Thursday, July 1, 2010

Montagne Noire Merchantile in Deadwood

The newly reset Deadwood western RP sim has a great little merchants section within Fort Laramie, the starting point of your journey to Deadwood (in real life about 400 miles, I think).

When the sim owners rebuilt the sim recently, one of the things that was important to them was to get as authentic a look as they could get from their merchant "outfitters," those businesses that in the real life Old West set up adjacent to such places at Fort Laramie to provide prospectors and travelers with the supplies they needed to survive their long journey. So you won't find any flashy or modern looking vendors here.

I finally updated my little outfitter display with vendors that resemble dry goods crates (an idea encouraged by the sim owners). I narrowed the clothing selection to what I thought would be the best fit, so to speak, for role play in Deadwood.

Stop by and see what you think -- and check out the amazing reset of the Deadwood sim at SURL: Its focus on authenticity and providing visitors with actual historical background about the real town without a doubt make it the best western RP sim in SL. The role play is a blast too!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

New Independence Day/Bastille Day gown & more!


It happens to me every year, I look at the calendar and July is right at my doorstep -- and I haven't even started on my annual "Patriot" item!

Luckily this year I am a little ahead of schedule -- I present to you "Juillet," a ball gown to celebrate American Independence Day on July 4, and French Bastille Day (also known as La Fête Nationale) on July 14. It's specially priced at just 100L!

Juillet (July) is the month my Role Play character celebrates two monumental events in the history of her adopted nation and her birth nation: American Independence Day on July 4, and French Bastille Day (also known as La Fête Nationale) on July 14.

The flags of both nations share the colors red, white and blue, and so Juillet was created to honor the shared triumph of the American and French people in reaching toward the historical ideals of democracy.

I hope you enjoy this gown and have fun at the many Independence Day and Bastile Day balls and events that are planned around Second Life this year!

Also, back in the "bargain alcove" are three DOLLARBIE patriotic straw boater hats for women, girls, and for men & boys.

AND, there are a few bits of patriotic decor around the shop that are available for sale -- fan banners and posters.


"L'Orphelin" and "L'Orpheline" are the the first children's costumes to be introduced to the Montagne Noire Role Play Collection. As new items they are 50% off for the first week, so just 100L!

The costume is designed for the RPer who wishes to play an orphan, with the added option of playing a blind child -- or perhaps a sighted child playing a blind orphan for financial gain. How the story develops is completely up to you!


The "Pink & Red" sale is still going strong (all pink & red clothing is 50L), as is the Victorian bathing suit sale -- men's and women's suits are 50% off -- plus there's a brand new black & white suit for the ladies!


The Caledon shop has expanded -- the "bargain alcove" is now at the back entrance of the shop, where the free group gift vendor now resides, along with the dollarbies, and our soon to debut Sixty Linden Weekends kiosk!

Every weekend for Sixty Linden Weekends we'll be featuring a fabulous gown -- might be from our regular inventory, might be a limited edition -- for just 60L! I'll be sending out notices as next weekend gets closer. :)

That's it for now! I am still fighting cancer with both fists -- SL and designing clothing are a great distraction and therapy. So thanks for making that possible for me! :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Montagne Noire Furnishings? What's this?

I recently realized I don't do a proper job of promoting my furniture shop, so I have set about to rectify that, beginning with a special group gift for furniture lovers -- a fancy Victorian blanket chest with scripted open and close lid!

You'll find the group gift board in the foyer entrance.

While you're there, please check out the items that are included in the "Pink & Red" Sale -- items with the color pink or red are now just 50L through the summer!

A few samples of some of our most recent furnishing additions include a folk art baby cradle, rocking chair, bookcase desk and writing chair, bathroom towel cabinet, and more. We also offer furnishings for your parlor, kitchen, dining room, bedroom, bath, Chinese imports and business furnishings.

Most furnishings retail for between 50L-200L. My goal in making these items was to offer low cost, low prim furnishings for roleplay -- most aren't extremely complicated items, just nicely textured to give the appearance of a well furnished home on a small prim budget.

