If it’s vintage then it’s definitely cool!

If it's Vintage, it's definitely coolIs it me or has August been crazy?  There’s been an absolute deluge of must-have items flooding the grid in a tsunami-like manner since the beginning of the month and it’s been a nightmare, albeit a wonderful one, with so many incredible items on sale that I’ve no doubt purchased and promptly forgotten, or even worse I’ve bought them twice!

Anyway, another awesome event has launched this weekend and this time it’s the turn of the VINTAGE & COOL FAIR to make a massive hole in your Linden balance. I’ve been looking forward to this event with a serious amount of anticipation and on the whole it does exactly what it says on the tin by showcasing numerous styles and furnishings from times past.There’s some absolutely cracking stuff on sale but there are also some very jarring submissions too that are way too modern to include (unless you count things from the middle of last week, which I don’t).  I’m not naming names but you will see items at this event which will make you laugh out loud at the absurdity of the inclusion. We’re seeing that a lot at recent events too, and that’s something that I’m writing about in a bigger post that I hope to feature on these pages when I am brave enough to publish it!

What I am sure of though is that organising events cannot be an easy task, and if a creator turns up last minute with contributions that don’t meet the brief, what do you do? Refund them and have an eyesore of an empty store or let them participate and hope nobody notices?  The latter option is where the problem arises.  In common parlance vintage tends to be used when referring to the ‘Golden Years’ of the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s.  It’s only recently that the 1980’s and even the 1990’s have started to be included into that category. With so much source material to choose from it almost feels like there’s been laziness on the part of some creators who have added some very bizarre items into the event bucket.

Fortunately there are plenty of nice things to buy at VINTAGE & COOL that more than meet the bill and rest assured that you will be impressed by the extraordinary effort from all the parties concerned. It’s an easy to navigate event with some seriously satisfying shopping to be enjoyed, just try not to laugh too hard as you walk by the stores which clearly thought they were coming to something else entirely!I really enjoyed having a wander around and spied some classic retro styling from the 1950’s with plenty of voluminous skirts and neckerchiefs and lots of polka dots too.  There are also some great mini-skirts and dresses from the 1960’s and some cracking flares if 1970’s is more your thing, and has been an incredibly popular influence on fashion this year.  I wasn’t really shopping for anything clothes-wise in particular so left myself pretty open to all the choices that are available, but I did have one thing I had to have above anything else..vintage_002

 

There’s been a huge amount of buzz around this beehive hairstyle because it went  ‘SLviral’ on Flickr and Plurk a few days before event release which  of course drove the shopaholics into a frenzy. It’s not surprising  because it’s  beautifully made and really evokes the inspiration behind the name (which, if you don’t know, is of course Audrey Hepburn).  It’s a nice, weighty style which suggests that it would be heavy on the neck, and has acres of volume on the crown.  The back is neatly finished into what was called a ‘DA’ in the late 50’s/early 60’s.  That stands for ‘Ducks Arse’, and it was a particular favourite of teddy boys who created the style with brylcreme and a fine comb.  (Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys has been doing similar recently too).   I find Ombres the most versatile of shades for my needs I opted for the pack filled with a selection of them and I’m incredibly pleased with my purchase.  I will have to venture back to the event once it’s calmed down a bit though; there’s a free hairband that can be worn with this style in the booth and I don’t want to miss out on that. (Which would of course make this style perfect wedding hair..let’s not go there, OK?)I’m still wearing the astonishing GLAM AFFAIR ‘Katra’ skin that I picked up during last week’s FIFTY LINDEN FRIDAY.  Like I wrote last week, it really does serve as an exceptional base for make-up layers and now that we have the facility to apply SIXTY wonderful layers of nonsense on our bodies you’d better believe I’m all about the eyeliner and the lipstick and all that jazz.  Fortunately there are some brilliant cosmetic brands at this event, and I’m incredibly impressed by a new-to-me brand, LA BOHEME. The make-ups were heavily discounted. Would they be any good? Well, the evidence speaks for itself; as soon as I put them on I knew I was, to coin a Charlie Sheen phrase, ‘Winning’. They’re excellent.  Totally un-touched picture above peeps, and my make up looks ruddy fantastic doesn’t it?  This shot is of me in my bedroom testing out my hairstyle and make-up layers and as you can see this LA BOHEME  Glamour Eyes ‘Hecate’ eyeshadow is simply nothing less than sublime.  Isn’t it a treat? I bought a few packs and I will enjoy using them in forthcoming posts I think (I’m ALL about the eyeliner, I really am) but I tell you what I really like about this eyeliner in particular; it’s quite sharp. Oftentimes the lines look quite smudged and shading can be a tad off, but this is practically perfect and that really pushes all my kitty-buttons.  Turns out LA BOHEME is a brand that is more than happy to supply amazing make-ups at a fraction of the cost that is usually charged in-world.   In fact, the brand has been around since *gulp* 2004!  I actually took a quick trip over to the main store too for a quick nosey; and I’m inclined to think that the store owner is a bit witchy due to the naming conventions applied to her wares..(touches nose in a knowing fashion).  Needless to say once the event has calmed down a bit I’m heading back to her booth and buying everything in the store, it would be rude not too!

