I decorated these denim jackets with vintage patches, pins, and embroidery. Here’s me modeling with my two friends. So I guess this is a DIY without the how-to! Anyway, you get the picture…
It’s not uncommon to hear girls referred to as looking like dolls–whether it’s their porcelain skin or their Barbie blonde hair, there are plenty of young women who agree that such a comment should be taken as a compliment.
However, a recent internet craze has taken this idea so literally that a handful of girls from around the world are being labeled as “living dolls.” Each has their own specific style, but they all share one thing in common–a unique concept that has frenzied the media.
The first girl I’m going to talk about has been an “internet celebrity,” if you may, for quite a long time. Seventeen-year-old Dakota Rose managed to develop somewhat of a teen fan base through MySpace back in the day, alongside her sister known as “Kiki Kannibal” (Note: not her real name). Starting out as a spunky scene kid posing for over-saturated photos with her sibling, Dakota has now developed her style into something much more feminine, and clearly decided to make use of her natural girly good looks. However, amongst all the fans are lots, and I mean lots, of haters. Speculation as to whether Dakota photoshops her pictures is top of the agenda, as well as her use of a range of make-up and camera tricks to give the illusion of appearing more doll-like, thin and stereotypically (as we have all unfortunately been led to believe), “perfect.” While some “doll-like” girls admit to wearing makeup and often teach how to achieve their look, Dakota Rose insists that she is all real. Type “Dakota Rose Photoshop” into Google images and you’ll be bombarded with photos–a lot of which people have gone out of their way to draw big red circles on, highlighting the areas which are speculated to have been edited.
Nevertheless, she’s still a beautiful girl; something that the fashion industry has not struggled to pick up on–more specifically, the Japanese fashion industry. Right now, she is currently living in Tokyo, working as a model. Unsurprisingly, her famed YouTube channel, and both her blog and her Twitter are now almost entirely written in Japanese. It seems she has found herself a place where, unlike the USA, she is adored and rewarded simply for her big blue eyes and cute button nose. East or West, fake or not, this girl is certainly getting attention.
Next up is Valeria Lukyanova–the Ukranian dubbed by the media as a real-life “human barbie.” Having begun posting videos on YouTube this time last year, she soon brought about a controversial debate on the extreme aesthetics that some women are striving to achieve. She is also under speculation as to whether or not she is just another Photoshop genius. Lukyanova virtually has the body and head of a Barbie doll; a figure that, we’ve all been taught, is physically impossible to acquire naturally.
Photographs of her could be mistaken for CGI imagery–her skin appears to be smooth plastic, while her extreme figure could pass for a character in a video game, complete with unlikely proportions thought of as alien to us human beings. Nonetheless, like Dakota Rose, Lukyanova also dismisses her critics, stating that she is in fact all natural and has had never had any cosmetic surgery. In a recent interview with V Magazine, Valeria insists that her supposedly unattainable looks are all her own: “Many people say bad things about people who want to perfect themselves. It’s hard work, but they dismiss it as something done by surgeons or computer artists.” However, in a Russian TV interview this year, (and I’m only guessing this through reading the comments as I can’t speak a word of Russian) she does admit consuming an all-liquid diet–a clear explanation as to why she is so thin, or most likely, clinically emaciated (yet with a questionably large chest…).
Since posting more videos of herself online, Lukyanova has opened up more opportunities for people to pick flaws in how she presents herself to the rest of the world. “This girl is a FRAUD. Her videos aren’t photoshopped. Does she still look the same? Not only are her looks fake/photoshopped, this girl is also mentally insane”, posted US gossip website, The Dirty. However, in her recent interview with V Magazine, we also hear of another side of this supposedly narcissistic 21-year-old. “The questions of what we are and why we exist have interested me from my earliest childhood,” she reveals–adding that she is also a teacher at the School of Out-of-Body Travel, “an international school in which our instructors show students how to leave their physical body and travel in their spiritual body, where you can visit any place on the planet and in the universe.” So, she teaches people how to disconnect and leave their physical bodies? What an absolute antithesis to the persona she presents to her YouTube viewers. On one hand, she insists on her devotion to the metaphysical, vowing that she has “a responsibility to bring more good, light, and positive emotions to people.” However, if it’s really true when she says, “I want to to share my art and my music and tell people about my spiritual ideas”, then why has she only just brought this up? Many have now been asking, and rightfully so, why she won’t post videos about her apparent spiritual quest, as opposed to those centered solely around her looks? It seems that Lukyanova will be basking in the limelight for a while yet, while the rest of us watch and ponder over what on earth she is really about. For me, Lukyanova is a complex and bizarre individual that I’m not sure I will ever fully understand.
