As far as casual clothing is concerned, I can pretty much confidently tell you that I’ve become addicted to the majority of styles that have been released by REVERSE lately, especially their more studded and deconstructed styles. It’s rugged, a little grungy, can handle more than a few doses of tough love, and beyond anything else…. extremely comfortable! It goes without saying that when I saw this shredded sweater over at Tribehaus Clothing, I had to get one to call my own! For those of you who recall my previous blog post about Tribehaus, you might remember that one of my picks for my all-time favorites out of everything on their site was actually this exact sweater; I showed you the gradient pink, but as we all know — I am a sucker for anything with even an ounce of blue or white, so this other version of the shredded sweater is essentially perfection to me.
Now I know some people are naturally hesitant to go shopping at a store that they’re not completely familiarized with yet, so I wanted to make a little post with some details about the quality of the clothing and my shopping experience to ease your mind if any of you have been on the fence about your next Tribehaus shopping spree. First of all, my sweater feels and wears like an absolute dream! As you might know, I have a particularly tiny frame despite being so tall, so it’s a little challenging buying tops at times because a lot of designers don’t make styles for ladies with long torsos – or if they do, they make them too big to wear otherwise, so you end up looking like you don’t know how to pick clothing in an appropriate size. However, none of those problems exist here! I even double-checked with Anna about the sizing prior to my purchase and she reassured me that the sweater would fit like a charm. It arrived a few days later and it was at that point I realized that:
- this sweater and I would never part,
- I had to eventually make a post like this and wax poetic about how much I loved it, and…
- Tribehaus is always going to have me throwing money at my screen for more clothing because that store is the epitome of all of my comfy-casual style modes throughout the week.
Getting on to the quality of the clothing itself, I took a few shots of the details to show you what you’ll be experiencing with this little shredded piece of paradise. If you’ve ever bought a studded item from a lesser quality brand, you know very well that the studs are generally poorly affixed and fall right off; not an issue with Reverse, thank goodness. All of the studs are durable and have been tightly affixed to the top of each shoulder. The material is an extremely soft knit that is well-constructed and doesn’t snag. There are a few wisely placed shreds and semi-holes which really add to the character of the piece. For those of you with longer arms or a longer torso like myself, this sweater really does manage to provide some lengthy coverage over your hands and booty, so you won’t feel as if you’re wearing something that’s incorrectly proportioned for your size. The neck of the sweater has a very moderate scoop, so you can wear it completely straight and keep it on both shoulders if you want — or you can be a stylish bum and wear it covering only one shoulder like I do. It looks great with a variety of different bottoms: I’ve worn it with skinny black jeans as pictured above, but also with ripped up leggings, shredded lace tights, and many other styles that it complements quite nicely.
It’s easily a sweater that you can dress up or down, depending on what your own mood and style may be at the time, but enough of my bragging — if you like it, love it, and want your own — grab one today while they’re still in stock! The Reverse Stud Shredded Sweater is available at Tribehaus Clothing in pink and white.
Yesterday, a good friend of mine brought a film trailer to my attention which I feel needs to be addressed properly here since undoubtedly, more films in this tone and genre are going to continue to appear. According to IMDB, The Butler is a film that provides “A look at the life of Eugene Allen, who served eight presidents as the White House’s head butler from 1952 to 1986 and had a unique front-row seat as political and racial history was made.” The cast features the talents of Forest Whitaker, Jesse Williams, Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, Jane Fonda, Alan Rickman, Alex Pettyfer, John Cusack, Cuba Gooding Jr., and many other well-known names. There are many who are already saying that the film will undoubtedly merit the awarding of an Oscar based on the star-studded cast and the depiction of this ‘riveting’ adaptation of a black man’s true story of his experiences working as a butler during one of the most prominent periods for African American civil rights.
I might be inclined to agree if I believed that Hollywood would ever do these types of stories any type of respectable or serious justice. There’s something particularly uncomfortable to me about watching a trailer that has the stereotypical legendary instrumental music playing in the background as I see scenes depicting slaves working in cotton fields, clan members running by with torches, and Forest Whitaker’s character walking through a White House. What others might deem as a film promoting awareness about black history and the struggles that we have experienced in order to survive and gain equal rights, I find to be a pathetic attempt to make profits off of the suffering of a group of individuals throughout history, as well as highly offensive for the fact that these films never seem to accurately portray these circumstances. This type of marketing has almost become a sensation ever since the release and success of films like Django Unchained; a film that had a thought-provoking and interesting story line, but also provided scenes of a black slave being torn apart by dogs and even Jamie Foxx being hung upside down naked as a punishment before he was about to be executed (though he was lucky enough to escape). And while many may have found that movie to be comfortable and even entertaining to watch based on the humorous subtext of the scripted lines for some of the characters – there is no laughing matter to be found in the accompanying blogs and tweets that came afterwards from blacks and other minorities who had gone to see the movie in theatres, having noted that they heard laughter and snickering in the scenes where violence against slaves were being depicted. Even I myself heard a few people laughing and it was the most uncomfortable, discomforting experience you could imagine encountering unexpectedly.
I feel that films such as these actually work against our effort to positively promote awareness among other people who are not aware of these great social and political injustices. Under the guise of trying to be ‘realistic’ about what life was like for those in periods of slavery and the civil rights movement, Hollywood often depicts blacks as being uneducated, ignorant, rebellious and angry, and many other qualities that have been attributed to our stereotype. Surely, we did lack education for some period of time when we were ripped away from our own country of origin and culture – and yes, we responded emotionally in the same way that any other human being would respond if they were forced into slavery and had their rights stripped away from them – but modern Hollywood films don’t provide the proper perspective for these contexts. Our current decade lacks the reality and brutality of productions like Roots, which actually presented a more relevant portrayal of the situation. Modern Hollywood lacks quite a bit, actually; it doesn’t portray the stories of how slaves were stacked upon each other in ships and how many of them died in the crossing to America, nor does it portray how slaves were raped and sexually abused, or the horrors of lynching and clan members searching for their next victims. If it were to, it would be deemed too ‘controversial’.
