Cherry Blossoms and Subway Station Discount Shopping

April 9, 2014 | Posted by: rissvandal

Thanks to anime and a love of melodramatic Asian films, I’ve always idealized the idea of walking among cherry blossoms trees, especially in Korea or Japan. In my mind, to be among a sea of cherry blossoms was to no doubt have an experience brimming with drama, tranquility, and romance. Living right by Seokchon Lake, an area that prides itself on its scenic atmosphere and annual cherry blossom display, I finally got to have my overseas cherry blossom experience, and find out for myself if it was grand and profound as I’d dreamed…

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Seoul’s cherry blossom display is exceptionally beautiful, but a rather fleeting beauty at that. Due to an abundance of stormy weather and unexpectedly warm temperatures, the blooming of the cherry blossoms came and went in a flash. By the time the Cherry Blossom Festival came around, which is where I snapped these shots, the blooms were already just about on their way out.

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Seoul Punk Rock, Photo Cafes, Fake Hair, and Beauty Product Reviews

March 19, 2014 | Posted by: rissvandal

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I’d been going a mile a minute, exploring everything I could the moment I got here, but this weekend my body told me it’s time to slow down. I’ve been combating a combo of laryngitis, possibly bronchitis for almost two weeks now. If you’re going overseas, don’t ever just take it for granted that you can just pop into any drugstore and easily  pick up any medication you got at home. I’ve had to go to a Korean friend, explain my symptoms, have them write it out in Korean, and hand a pharmacist the paper like a child with a permission slip. The chance of me ever needing medication for an embarrassing ailment is reason alone to encourage me to master Korean sooner rather than later.

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WIG TIMES

Illness aside, I’ve done my fair share of shopping, seeking out any and all things cute, and I’ve been trying my hardest to resist post-White Day chocolate sales (In Korea, Valentine’s Day is for the men, White Day is for the women). Subway stations and sidewalk sales are quickly becoming my go-to for good discount purchases, but one unique place my friend and I treated ourselves was at Pinkage in Hongdae–a wig and hair extension boutique with an in-house salon. My friend opted for a full head of hair, while I just went with a small set of fake bangs. Wigs range from about $80-140 and fake bangs start in the $20 range for simple front clip ins, while $40 will get you a set of bangs and fringe to cover the entire top of your hair, for a much more natural, seamlessly blended look.

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Songpa, Seoul, South Korea–Welcome to the Neighborhood

March 1, 2014 | Posted by: rissvandal

I’m writing this blog post from Cafe Bene, a cafe in Seoul, South Korea. I hadn’t expected the transition to be so abrupt–I intended to write a post right before I left America, explaining exactly when and where I’d be moving, but one moment I was relaxing, thinking I had about two weeks to say my goodbyes, next moment I’m landing in Incheon airport, dragging my luggage past a wall of kpop videos, recovering from the whiplash from how fast plans had changed…

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I’m currently living in Songpa, part of the Greater Gangnam Area (yes, that Gangnam). I’ve been here for about a week, and still recovering from the time difference, the weather change, and the lack of access to freshly ground coffee beans. And much to my (everyone else’s) constant surprise, I’m currently a teacher of youths. That’s not something I intend to talk about on here, though, but if you want to know any more about that, or have any questions, feel free to drop me a line. As for everything else…

Welcome to the Neighborhood

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5 Brands to Get on Your Radar in 2014

January 29, 2014 | Posted by: rissvandal

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We haven’t even made it more than a month into 2014, but I already have my list–my list of new and/or fast developing brands and designers I’ll be keeping an eye on in the coming year. In other words, here’s a look at who’ll be getting most of my money in 2014… This is going to be a year full of bold snapbacks, sophisticated casualwear, edgy otaku swag, and not to mention, some lolita sweetness. Take a look at five brands it’s time to get on your radar.

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Mickey’s Back: Fitting Disney Back into my Life and Wardrobe

January 21, 2014 | Posted by: rissvandal

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I first noticed it from Hot Topic, and if you shop there or live anywhere within 10 miles of a mall you must have noticed it too. Like a wave that crashed down out of nowhere–suddenly everything was coming up Disney. I’m not talking your usual pint-size Disney princess costume wear, I mean playful, sometimes edgy, sometimes sexy Disney fashion apparel for full grown people. Automatically, my gut reaction was ”oh come on, how cheesy! Let’s stop trying to make this somehow look cool.”  Cute and nostalgic, yeah, but I just didn’t really get why Disney was relevant or attractive to anyone over the age of 12.

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Holiday Sparkle Photoset and Otaku Gifts From Jlist

December 17, 2013 | Posted by: rissvandal

Happy Holidays! First off, can I just start out with a tip for everyone? It’s a no brainer, really, but when you’re getting ready to travel, whether it be around the holidays or not, by all means make a list. And even after you do make a list of everything you need, go back and make sure you indeed did pack what you thought, and your eyes did not deceive you.

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I bring this up because I’ll go right ahead and admit that this photoset was supposed to look different. No major issue–I’m happy with the end result, but I did this shoot over the Thanksgiving holiday, and as I packed the outfit I put together right before traveling, not only did I forget a piece of it, I grabbed the wrong wig as well (“major fail” I hear you thinking to yourself). Apparently I’m partially colorblind, and think a purple wig is a blue wig, or else my apartment has worse lighting than I realize. Either way, lesson learned, figured I’d pass that painfully obvious yet crucial advice to double check your luggage (I see you rolling your eyes, thinking “well DUH”).

