothing to the many wonderful friends I have around Second Life. If the clothing is good, they will wear it, and others will notice and ask about it. *PREEN* does very well financially, but I have yet to exchange L$ for real life money. Thus far I have given all of the proceeds from *PREEN* to friends in need.

"*PREEN* operates by season, so typically I will go for one month where all of my free time is consumed by clothes (eight hours after work and weekends). Right now I am in the middle of making my winter line, so I am a busy girl. I think I may be the only one that does it [that way]-- most designers release items when they are finished, but I hold them back until the season is ready... then I try to have a party. And then for the other two months, I mostly goof off and party.

"My best work was a United States Marine Corp uniform that was inspired by my good friend Dane Street [More on Dane soon - HL]. It took about two weeks to complete but it's a wonderful package filled with great accessories including sunglasses, vest pouches, and a working rifle."

AIMEE ON PEERS SHE ADMIRES MOST-- AND HER LARGER SOCIAL CIRCLE OF FELLOW DESIGNERS

"Mistress Midnight, Torrid Midnight, and Nephilaine Protagonist. I am star struck by their work.

"With only a few dramatic hiccups, I find the SL fashion world to be a wonderfully caring and cohesive family. We all help each other as much as we can, we rejoice in each other's success, and competitive venom is rare and isolated."

AIMEE ON MIDNIGHT'S OLD IRISH PUB, HER BAR AND COLLECTIVE DESIGN STUDIO IN THE SKY

"Well, unlike Bellevue it's not modeled after a REAL bar... but there are some elements of the Village Idiot here. That was a place in West Village but it closed down [frowns]. Also McSourleys. But mostly it's out of my head... what I like about this one is the contribution so many folks here have made to it-- it feels like OUR pub. Exclusive designer work area and drunkening zone. Actually, you will frequently find us here in the bar sitting silently... we are all busy on Photoshop and Illustrator. We use [an external IM/file sharing program] a lot, exchange textures, help each other. It's a great environment, totally.

"So normally, I keep Second Life open with the dialog in the lower left hand side of the screen... the rest is covered with Photoshop, etc., and I respond when someone talks to me. That is the exciting life of a designer in Second Life-- a lot of Away From Keyboard."

AIMEE ON WHO SHE DESIGNS ALONGSIDE, IN THE PUB IN THE SKY

"Me, Mistress [Midnight], Torrid [Midnight], Launa Fauna sometimes, Kenz [-ington Fairlight], Lost [Thereian] (who is a FANTASTIC up-and-comer), David Gilman. We are here because we like to hang out with each other-- not a snobby situation at all. Fashion drama, and venom, and elitism... that really is a rarity. People in this industry really do help and care about each other MOST of the time. Otherwise I would get frustrated and leave.

"We design in a bar-- OK does this make me sound bad? That last thing you wrote about me... was in a bar. Normally [I'm] here around 5:00pm... and stay 'til 9-ish. It varies. Mistress and I take a break to watch Nip/Tuck.

"You know, I think maybe I spend more time here than I just said. But I may be kinda embarrassed. Most of the time you will see me and Lost snuggling on the couch, or joking around. We will be quiet most of the time and then suddenly we finish an item and we take a break. I could be pretty plastered in real life too [laughs]. At that point it can be chaos.

"So ya, it's pretty common to see me walking around with a pair of boots that only have the FRONT done.

"And we are naked alot. I think we have more nudity here than a lot of places, but with no sexual context. We just got tired of asking people to leave when we are between outfits."

AIMEE ON FASHIONS FOR FRUGAL RESIDENTS

"Fur budget *PREEN* GEAR, I would say. It's all budget. I think *PREEN* tends to run less expensive than most designers. Mostly because i am not super interested in money. I want my clothing to be accessible."

AIMEE ON THE FUTURE OF *PREEN*, AND HER MOST UNLIKELY FASHION ACCESSORY

"My winter line will be my largest ever, and will have more items that my previous two seasons combined. Look for a little of everything including comfy warm sweaters, coats, jeans and of course the signature *PREEN* stockings and miniskirts.