Of course I haven’t removed my MANDALA ‘Steking’ Version 5 ears at all yet, and I’m loving the options that they come with too.  You can’t go wrong with a jam-packed HUD crammed with lovely tattoos and pretty jewel colours can you? I’m even wearing the Pixie style rather than my normal human lobes, but how could I not try them when they’re shaped so beautifully? (They almost hint at my feline persuasions..) They really are an incredible product and I’m determined to get the very best out of them.Something else that I haven’t removed recently are my PXL SWEET LIPS.  In fact, I find myself wondering if it’s worth moving on to the newest version? These are the originals and they serve me incredibly well,  and I much prefer them to any of the other virtual gobs out there on the market, but still I do wonder if it’s worth upgrading? ANYWAY, enough of that because I invested in some Sweet Lips-specific lip colours at VINTAGE & COOL too from a brand called ARISE.

Like my LA BOHEME purchases I was so impressed that I treated myself to a number of packs.  Here I’m wearuing a lovely red from the ‘Jenn’ red pack and it is divine. There are 6 different shades of red in the collection and I have no doubt I’ll be wearing all of them pretty frequently.  ARISE is a brand I am often tempted by and I always find their products to be very professional indeed; I think I’m going to splurge out on them a lot more and of course I’ll share my results here with you.  I have no doubt I’ll look virtually fabulous of course!

To finish then, I’m wearing a favourite shirt from my inventory, along with some old LEAGUE bracelets and a recently acquired necklace from the KIBITZ Gacha at Kustom 9. This isn’t really a ‘Look Of The Day’ post, more of a kitty mess-about but here’s an extensive shopping list just in case you fancy any items that I shared today!

Kitty Wears:

Basic look:

BODY: Maitreya ‘Lara’ V3.4

SKIN: Glam Affair ‘Katra’ (Polar) August NB

EYEBROWS: Just Magnetized – Diva Brows – Brunette02

EYES: Nar Mattaru ‘Just The Basics’ Green

LASHES: Hush ‘Flirt’

EYELINER: La Boheme Glamour Eyes ‘Hecate’ S4 -10  – VINTAGE & COOL FAIR

LIPS: PXL Sweet Lips

LIPSTICK: Arise ‘Jenn’ Reds 6 pack – VINTAGE & COOL FAIR

EARS: Mandala ‘Steking’ Series 5 (Pixie)

Clothes:

SHIRT/DRESS: Erm..this is embarrassing! I’ve forgotten what it was called! I’ll name it here when I find it again…

Accessories:

