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Archive for June, 2009

Pretty in Pink

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Yes, I know. I said I was done with the contests and all, but how could I resist the opportunity to participate in such a manly opportunity as “Styling Pretty in Pink,” I mean really?

Yes. I re-upped for the next iteration of Hollywood Walk of Fame. I probably won’t work so hard on the nightly contests as I have been. Maybe one a week or so, because they really are a lot of fun when taken in moderation.

Pretty_in_Pink

So, I didn’t have a pink suit. It’s not the most common of colors for men, but there are some out there. This happens to be Positano from Sartoria – and it was gray when I started.

The Results

I got two votes. The judge had a huge group of contestants to choose from tonight – one of the biggest fields I’ve seen. And all of them were, technically speaking, prettier than me. It was one of those contests I had no chance to win at so I went for the fun of it. After being in the “big pageant finale” yesterday, this was pretty low trauma. It didn’t hurt that I had it all in my inventory and just needed to combine a few pieces to make the outfit.

What Would I Do Different?
Shoes. The trainers were the right color but they were not the right shoes. I have few brown shoes — and my sandals weren’t cutting it either. I could have gone with the color change Chucks from HOC and made them pink, or black or something I suppose, but what that suit really needed was a pair of JCS medium brown boots.

Stuff
Suit – Sartoria: Positano (gray but tinted pink)
Shoes- hoorenbeek: Converse trainers in beige/black
Glasses – primOptic – Crowe

One Hundred Posts

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Seven months ago, almost to the day, I started this blog. All in all, it’s been a great seven months, and a hundred posts that probably won’t change the world, but give me the opportunity to look back over my journey of exploration and growth in Second Life.

My goal in the beginning was to document my exploration of being a non-standard avatar – hence the name xtralarge in the URL. It seemed important to me then to see how people would react to an overweight avi, and I may go back to that, but along the way I gave up on wrestling with the shape tool – trying to make a shape that didn’t have weird triangles sticking out in odd places. Instead I started building a kind of “just a guy” avi.

Anybody who’s spent any time on the grid knows that the vast majority of male avies are overly bulky and blocky. Head proportions seem to be a bit on the small side while arm and shoulder sizes are radically disproportionate. If you’ve ever seen Larry the Lobster on Spongebob, you’ll recognize the archetype. And for some reason, a large number of them seem to think that “shirtless” is the new black. Against that backdrop, I guess I can understand why clothing designers don’t design much for men.

That did raise an interesting question for me, though, and that was “What does a nicely proportioned guy really look like?”

I ran through a series of shape mods based on various artistic traditions and wrote that up, too. But the aesthetic values of the grid aren’t really based on those traditions when it comes to fashion. I suppose that’s no different from RL modeling when you consider what models go through to maintain their artificially slim shapes. The difference is most striking when you realize just how tall models are.

Since then, the majority of my posts have been documenting my experiences as a contestant and model. I’ve taking a lot of photos and started a Flickr account to publish them.

I did get a plum job when the 2009 Clothing Fair opened. I learned that I could get press credentials if I asked, and that those press credentials would allow me a kind of “backstage access” to the show. I didn’t really know anybody there so I kept a low profile and just went to the Fair – documenting what I saw, visiting with the vendors, and writing it up as I went. The resulting series started with a pair of pre-Fair previews followed by a daily report from the floor documenting some aspect of the fair. I have to thank Nevar Lobo who took a chance on an unknown blogger and gave me a press pass. I had a blast writing up the fair, and I hope that it helped raise even a few L$ for the cause.

There have been some other themed posts — in addition to my nightly contest series where I document all the styling contests I entered. Probably the “prettiest” series was the set of articles on the grand re-opening of Caliber, a shop specializing in costume and role play clothing and gear. From Bogies to boggles, the new build there was spectacular and I enjoyed my time creating those photo-stories and meeting some really great people along the way.

And that’s really what it comes down to on the grid. The people. If it weren’t for the people you meet along the way — avatars of reality projected into the virtual world — the metaverse would be a sterile and empty place. I’ve met some great ones in my time in the world and I’m looking forward to meeting more.

Yea, it’s still a brave new grid. And there are still a lot of stories to be discovered and told here. I hope this first hundred is just the beginning and I’m looking forward to the next.

Onward.

RZ

Walk of Fame Finale

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

The gowns are off and the ties loosened. A grueling almost five hour marathon session has come to an end.

In the end, the event itself was a bit anticlimatic. We had the normal problems with changing clothes in heavy lag. Some didn’t rez. Some didn’t look right. Mouths got warped, smiles were turned on for no reason. Normal, heavy lag circumstances.