"Check out a *PREEN* fashion quirk I sell. [smiles] I have braces. And they caught on! ["Newbies wear them all the time at the Welcome area," pub patron Lordfly Digeridoo interjects behind us.]

"Well, I made them cheap. It's totally fun. Every now and again I come out with a Second Life fad. A few months ago it was leg warmers. And everybody was wearing them. So maybe 'Quirky' is a good word to go with *PREEN*."

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Thursday, October 21, 2004

THE SENSUAL FASHIONS OF BAKUZELAS KHAN, UP-AND-COMING DESIGNER

Part Three in a series, featuring Selectees of New World Notes Fashion Expo 2004. (Context here, here, and here.) Today we present Bakuzelas Khan, and up-and-coming designer (defined as a resident under six months old). He also displays his wares at an off-world website here, and his fashions are sold in Second Life at SkyNet, among many, many other locations.

BAKUZELAS ON THE DESIGNS HE HAS OFFERED TO US FOR DISPLAY HERE

"The first outfit among the photos, 'BAZ Electric Blue T' and 'BAZ Splatter Stamped Pants', was one of the outfits that appeared at the NWN 2004 Fashion Expo. It's part of my club wear for men [series]. I try to create things that I would wear myself-- and I do wear them. Leather is always sexy, and I personally love T-shirts. I collect T-shirts in game. I think that with a great pattern on them, a T-shirt can be really interesting, and I personally like to show some skin, even if it's just my arms, like the shirt shown here.

"My goal is to design fashions that have a masculine aspect, and even my clothes for women feature strong lines and a certain boldness. Take for example the next outfit, 'BAZ Fractal Outfit'. This one was also featured at the Expo, and is a design for women that many have described to me as 'heroic' or 'Valkyrie-like'. It's not feminine, but it's not ugly on a woman; it doesn't make a woman appear man-ish. The design is taken from a fractal, and cropped and organized in a way that I found pleasing. Sometimes I get a nice texture that's free for use, and I work with it; sometimes I use photos of clothes that I crop and alter, and sometimes I paint the entire thing myself.

"'BAZ & Meritum Lily Designs Presents The Gift', the third photo, is one that I painted myself using Photoshop. I used a painting as a reference, and tried to create a similar look. My Second Life sister, Meritum Lily, created the wings for this project. We sell everything needed to make the entire avatar together as one item, and share the profits. This was the first joint project avatar that I ever made. I even made a toy cat that meows and purrs to go along with it; altogether, it was a fairly big project. The dress has some attachments on the sleeves and the skirt, and the hair has an attachment. We sell the entire avatar, and the toy, as all one package.

"Now, photo number four, 'BAZ Male Dancer in Leather', is my attempt to create clothing for a submissive male in Second Life, something that would be attractive to wear. The male could be a dancer at a club, or any submissive who wanted to be sexy and pleasing. There's three parts to it: the laced-up-looking top, the pants with the cut-outs in the front and back, and the striped underwear...

"I enjoy working with skins so much; I see them as a big part of Second Life fashion, and not separate from it. For a customer who has bought a nice skin, he's going to consider that an important part of his wardrobe and want to show it off. That means bare chests, skimpy but attractive clothes. Personally, I don't think any male would be able to wear these pants in real life, looking at that center strap, but that's OK, the overall look is very sexy and appealing and a bit fantastic. Which is also how I prefer to design and also buy fashions in Second Life: with a sense of fantasy, that this couldn't be done in the same way in real life (not without a lot of effort or serious changes to the clothing)...

"The final photo, 'BAZ Modifiable Purple Silk & Black Lace Gown', is a modifiable outfit. This gown has lace and shoes that are actually white and look perfectly fine as a flat black, so I leave that up to the customer to change as she chooses. The lace wrap-around is, of course, an attachment that is also tintable."