Montagne Noire Furnishings is located in Antiquity Township, SURL:

I hope you enjoy the chest, and browsing the other furnishings!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

MNC Caledon Oxbridge Village main store expands!


MNC is pleased to announce the expansion of its Caledon Oxbridge Village location! Please update your old LM with this one, as occasionally you may end up getting stuck in the front stairs:


The new building now has a back entrance, where the dollarbie items and group gift are located.

As you can see it's a bit bare right now, but we hope to be participating in more hunts and shopping events in the near future (stay tuned for our first foray into Sixty Linden Weekends, coming up July 4 weekend!), and this is area you'll find the information!

The rest of the building looks about the same, it's just been elongated to make room for future inventory. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A new parasol collection and a Victorian tattoo?


Finally MNC has released a parasol collection! Le Parasol is a Victorian ladies scripted walking umbrella with fringe and roses that comes in bluebell, calla, nightshade, rose and snowdrop.

As new releases they are currently 50% off for the next week, just 50L for individual parasols and 175L for the fat pack of five.

And what's this? A Victorian tattoo? How scandalous!

F-holes, also known as sound holes, are the carved opening in stringed musical instruments such as violins and cellos, which help project the sound of the instrument through vibration as it is played.

For the Victorian lady of Second Life, I like to think of this elegant f-hole tattoo as a bohemian expression of the muse within each of us, whether we are inspiring a romantic partner, or our own creative spirit.

Look for the black gift box in the foyer of the MNC shop in Caledon to purchase this unique tattoo for just 1L! It's only available until the end of June, so don't delay! ;)


Saturday, June 12, 2010

New clearance items & bathing suit sale!

New this weekend to Montagne Noire's clearance section (third floor at the Oxbridge Village main store) -- four outfits reduced 80% to 50L!

Also, a Victorian swimsuit sale! 50% off regular retail. Ladies bathing suits now 125L. Gentlemen's bathing suits now 75L.

Don't forget to check out the dollarbie and freebie (group gift) items in the foyer as you enter the shop!

Have a wonderful weekend!


Thursday, June 3, 2010

June New Releases at MNC


First off, stop in to the Caledon shop to get June's group gift, Fleur de L'ete ("Flower of Summer") a frothy Victorian day gown and straw hat in jade green. You'll find the board on the left as you enter the shop.

If you aren't currently a group member, simply touch the top sign with the picture of the gown, and you will receive a notecard with instructions on how to join.

Once you are wearing your Montagne Noire Fashion Society update group tag, simply touch the bottom sign to receive this free gift!

Also new this month is "Madame," a practical houndstooth wool day gown for the Victorian businesswoman. Madame come in granite, marble, and moss, and as a new release is currently 125L, (50% off regular retail) through Friday, June 10!

And yes, the "Pink & Red" Sale still continues! All pink and red clothing is reduced to 50L at the Caledon shop, and select furniture is 50L at the Antiquity furnishings shop. There are also a few new low prim furniture pieces you might want to check out there as well!

I think that's it for now! In RL I'll be starting my first round of chemotherapy tomorrow (Friday, June 4), so if you have any customer service issues, you can always email me directly at I'm hoping to be in SL as much as I can, depending on how I'm feeling, so please stop by the shop and say hello.

Happy Spring!

Monday, May 31, 2010

A little this & that

As I'm able to sit for longer in my computer chair, I'm finally getting around to some projects that have been on the back burner for awhile.

One of the most common requests I get is "I love that outfit? Can you make it in [insert your favorite color here]."

I may eventually get around to making all my outfits in every color of the rainbow, but in the mean time, I've been rounding out sets so that they have three color options.

If you like the sapphire and ruby La Danseuse saloon girl dresses, you'll love the new one in emerald:

The popular amethyst and emerald Le Pianiste gowns are now joined by an onyx black version:

The Pluche line becomes a threesome with the addition of an onyx black gown to the ruby and sapphire sets:

Last, but not least, the La Ranchette line has had a complete overhaul, to include a new onyx set, a dark topaz, and a dark ruby, all featuring more prominent Native American embroidered trim:

What's the best part of this new round of new releases? I'm implementing a new sales policy -- all new releases will be 50% off retail for the first week of their debut!