DJ meka Chaffe was on hand to keep the stream going and to read the texts from each model aloud. It was a lot for one person to do, but she did a yeoman effort to keep up with it. She does have a great voice and I’ll confess I’m a fan of her music picks. She has stuff I don’t hear everywhere.

The various components of the event were largely uneventful, and that’s really what one might want, I suspect. Having made up my mind that I’d be somewhere in the bottom tier, I went through the event giving it my best shot, but largely satisfied with my lot. The other models are amazing. I probably didn’t tell them that enough while we were working together, but they are. Coming in last against a field like that is no shame.

And oddly, enough, I didn’t.

When the dust settled, I was given a very respectible 4th place finish. I’m not sure why, frankly. It was a good look, and I was pleased with the final application materials. My three outfits worked as well as I could have hoped and I practiced to be able to hit the mark on that very long catwalk where the finale took place. I went in with the idea that, I might not win it, but it wasn’t going to be because I didn’t do the best I could. I was happy with my performance. The usual “What Would I Do Differently?” section isn’t going to be on this one, because I did exactly what I thought I needed to.

Oh, The Question: “As the only male model, what’s your strategy for winning this competition?”

My answer – weak in hindsight: “Work as hard as I can to try to do twice as good as any other model, and then throw myself on the mercy of the judges because this field is unbeatable.”

I’m not twice as good. I’m not half as good, I suspect. One of the realities of novice thinking is that novices always overestimate their knowledge and skill because their frame of reference is skewed to what they know — and they don’t know what they don’t know.

I have no illusions. In this game, I’m a novice.

The Results

8th: Angelsmiles Seetan
7th: Xenobia Foxclaw
6th: Arica Kaestner (Ms Photogenic)
5th: Arialee Miles
4th: Roland Zepp
3rd: Georgia Quicksand
2nd: Haidyn Inglewood
1st: Jillian Convair

So, I made it into the top half. I have no idea how or why. The dice rolled and I must have made a saving throw for charisma or something. It was a nice surprise.

I’m going to leave this post at that. I wrote what I wanted to about the experience yesterday, before the event, and tonight I’m tired.

I will close with a thank you to the judges for their effort, and another thank you to The Organizers. I’ve been critical — sometimes very critical — but they do an amazing job at running this enterprise. With multiple pageants, regular contests, periodic special events, they do an amazing job of keeping all the balls in the air, and a level of engagement in their community.

So, thank you to Anrol Anthony and Steve101 McCollough. Whatever else I may write about my experiences there, I will freely confess that I learned a lot in my time there and I applaud you for your energy and enthusiasm for doing what you do.

End of the Road

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

Tomorrow marks the end of the road on my Walk of Fame. It’s been — at turns — fun, frustrating, maddening, and anger inducing. There were some highs in there when the contest outfits worked perfectly and the judge du jour scored it. And there were a lot of lows when the seemingly random nature of the outcomes became overwhelming.

If I’m honest in looking back over the last four months, on balance, I’d say it was worth it. I met a lot of very nice people. I learned a lot about the way some people view fashion and the people who model it. I learned a lot about myself as well.

Looking back at the blog, this is the way I looked on my second competition.

Crowe from Primoptica

This was after working on skin and shape, and while I was still thinking I’d be able to be a model without going broke. I was so naive.

My look has gotten a lot more sophisticated since the beginning of March.

roland_head_shot3

And my photography skills have improved a lot as well.

In the contest tomorrow, three judges will rate me against seven gorgeous and talented women, most of whom have a lot more experience at this than I do. I’ll be judged in three outfits across four dimensions, and in the end the organizers will pick the people they want to win. That’s not a critique. It’s a simple statement of fact. I got a notecard with that information in it. I’m sure they’ll probably take the judges’ scores into consideration, because being a judge is a gawd-awful thankless task and they’re owed at least that much consideration, but the bottom line is that the organizers reserve the right to assign the top ten — or eight in our case — prizes solely at their own discretion.

Ok. I’d rather have known that going in than coming out, but I kinda suspected it all along and if that’s what the game is, then that’s the game. I got no beef.

In many ways I really am the poser I’ve complained about — having bought my way into the pageant by dint of knowing how many lindens to plunk down on my picture at what times. In all honesty, while I can walk the walk, talk the talk, and actually know what I’m talking about in the process, I’m not really a model. I’m just a guy who likes to write about fashion and wanted to see what a pageant was like from the inside.

Well, I saw. I wrote.