Also from Ukraine, Anastasiya Shpagina has an entirely unique look. Inspired by Japanese anime characters and and with the help of her amazing hand at make-up and a pair of contact lenses, 19-year-old Shpagina transforms herself into a walking talking manga girl, complete with huge eyes and brightly coloured hair. Needless to say, she is just as tiny as her cartoon counterparts, having apparently slimmed her petite 5’2 frame down to just over 6 stone in order to appear as convincingly other-worldly as she can. One of her videos, showing how she does her makeup, has had over 4 million views and there have been rumours, according to the Daily Mail, that she’s even considering surgery to permanently alter her eyes to appear more like an anime character’s.
Surprisingly (or perhaps maybe not so surprisingly, due to the power of the internet), Anastasiya Shpagina has in fact met fellow Ukrainian Barbie, Lukyanova, as can be seen in various Facebook photos. Shpagina also recently met up with my fourth and final human doll, as can be seen in this rather odd video…
Venus Angelic (real name Palermo–clearly born to be an adorable bundle of cute with a name like Venus) is perhaps the most “real” out of the so-called “living dolls.” Living in London and only 15 years old, she can speak five languages and has a particular obsession with all things Japanese. People call her videos weird, maybe partly due to the fact that she has a really bizarre voice. Yet, really, she’s just being her awesomely cute girlie self. Her 112 (and counting) videos include make-up tutorials and videologs about what she’s up to, to the slightly more peculiar “face workout” and mad choreographed dance routines being performed in random locations.
I discovered Venus when I watched this British TV interview in which, frankly, I think Helen Fospero is an absolute closed-minded bitch. Mesmerised and intrigued by Venus’s unique style and odd methods of self-promotion, I decided to send Venus an email to ask her my own questions.
“My look is inspired by Japanese inspired Victorian fashion with a touch of retro and early Hollywood,” Venus explains. Rather than actively trying to look doll-like, it seems that the ‘doll’ label just kind of stuck to her. After posting videos of herself singing and dancing to Japanese songs online, Venus’ Asian audience started making comparisons between her and a doll. “They also often said “Is this girl real? She looks like an android!” and I did not wear makeup. I was just natural.” As she got a bit older, and started buying makeup, it was merely to enhance her natural features. “I thought that it was easy for me to look like a doll so I started first with clothes, makeup, then hair.”
Venus has slowly developed a fan base over time, and now has over 68,000 YouTube subscribers. But as we all know, YouTube is prime troll territory, and Venus has suffered her fair share of abuse over the internet. Nevertheless, she doesn’t seem phased by it. “There are some who like to spend their time hating and ‘trolling’ because,” she tells me, “they’re bored, jealous, and probably should do their homework for once”. If only I had such great self-esteem at 15!
And that’s just it. Venus, above all, has confidence. It is her goal to empower other young girls to embrace their differences, to not expressing themselves freely, and not be afraid of criticism by their peers. Venus’s honest and warm-hearted values are genuine, and her use of the internet as a means of self-promotion seems only natural to a teen of her generation. “Reading and creating blogs helps teenagers to discover other societies, cultures, trends, styles, etc.” she tells me, “The idea that the internet has a bad effect on teens is silly. Certain teenagers might be predispositioned to bad stuff and those are the ones that will want to be part of the ‘bad’ kids on the web.”