That means the emerald Danseuse, onyx Pianiste and onyx Pluche are now 125L through next Sunday, June 6.

The new topaz and onyx Le Ranchette sets are 175L this week -- the ruby remains 50L as part of the "Pink & Red" sale currently running!

Remember, these prices are good ONLY at the Caledon Oxbridge Village main store.

I hope you enjoy these new colors!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Montagne Noire is back!

It seems my recuperation from surgery has generated a creative streak in me, as I have just finished another new gown, "Brode"!

Brode (English, "Embroidered") is a practical cotton day gown with floral embroidery, a perfect spring gown for the lady who wishes to take a leisurely stroll in a stylish and comfortable suit. It comes in garnet, jade and turquoise, and retails for 250L!

I've also put out a special 1L "dollarbie" gift in the entry foyer of the Caledon shop, "Le Merle" (French, "little blackbird"), a rich onyx black velvet and beaded lace gown and matching onyx hat, that previously retailed for 250L. Enjoy!

Also now available is "Dans le Rose" (French, "In the Pink"), a special edition breast cancer awareness gown featuring rich velveteen brocade and satin adorned with pink ribbons and flowers.

The gown is now on sale for 50L (originally 350L) at my Caledon shop! Additionally, all regular priced ladies, mens & childrens clothing in pink and red continue to be discounted to 50L for the foreseeable future (only at the Caledon location).

There are also selected pink and red furnishings reduced to 50L at my Antiquity furniture shop!

Once again, thank you for all your support as I recover from breast cancer surgery, and get ready to begin the long road of treatments. Everyone has been so wonderful during this challenging time, and it means a lot to me.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

An unexpected twist of fate.

To my friends and loyal customers,

Last month as I was contemplating participating as a merchant in SL's Relay For Life event, in an unexpected twist of fate I also learned in real life that I have breast cancer.

I'm now scheduled for a double mastectomy at the end of April.

I'm writing to let you know that I may not be in SL on a daily basis in the next several weeks, so if you have any customer service questions or issues, please contact me via my email address,, which I can access away from my home office.

In the mean time, as a thank you for your support, all regular priced Montagne Noire clothing in pink or red will be discounted to 50L. This discount is only available at the Caledon Oxbridge Village main store.

I would have very much like to have been able to offer a RFL promotion, but now I must focus on my own personal "relay for life," which means diverting my SL income toward paying my medical expenses.

I encourage all of you to patronize those merchants participating in RFL this year -- I have seen some wonderful creations being offered.

Thank you all for your patience and understanding during this challenging time in my life.



Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Green Sale for St. Patrick's Day

Just for fun, Montagne Noire announces a special St. Patrick's sale - all regular priced green clothing is 50% off now through Wednesday, March 17!

This sale is taking place **ONLY** at our Caledon Oxbridge Village main store:

Green being one of my favorite colors, you'll find that there are several dresses on sale, from 100L to 175L.

Also included are three Le Petit girls dresses and a mens suit on the second floor.

The sale also includes some winterwear accessories in our seasonal section on the third floor.

And don't forget to visit the clearance section, where last year's promo St. Patricks Day ball gown is reduced to just 20L!

While you are shopping, be sure to check out the Steam Hunt display as you enter the shop. More than 100 Victorian and Steampunk merchants are participating in this month long event (including Montagne Noire), and from what I've seen there are some amazing items to be had.

Role Play Collection: La Danseuse saloon girl dress!

I have a bit of catching up to do, so you may see a flurry of new posts. Thank you for your patience.

Recently arrived at Montagne Noire in our "Role Play Collection" -- "La Danseuse" (French, "the dancer"), a rich striped velveteen gown with a feather hairpiece, designed for the role player who wishes to portray a Victorian Old West era saloon girl.

In ruby red and sapphire blue, the costume's undergarments feature interchangable "briefs" and bloomers, as well as black fishnet stockings, depending upon the type of entertaining you are doing...!