NECKLACE:  Kibitz ‘Cat Charm’ (Gacha) No 3  KUSTOM9

SEPTUM RING:  Cae ‘Septum Piercing’ COSMOPOLITAN SALES ROOM

LOTD: Marsala Mondays

Saturday_002

Sometimes Fifty Linden Friday throws up an absolute blinder of an item.  Over the years I’ve seen all kinds of absolutely brilliant bargains featured every week, and this Friday past was no exception when I TP’d into GLAM AFFAIR and purchased their latest offering at the bargain fifty linden price. ‘Katra’, as she is called, is an absolutely cracking skin, but not because of any particular make-up style or enhancements.  She’s actually pretty plain and almost boring really, but POW! does she make a cracking canvas to add colour to, as I hope the photographs featured with this post prove; ‘Katra’ is an absolutely beautiful skin.  There’s a reason AIDA EWING is one of the most popular skin designers in-world, and this skin serves as a firm reminder  of that fact.  ‘Katra’ was available  in the ‘Polar’ tone (which is about as pale as I’ll go when it comes to skins) and it doesn’t feature much facially other than a hint of blush swept across the cheekbones and some very simple shading to the eye.  However, once I threw my PXL Sweet Lips into the mix in a gorgeous shade of Crimson, and added some eye-liner then ‘Katra’ really seemed to come alive.   The base tone (when viewed in CalWL) has an almost translucent quality to it, and it looks beautiful across the entire body, not just the face.  This is a skin that wears very well indeed. I decided to adorn myself in the No Brow version of the skin which meant I could add my NAR MATTARU ‘Nova’ brows into the mix.  I’m really into changing the way my skins look by way of eyebrows and hairbases at the moment,  and these ‘Nova’ brows are an excellent addition to any inventory, offering a lovely sculpted shape that I would absolutely kill for in real life.  Thank goodness for Second Life, eh?

I’m still wearing my absolutely sensational ‘Emily’ hair from ACTION INKUBATOR at the moment too, and it will take nothing short of a miracle for me to wear a different style at the moment because  I’m way too in love with this style.  so instead of new hair, I added some new ears,  (Only in Second Life can you write a sentence like that!) with my chosen tabs being the latest version of the popular STEKING ears from MANDALA.

Mandala’s original STEKING ears were my very first mesh-ear purchase in-world and I recall at the time wondering if they would be worth it.  Many blog posts later I can confirm that yes, they were indeed worth every single linden because they were, and still remain, absolutely brilliant ears to sport in-world and just add that extra element of authenticity into the mix.  I have a number of pairs of mesh ears in my virtual box of delights nowadays and I really don’t feel virtually dressed without them.Snapshot_006

What’s different about this  latest STEKING release are the options that are included; you have the choice of human, pixie or full blown elf-ears along with piercings and best-of-all, tattoos.  Not just your common or garden tattoos either; these are full-colour and are either positioned along the main part of the ear, along the cartilage or at the very tip. It’s the tattoos at the tip that are particularly attractive and make these ears so striking however you choose to wear them.  In fact, if you’re a regular FLICKR viewer here’s a challenge for you – count how many store ads and modelling shots you see these featured in.  That’s how I discovered them myself.  (They are pretty ubiquitous at the moment  BUT please don’t let that put you off purchasing them. There’s often a reason something becomes so popular in Second Life that everyone you see seems to own it and that’s because said item is so well-made that you’d be foolish not to indulge!)

So onto my actual outfit which  this rather adorable dress from MUKA.  It’s incredibly simple but well-shaped and *just* qualifies as a dress (although you can add a denim skirt/shorts underneath with ease).  You know, I’m turning into my mother, I really am, because when I first saw this I was convinced it was a top, rather than a dress.   (Another example? OK well there’s a cracking denim skirt at this round of KUSTOM 9 but my first instinct when I saw it was to scoff “Skirt? SKIRT? Bloody belt more like!” I’m blaming such a reaction on age…) Anyway, top or dress it doesn’t really matter because it fits well (I used the bespoke Maitreya fit included in the pack) and looks very pretty too.

I raided my inventory jewellery box for something that would work with my look in a relaxed manner, and found the ‘Savannah’ bracelets from the ever-amazing MAXI GOSSAMER were just the ticket.   Around my neck I’ve added this absolutely outstanding ‘Spirit Animal’ necklace from ATOMIC at COLLABOR88.  I’m wearing the owl design because cats for some mad reason aren’t included but fortunately for me owls are my other favourite animals (Great Greys in particular, I love their massive moon-like faces) after my feline obsessions.