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The shoot ended up a bit more cutesy Lolita than expected, but hey, I rolled with it.

The wig is from Gothic Lolita Wigs, the dress is vintage, and the hairbow is from Rakuen. The shrug is offbrand, my apron is handmade, and “Maybelline Color Show Nail Falsies” (seemingly no longer available, according to Maybelline’s site) allowed me to pretend I had lovely nails for the day. (more…)

PA Renaissance Fair & Demon Mage Cosplay

November 30, 2013 | Posted by: rissvandal

Happy Belated-Thanksgiving, everyone ^^ I hope you had a lovely holiday full wining, over-dining, and long, awkward conversations. There are a lot of things I’m thankful for, and right at the top of my list is my large, close-knit family. Every time I visit we try to make it memorable, and one of my favorite family outings this year was to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire in Manheim, PA.

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My family was a little resistant to the idea of dressing up at first, but when I found out they’d booked the trip the weekend right before Halloween, I explained to them that it was non-negotiable–”you have absolutely no choice” I think were my exact words. Though the Renaissance Faire has an obvious, err, Renaissance theme, there are no strict rules you need to adhere to. In previous years I’ve seen everything from Ghostbusters to werewolves to Spock and Kirk galavanting about amidst the jesters and maidens. That being said, my father went as a vampire prince, my mother as a maiden, my grandmother as a glam witch, and I went as a Demon Mage.

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Interview with La Carmina: Travel Host, Fashion Blogger, Mermaid-Haired Goth Globetrotter

November 14, 2013 | Posted by: rissvandal

SONY DSCAnthony Bourdain may be considered the punk rock rebel of travel hosting, but he’s certainly not alone, and it’s safe to say he has some stiff competition. Has Bourdain ever encountered aliens at a Tokyo fetish club, posed with Lolitas in Austria, or explored lip sewing body modification in Vancouver? No…not quite, but let me introduce you to someone who has…

Meet La Carmina–a gothic globetrotter with her finger on the pulse of all things dark and alternative. She blogs, hosts travel shows, writes books, and goes on countless underground adventures across the world. And while La devotes herself to a career that is unconventional, and not to mention, often unpredictable, she originally dedicated herself to a far more structured path–attending Yale Law School.

So how exactly does one make the leap from the world of law to a world of fetish bars, exotic restaurants, and international goth clubbing? And what are some of the obstacles to be faced and points to consider when making such an unexpected life transition? Here’s what La had to say about it all.

Gothic Style Blogger, La Carmina

FV: As your fans see on your website and TV appearances, these days you travel the world–from Tokyo to Budapest–highlighting underground culture and chronicling your unique travel experiences, but ultimately, it all began with your blog. If you were to go back to 2007, when you first started your blog, did you ever imagine that this was the direction your life was heading? What you did envision for your future?

La: Never in a million years. In 2007, very few people had blogs, and the social network landscape was very different (remember Myspace’s dominance?). With a few early exceptions, there was no precedent for blogging being a path to something larger, such as doing books, TV and worldwide travel. Because of this, I had no expectations when I started — but I quickly found that I truly enjoyed blogging. (And not everyone does.) To this day, I get excited to create new posts and share my passion for alt fashion and culture. At the time, I hoped I would eventually find a creative career where I was my own boss, but I didn’t think blogging would be the key to opening so many doors.

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Photo Set: Creepy Kids and Cereal Killers

October 31, 2013 | Posted by: rissvandal

Happy Halloweeeeen, friends! ^_^

Monster Cereal hits the stores but once a year and what better way to celebrate the arrival of this seasonal spooky goodness then with a photo set? To tell you the truth I only tried three of the cereals (I recommend Yummy Mummy). I’m actually not supposed to eat cereal, nevermind sugar, but I like the idea of Monster Cereal so…

Here’s some costumed fun for the holiday with a bit of behind-the-scenes anecdotes throughout:

Killer Gothic Lolita: The entire time those pictures were being taken, my grandmother was standing off to the side  (odd timing for a visit) repeatedly asking “What are you doing? It’s not Halloween, I don’t understand, why are you doing this?” Sometimes the best response is to pause then just say “the Internet.”

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Photographer: Carlos Phillips Images //Model: Riss

Ultimate Fruit Brute

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Halloween for Everyone! Recommendations for Every Costuming Type

October 17, 2013 | Posted by: rissvandal

Happy October, everyone! I hope you’ve been enjoying Fall and that your Halloween preparations are well under way. To tell you the truth, I haven’t really been taking as much time as usual to really soak in the season. Maybe it’s because this month has been so busy for me–every weekend I’m out of town, most weekdays I’m running around setting up shoots for my special Halloween photoset (more about that later). Or maybe it’s because I can’t eat candy, or because making costumes is no longer a grand, once-a-year type of thing in my life. Whatever it is, I hope to get in the spirit this weekend when I take in the beautiful sites of the country, visit a notable haunted house attraction (Easter State Penitentiary in Philly), and hopefully eat lots of pumpkin stuff. That should do it, right? Maybe? I hope?

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Now let’s talk the serious stuff of the season–costumes. If you haven’t chosen your costume yet, what are you doing and how can you be so casual? If you’re still debating, let me give you a couple of recommendations, hopefully help to guide you in the right direction. But first and foremost, before I throw a bunch of shops and websites at you, let’s break it down a bit. What’s your costuming type? Are you…

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