BAKUZELAS ON HIS ENTRY INTO SECOND LIFE'S FASHION INDUSTRY

"I started out making avatars-- female avatars, specifically-- to allow women to have a beautiful look instantly (or relatively so) after appearing in the game, without having to fuss too much. To the best of my knowledge, I also was one of the first people to create life-like skins, although I didn't sell mine until I came back from taking a two month break from Second Life...

"I created one for my personal avatar when I first started playing because I couldn't get gray skin using the [avatar adjustment] sliders (something that still seems ridiculous to me, all these months later) and, when I applied a solid grey texture, I looked like I was wrapped in something. So I had to paint features onto the texture.

"Nowadays, my skins are a lot more sophisticated, and I have made a couple of men’s skins that allow you to tint them to any color you can get with the standard sliders. I started selling clothes shortly after making a collection of skins. So, my company Face Me! Avatars is maybe three months older than my clothing company, BAZ, which started sometime in late July of this year.

"Basically, I make clothes that are some combination of the following: One, I would like to wear it myself, two, I want to see someone else in this outfit, and three, I think it would be profitable to make-- that is, I think people would like it enough to buy it and enjoy it. I have made things that I didn't think would sell but I wanted to see on certain people, or made things that no one asked for, but that I thought would sell. I enjoy the business aspect of making my clothes, skins, etc. very much; there is a lot more freedom for the entrepeneur than in other games, where you simply push a button to make pre-fab objects to sell to other players."

BAKUZELAS THE BUSINESSMAN

"I spend a large amount of my free time making designs for Second Life; if pressed, I would have to say ten to twenty hours or more a week researching and making fashions, and maintaining my stores. The skins I make, and some of the costumes, are extremely time consuming, and I feel are a large part of the fashion of Second Life. People pay a lot for good skins and want to show them off, so my latest designs reflect this.

"Yes, my designs are doing very well in game. I have about twenty-one stores now, ranging from places like Mexican Town, CentreVille Skymall, and Pyramid Mallm to clubs like The Edge, Plush, and Club Erotic Jasmine. Basically, if a store is making any kind of profit, no matter how small, I won't close it. It's worth the exposure, I think...

"My main store is of course at SkyNet... I hire people to check on my shops and make sure they're litter-free and, well, that they're still there! Sometimes malls close down without warning.

"I have a photographer, ladina Fauna, whom I pay to take photographs of my work, and I occasionally hire models for some variety in the pictures on [store] display. I mostly use my money right now in the game to have contests and events [with my group] W-hat, and enjoy myself.

"I work very hard to advertise my products; I carefully plan out everything: packaging, what photos to use, locations. And I try to listen to what my customers have to say to improve not just upon my designs, but all aspects of my shops.

"For example, after talking to customers and friends, I found that most people prefer the pictures to be actual snapshots taken in-game. That way, they know that the product will look good in Second Life. Even the photos for this article were not touched up; ladina and I simply try to take the best pictures we can in-game to show how the product really looks. The only time I use Photoshop on a display picture is to add text, or to show front and back-- but not to airbrush and/or enhance a design or skin.

"But even though I hire help for many aspects of the sales process, I still have a lot of work that is left up to me, personally. The way the game is set up, a large amount of the burden falls squarely on the seller himself. I can't hire someone to put together a vendor for me, because players can't transfer them back and forth and have them work properly. And even if they have permission to edit my objects, you can't work with objects in objects at all in that way. So, it takes me some time to get everything done that I want to do...

"You know, there is one thing I forgot, when I was talking about how I advertise my business. I neglected to mention just how important referrals and word of mouth are. I would say probably half my business is from customer referrals."

BAKUZELAS IN SECOND LIFE, AFTER HOURS

"I love to play jokes, dance, go clubbing, meet guys and girls, and have a good time.