To finish I elected to add some body art and to that end I’m sporting an astonishingly awesome leg tattoo that would surely make even Cheryl Cole wince.  This absolute beauty of a body art piece is from RECKLESS and is actually an old group member gift. I love it when brands offer their group members treats such as this one; it really makes joining a group worthwhile and definitely makes you feel that as a customer you’re held in high regard…
shoes_001
..which is evidently what Gospel Voom must think judging by the absolute stormer of a group gift he’s bestowed upon us this month.    His ‘Skull Chain Sandals’ have proved to be a real hit in-world and it’s not hard to see why; they’re beautifully crafted and absolutely worth your time zooming in and out in a shoe-loving frenzy.  They’re so bloody pretty!  Like all of Gos’s footwear releases  these  shoes look so real that it feels like you could reach into your monitor and pick them up.  They’re beautifully styled and the small skull is incredibly well detailed for its size.  And just when you think it couldn’t be any better these shoes are gifted to us in the sensational ‘Marsala’ shade, which is the Pantone colour of 2015, don’tcha know. (If you follow that link it will take you to a page that displays colour pairings for the Marsala shade-handy when you’re looking to match something fantastic with these shoes, and trust me they deserve nothing less!)

I love it when a look comes together, and I do think this one is rather special.  What do you think Kitty Readers?

Basic Look:

Skin: GLAM AFFAIR – Katra – Polar – August NB

Eyeliner: NAR MATTARU Zoe Makeups (Eyes) Liner

Brows: NAR MATTARU Nova Brows (High) Black

Hair Base: GAJA X Celebribase – Fran

Ears: MANDALA ‘Steking-Season 5’

Eyes: NAR MATTARU Just The Basics : Green

Lashes: HUSH Lashes – Flirt (bottom)

Lips: [PXL] Sweet Lips  v1.4

Mesh Body, hands and feet: MAITREYA ‘Lara’ V 3.4

Outfit:

Hairstyle: ACTION INKUBATOR ‘Emily’

Dress:  MUKA Sophia – Peach – M

Shoes:  GOS Skull Chain Sandals – Marsala – [Maitreya]

Accessories:

Nose Ring: MONS  – Dreamer Septum Ring (style-4) black COLLABOR88

Bracelets: MAXI GOSSAMER – ‘Savannah’

Tattoo: RECKLESS – Joon II (Group Gift)

Necklace: ATOMIC ‘Spirit Animal’ – Owl COLLABOR88

LOTD: A Purple Kind Of Mood

A Purple Kind Of Mood..I’m in the kind of mood that would be described around my local area as having ‘Seen my arse’. It’s a quaint old saying that means you’re not a happy bunny.  The query would be, “What’s the matter with you-have you seen yer arse?” to which you would probably mumble some obscenity in reply, and skulk off meaning that yes, you had indeed seen what was implied and that you were most definitely in an absolute corker of a grump!

So what brings this not-quite-blue with sadness, and definitely-not-red with anger, but incredibly-purple-with-epic-arseness type mood to me? Windows bleeding 10, as it shall henceforth be known.  I naively thought that my previous issues were rectified but alas, they were not.

I’m having difficulties full-stop with my PC and logging into Second Life is becoming incredibly difficult.  It’s not just logging in but staying logged in too, which  means  that blogging so far this week has been nigh on impossible.  I can’t sustain my in-world status and I wish there was some sort of virtual Viagra to cure what ails me.  Sadly there isn’t, and until a proper fix appears on the wibbly, wobbly, interwebz I’m going to have to suffer my affliction as best I can, and those around me will be cursed to endure my somewhat lilac shade of temper.