I don’t argue that Eugene Allen doesn’t deserve the recognition; the actual story of his life is very inspiring and it’s incredible to think of what he must have experienced and encountered living back during these periods of time in US history when many were slated against the equality of African Americans. My concern is that Hollywood rarely does these types of stories justice and that they’re actually just hopping on a bandwagon now because the success of Django Unchained, realizing that the industry does whatever it can to make profits as often as possible. Anyone knows that if you make a film with a star-studded cast, most people who are obsessed with celebrities are going to flock into the theatres to see said movie, especially if it touts the names of people like Oprah, Lenny Kravitz, Cuba Gooding Jr, and Jane Fonda. There’s an actor, actress, or singer in this cast that will appeal to almost every demographic, whether they’re young or old – which means even more profits as the film gains popularity with everyone. The ironic factor is that Eugene Allen isn’t even alive to see this film that claims to do such a great job of showcasing the achievements of his life; so if Eugene himself can’t see it, does anyone want to stand to tell me that Hollywood is giving a percentage of the film earnings to his family for the permission to make a film about one of their relatives? Even if it were so, I assure you that the family probably gets far less than the industry earns off of the film depicting his legacy and his suffering; so how is that fair?
The Butler is getting a lot of praise because some people feel that it signifies that Hollywood is willing to focus on prominent black individuals within history, especially those who have struggled during times when we lacked civil rights. Ironically, if this were the case, I’m fairly certain that I could assure you that we would have far more films that focused on prominent areas of black history. There are countless stories of incredible people who lived during these periods who also deserve recognition, but receive none because either no one in the industry deems them worthy to create screenplays for or because others deem that it wouldn’t make enough profits and get people interested. This is highly disappointing!
Here are just a few of the individuals who would be fascinating to depict in films that actually promoted positive awareness of black history:
- Harriet Tubman – this amazing woman not only helped to free over 300 slaves with the Underground Railroad, she also worked with Susan B. Anthony to help with women’s suffrage.
- Omar ibn Said – this incredible man disproves that stereotype that all slaves were uneducated and ignorant. Omar was a writer and Islamic scholar who spent 25 years of his life studying with some of the most prominent scholars in Africa before he was enslaved; he was particularly knowledgeable about arithmetic and theology.
- Nat Turner – Nathaniel Turner was a prominent individual for black history in the 1800s; he led a slave rebellion in Virginia under the belief and hope that it would have been a reality check about the injustices and brutalities of slavery.
- John Henry – for the amount of attention that’s been put on John Henry throughout the years, it would seem logical that he would need a film which actually depicted the amount of intensity that was involved in his work on the railroads, even up until his death.
- Dr. Martin Luther King – there have been countless films about Dr. King, but there have been very few that actually depicted the realities of the civil rights movement with great detail. It’s without a doubt that his work continues to benefit everyone even decades after his death.
Likewise, there are plenty of incredible books that the industry could adapt into films that would promote healthy awareness of racial tension and oppression throughout the decades – but for some reason, just like the above individuals – they are never granted proper recognition in the industry. Instead, we are provided films saturated with singers and talk-show hosts that believe themselves to be actors and actresses, violent scenes that merit stifled laughter in the mixed racial demographics of theatre attendees, and films that consistently depict our ancestors as uneducated individuals. If a film with serious subject content can’t be taken seriously because of the way it is portrayed or if it offends the demographic which it seeks to represent, something is significantly wrong with the tone and the portrayal. In 2013, one would hope greatly that we would be able to reduce the amount of counter-productivity in our society in order to further call attention to the beauty and poignancy of the fact that the African American demographic has overcome many obstacles of inequality, while still acknowledging the fact that we also continue to have a long way to go.
If we were to travel back in time a few hundred years, reverse one of the most significant moments of history within the United States, and watch the overall effect it had on a country that was still struggling for liberty at the time, it would undoubtedly reveal what would have been the inevitable impact if the founding fathers had become bloodthirsty and obsessed with power instead of upholding the virtuous statutes of the constitution. Albeit fascinating, it would be chilling to imagine a colonial America where liberty and freedom failed to exist after the success of the revolution, partnered by a crude dictatorship from the very men who had promised liberation and equality.
Yet that is the exact vision that has been carefully created by the teams over at Ubisoft with yesterday’s initial release of episode one from the new DLC for Assassin Creed III – appropriately titled The Tyranny of King Washington. Set to follow up with two additional episode releases in March and April, The Tyranny provides a small glimpse into what America would have been like if George Washington had been far less noble and honorable during the days of the revolution, or perhaps if the revolution had not happened at all. Ratohnhaké:ton, the beloved assassin that many have come to know as Connor Kenway — is now reimagined — emerging as a brave Native American warrior who is forced to bring some sense of reality into an alternate universe where the states have been taken over by force from the troops of The Mad King, an individual none other than the man that Connor has known as Commander George Washington in the initial installment of Assassin’s Creed III.
Or is it really an alternate universe at all? Ratohnhaké:ton awakes in the familiar settlement of his tribe, face to face with the unexpected visage of his mother instructing him that they must flee as soon as possible from the area as Washington’s violence is being unleashed. What he knows to be the true from the history he has experienced in the previous Assassin’s Creed installment has not been forgotten; he still clearly has memories of the fact that his mother died during an attack on his tribe, the experiences of a revolution that was waged against those who would silence democracy, and the ideals that Washington was a respected man of his word. It is not without any confusion that he meets the harsh experiences of his new ‘reality’ – even trying to remind Washington himself that he knows him to be a far better man than what his actions portray him to be within these moments. However, the words fall flat on deaf ears as Washington replies that Ratohnhaké:ton is nothing more than a ‘savage’ and proceeds to wield an object far more dangerous than any weapon known to mere mortals – an Apple of Eden. This is the true culprit of what has caused the uprising of the Mad King.