"Speaking of jokes, I have to warn you, Hamlet, that every time I saw the words 'NWN Fashion Show' somewhere, I kept thinking of the term 'NWS'--'Not Work Safe'. As in, 'Don't look at this picture at work!'. So, I thought, in honor of your NWN Fashion Expo, I might host a 'Not Work Safe Fashion Expo'!"

BAKUZELAS ON THE FUTURE OF BAZ DESIGNS

"Last month I made a catalog that I put at each location that people can take with them to shop at home, and I plan on more than doubling the products available for the winter catalog, which should be out in the coming weeks. Currently, I have over a hundred different products available for purchase between all my stores.

"I have been invited to make some Gorean fashions for men, for an upcoming festival called the Se`Kara Sardar Fair, which will be in November. So, I have that to look forward to, and I saw a request on Forums for things like do-rags and biker boots and clothing, so... I plan on making some biker clothes, just for fun. I already have twelve styles of very nice looking do-rags finished and on the shelves, and hope to have more to offer by the time this article is published.

"Also, another joint project avatar with Meritum Lily, 'Succubus', I am releasing October 20th, just in time for the Halloween rush. It’s a really cool outfit, and its wings are very like the ones that I currently use on my avatar. Many people have inquired about them, and now they can have them!"

BAKUZELAS COMMENDS THESE FASHIONS FOR THE FRUGAL RESIDENT

"My designs are largely cost-effective. For example, the BAZ Electric Blue T & BAZ Spatter Stamped Pants is 150 Linden Dollars-- that's L$75 for the shirt and L$75L for the pants. I sell a pack of snakeskin clothes-- T-shirt, boxers, shorts, and long pants--for L$150, which is $L37.50 for each piece in the set. I think that's a great way to add a boost to your wardrobe. I also make Hawaiian clothes that sell for $L50 each. Those are fun and a little crazy. I love wearing them myself."

BAKUZELAS COMMENDS THESE FASHIONS FOR THE EXTRAVAGANT RESIDENT

"At the high end, would be something like my Men's Svelte Skin by Face Me! (my skin and avatar company, a sister company to BAZ), which is a skin that color-changes using the sliders, for 3500 Linden Dollars, and the BAZ Men's Dancer outfit for L$250. I am wearing a grey version of that skin in the picture of me in the dancer's outfit (because you can't get that color with the sliders, still). It's a great value, though. The quality of the skin and the clothes is very high, a real sexy show-stopper."


SCREENSHOT CREDITS:

- BAZ Electric Blue T & BAZ Splatter Stamped Pants modeled by Bakuzelas Khan, photographed by ladina Fauna.

- BAZ Fractal Outfit modeled by Star Twilight, photographed by Bakuzelas Khan.

- BAZ & Meritum Lily Designs Presents The Gift - wings by Meritum Lily, modeled by Bakuzelas Khan, photographed by ladina Fauna.

- BAZ Male Dancer in Leather - modeled by Bakuzelas Khan, photographed by ladina Fauna.

- BAZ Modifiable Purple Silk & Black Lace Gown - modeled by Heather Hatfield, photographed by Bakuzelas Khan.

Screenshots taken on location at: Anzere, Krittania, Enchantment Falls at Palomarian, and Fairchang Island.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2004

THE ENTICING FASHIONS OF TORRID MIDNIGHT

Part Two in a series, featuring Selectees of New World Notes Fashion Expo 2004. (Context here, here, and here.) Today we present Torrid Midnight, who also displays her wares at an off-world website here, and whose fashions are sold at her own store in Chartreuse (27,224).

TORRID ON THE FASHIONS DISPLAYED HERE

"I sent you some of my favorite outfits I've done: 'Ripped Up', 'Love Letter', "Identity", and 'Modern Romance'... This is a good representation of how varied my style is-- I can go from very casual to classic romance and everything in between. These were also original creations, mostly hand-painted, which for me was a big achievement.