The costumes retail for 250L and are available at our Caledon main store, in the new arrivals room to your right as you enter the shop.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Western General Store... & a Chinese Market

...Been doing some inventory housekeeping, XStreet listing fine tuning, and working on some new items for the Deadwood reset in March, and the result is "The Western General Store" role play kit, which can now be viewed on XStreet.

This General Store Kit is designed to decorate Victorian & Old West merchantiles, grocery stores, grocers, outfitters, provisioners, sundries and dry goods shops.

Among the items included are antique advertising signs, crates of Arbuckles coffee, beer and coal, barrels with flour, cornmeal and nails, sacks of potatoes, sugar and salt, a fresh fish stand and a vegetable stand.

There are fancy Victorian cabinets and counters, as well as more improvised shelving with modifiable planks and barrels. In fact, most items are modifiable, and some are also copy/mod, so the variations on your store layout are endless.

Plus, most items are one prim unless otherwise indicated. Purchasing this set at 995L saves more than 500L if items are purchased separately.

If you're looking to set up a Chinese Market, Miss Ji Yheng offers her own role play version on XStreet as well.

Miss Yheng's kit features Chinese style bamboo shades, lanterns, an apothecary cabinet, gunpowder keg, "gunpowder tea" crates, liquor crate, merchant's cupboard, a rice barrel & rice basket, a traditional quilted Shan Ku merchant garment, "coolie" straw hats and much more. Her set retails for 750L, 300L off the individual purchase prices.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Second Life viewer 2.0 -- Go where you are wanted.

'Oh, sick I am to see you, will you never let me be?
You may be good for something, but you are not good for me.
Oh, go where you are wanted, for you are not wanted here.'
And that was all the farewell when I parted from my dear.

Mr. Housman would be boggled were he alive to witness my torturous use of a stanza from his A Shropshire Lad.

I have yet to download the beta viewer that the Lindens rolled out today with much puffery and circumstance. That's because after reading the Linden blog, the comments there, the subsequent new threads in that gawd awful blogorum, and reviews on other sites by people I know and trust -- I am truly wary of it.

What I realized after doing the reading, as Miss Emily Orr said so eloquently in her blog, "... but damn it, I'm in the middle of trying to get a store that I can stand up and running and I DO NOT NEED TO DEAL WITH THIS CRAP. (emphasis mine)

Frankly, the only people I saw who spoke glowingly of the new viewer were... people who don't do business in SL, i.e. residents that come to SL for "social networking"... people who have the time to learn all the new bells and whistles, who like bells and whistles and love Farmville and Mafia Wars don't have much interest in the underlying architecture of what allows them to be in SL.

For "business minded" people in SL, i.e. content creators, merchants, estate owners, we enjoy our share of socializing -- at least I hope other people do, otherwise they risk monumental burnout. But I digress.

However, it's already a technical challenge to be a business person in SL. There is a level of tedium in navigating SL as a content creator or service provider that I have not experienced in RL business, mostly to do with glitches in the existing architecture. Last night it took me a half dozen tries to rez something -- anything -- out of my inventory. Several times.

Now I'm not a nuts and bolts IT professional, but I seem to have a better than average grasp among my co-workers on new technology, and adapt to change pretty quickly. However, I'm actively working to expand MNC/MNF right now, and I just don't have the luxury to spend on the adjustment curve this new viewer is going to require right now. Especially when they have buried tools I use regularly, and brought to the platform's forefront what looks to me like a lot of cosmetic frou-frou.

Basically, I don't have time to be Linden Lab's guinea pig.

For the time being, I'm sticking with what works for me. I gave Snowglobe a try last week on my PC at work, and was pleased at how less laggy that was, so I am considering right now downloading that viewer here at home on my Mac.

After I finish a few more things on my business to do list.

"with rue my heart is laden..." Apologies to Mr. Housman.

Friday, February 19, 2010

An emerald ball gown for St. Patrick's Day

The next gown in our new ball gown line has arrived, coinciding with the celebration of St. Patrick's Day next month.