Which brings me to my LOTD.  I had to do something quick yet satisfying so rummaged in my inventory to see what I could find, and I found undies! Glorious, lovely undies that are both incredibly sexy to look at and incredibly funky too.  These are the ‘Delice’ lingerie separates from ERRATIC for the latest round of COLLABOR88 and they’re an absolute must-have item. They’re super pretty and if you zoom in they stand up to close scrutiny very well; with great shape, texture and colour working harmoniously together.  They’re available in both print and plain and I’ll be cavorting around my skybox in these for a while to come! (I’m wearing the thong in this shot, the set includes a fuller pant with suspenders and stockings that looks equally sensational).

I teamed my underwear with some new hair,  (I’ve spent a bloody fortune on hair recently; people need to stop making amazing hairstyles and releasing them!) and this style is from ACTION INKUBATOR.  I spotted their ad in one of the groups on FLICKR, and off I went.  I haven’t worn bobbed hair in an absolute aeon in world and although this ‘Emily’ hairstyle isn’t quite a bob it has similarities in shape and in particular the way that it frames the face, so it sort of qualifies. I really love it, and although it’s a tad pricier than styles from  other leading hair brands  the satisfaction I get from wearing it more than negates the cost. Besides, I had to have it because I look sodding amazing in it.

I finished my look with my ‘Tombstone’ tattoo from WHITE WIDOW, a lovely, simple black nose ring from MONS @ COLLABOR88 and a little black bow collar from BOOM that I’ve had for yonks yet always works wonders for hiding unsightly neck seams when things aren’t quite rezzing in the way that you want them to.

Last but not least I’ve thrown on an old favourite skin of mine, ‘Zoe’ by NAR MATTARU which always makes me sing THIS when I wear it.  Jade Glazner’s skins, along with Shantia Soulstar’s, are in my opinion some of the best out there on the grid and are often over-looked in favour of the more well-known brands. They have an edge to them that’s hard to put into words but they do suit the alternative, darker scenes incredibly well.  Also, this skin is over a year old now and it hasn’t dated at all;  it still has a fresh feeling to it and has proven beyond doubt that it can stand up to repeated wearing and will serve me well long into the future I’m sure.  I’ve added some slender brows and some beautiful eyes, also from NAR MATTARU to finish my look and I have to confess, I’m not nearly feeling quite so purple as I was when I started.  But boy does this colour suit me or what?

Kitty Wears: 

Basic Look:

SKIN: NAR MATTARU  ZOE Tone 03 +  Zoe Makeups (Eyes) Liner

BROWS: NAR MATTARU  Nova Brows (High) Black

EYES: NAR MATTARU ‘Just The Basics’ Green (NEW)

EARS: AITUI Gen 4 ‘Heart Plugs’

LASHES: HUSH LASHES ‘Flirt’

TATTOO: WHITE WIDOW  ‘Tombstone’ Women

MESH BODY + APPENDAGES: MAITREYA  Mesh Body – Lara V3.4

Hair:

HAIRBASE: GAJA Celebribase – Fran

HAIRSTYLE: ACTION INKUBATOR HAIR ‘Emily’

Clothing:

CHOKER: BOOM Precious Bow Choker (neck) pitch

LINGERIE: ERRATIC ‘Delice’ (Purple) Maitreya COLLABOR88

SEPTUM RING: MONS Dreamer Septum Ring Style 4 COLLABOR88

Poses:

Selection from Bounce This Poses – Mega Pose Pack

Windlight – Calwl

Post-processing: Picmonkey.com

NB: I can’t stay logged in long enough to fully update this shopping list with links, bear with me and I’ll update it as soon as I am able, until then, search is your friend!

KITTY RANT/ JUST JEZ: What The Fruk?!

jez_002

So, this was going to be a blog post about these absolutely ruddy amazing FRUK ‘Compound Shorts’ that I spotted on Flickr and just had to get for Jez because I knew they would look utterly brilliant (and I was right because they do).   Instead, it’s going to turn into a Kitty-rant. It’s kind of an odd Kitty rant too, because the products that I’m going to explode about (in a manner befitting a Sunday of course), are actually very good indeed.  But they’re also seriously over-priced with a purchasing and styling system that is beyond convoluted. Can you tell what it is yet?