"'Identity' turned out to be far more popular than I ever thought; just a casual outfit I put together, but for me it had a deeper meaning-- the labels we give each other and ourselves. I've been called a dork for all the time I spend online, but I'll wear that label with pride. I'm using my brain here and being around people who are creative like me gives me hope."

TORRID ON WHAT BROUGHT HER INTO THE WORLD OF SECOND LIFE FASHION

"Well, when I first started Second Life, I was more of a social bug than anything, and really had no knowledge of Photoshop. I hadn't even been on the computer much except to play The Sims Online a little. After awhile, I decided I should try my hand at something to make money, never thinking I might actually learn something valuable. Skeedalee Skidoo encouraged me to build, but building just didn't feel right for me. Finally a friend of mine, who doesn't play anymore, taught me the basics of Photoshop and how to make a T-shirt. That was the beginning for me. Later on Nephilaine [Protagonist] and Mistress Midnight both showed me some tricks as well. I never thought a year and a half later I'd be painting original creations of my own. This has given me a new path to follow in my life and I hope to get back into school soon to persue it."

TORRID ON HER UNIQUE FASHION SENSE

"I don't really have any real world designers that I follow. I kind of go by what styles I like to wear in real life, which is an extreme mix. [laughs] I love to be comfortable, but I also like to be a little daring here and there. I guess I'm what you call a 'tomboy', but I do like having a feminine touch in most of my clothing.

"As a matter of fact, a lot of my designs are made with a more womanly figure in mind. A lot of models you see on the runway are stick figures, and I see that A LOT in Second Life as well. [laughs] I think myself and Mistress were some of the first avatars I saw in Second Life to have curves."

TORRID ON COMPETITION IN THE SECOND LIFE RAG TRADE

"The fashion buisness is a different story, now that people can make money in real life from their profit in Second Life. Unfortunately, it's a tad bit more cut throat now...

The designing population of SL was a friendly and helpful one in the beginning. Now it seems that here and there you have those who are in it to make as much as possible, stepping on whoever they can. Jealousy seems to have spread like wildfire. [laughs] I think you got a taste of it from the Fashion Expo, am I right? [She is. - H.L.]]

"I do not make enough money to actually live on. It's not a stable enough income to be completely dependent on right now, and I don't know that it ever will be. There are a select few who make a lot of money, but they also produce like an assembly line. I just don't like the idea of mass producing clothing every day. I care a lot about the quality of it, and I'm afraid if I pushed myself that much, it would suffer."

TORRID ON SOME OF THE COLLEAGUES SHE ADMIRES MOST

"Hmm. Wow, tough question. I can hear the crowd now, 'Oh, she's only mentioning friends, of course.' I would just like to say 'PFFT' to that before I even begin.

"Nephilaine Protagonist is definitely one. I want to say that it's not because of quality or the popularity of her clothing. When I first met Neph, I was so impressed with her imagination. The ideas that swim around in that artist brain of hers are amazing. I love her for the simple fact that she is an original and she embraced Second Life completely.

"Of course Mistress Midnight, and there again, not for the quality or popularity. She keeps me on my toes. Working side by side with her for so long, I think it's only natural we kind of compete with each other. It's always healthy though, I believe. We don't really have the same style but we get ideas from each other. She's one of those power design pushers I was talking about [laughs]-- she makes a lot of clothing in a short amount of time, not to mention doing custom [designs] every day. I don't think the kid in me can handle that much work.

"Last but not least, I'd say Damien Fate. I remember having a conversation with him a long time ago, very early in the morning for me. [Fate lives in England, and Torrid, the US. - H.L.] He didn't realize that most people photo-sourced clothing in Second Life. Not that photo-sourcing is easy. Believe me, if you want it to look good, it can be VERY hard to pull off. The point is, it came naturally to him to draw everything he created. I was already so impressed with his art that I'd purchased before. He is so detailed in everything he makes. You can tell that he puts a lot of time and care into his designs, and for that reason, I admire him a great deal."