I’ll lay no word to any spoilers here – with the Assassin’s Creed franchise, the story is understandably so intricate that spoiling any of the crucial parts of the storyline is essentially one of the most dreaded levels of faux pas that you can commit within the Brotherhood. That being said, I can focus on a few points that I thought were particularly noteworthy as I feel they bear a great amount of significance as to the overall quality of the content found in the DLC. Connor isn’t expressly or specifically Connor here – he is Ratohnhaké:ton in his greatest form. As a result, although he has memories of being an assassin and is clearly and experienced fighter in this regard, this DLC showcases him more for who he really is, a knowledgeable and astute warrior for his tribe. In consideration of that, there have been great adaptations to the usual forms of combat that we became accustomed with in Assassin’s Creed III – adaptations which ultimately make gameplay a bit more challenging, while factoring in the more logical aspects of waging a successful ambush or attack upon someone, often without any weapons. There are an extensive amount of optional objectives which need to be completed in order to attain the prized 100% sync (for a little reference here, I started playing the DLC at almost midnight last night and finished around 2:30 AM, and there’s still a huge percentage of optional objectives I’ll have to complete in order to attain full synchronization, so you’re getting a lot of content with this release.) Meanwhile, as for that ‘alternate universe’ reference – the initial loading screen featuring Ratohnhaké:ton is actually very reminiscent of the black room that we became accustomed to seeing during Ezio’s loading screen times circa Assassin’s Creed: Revelations era, almost instantly prompting a few theories within the fandom for those who are familiar with AC3’s ending.
Although there are some in the AC fandom who may feel as if Connor’s addition to the series has been short-lived, citing their disappointment that Assassin’s Creed IV is already slated to have a completely new character; I think it’s safe to say that for the amount of content being provided in the upcoming episodes of The Tyranny of King Washington, it almost feels as if it’s a new game in itself, complete with new variations of combat and experiences that are uniquely custom to Ratohnhaké:ton himself – an ideal addition for those who were craving to see more Native American and tribal influences in Connor during AC3. As someone who has followed Assassin’s Creed throughout the duration of the entire series and spent countless hours syncing and developing theories about certain areas of the storyline, I can honestly say that I’ve never been so excited for future DLC installments in my entire history as a gamer. Episode one of The Tyranny – entitled as The Infamy — is an addition that is definitely set not to disappoint, if not completely setting a new standard for DLCs as far as Assassin’s Creed is concerned, granting it an easy 9/10 rating on my scale (with one point being removed because I kept running into a silly little glitch, but nothing major). This is one DLC that truly gives a new spin to the well-known quote: nothing is true, everything is permitted.
After months of rumors and speculation within the world of gaming, Sony finally unleashed the grandeur of their new console, the PlayStation 4. In terms of respective specs, the PS4 will feature a supercharged PC architecture with enhanced PC GPU, X86 CPU, 8 GB of high-speed unified memory, and a local storage HDD. The Dual Shock 4 controller has several new features, including a touchpad, share button, headphone jack, and light bar to identify players more easily. A second peripheral – a stereo camera, is added to gauge the depth of the actions and sounds that are taking place during the gaming experience.
Sony’s overall goal with the PS4 is said to involve the creation of a “larger user experience” with concepts focusing on elements such as simplicity, integration, social interaction, immediate gratification, and personalization for players. As a result, the PlayStation 4 has many great improvements which completely redefine the gaming experience that users have come to associate with the PlayStation console. Digital titles will be playable while games are still downloading, allowing for players to download a small percentage of a game they’ve been anticipating and follow up by jumping into instant gameplay within a matter of moments instead of waiting for fifteen or thirty minutes for their download to finish. In the middle of gameplay, if users want to take a break for a while to do other things, they can press the power button and the game will pause at the present position by saving within the RAM while the PS4 runs in a low-power state. Users will also have the ability to download content and updates while the console is completely off.
Seeking to become “the fastest gaming network in the world”, Sony has also announced that they’ve developed a type of social network that will focus completely on gaming and the experience itself, though it won’t be privy only to those on the PlayStation Network. This friends network will be based on users real world friends, which means that players will be interacting with their friends via an interface which showcases real names and profile pictures and combines many of the aspects that people have become accustomed to using across social networking platforms. As a means of expanding this user base, there will be apps available on smartphones and tablets, web platforms, and PS Vita to ensure that players always have a way to communicate with their friends and keep their gaming experience evolving on a daily basis, regardless of what device they may have at hand within the moment.
In consideration of how much of gaming is also based on spectating on the gameplay of friends and veteran gamers, the PlayStation 4 has also been designed to incorporate these aspects of gaming into the console and make them more convenient to access than ever before. The share button allows for players to record and tag specific portions of clips and then upload them to show off their gaming abilities, also allowing for players to broadcast themselves in real time, which has never before been possible on a console. Friends have the opportunity to post comments to other player’s screens during gameplay and even have the opportunity to assist other players with more difficult levels with the introduction of new spectating and co-op features.
In terms of personalization, this means that the interface of the PS4 system has noticeably evolved from what users currently experience while operating the PS3. Sneak peeks at the user interface revealed an area similar to a timeline, which featured posts and videos from those present on player’s friends lists. The system itself is designed to learn from players likes and dislikes during the gaming experience, as well as the games that are being played, meaning that it’s entirely possible the PlayStation store may pre-load recommended games and additional content into players consoles so that it’s instantly available if they choose to purchase and download it. The majority of the games that will be present in the store will have instantly available trials, which is in great contrast to the amount of games that lack demos and digital copies available in the current version available via PS3. It has also been suggested that the system will recognize users favorite genres based on the types of games that they play frequently. When friends purchase a new game, users will be notified instantaneously so that they purchase those same games for further interaction with their friends.