And I’m pretty sure I’m going to be in the “also ran” category tomorrow. If I place higher than 6th in an 8 person pageant against 7 gorgeous and talented women, it’ll be a miracle. I’m already pretty sure — since the organizer announced that she’s already selected “Miss Photogenic,” I’m probably not even gonna get the consolation prize. Ah, well. Somebody needs to be on the bottom rung, and it’s pretty clear I’ve been penciled into that slot before the show even begins. Anything above last place is gravy.

Whatever the outcome, I’ll always remember my time with this group and I’m taking away some valuable lessons in fashion and in modeling.

I think for my next challenge, maybe I’ll see if I can be a writer for a fashion magazine. Or maybe become a male model for real. Who knows.

As Scarlett said, “Tomorrow is another day.”

Creative Finale

Friday, June 26th, 2009

In addition to the swimsuit and the formal, the Hollywood Walk of Fame Pageant has a “creative outfit” competition. In this segment, the models have to find some outfit that means something to them and, presumably, demonstrates something of what we’ve learned about style, fashion, and execution.

The subject matter is wide open so I chose a genre that has long interested me but which I have not had much opportunity to explore yet – Steampunk.
steampunk_adventurer_018b

In Second Life one’s dreams take flight – and sometimes that flight is by airship. The Steampunk genre has a firm foot hold in the metaverse with numerous regions dedicated to it and a plethora of talented builders, designers, and scripters working to create a virtual world of steam and cog, leather and brass. With that in mind, I wanted to create the Steampunk Adventurer for the event this afternoon and I started with one of the premier artificers — Drack Diesel.

My outfit is based on several pieces from Drack’s Arcavim line starting with the highly detailed Sky Sailor boots in black. They’re perfectly designed for working around the airship and feature many color change parts. The Nautical Trousers carry a delightful chart-like texture and set the tone for the rest of the outfit. On
top, I layered Drack’s Noble Shirt and Tie in forest green and gold under the Noble’s Vest in slate and covered it with the sumptuously textured Noble’s Jacket.

No self-respecting adventurer can head off into the unknown without some equipment. My belt compass and steampunk Explorer’s watch are from Grunge Depot and I fell in love with the richly detailed — if totally non-functional — instruments.

As important as instruments are hat and goggles. Leaving on an adventure sans chapeau is unthinkable and goggles are required equipment when working on balky airship engines. The typical Steampunk hat-of-choice is the venerable top hat and, while useful for storing one’s lunch and an odd candle or two, the topper is just not my style. After failing to find just the right acoutrement, I resorted to a bit of artifice myself and crafted this hat and goggles in the best steampunk tradition. The wide brim keeps the sun off my neck and out of my eyes, while the googles provide both protection from the drying winds aloft and a certain level of magnification when adjusted properly.

The shape is my own but the skin is LeLutka’s Absolute in a suntan tone. Uncle Web Studio’s Ilias hair in a coffee color holds my hat up. The gloves and ear stud are items I made to fill in where I needed something.

I better get moving. I left the dirigible double parked.

Stuff
Boots: Arcavim – Sky Sailor (black)
Pants: Arcavim – Nautical Trousers (black)
Shirt/Tie: Arcavim – Noble Shirt (green and gold)
Vest: Arcavim – Noble Vest (black)
Coat: Arcavim – Noble Coat (black)
Compass and Watch: Grunge Depot
Hat and Goggles: Roland Zepp

Hair: UW.st Hibiki Coffee
Eyes: E’s Gleaming Forest Green
Skin: LeLutka Absolute Tan

Finale Swimwear

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

It’s going to be difficult to stand on a stage with a bunch of hotties wearing next to nothing and try to stand out. I know where I’d be looking and it’s not at the dude on the end.

swimsuit_roland

In choosing an outfit for the swimwear competition, the key element for me was picking a suit with style. In this part of the competition, my goal was in finding the single perfect pair of trunks and with this pair of Swirls in blue from AlphaMale, I think I found them. They have just the right amount of pattern, a rich color, and excellent shading while the tie string detailing gives that little extra texture to the trunks.

The tattoo is Atui’s Vintage Hawaiian tattoo in faded ink. This classic Pacific Island tattoo with the wahinis and palm tree patterns complements the swirls on the suit and conjures up visions of black sand beaches and balmy breezes.

To round out the swimwear look I chose a great pair of Role Optic’s Recon sunglasses to protect my eyes from glare and a pair of BoHo Sandals from Shiny Things to protect my feet from sharp shells, pointed rocks, and hot sand.

I’ve kept accessories to a minimum with a few simple pieces of jewelry — a single sapphire ear stud, the MRM Shark Tooth Surfer necklace and a knotted leather bracelet from Mustang Trading Post. The three pieces are subtle, low key, and enhance the presentation of the suit without distracting from it.