Now, and you’ve all probably been thinking about it since I mentioned that Daybreak interview–it appears that many are highlighting something that perhaps Venus, in her naivety, has failed to realise. Undertones of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita and the hushed sexualisation of female youth in Japan hover under the media’s noses like a bad smell, and it’s no surprise that many have jumped to conclusions about what exactly Venus’s intentions are. “The case of Venus Angelic is uncomfortably exploitative, as there is clearly a sexual undertone to what she is doing,” Hilary Levey Friedman, PhD, a Harvard sociologist, told Yahoo!. “In general, young girls on YouTube is a disturbing, growing trend.”
It’s a strange territory to delve into–often a large portion of these girls’ fan bases consists of similarly young teenage girls who simply like their style. However, it’s more than likely that Venus Angelic also has fans who aren’t the sort of people you would want anywhere near a 15-year-old girl. Due to the nature of her look and her mannerisms, it doesn’t seem surprising that older men regularly pop up to chat to her on the Japanese website Nico Nico Douga (“Basically the Japanese YouTube”, Venus tells me)–where she first began posting her videos. If you are, or ever have been a teenage girl and have any experience of using the internet, I’m sure this won’t be anything new to you. What does seem bizarre, however, is that Venus’ mother is there, in shot, on the webcam, chatting alongside her daughter. So either we’re all just getting too paranoid for our own good, or Venus’ mother is completely deluded.
Sigh. But at the end of the day, Venus is expressing herself, and in my eyes that’s all that matters. If young girls stopped themselves doing anything that any man might ever find at all attractive, well–they’d be pretty dull little creatures. And the truth is that Venus does have amazingly reassuring values. When I ask her how she feels about being grouped together with Dakota Rose, Valeria Lukyanova and Anastasiya Shpagina, she agrees that “They are very different from eachother and from me. What makes me different is that I try to teach my fans that you can be cute, and that you don’t need things like plastic surgery. I’m 15, I’ve never had plastic surgery and will never do it. I want to be a fashion icon, a good person and an example; exactly 90% of my viewers are girls 13-19. I don’t like it when people see me as weird doll freak shown around in the media circus.”
What really gets to me is how unwilling some people are to just step back and accept. Even some friends of mine, have seen videos or photos of Venus, only to throw back comments such as ‘weird’ and ‘disturbing’. Anything besides the norm, it seems, is too hard for some people to process, and is immediately dismissed as ‘wrong’ or ‘strange’. But at the end of the day, we are all human beings who enjoy different things. Variety is the spice of life – so you do your thing, and I’ll do mine.
Venus ends the interview with perhaps the best line I could have picked. So I will leave you on this note–
“Be creative and have fun, don’t think about what other people think about you while they’re not even thinking about you, YOU are thinking about them!”
Field trips to the psychic and the shooting range, plus a little drill action to make unique jewelry for less than a dollar-
Before meeting up with jewelry maker and close friend, Tanya Quintanilla, I took a trip to the psychic. I came to pick out crystals for the necklaces, and found bins filled with them. Here I bought small, long pieces quartz and amethyst for 75 cents each. I suggest getting a manageable handful like in the photo below. This will probably be the only money you spend making these, so go ahead and get ones you like. Make sure they’re pointy and thin, so you can put them in the bullet shells.
If you live in Los Angeles, I suggest going where I went:
The Green Man Store
5712 Lankershim Blvd
North Hollywood, CA 91601
In New York City, I would suggest:
120 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012
Otherwise, just look up crystal healing stores in your area. I’m sure geology websites and Amazon sell them as well.
Next I picked up Tanya to get the other crucial component, bullet shells. We drove to a large outdoor shooting range in a faraway canyon. After we parked and heard guns going off, were a tad jumpy. We went into the main office to ask about getting shells, but the receptionist just rolled her eyes, gave us some vague answer about how some man who wasn’t there was in charge of that and told us to leave. But we knew we’d never be back there, so we stayed near where the shooters were, waiting for a chance to talk to one of the men sweeping up the shells. We couldn’t walk into the area without looking conspicuous (Tanya and I both have bright blue hair) and there were signs saying NO PASSING WITHOUT PROPER EYE AND EAR PROTECTION.