Although it has been said that PS3 games are natively supported on the upcoming PS4 system, it has been stated that Sony is already working on technology which will allow the PS4 to encompass all of the games that were available on PS1, PS2, and the current PS3 systems. This means that eventually, it will be possible for players to have all of the classic games from previous PlayStation consoles available on devices such as the PS4 and even PS Vita. The system will offer all of the traditional downloadable apps such as Amazon Instant Video, Vudu HD, Crackle, Epix, and Netflix, as well as many others; more notably, Sony has partnered with Facebook and uStream for PlayStation 4.
Numerous game demos and reveals during the presentation showcased the beauty and quality of high definition graphics which were previously only imaginable to most console-loyal gamers. Of the more noteworthy previews – Killzone Shadow Fall, Watch Dogs, and Drive Club all provided viewers with a glorious taste of what awaits them in terms of crisp graphics, fast-driven gameplay, and elaborate storylines just waiting to come to life on the PlayStation 4 system.
This store review has been long overdue for a while, especially since there are so many people who are curious about shopping at Beyond the Rack. In my own personal experience, I can tell you that I had never even heard of this website until around a year ago when I was at home with my family discussing various sites for shoe shopping. A year later, I finally bit the bullet and decided to give this site a chance, though I opted over purchasing shoes for something less obvious and a bit more elegantly demure; a diamond ring. Some people would surely think of this as a bit decadent, however, I assure you that I didn’t even spend over $50 on the entire purchase. Pourqoui? Allow me a small explanation…
Beyond the Rack is one of those shopping sites that is based purely on purchases via shopping events. Therefore, you sign up or subscribe for updates and the site will provide you with emails about upcoming sales events that you may be interested in. In example, I seem to recall having signed up for some of the basics, such as jewelry and shoe event updates. Sometimes you’ll get a few emails about various other events that are happening, such as kitchenware sales. Generally it depends on what you’ve listed as your shopping interests during sign up. In this case, I seem to remember that I had received a more generalized event email and that I navigated over to the site to see if there was anything worth checking out. In my case, there was a diamond liquidation sale event happening at the time and this little 7/8 carat created sapphire and diamond number just happened to catch my eye. Like any other woman, I find it impossible to say no to diamonds, especially at this type of price range, so I decided to give BTS a chance.
Initially, one might question the overall quality of any sort of diamonds that could be purchased for only $50. The pricing alone makes you almost instantly fear that you’re ordering some cheesy scrap of metal with one of those poorly made stone settings that features gratuitous amounts of paste to hold everything together – however, thankfully I can inform you that I didn’t spend $50 on a glorified version of one of those bedazzed prizes you’d find at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box in the mid-90s. The picture above speaks enough for itself regarding the overall appearance of the ring; it is a visually stunning piece of jewelry and looks even more impressive in person. It’s easily affordable, the quality is amazing, and the price is well over half off of what you would pay for the same ring at one of your local jewelers. Likewise, I was more than pleased to discover that they actually had a selection of rings available in my size during the diamond liquidation event – so if you’re like me and you have awkwardly small fingers and usually can’t find your size available, Beyond the Rack might have something for you during their jewelry events. However, this is not to say I didn’t have any initial issues with my shopping experience, as I have two somewhat minor complaints worth mentioning.
My first gripe can be found in the fact that the site could really use some work on its item descriptions. When I purchased the ring, the site only had a very general description which mentioned that it was “silver” – which led me to make the purchase since I liked the overall design and silver is a preferential choice of mine. There were two stock photographs of the item, but the angle that it was shot at made the appearance somewhat questionable, because there was a slightly golden tint on some areas of the ring, despite how the description clearly said it was silver. Basically, if you looked at the ring at one angle, it seemed slightly gold while other areas seemed obviously more silver. I assumed it was a lighting issue and ordered the ring anyway. Of course, when the ring arrived, the packaging informed me that it was “gold-tone” over silver and I found myself staring at a ring that was initially far more gold than I had expected based on that simple “silver” description listed on the site. However, it was still beautiful nonetheless, so I kept it anyway. It’s not a particularly harsh bright yellow which is typical of some types of gold-tone jewelry, so I can overlook that small issue.
As for my second issue… if you’re not a huge fan of waiting for around a month to receive your purchase, Beyond the Rack may not be the best idea for you. When I made the purchase, the site informed me that it would take three weeks for the item to arrive at their warehouse and then they would ship it to my address. There are some items that don’t take three weeks to ship out to you and they’re listed pretty clearly when you’re browsing the site. However, that still doesn’t entirely make up for the rest of the shipping issues. There is a section available on the site to track your order, but if you’re dealing with the three week shipping situation, this area is completely vague; it only tells you that your order is “en route to BTS” and nothing else about its current location or your waiting time. By the time that the order has arrived at the warehouse, they eventually send you an email that provides you with a tracking number, but this information is greatly unorganized. When I received the email, it just provided me with the number itself, which I had to discern was a tracking number from previous experience – meanwhile, the track order section of the site never updated with that information.
To be fair, however – the ring did arrive one day earlier than the estimated delivery date and since my purchase, the site seems to have undergone a complete makeover as far as its overall appearance is concerned, so perhaps it’s possible that the section for tracking orders might be more organized during a future shopping experience. As a customer, I’d have to rate my experience and satisfaction around 80% out of a possible full 100%. The issue with the ring’s appearance is minimal and obviously I still kept the ring because I loved the overall design, so you could consider that to only be 5% out of my rating; however, the issues with shipping and the unorganized format of handling tracking information is what’s responsible for the other 15% — despite the fact that Beyond the Rack does make it clear which items ship after three weeks and which items ship immediately, it doesn’t alleviate the inconvenience of trying to figure out where your package is throughout that timeframe – especially when there are other event-based shopping websites which essentially ship your items within a few days.