However, before I go on my grumble journey let me tell you about what Jez is wearing because he does look rather grand.  I really do like the FRUK ‘Compound’ shorts because as you can see they’re well-shaped and styled but above all else feature a great texture choice that looks realistic and really suits them.  You know what I’m like when it comes to texture on items and how important it is to me? Well these shorts tick all my boxes; the fabric looks good and has a dense feeling to it.  The ribbing detail and the eyelets and cord at the front are pratical embellishments that look realistic and the name label is unobtrusive, giving an overall feeling that these are a quality pair of shorts indeed.  These aren’t a lightweight item at all and I’m incredibly impressed by them.  Jez and I will be keeping a close eye on FRUK!

I’m also becoming incredibly keen on another brand too, and that’s UNORTHODOX.  We first encountered them at THE MENS DEPT and again this month they’re taking part with another range of facial enhancements. The UNORTHODOX beard game is strong guys; they really do know how to create great facial hair and hairbases.  I’m especially taken with the brows this month; they’re a nice realistic shape with an urban twist. They’re not too manicured and look natural.  One of the problems I find with male brow stylings in-world is that they’re often a little too perfect and precise; the range from UNORTHODOX offers brows that look good but also look real too.

Jez is also wearing a fabulous hat and hair combo from ISON MEN available at THE MENS DEPT.  Ison is a brand that I personally adore and have done for a very long time; it’s not a brand however that Jez has much experience with so he was a tad dubious when I suggested he try their ‘ Nick’ hair and texture-change hat combo. He soon realised I was of course correct ( I always am in both lives!) and the hair/hat combo looks absolutely spot on worn with the previously mentioned UNORTHODOX facial hair stylings, and the beautiful ‘Martin’ skin from CLEF DE PEAU.  Jez looks very different to how he looked previously on these pages, and again that’s due to a mesh head.  But instead of the dark, brooding features of the GENESIS LABS ‘Alex’ Mesh-head, he looks more youthful (with vague hints of Stephen Amell) thanks to this skin and head combination.

Last but not least,  before I have a moan let me mention that the dinky wee KUNST phone Jez is carrying along with the rather fabulous necklace from are both gifts to celebrate the first anniversary of L’HOMME magazine, which is an absolute must-read for male avatar fashion ideas. Join their in-world group and you can visit a number of fantastic stores where you can pick up anniversary gifts, and with names such as KUNST and THE FORGE featured, along with MINA hair, HOORENBEEK and DEADWOOL included you know you’re in for a real treat! Check out the full listing in the magazine by clicking HERE.

I’ll get my credits out the way too before I start! Jez wears:

Basic Look:

Skin: CLEF DE PEAU -‘Martin’ T4

Body: THE MESH PROJECT (BETA) Deluxe Body(m) (BETA my arse..harrumph!)

Hands: THE MESH PROJECT (BETA) Hands (M)

Head: THE MESH PROJECT (BETA) Head-Soft (Basic)

Tattoo: WHITE WIDOW ‘Tombstone’ Men

Shorts: FRUK Compound shorts M Navy

Eyes: IKON Odyssey Eyes – Clarity

Hair: ISON MAN – Nick -rigged M THE MENS DEPT

Accessories:

Phone: KUNST KPhone 3 / metal L’HOMME FIRST ANNIVERSARY GIFT

Necklace: THE FORGE  Rockstar Necklace L’HOMME FIRST ANNIVERSARY GIFT

Right, onto my rant. Did you guess who I was referring too?