The emerald "Reine du Bal" (French, "Belle of the Ball"), is a rich velveteen brocade and satin evening gown featuring a bustle and train adorned with... shamrocks.

Yes, I was a bit skeptical of the idea of putting little satin shamrocks on the bodice and bustle of a ball gown. It seems a little too -- forced. Corny, even.

Surprisingly, the results are very pleasing to the eye. Three and four leaf varieties of green clover adorn the gown's bodice, accenting the decolletage. Clover garlands frame the gown's bustle in back, gently floating over the landscape of the fabric.

The gown is available at a special sale price of L$175 -- 50 percent off the retail price -- now through St. Patrick's Day, March 17. The gown can be found at either our Caledon, Antiquity or Fatima locations.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A new ship captain's Davenport desk set!

New to Montagne Noire Furnishings, a replica 19th century Sea Captain's Desk. Also also known as a Davenport Desk, it's said to have been commissioned by a real life clipper ship captain named John Davenport.

Designed for optimal comfort in the close quarters of a ship, the desk typically stored the crew's papers, sealed sailing instructions, logbooks, charts, instruments and a pair of flintlock pistols in the locked drawers on the sides. The desk also featured a storage well beneath the hinged desktop, and a narrow hinged lid concealing a flat storage compartment for writing supplies.

Montagne Noire's captain's desk has been designed for the Second Life captain who, like his real life counterpart, has limited space to conduct his ship's business (in this case, prim count). The desk is seven prims, the chair just two. The chair features a writing animation and an inkwell that provides a quill pen, so you can write in your captain's log. Also included are maps of the Mediterranean and West Indies.

Of course, this desk is also very functional for other sorts of captains -- captains of industry, Captains Courageous, and captains of I-prefer-to-remain-on-solid-ground...

The desk set retails for 200L, and is now available at our Caledon & Antiquity locations, as well as on XStreet.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"This is no social crisis... it's just another tricky day"

I recently joined an in-world, Linden directed group called "Second Life Commerce Merchants." The purpose of the group is described as thus:

A place for merchants in second life and on XStreet SL to talk business.

There hasn't been a great deal of activity in the group since I joined a few weeks ago, partly because I don't think merchants have a clear idea as to how much we can or should utilize the group for discussing business... I'm not sure the Lindens running the group -- which includes Pink and Colossus -- are certain of its purpose either.

In the last two weeks there have been two notices sent out, both by Colossus Linden -- the first, encouraging us to put all of our Valentine's Day related merchandise into the recently expanded Valentine's Day category.

Sounds good, but I already did that a few weeks ago when I saw the notice in the blogorums.

But then there was this additional tidbit:

But, don't stop at finding what you like... share your favorite items with your friends. We've just added share links to Xstreet SL. Log in, go to the detail page of an item you like and try it out. The share link is in the box on the right side of the detail page beneath the purchase options.

Okay... I'm sure this is a good idea, but in the larger scope of things, this is what the Commerce Team has made a priority?

Today's notecard missive was more promising. The Commerce Team has launched a trial program to assist shoppers in finding merchants on XStreet, by using tags. To wit:

We presented an idea awhile back of adding some common tags to item descriptions in order to make it easier for shoppers to see the subset of items they are most interested in. We'd like to give this a shot with an initial set of tags and if things go well, we'll expand and refine our official tag set.

Okay, this is interesting, do go on...

Merchants, if you have goods that fit into the following communities, please add the respective tag(s) to the end of your item description:

* tagTiny
* tagGorean
* tagFurry
* tagEmo
* tagVampire
* tagSteampunk
* tagGoth
* tagNeko
* tagPirate
* tagFantasy
* tagCyberpunk
* tagScifi
* tagMedieval
* tagSpace
* tagBeach

*the Victorian seamstress waits*

Okay, maybe they cut off the end of the list... I'm not seeing a "tagVictorian"... or even a "tagWestern." Nope, no "tag:Historical."