If you had not yet realized it, I have a true devotion to the consistent activity of shopping. It’s ever more so of the truth during these winter holidays, for while I’m shopping for my friends and family constantly, I always seem to end up picking up something for myself. This past weekend held no exclusions as I found myself falling completely head over heels for a wonderful shop on Etsy known as Madstones of Mercie, which had just been set up by owner and designer, Mercedes Costelloe. For a bit of reference here, I loved what I saw so much at this particular store that I made my purchase within moments of the shop’s initial release announcement and I was even lucky enough to be the very first customer! So what is Madstones of Mercie, says ye? In my own opinion, it’s the best place you’ll find some of the loveliest jewelry handcrafted from precious stones. However, these aren’t just any stones; they are very precious, indeed.
More specifically, my completely enamored attitude for Madstones of Mercie was acquired at the precise moment that I found my amulet — or rather, my amulet found me. I purchased a “rough natural point smokey quartz wrapped amulet necklace” which seemed to almost draw me instantly. Now if you’re not particularly versed in precious stones and rocks, I must explain to you; like many other natural elements and aspects of our lovely universe, each has its own significance and meaning. In terms of smokey quartz, it is known to help raise your vibrations, enhance mediation, relieve fears and depression, eliminate nightmares, and aid in pain relief. In this sense, many precious stones have their own unique qualities and aspects, making them more suited towards individuals based on their needs; in my own regard, smokey quartz is ideal for me. It holds many of the positive aspects which I’d like to manifest in my life and my persona. For some time I have been interested in crystals and precious stones, but I’ve found the majority of them to be overpriced and lacking personal significance — and very rarely am I ever willing to wear jewelry that doesn’t have some sort of significance or personal meaning to me. Thankfully, Mercedes had handcrafted an amulet that just so happened to be my perfect match.
A quick look at the store provides a nice variety of different stones and jewelry options to choose from. There’s something for everyone – depending on what you like – including stones such as agate, turquoise, calcite, and apatite, just to name a few. Mercedes handpicks and cleanses each stone before crafting each design herself, wrapping them in wire to affix them to their bearings without calling too much attention away from the natural beauty of the stone itself. Of course, as we all know by now, simply purchasing the amulet is never enough for me — I had to know more about meaning and hard work is found behind Madstones of Mercie’s initial charm. Keeping that thought, I contacted Mercedes to let her know that I had purchased one of these beauties and asked her if I could interview her for my blog to get some more insight into what it’s like for her to create these uniquely visual little blessings.
When did you first become interested in designing jewelry?
I have always had a love for all things accessory, but I first started designing jewelry for fun with a friend about 4 years ago. My first designs were just for fun and consisted of mostly necklaces I pieced together from vintage jewelry that I kept to wear myself.
How long have you been designing for?
I have been designing pieces ever since then. My boyfriend at the time worked at a jewelry supply store and would bring me home extra beads and findings he had at his desk, which only motivated to create more! Not long after, I was going through a rough time and a good friend of mine gave me a rutilated quartz ring and told me the meaning behind it…I was inspired to read more into crystals and from there, it was love! I started visiting a local gemstone store and eventually had quite a collection. After wire wrapping a few stones for myself to wear, I started getting loads of compliments and requests for custom pieces. After making a few commission pieces and gifts for friends, I was inspired to start Madstones of Mercie.
What would you say the main message behind Madstones of Mercie is?
I believe Madstones of Mercie is about self expression, and the power of intent. Obviously these pieces are made to be beautiful and eye catching, but they’re also a constant reminder to think about the energy that you give off. I believe in manifesting your destiny, and that the power of positive though makes all the difference. To wear a stone that signifies the change you want to make in your life can be a great reminder to work toward your goal and propel you in the right direction.
How do you know so much great stuff about the positive and healing properties of these stones?
I have been lucky enough to have some great mentors in my life that have really opened me up spiritually and taught me so much about healing and energies. Once I was introduced to crystal healing, I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could. I have spent a good amount of time in a local gemstone store, and with my face buried in my growing book collection. I feel like I still have so much more to learn and share!
For a typical piece of jewelry, such as a ring or a necklace, how long does it take you to create each piece? Would you like to share the general creation process with the readers?
Depending on the piece of jewelry, it can take a few hours, or up to a few days for refinement. I prefer to stick to simple wire designs that won’t be too overbearing, or draw too much attention away from the stone itself. I always start with a hand picked crystal and see if there are any specific areas I would like to highlight. From that point on, I would say it is all intuition and working with the natural shape of the stone. Sometimes I love my first design and feel like it couldn’t have come out better; Other times, I waste a lot of wire trying to get it right! If that is the case, I set the stone aside for a few days and come back to it with a new approach until it feels right. With all my pieces, I like to take a fresh look days later to be sure the wire home suits the stone.
Do you have any specific pieces you’ve created that you would consider are your favorite?
Personally, I am a fan of any sort of rough crystal piece… but I don’t think I could pick a favorite! I started out making stone rings, so lately I’ve had a ton of fun creating necklaces and searching out funky chains for them to live on!
Every piece of jewelry from Madstones of Mercie comes individually packaged in a cute little mint green box and features a card explaining some of the main benefits and aspects about your crystal or stone of choice. Mercedes shared with me that she especially loves having the opportunity to handcraft and tailor each stone and its design to the individual who will be wearing it later on; for this reason, she’s always open to doing commission pieces and interacting with customers to create the ideal piece for them. Love her work but don’t see the stone of your dreams listed on her store’s site? Mercedes is even willing to take stone requests! After my purchase, she emailed me to ask if there was anything that I thought needed changing or altering; however, I informed her that my amulet was actually perfect. Her efforts to go out of her way to create something that will be truly precious to each and every customer really impressed me. On a gauge of the genuine, it’s easy to tell that Mercedes takes her work very seriously while still managing to do something she loves; she devotes herself fully to the design and creation of each piece while still managing to put her own ounce of love into the final result.