Yes folks, I’m talking about THE SHOPS. There’s been plenty of grumbling about the entire shops experience since it hit the grid months ago,  but that hasn’t stopped the brand from becoming an outstanding success. This is probably because the products they retail are undoubtedly excellent, despite the steep pricing and the purchasing and styling of them being an absolute palaver. Now, if you’ve purchased THE SHOPS products you’ll know what I’m referring to.  Granted, some of you may be scratching your heads completely befuddled and thinking “What is she whining about now?”,  but I’ve read enough comments  out there to know that I am not the only one who finds the whole THE SHOPS experience beyond frustrating. This has been brought on my the fact that he’s purchased a lovely mesh-body, and head, and as you can see has turned into something of a virtual anomaly..jez_005

He’s got a disembodied head; which is different, and although I know anything goes in a virtual world, this wasn’t the look that I was going for when I styled him earlier today. To compound the matter, there aren’t any CSR’s available to help me fix this issue either. Which is beyond annoying. I’ve left my pictures as is because the quality of the products featured means I don’t need to post-process them, but it’s incredibly annoying to see that his mesh body and head don’t fit together like they’re supposed to, and that, along with some other issues, has spurred me on to this rant.

The problem is a simple one I think; by trying to make a premier product, therefore making it super-desirable and lusted after,  THE SHOPS have ‘thought outside of the box’ and designed an entire experience around their products.  So far, so good. Gimmicks can be a good thing. However, you don’t need to re-invent the wheel to make your mark, and you don’t anything further than a store in world with some displays to purchase from.  (There’s thinking outside the box, and there’s thinking so far outside it that you end up in a village just south of Dartmoor, where you stick to the paths at night, if you get my drift).  If it ain’t broke then don’t try to fix it, as the saying goes.  There’s plenty broken in Second Life that needs fixing but buying things isn’t one of them.  So I’m going to list my issues. Please feel free to add to them in the comments section, or tell me that I am being utterly incorrect in my ramblings. I’ll be pleased to hear your thoughts, but these are my negative experiences thus far:

As I mentioned before: the whole ‘THE SHOPS experience is just too much. It’s so different to the norm that it has to be experienced to be believed. It’s nice to be different, but turning the entire purchasing experience on its head when there was nothing wrong to begin with is just a step too far.

  1. You HAVE to purchase credits to buy products. Why? What’s wrong with Lindens? I mean, what is the point of that?
  2. Trying demos is a SMEGGING NIGHTMARE. The body is relatively OK to try, but if you’re buying a demo head be prepared for some serious frustration. You select your head style and  end up with what can only be described as a Kabuki mask, which doesn’t help you gauge how your face will look with your chosen skin at all.
  3. Then there are the HUDs. HUDs are pretty fundamental to the mesh-body experience but having two (one for shopping and the other for styling) is simply too many. I refer to my point about walking in a store, trying on a demo and then making a selection. Easy is good. Easy is nice. You don’t need to make things harder for avatars than they already are. Being different for different’s sake is NOT refreshing if all it causes is stress, confusion and hassle.
  4. When it comes to mesh heads (which really cannot be changed that much bar a few sliders) then PLEASE offer different facial styles which have substance, rather than a few cursory alterations to jaw shape and nose. The most important feature are the eyes, which are crucial to the balance of the face, yet they cannot be changed. The majority of THE SHOPS male heads seem to lean towards slender eye shapes which suggest an Asiatic origin, and although they look good there need to be wider and larger eye-shapes available. (On a Caucasian skinned avatar it doesn’t work, and on Jez it looks like he has either a very bad hangiover or is permanently squinting and in sore need of spectacles.)Now, when I started this post yesterday I visited THE SHOPS website and wasn’t overly-impressed at all.  Visiting today all I see is a page marker stating that a new website is cvoming soon, and a link to the FAQ.  An FAQ that has seriously shrunk in size since my last visit. Which leads me onto my next point:
  5. Because your system is so darn convoluted I might need help. Now, when you consider that I’ve paid L$5k for a body, and I could have paid another L$5k on top of that for a mesh head, your stating that..”LiveHelp is available several times throughout the weekdays (M-F) but is not available 24/7 or on most weekends. If they are not online, don’t worry, just send a notecard and they’ll get your message and reply as soon as possible…”   is not acceptable. It simply will not do. Now, I don’t consider myself a high-maintenance kinda gal and I’m normally pretty grounded when it comes to this kind of thing, but if I’m spending wads of cash on a system such as this I want the reassurance of knowing that a CSR will get back to me within a pretty speedy time-frame.  Is that too much to ask? Well, at the time of writing this post L$10k  translates into $42.85 or £27.65 (UK) so no, it’s actually not. Sort it out. If you’re setting yourselves up as a premiere brand, then I want premiere support, simples. Also, the interim FAQ is piss-poor, put the other one back.
  6. Once you’ve negotiated the HUDS, the shopping ‘experience’ and understanding how the appliers work we come to the product and here’s the thing; it’s actually very nice indeed. I cannot say that the body is a bad male body at all, because it absolutely ism’t. There are of course many male mesh bodies on the grid at the moment but most of them look like steroid-ingested, Bane-like thugs. At least THE SHOPS offers you the choice of a number of bodies and the details on them are good. The main body -alpha menu is fundamentally OK too, not many save-slots but  it’s easy to use. I would prefer to see more ‘slices’ on the alpha thus offering more flexibility when it comes to fitting clothes (although through trial and error I can tell you that changing saddle bags on the appearance settings helps when fitting waistbands like you wouldn’t believe!)
  7. Then there’s the head. As I said before I’m not overly keen on some of the details BUT that said, after applying my CLEF DE PEAU ‘Martin’ TMP appliers I can confirm that Jez has a lovely visage. However, his expression is going to remain static until he forks out L$5k for a head that comes with an expression HUD. It would seem that paying between L$2.5k – L$2999 is regular for a static mesh head but in my opinion it shouldn’t be anywhere near that figure. As nice as the heads are,  when they don’t do anything other than look pretty they’re not worth splashing out that amount of Lindens on.Obviously we’ll see prices start to come down once mesh heads take a firmer footing in-world, but until then I can’t view them as being anything other than extortionately priced.
  8. The ears are wrong. They look like bloody spoons!  SPOONSEither include an alpha-set that allows us to fit AITUI or MANDALA ears to our heads or sort them out. You’re charging us a small fortune for a basic model, where’s the harm in including some extra options?
  9. Why are you still stating that this is a Beta when it’s been out for bloody months? Where are the updates? Where’s the communication?