TORRID ON THE HARD WORK OF FASHION AND ON WHAT KEEPS HER GOING

"I probably spend anywhere from fifteen-thirty hours a week. It just depends on the degree of difficulty in my designs. One item might take me a few hours because I am a perfectionist. If something isn't lined up, it drives me crazy. At times this feels like a curse more than anything. [laughs]

"Hmm, how many hours did my best work take? Well, this is a funny story. I don't think this is really my best work, but it's up there: The first pair of blue jeans (in the Modern Romance outfit) that I hand painted. I thought, hmm, wonder if I can pull it off. Four hours later I had a massive headache and a pair of painted jeans. You might say to yourself, 'Jeans, hard?' Believe me, hand painting jeans and having them LOOK like jeans is not easy.

"Second Life is definitely my main source of income right now. I never thought I'd be able to say that. I'm trying to save up, so that I can go back to school. I would love to get into graphic design. My situation has probably influenced me to work harder more than anything.

"Water Rogers has had a lot of influence in what I create, as well. Water is my husband in Second Life. He encourages me way more than he even realizes in real life and Second Life to keep going and push myself to do better. I ask for his opinion on pretty much everything I make."

TORRID ON A DESIRE TO BECOME A FIRST WORLD FASHIONISTA

"I never really thought about it, to be honest. I don't plan on having my fashions strut down the runway. They have definitely helped me decide on what I want to do in real life."

TORRID ON THE STREAMED ROCK BAND SHE PLAYS IN, WHEN NOT DESIGNING

"I really enjoy singing, and I've actually worked with some other SLers. Water Rogers and Dragen Zaius play together in a band, and I've sang with them a little. They've streamed their music in Umber several times, they are great-- Water plays guitar and Dragen is the drummer. Mistress and I have sang together a few times. [laughs] She'll probably kill me for mentioning it."

TORRID'S RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FASHIONS BUYERS, ON A BUDGET OR ON A SPREE

"Well, I keep a discount section, which is mostly older items. I am going to try and keep inventory moving, so there isn't always the same selection there. I also have discount items that are new at a store called 'Cheap Thrills' in Midnight City (Umber). They are great quality items but cheap, because they are remakes of a [first life] design, or the texture itself is imported from elsewhere.

"As far as my more expensive clothing, it's generally a complete outfit. I actually sell the clothing separately as well, but it's less expensive if you buy the outfit. I've never hit the thousand Linden dollar mark yet on price, and I'm not sure I ever will."

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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

THE ELEGANT FASHIONS OF MISTRESS MIDNIGHT

Part One in a series, featuring Selectees of New World Notes Fashion Expo 2004. (Context here, here, and here.) Today we present Mistress Midnight, who also hosts an off-world website here, and whose fashions are sold in her simulator of Umber (also known as Midnight City) at 131, 216.

MISTRESS ON THE FASHIONS ON DISPLAY HERE (AS MODELED BY THE DESIGNER)

"Pictures one and two are from my NWN [Fashion Expo] event dress. I wanted something dressed up, so I found a cut I liked, and some fabric samples, and went from there-- no prims on this gown. Took me about four hours, and I made it in three color versions.

"Pictures three and four ["Teal Set"] were just for fun. I found a skirt I liked, made it, and didn't have a shirt to match it, so I created the top out of pieces of the skirt. Added a lace trim and used the same cut on the previous dress.

"Picture five ["Flowered Set"] I also made for fun. I saw a cut I liked from a magazine for the top, and found the flower trim on a floral website. I'm wearing the top with pink suede pants I made awhile ago."

MISTRESS ON WHAT MOTIVATED HER TO BECOME A DESIGNER

"Basically, what inspired me was wanting things I couldn't find. Then I figured, 'Hey, I'm an artist-- I should just do it myself.' In real life, I am a homemaker with no children, so I have plenty of real world time to create. I took Photoshop classes in my high school, so I know it enough to be able to accomplish anything I want to make."