*the Victorian seamstress reads on*

We're also providing a few which are a bit more purpose related than community related:

* tagEducation
* tagAdultContent
* tagGaming
* tagSports

Merchants, this system will only be useful if these tags provide shoppers items in the area of their interest, so please do not spam these tags in unrelated listings.

*the Victorian seamstress realizes she's holding her breath and is starting to turn blue*

Uh... hmm.

The immediate issue I see is that my business does not necessarily fit into any of those categories -- yes, I have a few items that might be useful to vampires, goths and possibly pirates, and even one or two that are vaguely "steampunk." (Perhaps it's time to put that steampowered corset back on the drawing table...)

Will that mean we get dinged for keyword spamming if we put my items in those categories? Because without a Victorian or Western or Historical tag, our potential customers will not be seeing work by merchants in those categories. We'll be lumped in with the whorewear and BIABs.... which makes for an interesting dichotomy.

Addressing consumers, LL has this to say:

Shoppers, we don't yet have a true tagging system, but we're making use of the search system. You can click on the tags above to search on that tag, or you can type a tag in with your search query when searching on Xstreet SL. Remember that if you're using multiple words in a search query, adding a '+' before a keyword makes it required within all results.

So, once again we have an example of Linden Lab's reverse engineering strategy. They claim they presented this idea awhile back. If they did, I never heard of it, and I try to skim the blogorums on a regular basis, to keep up with announcements.

Nor is it likely many of my fellow Victorian merchants did either. LL has implemented yet another program in a half-assed manner before it's been properly researched. If you've been following the Avatars United debacle, or the XStreet revamping, you know exactly what I mean.

We will look to expose these tags/communities from the homepage and if this system increases sales and shopper satisfaction, then we will look to expand on the tags we are promoting.

That's all nice and well, but historically, LL's movement on fixing any of their hastily thought out plans is like watching moss grow. So we have a few months to wait. Wonderful.

Good luck.
--The Commerce Team

Good luck, indeed... *sighs*

Sunday, February 7, 2010

When an idea doesn't pan out

Being a business owner -- being a successful one -- sometimes means taking chances. The tight RL economy, in addition to various changes Linden Lab has recently made which make doing business in SL more challenging, are weighing on many SL merchants these days.

Although I don't feel I'm in competition with my fellow Victorian and Western merchants, right now many businesses are looking at smaller revenue streams, some more than others.

It's said that the biggest failing of most business owners is that they are afraid of change. But change is necessary in times like these -- and acting on new ideas could make the difference in whether your business is still open in six months.

So an idea comes to you that seems like a smart one, a logical move, until you sit back after implementing it and you watch it wither on the vine.

How long does it take before you should declare it a success or failure? Is this dip in sales and/or traffic a blip on the screen, or the sign of a steady decline?

I've had several of these ideas lately that, for no discernible reason, are not performing as I expected. I invested some capital to see them through to completion, only to see a rather dismal response.

That's scary when you have come to rely on the income you're making in SL to help you through tight finances in real life. But I should feel lucky that I even have this second source of income right now, because there don't seem to be any second sources of income to be had in RL at the moment.

For now, all I can do is keep moving ahead, keep trying new things, and hope for the best.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Expansion, 10L secret sale, discounted ball gowns

Montagne Noire is pleased to announce that we are making some changes to our shops in Caledon Oxbridge Village and Antiquity Township!

Our inventory has been growing quickly, and in response we have renovated each location -- our Caledon location will continue to specialize in clothing and accessories, and our Antiquity shop will now exclusively feature our Victorian & Old West low prim furnishings.

And just for fun, this weekend only, at each shop I have put one item at each location on sale for 10L -- items that are regularly 100-250L. It is up to your sleuthing skills to hunt the items out!

Also, the third floor clearance section at the Caledon shop now has more of our 2008 and 2009 holiday ball gowns available, priced at 20-50L, 80% off the original price.

We're in the process of adding more furnishings, and will announce new items as they become available.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

New to the Role Play Collection: miner & soldier

Two new additions to the Role Play Collection are now available: Le Mineur and Cavalerie.