<Deep breath and relax>

So, we’ve established the product is good, despite the fact that it’s over-priced and a virtual shopping nightmare of its own. Any other whines while we’re at it Kitty?

Well yes there are, and it brings me to point 6 listed above. As you can see from the pictures I’ve taken of Jez, there’s a gap between his mesh body and head. His body fat is set to 0 as the enclosed note-card specifies, but that hasn’t made a difference to his appearance at all, and oh look, it’s a weekend so I’ll have to NC a CSR and wait for them to get back to me..

See what I mean? Now I know what I’ve written here seems like a whole ream of complaints, but I wouldn’t;’t be writing all this if I didn’t think that THE SHOPS were offering us something pretty special in-world. Their product, when all the fancy packaging and HUD nonsense is taken away,  is an excellent one, as a whole gamut of images of beautifully styled bodies across Flickr and a myriad of menswear blogs will prove. But it could (nay, MUST) be better, and they could really set themselves apart from the rest of the pack if they moved to improve their offering. Strip all the unnecessary frustrations away and lower the pricing and they wouldn’t even notice a sales-dip because the product would be so popular.

Thinking ahead I actually believe that the answer lies elsewhere. Siddean Munro launched her SLink hands and feet and then her Physique body to rapturous applause and approval, and despite many other bodies being available it’s still an incredibly popular product. Why is that?

It’s because she understands that simplicity is key and she thinks product first, profit second.  To purchase, all you need to do is walk into Siddean’s store and buy the product and that’s it. Demoing the meshes is a breeze too, plus her items are priced incredibly reasonably for what they are, and they’re well-supported with regular updates, notecards and above all else clear, concise instructions. Siddean understands that communication is key. She also understands that not everyone in Second Life has limitless Lindens to spend, but they will spend them on her products if she makes them appealing and easy to use. (Also, she knows how to write FAQs)

Which makes me incredibly excited for the release of her male mesh body. I cannot wait to see how it will work on Jez’s avatar, and if we get some male mesh heads too  that will make me even happier. Especially if the ears don’t look like spoons.