MISTRESS ON THE FIRST LIFE DESIGNERS WHO INSPIRE HER

"To be honest, I don't really go off of real world designers... could care less if it's in or out in the fashion world. If I'd wear it, chances are, so would some others."

MISTRESS ON THE BUSINESS OF MAKING AND SELLING FASHION

"I spend at least fifty hours a week making clothing and various 'work' in Second Life. My most difficult design took about two days... most of my clothing takes between one to four hours for a single piece.

"I do pretty well in Second Life sales. I'm able to pay for my sim [Umber] with it, and have spare [real world] shopping money. [I] turned Umber into a collection of some of the best people. Rent would have made me greedy and may have affected who I had here. So I decided 'No' on rent."

MISTRESS ON SOME FELLOW SECOND LIFE DESIGNERS SHE ADMIRES

"Torrid Midnight-- her fashion sense inspires me. And her perfection baffles me.

"Aimee Weber-- she has a fun look and puts things together I couldn't have thought of.

"Nephilaine Protagonist-- her clothing has such imagination and creativity. [She] can make any avatar look amazing."

MISTRESS ON ASPIRATIONS TO APPLY HER TALENTS TO REAL WORLD FASHION

"No, I'd say not. I don't really design for tomorrow, I'm a slave of today... and some past. I think real world designs are more ahead of what a gaming environment is looking for."

MISTRESS ON FASHIONS FOR BUDGET-MINDED RESIDENTS

"I would say pick from anything in our 'Cheap Thrills' store-- it's full of some older items I had to take out of normal circulation to allow for space in my main store. (Located in Midnight City beside my normal store.) Of course everything is on sale there, great for the new resident; single pieces range from L$10-25, and sets are around L$50."

MISTRESS ON FASHIONS FOR WEALTHIER, SKIES-THE-LIMIT RESIDENTS

"I'm most proud of my more recent items, because I spent so long on them, so I'd say go for my Blood Rayne-inspired avatar, which comes with a full skin for L$1000. Or for normal clothing, I like my Denim Jumpsuit: L$500."

MISTRESS ON HER FUTURE IN FASHION

"I'm trying to create some outfits inspired by gaming characters. I've made an oufit modeled after Blood Rayne recently [see above], and hope to create more leather-clad super heroes in the future."

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Monday, October 18, 2004

HONORABLE MENTIONS, NWN FASHION EXPO 2004

A brief sampling of some Honorable Mentions from NWN Fashion Expo 2004, as presented by their designers. (More extended visits with the Expo's many Selectees in the coming weeks.)

- "Leopardskin" by Established Designer Cailyn Miller.
"I found this leopardskin fabric while searching for something completely different on the Web, and I just had to use it for something! I found a lace trim to go on the skirt and gloves, then I decided that it needed a hat to finish it off... so I made one in the same fabric with wispy net bits at the front. Kinda reminds me of ladies' day at Ascot (English horse race) now that I've done it."

- "Nightshade" by Up-and-Coming Designer CherryBomb Hare of Cherry's Designs.
"This is my newest design in my line of sexy, elegant evening gowns. It was just released on October 14th. The material comes from an actual garmet, stretched, cropped and cut to proper proportions."

- "Black Godess" by Up-and-Coming Designer Kyrah Abbatoir.

- "Lady Poison" by Established Designer Launa Fauna.
"This saucy dress was carefully painted by hand with a tablet pen. Three colors are available: ravishing red, sultry blue, and passionate purple. The ruby red is seen here with "THE BOOTS", the original fully functional prim boots. (Hair by Lost Therian.)"

- "Pink Grass" by Established Designer Palomma Casanova.
"I called it Pink Grass, because it's pink and green. (Looks a bit like grass, the green part of it.) This outfit is new and one of my favorites because was a practice for me in Photoshop. I think I did OK. I need a lot of work still in Photoshop, but it was a good attempt. All my designs are like PinkGrass: classy, flirty, sexy, and simple, for any ocassion."

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