Eventually one of the men came to the side, with a giant bucket of brass shells. We asked if we could take a few, and the few ended up being about six overflowing handfuls that filled up Tanya’s purse.
When we got back, we assembled the following supplies:
- Bullet shells and crystals
– Pleather/Leather string
– Hot glue gun
– Small Pliers
– Electric drill with small head that can puncture
NOTE: If you don’t have this or are scared, you can go to a hardware store and ask them to do this for you.
- Small wooden surface to drill on
NOTE: Make sure this is a disposable surface, like an art board. NOT A DESK!!!
1. On your wood board, take one of your shells and pinch it firmly in place with the pliers so it cannot spin or roll. With your other hand, turn the drill on and begin to firmly press down a tiny bit below the closed end of the shell. You will see small metal shavings begin to fall around, and eventually you will feel a thunk as the drill breaks through the metal and hits the opposite side. Continue to press down straight until you feel the drill starting to go down into the wood and then immediately stop the drill. NOTE: YOUR HAND HOLDING THE PLIERS SHOULD NOT BE ANYWHERE NEAR THE DRILL
2. Remove the shell from the drill head.
3. Put a small loop of wire through the two holes to hang the string from, and connect the two ends of the wire by making a tiny twisty knot. Then shove the knot through the hole of the shell so it is on the inside part and no one can see it. Be sure when you hold the shell by the wire, the open end (that will hold the crystal) hangs downward. Use the pliers to help.
4. Finally, add hot glue to the part of the crystal that you want to stick inside the shell. Once coated, shove inside the shell and be careful not to touch the metal for a second (it gets so hot). Then when it’s cooled down, peel any exposed hot glue off with your fingernails. Now just tie a string through the wire, and you are done!
Here are some shots of our final products – since shells and crystals are all differently shaped and colored, many combinations work wonderfully. They look badass on both men and women alike. Quartz is said to create focus, wear when needed.
Things are changing for me right now; I’m moving, starting school, a new job…
These drawings are about drastic change. I illustrated last season’s Marc Jacobs collection with his newest, for Spring 2013, to show the contrast. Fashion is confusing and weird–for some reason the exact opposite of what was amazing last season seems perfect now. Hopefully doing the opposite of what I did for the last six months will seem perfect as well.
The Fall 2012 Miu Miu collection drew upon fashion of the ’60s and ’70s, reworking them in a way which was at once nostalgic and new. It inspired me to make psychedelic art of my own, imitating those famous albums covers and posters from the ’60s that I am completely obsessed with. I drew upon the work of artists who defined the psychedelic art movement – such as Heinz Edelmann, Martin Sharp, Victor Moscoso, Marijke Koger, Keiichi Tanaami, Tadanori Yokoo, John Alcorn, Peter Max, and Milton Glaser. I found many through the book Electrical Banana by Daniel Nadel and Mati Klarwein, which I highly recommend.
I created fictional album covers for the band “Miu Miu,” by drawing upon different styles from that time and integrating textiles, patterns, colors, and imagery from the collection. And it was really fun to make!
All photographs from Style.com
Rei Kawakubo’s Fall 2012 collection for Comme des Garçons is composed of flat, two-dimensional pieces. The models look like paper dolls come to life – with their bodies molding the shapes into a coat, a dress, a jacket.
Inspired by select pieces from the collection, I flattened them even further by making them into actual paper dolls. And, it is perfectly fitting that they are now being viewed on a screen, seeing as Kawakubo’s effective description of her collection was, “The future in two dimensions.”
A handmade dress/jewelry collection –
Click on the squares to see larger -
For more, please see my website.
Everyone loves Ikea. The cheap, cheerful products and maze-like layout make the store a bit of an adult’s playground. I hadn’t been to IKEA since I was a kid, until I had the idea to shoot a colour story there, and realised there was a store just a 20 minute bus ride from my house!
