Wednesday, September 16, 2009
About Montagne Noire Clothiers...
If by chance you have randomly stumbled into this blog, I am the owner of Montagne Noire Clothiers, a Victorian clothing shop in Second Life. I've been designing Victorian clothing for women and men (and now children) for a little over a year now.
I am by no stretch of the imagination a fashion designer in real life, though I have acquired enough seamstressing skills over the years to have designed and sewn several historically inspired garments. I would (very humbly) describe myself as an amateur historian, so in researching and designing historical costumes, it followed that I began to study the history and progression of fashion.
Now how does this translate to designing Victorian clothing in Second Life? Good question. I am not an artist in real life, I can't draw worth a damn. But I do have some graphic design skills that I use in my real life job.
Before I took the plunge and tried designing, I traveled through a number of the historical realms of SL, picking up a variety of historically themed garments, both free and Linden purchased, along the way. But it was often a painstaking and frustrating process.
While there were an abundance of shops out there advertising era specific clothing (Victorian, Medieval, Renaissance, etc), more often than not the outfits were an amalgamation of different eras and styles.
I've come to call it the "Sinderella Syndrome" -- more (adult) fantasy than reality, the gowns generally feature giant swirling crinoline (hoop) skirts and very lowcut necklines.
First, let me say that there's nothing wrong with wanting to dress like Cinderella in Second Life. SL is a place where you can realize your fantasies, and for many women, that's dressing like a princess. I myself readily admit to having a few Cinderella gowns in my SL inventory.
But it's problematic when you are the owner of a historically themed role play sim and want to provide visitors an authentic experience. That, however, is a topic for another blog entry...
Some of this homogenized look is the result of technical limitations in Second Life. It's very difficult to recreate some garment styles because of the way the UV body templates are mapped. For those who aren't familiar with how clothing is created in SL, it involves layering textures two-dimensionally in a graphics program like Photoshop. That final texture is uploaded to SL, where you apply the textures onto the three dimensional body of an avatar.
Sometimes the translation isn't what you expected.
So, armed with my interest in fashion history and a copy of Photoshop CS3, I began to tinker to see what I could come up with. And the rest, as they say, is history.