For this outfit, I’m wearing my own shape, Belleza’s Thomas skin in tan, and E’s Gleaming Forest Green eyes.

Stuff
AlphaMale: Swirls blue
Shiny Things: BoHo Sandals
MRM: Shark necklace
Mustang Trading Post: Knotted Leather Bracelet
Glasses: Role – Recon
Atui: Vintage Hawaiian Tattoo (faded)

Hair: UW.st – Hibiki (coffee)
Skin: Belleza Thomas Tan
Eyes: E’s Gleaming Forest Green

The Butler Did It

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

The latest contest was “Sexy Maid and Macho Butler.” When I saw this, my first thought was Chippendale dancer because they always looked like stripped down butlers or cabana boys to me.

macho_butler

I rummaged through my inventory and came up with that great pair of dress slacks from Adjunct and my JCS Sebastian shoes. For some reason I didn’t have a bowtie/collar combination, but my heavy perusal of SF Designs lately paid off.

These kinds of sexual objectification contests make me uneasy. Maybe it’s my inherent prudishness. Maybe it’s that I really don’t find most of what gets selected particularly attractive or sexy. It doesn’t seem to matter who’s judging, so maybe it’s more about my views being disconnected from the consensus reality of the metaverse.

The Results

A surprising second place finish.

winner_butler

Some nights I don’t understand the selection, but given the emphasis on “sexy” in tonight’s contest, I’m pretty much in agreement with the lineup. I found some of the other contestants – perhaps – sexier, but I can certainly see where the judge considered these three to be her top picks.

What Would I Do Differently?

I’m never sure what women consider “macho” and I don’t equate “macho” with “sexy” so there’s a semantic disconnect for me with this contest right off the bat.

It’s always hard to argue with a win, but perhaps a different skin – something with chest hair – might have had more animal attraction. I like this new line of Belleza skin but I’m never sure of the tone. It seems like I’m always just off the mark on the color I want. I wish I could get a “color pack” — the same face/hair/beard combo in all the skin tones, rather than a “tone pack” where I get a collection of face/hair/beard choices all in the same tone. But I digress.

The hair was a bit too neat. Perhaps something that looked a little bit more like I was just crawling out of bed leaving a satisfied mistress of the house behind would have been a better choice.

Anyway, I got my two votes and 250L prize money.

Stuff
Pants: Adjunct – pleated front dress slacks.
Collar/Cuff: SF Designs – Color change bowtie w/shirt
Gloves: SF Designs – white dress gloves
Shoes: JCS – Sebastian black

Hair: UW.st – Ilias (coffee)
Skin: Belleza – Johan (sunkissed)
Eyes: MADesigns – PROMISE pale brown 6

Finale Formal Wear

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

The finale for the Hollywood Walk of Fame Pageant is Sunday at 3pm and I’ve got my outfits lined up.



formal_roland7, originally uploaded by roland_zepp.

The formal is the final outfit and I wanted to give appropriate recognition to Swaffette Firefly’s SF Designs. I didn’t want to wear a straight off-the-rack suit for something as important as the final, but I also didn’t want to bother a high-profile designer like Swaffette. This Morning Suit started life with a cranberry vest and tie, but it lacked something in terms of formality for me so a fast run to SF Design’s High Society Store at Penryn gave me the severe black tie and vest that I was looking for.

I understand it’s common for women to get designers to custom create a formal gown for them for these events. I suspect there’ll be a few of those on Sunday, but when I actually think about it, when it comes to men’s formal wear, there’s not much “custom” that’s really allowed. Perhaps I’m mistaken on that – as I’ve been about so much else in fashion here – but it seems like women have a lot more leeway.

It would have been interesting to try out one of SF Design’s Celestial’s or perhaps a Hamiltonian Tux, but I picked this one because it felt right to me in terms of formality, elegance, and sophistication.

Outfit
Suit: SF Design – Morning Suit
Shirt/Vest: SF Design – Vest, Shirt, Tie (black)
Gloves: SF Design – white gloves
Shoes: Evocative “Cuban” Ankle Boot (black)
Boutonierre: Essentia Groom Boutonniere Red

Hair: UW.st – Ilias Coffee
Eyes: E’s – Gleeming Forest Green
Skin: LeLutka – Absolute (tan)

Sophisticated Lady

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Last night’s contest was posted as “Styling Sophisticated Lady” and I was planning on giving it a pass. I’m not going to try to be a sophisticated lady. There’s only so much I can do in drag to be sophisticated.

At the last minute, the organizers changed it to “Styling Sophistication” which left the door open for me to participate, but left no time to actually prepare.