"Le Mineur" is a well-worn outfit based on the clothing typically seen in historical photos of 19th century miners.

This outfit was deisgned specifically with the Deadwood 1876 sim in mind, which will soon be "resetting" itself to 1876.

In the summer of 1876, thousands of prospectors flooded into the Black Hills of Dakota Territory (where Deadwood is located) to seek their fortunes placer mining in the gold fields.

As larger mining interests entered the picture, men were employed to work the large underground mines bored out by large machinery. Before the invention of the carbide lamp in 1892, miners lit the dark passages of the mines with a small oil lamp attached to their cap.

The lamp on the cap in this set is a working reproduction of those 19th century oil lamps. Simply touch it to "light" it, and a flame will appear that will also provide some light for you in the dark. Touch it again, and the flame will be extinguished.

Mr. Ernst Osterham, the building wizard that he is, deserves sole credit for the lighting effect, as my grasp on scripting is still rudimentary.

The outfit also includes a cap without the oil lamp attached, for those evenings your character spends in town, and not in the mines.

Also introduced to the collection today is "Cavalerie," based upon the actual U.S. Army Cavalry M1872 and M1874 uniform pieces worn by enlisted soldiers during the "Indian Wars" of the 1870s.

This uniform was also designed specifically with the Deadwood 1876 sim in mind. In real life, there was a notable military presence in the Black Hills of Dakota Territory (where Deadwood is located) during the 1870s because of continued conflicts between the United States and the Indians of the northern plains.

You'll find two crates in this set: one uniform set is clean for garrison duty and formal events, the second crate contains battleworn garments for the "veteran campaigner."

The "clean" uniform features multiple versions of the sack coat and "pattern" shirt: you can wear the pattern shirt as an undershirt layer, with the sack coat as a shirt layer, which will allow you to wear a large overcoat or poncho for a jacket layer, creating a multi-layered look.

The pattern shirt is also available as a shirt layer, and the coat as a jacket layer. Depending on your physique, one combination make work better for you than the other -- all garment pieces are modifiable.

The "dirty" uniform in the other crate is designed to resemble a uniform that has seen months of service, with dirt, mud and perhaps some dried blood on each piece. It too features multiple versions of the coat and shirt layers.

The set also includes the traditional "kepi" cap, and Mr Osterham deserves credit for creating the sculpty that makes the "slouch" look much more authentic than the prototype I initially built out of standard prims.

For the ladies: new gowns on sale

Plenty of news to be had, so we'll start right off with our new releases for ladies:

Montagne Noire introduces the Cheongsam, a body-hugging one-piece Chinese dress for women in a vibrant red satin brocade.

The cheongsam is also known in Mandarin Chinese as the qípáo and in English as a Mandarin gown.

Also included are garment pieces to wear as an Vietnamese Ao Dai (Áo Dài), featuring a tight-fitting silk tunic worn over ankle length leggings.

Montagne Noire's version is designed with a Victorian eye for modesty, featuring long sleeves and ankle length leggings.

To celebrate the Chinese New Year on Feb. 14, the Cheongsam is on sale for 100L, 50% off the retail price. The sale price is effective through Feb. 14.

The next gown in our new ball gown line has arrived just in time for Mardi Gras.

To celebrate Mardi Gras on Feb. 16, Reine du Bal in amethyst is now on sale for 175L, 50% off the retail price. The sale price is effective through Feb. 16.

Lastly, there are four new gowns in our clearance section, marked down 80% off the retail price, making them just 20L and 50L!

New womenswear is located in the west wing on the ground floor of our Caledon & Antiquity shops; you'll find Clearance on the third floor.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

So you want to role play a "working girl."

So you are interested in roleplaying a 19th century parlor girl, courtesan, working girl, painted lady, soiled dove, whore -- a prostitute, in a Second life Victorian/Old West role play sim.

Where do most people start? With clothing. Typically, it's the most frilly, flamboyant outfit available on XStreet -- silk stockings, rhinestone bustier, the whole nine yards. It's a fabulous costume, certain to turn the heads of the gents (ahem).

