So excited about this post!!! My first real video to share with everyone. I’ll tell you more about Waku Waku another day. I want to cut right to the chase – the Baby, the Stars Shine Bright Fashion Show. It was simply fantastic!! See for yourself:
I have two favorites from the show – the new Halloween print of a nightmare candy factory and the new heart apron in a mix of red and white. Adorable. Plus so many ouji looks!!!!!! Must say that Milky Train is growing on me. Never really paid much attention to it, but you know, boy style. I almost melted when Yani waves Kuma Kumya chan’s hands. But what I want more than anything is the cape Yura wears in the final look. My need is strong.
Music: Bright Trance Night
On Wednesday, the Japan Society provided the NY Lolita Community with a precious gift. They showered us with a panel, fashion show, and meet and greet with the one and only Misako Aoki. Not even an ice storm could keep our EGL gals and guys away. The topic of the panel was Lolita Fashion: Costume or Culture? I prefer the later, thank you. Here is a quick breakdown of the details:
- Gwynn Galitzer of Dirty Bird Production, moderator
- Former Kawaii Ambassador Misako Aoki, panelist
- Carolyn Dee author of FYeah Lolita, panelist
- Christina Gleason author of Ramble Rori, panelist
- Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, fashion show
The Panel Discussion
Most panels on Lolita fashion stick to the “101” facts. This panel didn’t deviate much from that script. But what I enjoyed most was to hear Misako, Christina and Caro talk about what is currently on trend. In particular a return to more classic-style coordinates instead of sweet-style dominating the scene. The longer style of dresses in particular being the new and very popular option. Misako also mentioned that she is very fond of the long and flowy trumpet sleeves right now. For example, Baby’s Labyrinth in the Reminiscent Mirror Flower Lace Blouse or on their Doll Coronet Aria Onepiece.
And if you can believe it, Misako flew to NY from Tokyo in her coordinate. Bonnet, petticoat, uh huh. Yep she is the real deal.
Baby, the Stars Shine Bright Fashion Show
After the Q&A panel there was a mini fashion show featuring eight looks from Baby, the Stars Shine Bright and Alice and the Pirates. While the wedding coordinate is always greeted with oohhs and aahhs. This time it was the pirate boots and hat that accompanied the look Kitsy modeled which attracted the most attention.
P.S. If you haven’t already, be sure to get your tickets for RuffleCon, the first Northeastern USA convention dedicated entirely to Japanese alternative fashion.
12 Feb Update: Japan Society posted a video of the lecture to their website. Be sure to check it out.
Antique Frame Credits: (1) (2) (3) (4)
On October 12th, New York Mutual Trading’s 20th annual Japanese Food & Restaurant Expo was held at the Metropolitan Pavilion. It was my second time attending and like last year the crowd was outstanding. You had to carefully snake your way through the swarm of people and the jumble of tables and vendor booths. But persistence paid off with the enjoyment of yummy samples and some interesting oddities as well.
The day started off with a clever fusion of Japanese cuisine and Hawaiian poke. I can live on poke (in fact it was all we ate on our last vacation to The Big Island.) The sample was a piece of sashimi marinated using koji and mixed with seaweed and sweet onions. Miyako Oriental Foods also offered a blend of Yamajirushi Yuzu base seasoning mixed with mayonnaise and served as a dipping sauce for veggies or tofu cubes. Simple and delicious!
Mr. Chef was very excited to find 100% frozen wasabi. Nothing but wasabi. No horseradish no nothing. Now we just need to explore and see if Mitsuwa, H-Mart, Daido or Fuji-mart carries it. You can get fresh wasabi at Mitsuwa (next to the mushrooms in the veggie isle) but we live too far away to shop there more than once a month. Having a pure frozen option would be great; can’t stand the powder and tube choices – yuck.
Now onto the serious stuff. Sake! I know. I am super biased. I <3 Dassai. But those clever folks at the brewery had a trick hidden up their sleeves. They presented 3 sakes that I had never had or heard of before. The first was a variation using centrifuge pressing technology. The second was a milky New Year’s exclusive only offered for the holidays. But the third, oh my, a new star is born. They just introduced a brand new jewel to their lineup called Beyond (“Sonosakie.”) And it couldn’t have been named it better.