I didn’t let that stop me.

sophisticated

The word “sophisticated” comes from the same root as “sophism” which is an admittedly false argument presented in an elaborate manner as if it were true in order to fool the unwary – or illogical. So, when we act sophisticated we’re actually trying to fool people into thinking we’re something we’re not. It’s generally accepted as somebody who is worldly wise, the opposite of naive. I found this definition to be fitting as the event wore on.

The tuxedo, for men, is considered the epitome of sophistication. As the only suit in the world designed to make even a haired ape look presentable, it certainly fills the bill by clothing the male form in a complicated argument that fools people into thinking the wearer has some level of savoir faire. I have several outfits that are considerably more sophisticated than a tux, but the problem is in convincing the judge that it’s really sophisticated and not just weird. That task, I did not feel up to.

So the AlphaMale Casual Tux – one of my favorite suits – came out of inventory and paraded on the stage last night. I added JCS shoes and a nice MADesigns hair – something a little more James Bondy than my normal mop top. It looked pretty good and as an outfit – tuxedo without a tie or cummerbund – substituting a choker for the bow tie, it was certainly sophisticated enough.

The Results
Except it wasn’t.

The judge – and please understand when I say this – was a newbie. Not like, somebody who dressed like a newb — altho he did. Not somebody who acted like a newb. I didn’t get close enough to find out. But the rezdate on the avi was June 7, 2009. He got to be the judge by buying enough votes in the weekend boost-your-vote event to earn the right to sit in the judge’s seat.

My only hope is that it’s really somebody’s alt who actually does have some understanding of what it takes to be a model. His personal style – and his choices – were inscrutable. He sure looked like a newb. And while it’s not unusual for a judge to make picks I don’t agree with, I can sometimes see the logic behind the choices.

Last night? Not so much.

What Would I Do Differently?

I could have actually gone with a more sophisticated look, less elegant but more worldly. I have a couple of nice suits that I could have worn with some very stylish shirts and — perhaps — a pair of tartan chucks.

I could have gone more mainstream with a classic tux from Edo or SF Designs.

I could have played it for laughs and gone as Coco Chanel again. It’s hard to argue with the sophistication of Coco. Although perhaps not when played in drag.

Anyway, I got my two votes, and I saw a practical demonstration of why the judging in these contests is amusing, but largely, a crap shoot. It’s an important lesson to take away. Learning how to model by basing one’s actions on feedback from a random set of judges — all of whom have different styles, differing aesthetics, and different levels of expertise. Some of the feedback might be good. Some of it is undoubtedly bad. Some of it you just need to take with a grain of salt and check it against your own sense of style.

Stuff
suit: AlphMale Casual Tux Black
shoes: JSC – Sebastian Black
necklace: Sable Rose – Walkabout Choker Silver

Hair: MADesigns Bernard (TB tinted darker)
Eyes: E’s Gleaming Forest Green
Skin: LeLutka Absolute Tan

Unsightly Midriff Bulge?

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Tonight’s contest was “Styling Midriff.” I wasn’t going to participate in this one. I’m not the kind of av who generally goes without a shirt and I try diligently to keep the gap between shirt and pants closed. Be that as it may, I was fairly sure that the winners would be women and I’d walk away with my two votes for the week.

Lacking anything like a torn off athletic jersey, the only thing I could come up with to show my midriff was this vest from :sey. Shirtless, with some tattoos for accent, it certainly showed off my midriff. The Elephant Outfitter jeans rode nicely low and Evocative “Cuban” Ankle Boots gave me a little elevation. For me the issue was skin and as much as I like my LeLutka Absolute, the navel looks too odd to enter it in what is basically a belly button contest. Luckily my Belleza Thomas has a great navel and nicely defined abs without being cartoonish.

The Results

Three women won. Big surprise. I have no idea why they won, other than they appeared to appeal to the judge’s sense of model aesthetic.

My head’s in a different place so I’m going to withhold comment on this one.

What Would I Do Different?

I don’t know why the winners won so it’s difficult to say what I might have done to make my efforts more effective.

Midriff exposure is not a man’s style, so I’m left scratching my head and thinking that I got about what I expected — two votes.

Stuff
vest: :sey R&D
jeans: Elephant Outfitters Blue
shoes: Evocative Cuban Ankle Book (black)
tatts: Tat’Tash Ink’s Celtic and RocX’s “Wings of Sin”
accessories: Sable Rose Men’s Choker (silver), and my own diamond ear stud

skin: Belleza Thomas Tan
hair: UWS Reed Mesh Black
eyes: E’s Gleaming Forest Green