All of the opinions in the preceding post have been my own. Some photos appear courtesy of Mercedes and Madstones of Mercie. For more information about Madstones of Mercie or to get your own unique and one-of-a-kind piece, you can visit Mercedes store on Etsy.
Although it’s rare, sometimes I actually do make an effort to stop being so lazy with my fashion blogging and actually show you a little bit of my own personal style in my free time. I had intended to get more serious about this months ago, however, procrastination and I have been long time friends and there’s always something else that demands my immediate attention, whether it’s writing articles or traveling around from place to place. Thankfully, winter holidays and an ample lack of sleep currently have me fueled with a little extra time. However, having not slept for around the past 24 hours, I am not striving for perfection with this initial post, and so you get an Instagram-quality photo of this lovely little ensemble instead of me messing any further with my SLR camera today.
A common aspect of fashion with me is a lot of random do-it-yourself styling on my own part. While you may be thinking this is a dress, it’s actually a combination of two pieces from my wardrobe. The bustier is from Nasty Gal, purchased in the previous summer. The high-low skirt is from GoJane and since my memory is completely lacking at the moment, I’ll just label the thigh high stockings as an off-brand. On a better day when I’m more prepared for fashion blogging, I’ll put in some links here of exact or similar styles from the websites. Shoes aren’t pictured here, but they’re your typical 5 1/2 inch black mary jane pumps since that’s one of my favorite styles.
I really prefer not to spend so much time drawing attention to myself (it’s incredibly awkward actually), so I’m going to end this post at this point. Happy new year!
For anybody, a quintessential admission to the terms of style is the understanding that fashion is ultimately whatever you desire for it to be. It varies for everybody; there is no exclusive wrong or right regardless of if you are aiming to be purely casual, street-chic, glamorously high fashion. In the same vein, you’re exceptionally lucky if you can find a solitary brand or line that truly expresses who you are throughout your style genres. I don’t believe that there’s anything wrong with mixing and matching between brands and designers, obviously, because this is how we all customize and create our own signature style; but there’s just something to be said when you can find a brand or a store that provides you with just the right fit for all of your fashion needs.
Recently, I’ve become particularly obsessed with TRIBEhaus Clothing after being followed by them on Twitter. If you’ve ever heard of the domino effect, here you would find the perfect example of one. After weeks of conversations via Twitter, obsessively browsing the website, following them on every social networking profile I have, and otherwise just drooling constantly over their gorgeous clothes… I finally decided to share them with everyone else. Selfish, I know, but you have to seriously consider me awestruck by this company, because it’s not often that I can go to any brand’s website and comfortably click on nearly any section with the ability to find a majority of styles that I’d actually wear. In that sense, TRIBEhaus Clothing won me over instantly because I found myself interacting with and virtually surrounded by a brand that was a great reflection of the type of stuff I love to see in my closet and wear, whether I’m dressing up or just running some errands for the day.
Sometimes the more you discover about something or someone, the more you grow to admire and appreciate your own overall access to it. To gain some deeper insight into the vision of TRIBEhaus and real meaning behind the brand itself, I decided to approach the founder, Anna Bagozzi in order to learn more about her company from her own perspective. In my own thoughts, I can only describe Anna to you as an unbelievably driven and talented creative visionary. She’s very inspirational to me in a sense; at the young age of 27, she has studied textile design in Florence, printmaking in Vermont, fashion in Milan, and then carved her imprint into the entrepreneurial world while living in California. She is a citizen of the world who has ultimately created a way to encompass and encourage the passion of living fiercely free spirited in a world that’s pushing towards conformity.
In every sense of the concept, Anna created her own tribe, which began in the world of fashion but literally began to stretch far beyond. In her own words, Anna defined TRIBEhaus as “its own community of people from all different cultures around the world who come together based on a common love for fashion, self-expression, style, and the love of all things beautiful.” The company itself has developed its own fanbase of faithful customers from around the world, from areas such as Asia, Europe, Australia, Canada, and continuing onward. Her consistent interactions with followers throughout various internet profiles, combined with the positive message of her company and unique marketing approach are undoubtedly key in leading towards the growing success and potential of the TRIBEhaus brand. In example, currently the site is offering a great Style Contest to fans, allowing them to submit their own looks that are “in the style” encompassing Tribehaus. One incredibly lucky winner will receive a TRIBEhaus giftcard worth $300, which would certainly take care of quite a few of the lovely items from your wish list!
Where the majority of many brands and founders would cease to imagine and provide, Anna continues radiate throughout an upcoming line for Tribehaus. She plans on releasing a wide selection of purely Tribehaus merchandise, including iPhone cases, hoodies, t-shirts, and a variety of other gear for those who want to show their loyalty to their brand and the tribe. For Anna, the popularity of the brand even though it is still in its freshest stages is a reflection of the true potential of the company and all that it could continue to transcend towards:
“I love having a community aspect to my company because involving the community and making people feel part of a ‘tribe’ is an important thing, which is why I mail out free stickers to fans every Friday. It’s my way of giving back to the people who follow Tribehaus. Things are still very new and evolving, but I think the Tribe line will be key to my company.”
Many of the brands that Anna supplies via TRIBEhaus are designed and created directly within the USA; the majority of them are actually from some of the well-known names in NYC and LA. However, there are also a few wonderful brands provided which are from countries like Australia and Italy. More specifically, Anna stated that she is always expanding the company and growing the fashion base which it represents – in this sense, Tribehaus is remarkably still only in its first phase! At the moment, visitors to the site can typically find a lot of fashionable treasures from MINKPINK, Chan Luu, Generation Love, DAV, Czaki, Gypsy Junkies, Lauren Moshi, Koolaburra, Line and Dot, M2F Brand Denims, LNA, and MET Jeans. What I enjoy the most about the site is that if you’ve been having a hard time cornering a specific piece for your wardrobe from one of these designers elsewhere, there’s a good chance that you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for on the site – and more! One can easily get lost within the pages and sections of Tribehaus, let me tell you.