Into the Beyond
As a response to many customer requests to craft something new and uber-premium, this is Dassai’s reply. And I applaud the brand for the integrity they put into the challenge. They could have easily drafted a fancy label, tweak the recipe slightly, and slap on a higher price tag, and call it a day. Instead, 10 years in the making, they pushed the limits and themselves beyond. 23 percent polishing was thought to be the final frontier, any further and the rice grains crumble. But if you go just a bit beyond that point what will you find. Apparently you find perfection. This sake shines and is truly a luxury. Wholesale price is around $400 and after experiencing it, you know why. I should find better adjectives, but a zen experience which is delightfully smooth is the best I can do.
They skillfully delivered on their mission. While Beyond might be out of reach for many, the fact is they are still one of the best priced premium sakes on the market. High quality at an accessible price. So if you get a chance to try Beyond don’t miss it. If not, then do indulge in their 50, 39 or 23.
The unexpected find was Miso Pizza. This was a ridiculously simple snack made using a slice of bread smothered in a rich red miso paste. It was topped with onions and cheese then toasted till the cheese melts. A super cheap and tasty treat that would be great as an after school snack for kids. The head of the company (will have to look it up) was the cutest thing ever. He was decked out in a traditional coordinate and with his bristle brush mustache gave the impression of being Japan’s Colonel Sanders.
Another imaginative item was individually wrapped candies made to look like nigiri sushi. The design of the plastic wrapper acts as the sushi topping (neta) and includes the nori belt that binds the topping to the rice. And a small white candy characterizes the rice. On that sweet note, that wraps up my experience at this year’s expo. Itadakimasu!
I can spend hours in trim shops. Hours! What about this lace with this one. Oh look at this ribbon, does it go with that one over there. What about these buttons. Ahhhhhhhh – the sewing version of a candy shop. And M&J Trimming in NYC Garment District never disappoints.
I want to buy 10 yards of just about every single version of their eyelet lace. Ironically I’ve only added a few to my stash. I need to rethink that strategy in the future. There are other trim shops whose prices are a bit less expensive, but when you need to get in and out quickly and be assured you will have a quality lace, M&J is tops.
I don’t know why but I am addicted to cluny lace. I love how soft it is and also pretty. White and cream is the mainstay. But there is a good variety of black. And also a smattering of colored laces. Sadly, not enough pastels for my liking.
Every time I am in the shop I stand in front of the pleated section and just stare. Look at all those colors! For some reason I haven’t yet splurged on these beauties. Not sure yet what to make with them.
There are is also a huge section of the classics. Ribbon roses and bows galore. All of my camis as a kid had these roses sewn on them. I always feel awkward using them now because I can’t not think of them as undie pretties.
Macaron Cafe opened a new location during the summer. It is dangerously close to Japan Society and depending on the rhythm of the lights, between Grand Central and JS, I end up walking past it all the time. Finally had to stop in. Picked up a box of 6 macarons to give them a try.
I enjoyed the crunch and the texture. But I can only give them 4 out of 5 stars unfortunately. There is sweet and then there is sickeningly sweet. If you are a sugar baby give these a go, but for my palette I wish the filling was just a bit more subtle. The mocha is by far my favorite of the bunch. So given the convenient location, I might just have to grab a couple when school starts back up again in September.
They also pride themselves on their Joe. I have a favorite NYC Starbucks location… but if in a pinch might give their coffee a try next time I stop by.
How about you? What is your favorite macaron flavor?
Our charming summer intern brought in a box of Financier Patisserie Macarons the other day. She was already winning our hearts as she has been a life saver on an insanely complicated project. This cemented our debt to her.
The macarons are lovely. They have the perfect balance of crunch, nice proportion of filling, and are not overly sweet. They are also gluten free, a plus. A box of 15 runs $20 which is reasonably priced as far as macarons go.
Need a afternoon pick me up? Stop by any of their dozen or so locations across NYC.
Credits: The adorable tape strips are a freebie you can download over at puglypixel.com.
Beautiful day to take a stroll in Bryant Park, NYC.
The carousel is chanting it’s charming French cabaret music.
A ride is just $2.00. Stop on by!
Stumbled upon the Japanese Culinary Center in NY during my walks from Grand Central to classes at the Japan Society. It looks really interesting. A quote from their website gives a pretty good overview:
“Your One Stop Shop to the Flavors of Japan… to bring an extensive collection of culinary items from the world of Japanese cuisine to New York City.”
View of the Center from their gallery on japaneseculinarycenter.com
Their list of offers covers the gamut of Japanese Life’s Sweet Essential #1 – Food.