This is also an editorial from a magazine I’ve been working on for a university project, alongside three other students. We’ve just got it printed but only have four copies in total (because it was so expensive to print). However, I’m thinking of uploading the whole thing to issuu.com sometime soon – so keep a look out! You can get a sneak preview of our inspiration and some behind-the-scenes shots on our tumblr. There should also be a playlist/mix uploaded there soon as well, to go alongside the magazine.
Massive thanks to Alice Neale for helping with art direction and styling.
You can see the rest of the shoot on my website.
Here is an interview I conducted with feminist fashion blogger, Arabelle Sicardi. In short, she is a total badass. From her unique style, to her multicolored hair, to her poised and elusive way of speaking, she is the kind of person that will draw attention for all the right reasons. I’ll let you see for yourself:
What periods of your life do you think you developed (intellectually, artistically, emotionally) most as a person?
It’s so cliche but I developed the most when I was really depressed – I write and create the most when I’m miserable and need someone to talk to but don’t want to. Being alone with myself is my favorite thing, but it can also be a trap. Being inside yourself for too long can wear a hole in your head psychologically, you know? I would sit in my attic for like, nine hours without moving, cutting and sewing and drawing and writing, with no music, just my own thoughts. It was a scary place but I felt very alive. I’m glad I’m not at that point anymore but I appreciate what came out of it. Everything felt more important because I knew that it was helping me survive and get up the next morning. Getting out of bed always felt like an accomplishment.
What kinds of people gravitate to you?
It really depends on what setting I’m in. In fashion, outsiders gravitate towards me, people who are trying something different, they look a little strange, something is always “off” – more patterns, less matching. Rebels. I seek them out too when I can, I think we understand each other. I am always on the fringe of something, especially in the fashion industry. I’m not comfortable in the center.
When people don’t know you very well, they probably use a few buzzwords to sum you up (dyed-hair, feminist, fashionista, et cetera). If I were to ask a close friend of yours to describe you, what story or experience would they tell to give a more full picture of you?
It depends on who you ask, really – my friends are all really different and from different parts of my life. They don’t really mix – I have friends I’ve met in school, which are different than friends I’ve met in fashion, which are different from the friends I’ve met in the art world and from writing. They’ve all seen different parts of my world but not the whole picture. You’d have to ask them.
What motivated you to publish your fashion and writing work on the internet in the first place?
I had no other place to put it. It felt logical because I knew if I kept a paper journal I really wouldn’t update it, and no one would see it. I’d been reading fashion blogs for a bit and wanted to join the conversation on my own platform (and no one in real life would put up with me).
What goals do you have for yourself in the future?
I don’t really set “goals.” I basically just want to do what I want and be happy and get paid enough to survive doing it. Maybe I’d work in New York in the beauty or fashion industry, or continue to write. I’ll just see where this road takes me. The only “solid” goal I have for the next six years is to get six more pieces to add to my CDG collection. Ten pieces by the time I’m twenty-five. A mini wardrobe.
What is currently strewn across your desk?
A hairbrush, lotion, and eyelash curler, headphones, my notebook. I’m in the middle of getting ready for class.
What is your Arabelle signature go-to outfit?
This one - I don’t think I’ve ever properly photographed it for the blog though. It’s a blazer, a leather harness, a cropped eyeball-collared shirt and high-waisted lace skirt with some black leather sneaker heels. I think I must wear it or some variation once a week.
What are some mannerisms you have?
I talk with my hands, I have terrible posture, I space out a lot. When I’m drunk, I rub my hair onto people and give them purple stains on their hands and hide my head in my sweater a lot. I used to stutter terribly but not anymore.
In what surprising ways have you found connections between fashion and feminism?
Not so surprising, I just find that fashion gives me feminist agency. I’ve explored this relationship between fashion and feminism frequently in the past.
What is your favorite color of cat?
BLACK CATS FOREVER