Moreover, if you’re like me and some of the typical mainstream stores that everyone shops at just isn’t suiting you… then you’re going to love TRIBEhaus. As Anna said to me, it’s not just a store – Tribehaus is a state of mind, a state of being, a community – something created solely for those of us who want to embrace their inner wild child and be free at heart in every form of expression. Tribehaus wants you to embrace your beauty inside and out and that’s what I love about Anna’s brand the most.
All opinions expressed in the preceding feature are my own, the photographs and stunning clothes appear via courtesy of Tribehaus. For more information on TRIBEhaus Clothing, you can connect with Anna via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or the brand’s main site.
Happy Holidays everyone!
Although I never got around to updating you about some of my recent purchases while I was working on creating this website, one that particularly stands out in my mind is the charming bracelet that I bought from jewelry designer Michelle Gharibian via Instagram. Initially, I had learned about Michelle via another site when I was browsing through a list of photographers and artists; upon adding her and networking with her a bit more on other websites and communities, I realized that she’s actually a very talented jewelry designer! One day when I was browsing through my Instagram feed, I came across one of her bracelets for sale and absolutely fell in love with it. For your reference, here’s a peep at my beloved bracelet:
What I love about Michelle’s designs is that they have a unique vintage style to them, combined with some of the current trends that are common in modern jewelry designs. In example, you might see turquoise stones used in a traditional setting, but then paired with spikes. Her bib designs are particularly alluring; in Michelle’s store, you’ll often see very vintage main pieces accented by unique stone beads, contrasting gunmetal finishes, or rare pendants that you definitely wouldn’t come across at your typical mainsteam jewelry store. She also makes a variety of hairpieces, which are very in demand in terms of current style trends.
While a lot of people would consider Etsy to be one of those sites where quality is questionable, I can say that the craftmanship of Michelle’s jewelry truly did impress me. A quick glance at her store reveals unbelievably affordable and stylish jewelry; however, when you finally receive your prized purchase, you realize that you have a truly unique and quality piece of jewelry that other stores and sellers would undeniably offer for a much higher price. I know for a fact that my bracelet will probably last for several years without any risk of breaking or falling apart from some flaw. I also have the pleasure of knowing that it’s one of a kind, which is one of the major preferences for me in terms of purchasing accessories and items for my wardrobe.
Just recently, I had the opportunity to interview Michelle to ask her a few questions about her jewelry designs and gain more insight into her experience as a designer.
When did you start making jewelry and what made you interested in it?
“I started designing and making things when I was 13 years old. I got into it because I have always been in love with fashion, but I put it on hold until I was 18 and in high school when I got more into it. I even set up a booth at a local fair and I didn’t really have great experience. I know my work then wasn’t the greatest, it was something I just put away and forgot about. What really got me back into jewelry was the holiday season of 2011, I thought it would be nice to make my family gifts for the holidays and they all loved them. I started putting them on Instagram and others admired them as I did, so it just grew from there, and now I cannot stop!”
What is the most popular jewelry style that you sell?
“The most popular style that I sell are my cross bracelets and skull bracelets. I know that they are both big trends right now, but I have my own personal twist that I use to create the pieces.”
As you’ve probably already noticed, there are a lot of stores that promote themselves on Instagram. Since you also sell jewelry via Instagram, do you think that photo communities like Instagram and Pinterest are a good way for sellers to get noticed?
“Oh yes! Instagram and Pinterest have really helped me show my work to the world! If it was not for both, I am not sure what i would be doing to be able to get where I have come now. Half of my customers are from Instagram, it’s a great marketing tool!”
What would you consider to be the top jewelry trend at the moment?
“Honestly, right now a big trend would be also moving a little past the summer colors and tones. I think skulls are still in style but maybe darker colors, or even thick bulky chains and rhinestones. Just anything that will really stand out on fall colored clothing. I think copper colors will really be in this season, which is perfect because I am expanding my line with more exotic metals, copper being one of them!”
For those who are huge admirers of your designs, do you have anything that you would like to announce in the future?
“I want everyone to know how much I appreciate all of the fans of my work! I will always keep my quality standard. I am also planning to work with different metals and do what I can to make my quality better. I am thinking about having a big sale to further expand my line with better pieces — see you there! And to anyone who might have questions, or if they want to buy anything… you can find me on Instagram, Tumblr, Etsy, or send me an email at email@example.com. Thank you so much for this opportunity, I love all of my supporters.”
I’ve been greatly anticipating many of the New York Fashion Week Spring 2013 showcases for a while now. I suppose unbeknownst to many people, fashion week remains to be one of my favorite events of the year. I have yet to have the opportunity to actually attend one of these fashion extravaganzas on my own, but it never stops me from browsing the schedules and lurking for a few hours on some of the related photography websites. This year, I was particularly excited about Vera Wang’s presentation.
I remember when I was a little girl, my mother showed me some of Miss Wang’s designs and I instantly just felt enamored by the elegance and unique creativity that she was able to showcase in the details of her dresses. In fact, I suppose that’s what most people associate with Vera Wang — those stunning, unforgettable dresses that she has created for so many years. Here’s a look at some of my favorite dresses from her presentation this year.
Regarding the following three designs, it’s all about the color combinations! The gold and hunter green tones of these ensembles are literally regal. I love the pattern of the green fabric, particularly. Likewise, the dress in the middle is simply stunning; who can say no to such golden, intricate lace? Initially, I had hoped that the dress would have a lengthier train in the back; however, the actual length of the dress is probably more suitable. These are styles that could easily be worn at an event calling for formal attire. The hunter green ensemble on the far right is actually a flowing pantsuit, which is an interesting take.