- Japanese Professional Knives
- Ceramic Ware and Pottery
- Kitchen Utensils
- Japanese Foods & Ingredients
- Kitchen Disposable Items
- Uniforms for Restaurant Use
- Custom Made Professional Tools
- Cooking Books
- Sake Tasting Seminars (oh yes!)
- Cooking Classes (sign me up)
I have to give them very low marks for their website, it really is dreadful. But having walked past their extraordinary window displays for the past few months I am going to let that slide. So I’ve signed up for their emails in the hopes to checkout their upcoming sake tastings and cooking classes. Will keep you posted.
Friday was the conclusion to the Japanese language – part 1 lessons I have been attending at Japan Society. To learn something, really learn it, I like to throw myself in fully. Short of moving to Japan, I am actively finding as many ways possible to absorb the content.
So much of a country’s culture is poured into their language. To truly grasp the context one needs to also see the language in action. What shaped the dialect, what historical occurrences defined common sayings, what foreign influences were adapted along the way?
My ever patient and encouraging boyfriend was game to partake in what I am calling a J-Weekend. A 3-day quest to tap into all things Japanese.
After pulling together a Tokyo-worthy Otome-Kei coordinate, we were off. Friday began with a shopping spree at Mitsuwa, in New Jersey. First stop was Sanseido Bookstore. Picked up the Spring edition of Gothic & Lolita Bible. The shopgirl was so sweet, with my purchase she gave me an extra copy of the GLB poster they received! Next up was Mars where I picked out a thank you card for Aizawa-sensei. On to Minamoto Kitchoan to get a gift of seasonal wagashi as a thank you present for Sensei. And no trip to Mitsuwa is complete without picking up a cart full of yummy Japanese groceries. Grabbed a pre-packaged bento for a quick meal before class.
Made it back home with just enough time to put the groceries away, switch out my dress for jeans (still pulled off an Otome esthetic), grab my school bag, and make it to the train. Class was so lively. By week ten we all were much more relaxed with each other and so there was quite a bit of giggling going on. Especially as one classmate, when asked to use our newly learned verbs, was uncovered to have had quite a lot of beer to drink lately. Which is a great segue into the final stop for the day.
After class, many of us adjourned to Riki, a local izakaya (typical salarymen restaurant/drinking establishment). What better way to learn more about the language then to enjoy Life’s Sweet Essential #1 – Food. We had our own screened room with traditional seating which was great as it allowed us to be a bit rowdy. For some bizarre reason the girls sat at one table and the boys the other.?.? It was great to finally get to relax and learn more about everyone outside of school. Something we have promised to do again in May. Several pitchers of beer and many glasses of sake later we parted ways.
A much more relaxed pace was planned for Saturday. We had a lovely sashimi style lunch made from the Mitsuwa trip loot. I pulled together a NY take on Sweet Lolita (black + cute) for a night out at the movies. We saw Sakuran, staring Anna Tsuchiya! The story is a period piece and not terribly original. But the director’s adaptation of the manga was an incredible kaleidoscope of colors. The set was absolutely astonishing. I will say that it is a long way to go to see a movie from 2006 though when you live in the burbs – but I had a blast getting all dressed up anyway. After the show, the folks at Japan Society were handing out adorable bookmarks with an illustration from the manga.
After gallivanting around for the majority of the weekend, a nice casual day in was planned for Easter Sunday. Spent most of the morning finishing up a little project to convert 2 hippie-esq, floor length, summer dresses I picked up on discount into a casual Lolita skirt/petticoat. Lolita is not exactly mainstream culture in Japan I realize – but an area of the culture I am infatuated with just the same.
I chopped both dresses across the bottom where the volume was the fullest. With some fabric I had in my stash I added a pair of built-in bloomers. Totally digging this concept as I am not the biggest fan of elastic, so whenever I can reduce some of it from the equation, all the better. A bit of gathering at the waist and all 3 pieces were ready to be attached to the waistband, which was also a recycled shirred halter top from one of the dresses. And voila, a super light weight skirt or petticoat for the summer months.
Started work on a hair corsage as well. Can’t wait to finish it. Picked up the crown applique in the Fashion District awhile back and have been dying to use it in a project. Stay tuned to see the finished piece.
And so there you have it – my jam packed J-Weekend.
Now what am I going to do next weekend?
Credits: (Friday Collage) The photo of the wagashi is from Minamoto Kitchoan’s website; the photo of Aizawa-sensei came from Japan Society’s website; (Saturday Collage) the photo of Anna in Sakuran is a wallpaper from nautiljon.com.