Out of the next four dresses, my favorites would have to be the gorgeous royal blue dress on the far left and then the black mini-dress on the far right. The styling of the blue is just beautiful, it’s another one of those designs where Vera was definitely favoring the use of lace. What I love about this particular dress is that the colors pop so much! It’s a hot look compared to how we’ve seen lace used more traditionally in the past. The black dress has these beautiful slouching sleeves that I’m fascinated with; the dress reminds me of a classy, high fashion take on the nomadic fashion trend that we’ve been seeing throughout the year. These are the two hottest styles, in my opinion; however, I think it’s safe to say that Vera Wang’s entire collection for Spring 2013 is beautiful.
Remember how I said I loved the slouch style of the sleeves shown on the black dress above? A similar slouching style can be found on the bodice of the hunter green dress seen at the far left. Conceptually, this dress is very interesting to the eye. The majority of the skirt portion is lace in a corresponding shade of green, paired with the fabric of the upper bodice of the dress. It’s a dress that definitely demands attention, regardless of how you would style it. Likewise, the gold dress which follows is another stunning addition. The top portion of the dress is gold in the most bold incorporation I have seen in a while; however, it’s balanced perfectly by the subdued gold hues found in the lower portion of the design. It’s very reminiscent of gradients, but not in the typical sublimation style that we see most designers using. For a truly unforgettable fashion statement, the white dress on the far right side should not be overlooked. This particular style reminds me of the Victorian riding jackets that existed centuries ago; classy, understated, and chic. Since the jacket is ultimately so well tailored, it pairs perfectly with the full skirt at the bottom.
For those of you who think that Vera Wang only designs dresses, here’s a nice little alternative to what you’ve come to associate her with. I don’t know about you, but I think the styling of these next three outfits are just phenomenal. I love the colors, I love the cut of the fabric, I love everything. My favorite, of course, is the black option on the far right. To me, this style feels like a wonderfully modernized, feminine version of what some men wore during the baroque period. Certainly, people always associate Vera Wang with dresses; however, you know as well as I do that dresses aren’t always the most suitable or functional attire for everyday fashion. What I love about this style is that you could wear it out in any of your day to day activities, whether you needed to manage something at a meeting, go run some errands, or show up for a dinner party afterward.
Now that I’ve shown you some of my favorites, why don’t you tell me some of yours?
Last Friday, I had the pleasure of finally seeing Blaqk Audio in concert for the first time. For a little reference; the last time that Blaqk Audio held a concert in Vegas, I was underaged and so it would have been impossible for me to see them perform. Of course, since my mother knows how much I absolutely adore AFI and Blaqk Audio — she surprised me with a ticket to the show. Further proof that my mother is amazing? She also bought herself a ticket and we went together, which pretty much made it the best experience ever.
The show started at 9 PM, but we were a few minutes late. Initially, I was concerned because I thought it would take us a little longer to get into the venue. However, despite what Vinyl’s website had mentioned, there was no security pat-down and no one even checked our ID cards. We walked in during Hi Deaf’s set, which was very enjoyable. Ryan and Ken did a great job spinning during their hour-long performance. After Hi Deaf’s performance was finished, Smith and a few other guys came out to set up the stage for Blaqk Audio. He went to the back of the crowd for a while after that and I had considered popping over there to say hello, but I didn’t want to run the risk of interrupting him if he was busy. Another hour passed during this time and the venue was piping filler music over the speakers, as is typical of most shows. Suddenly, there was a flash of light, directly followed by the beautiful sounds of the opening chords of Cold War. The ambiance within this moment was unbelievable; you would literally have to be there in person to truly appreciate it, even high-definition video wouldn’t have done it any justice.
Despite the numerous times I have seen AFI perform live, I will never cease to be amazed by Davey’s vocal range and his stage presence. He’s one of the few musicians that I can say truly is able to capture the immediate attention of the crowd, regardless of the size of the audience. I’ve seen his performances with AFI fill entire stadiums and arenas before. However, the finest point of seeing a performance at Vinyl is that the venue is rather small, leading for a perfectly intimate concert experience. The acoustics within the venue are incomparable to anything I’ve experienced before, even during my times of seeing concerts at The Joint.
Beyond the intro, the setlist included performances of Again, Again, and Again, The Witness, Everybody’s Friends, Between Breaths (An XX Perspective), Bon Voyeurs, Faith Healer, Bitter for Sweet, Fade to White, Cities of Night, Mouth to Mouth, On A Friday, Bliss, Say Red, and Stiff Kittens. There was also an encore afterward which featured a cover of Erasure’s A Little Respect. The show ended with Semiotic Love. It was the perfect balance of songs from CexCells and Bright Black Heaven, quite frankly. We were dancing, jumping, singing along, and just having an amazing time.
Overall, the show was amazing. I haven’t had that much fun in such a long time, and it was a great experience to share with my mom. We were in third row and the view of the performance was fairly good; the only distracting aspect was that it was nearly impossible to see Jade! He was at the back of the stage with his laptops that he uses during the performance. Ideally, it would have been nice if he was up more towards the audience or even side by side with Davey, but I’ll digress. It was a remarkable performance nonetheless and Davey called attention to Jade in the back during the show. It was also adorable looking over at my mom and seeing Davey reaching out towards her during the performance — totally unexpected and cute!
Now from what I heard around the internet, the band is also playing a show tomorrow night in Sacramento and they’re touring until the 14th. If you haven’t seen Blaqk Audio before, they’re definitely worth checking out! Those who are interested in listening to the new album can catch it streaming on Buzznet prior to its official release on the 11th.
It seems I’ve finally gotten around to finishing up all of my hard work and development here on my new site. I’m so excited that it is nearly finished, it feels like I’ve been working on this personal project of mine for forever — well, at least a few months now. I don’t have much to say right now since this is just an introductory post, but this blog is certain to become very active in the future!
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