You land at a Western sim's welcome HUB and rush past the signs urging you to read about life in the 19th century American West, thinking you already know everything you need to in order to make your RP debut, thank you very much.

Here you are sauntering down the street, ready to make your big RP splash, when suddenly someone IMs you. "Uh, hello and welcome, you appear to be new -- are you aware that costume isn't really appropriate to wear on the street?"

"Of course it's appropriate," you reply, "isn't that why they're called streetwalkers?"

I can't tell you how many times I've had this IM conversation with new characters in Deadwood, the Western sim I RP in. Many, many female avatars wander in with a head full of ideas about prostitution in the Old West that they got from watching Hollywood movies.

There are as many myths about the prostitutes of the Old West as there were "soiled doves" (a common term for prostitute at that time).

Probably the biggest myth that new roleplayers buy into when creating a working girl character is that they had glamorous lives and clothing. Certainly the upper class courtesans and parlor girls were dressed sumptuously for their upper class clients. They weren't necessarily well educated, but they could carry on a conversation and knew which fork to use for the salad.

Most of the high class parlor houses, however, existed in larger cities, and only came later to the boom towns of the West as the wealth of the land began to pay off.

How does this relate to fashion? well, in a few weeks, the Second Life sim of Deadwood will be resetting the clock to 1876. Currently, it's 1879. The town has grown into a bustling little burg with theaters, hotels, tea rooms, a hospital. It's all very... civilized.

I should qualify that and say that, despite what some uninformed people have been saying, it has as much excitement as it's always had -- bank robberies, hangings, lost dogs -- but it's a full fledged town now, with a mayor, city council, a town charter. It's still the Wild West, but as in RL, time moves forward in SL as well, and progress -- telephones, railroads, electric lights -- are just over the horizon.

SL's Deadwood has always strived for historical authenticity, and with the reset, there's an opportunity to explore the seedier side of frontier life.

In the early days of Deadwood's gold rush, in mid-1876, it was estimated that approximately 90% of women of the camp were “painted ladies.” Women amounted to between 100 to 150 for the entire Black Hills area, perhaps constituting between 1 percent and 2 percent of the population, according to Watson Parker, author of Deadwood: The Golden Years. That's at the rough estimate of about 10,000 residents at the peak of the gold rush.

When the Deadwood sim reopens, it will be a chaotic, lawless camp, made up of an assortment of tents, wagons and crude lean-tos to house its rapidly expanding populace, which will consist mostly of men who've come to the area to strike it rich in the gold fields of the Black Hills. With that influx of prospectors will come folks with entrepreneurial interests, who will set up shop on the first flat, vacant parcel of land they can find, to provide food, clothing, liquor, tools -- and sex.

The women providing that last commodity in these early days of Deadwood will not be dressed in silk stockings and rhinestone bustiers. They will be women who may or may not have come to Deadwood of their own volition. Some will have been lured there under false pretenses, thinking they would be filling jobs as cooks or laundresses.

Many of them will be escaping already desperate lives, thinking that life in a mining camp couldn't be much worse than what they'd already endured. Some will come to the grim realization that they have unwittingly sold themselves into sex work.

Most of these women will probably have traveled to Deadwood with little more than the clothes on their backs. Already poor, the dresses they wear are threadbare at the elbows, where the sleeve rubs against the washboard. The skin on their hands will be red and calloused from scrubbing with harsh lye soap and carrying buckets of water from the creek to the washtub.

Some will not be able to speak a word of English. Others may be addicted to alcohol or opium. Suicide or murder will be the tragic end for some.

But the lot of the "painted ladies" of Deadwood was not entirely bleak. For some, it was an opportunity to flee the restraints of Victorian society and become a woman of independent means. Historically, there were a number of real life women who came to Deadwood and made their fortunes as madams.

Don't take my word for it -- there are several very good resources about prostitution in the Old West. Get started with "The Painted Ladies of Deadwood," a feature on the "Legends of America" website. Shooting Star Enterprises, a company that specializes in historical reenactment education and supplies, has a informative page devoted to "Entertainers, Hurdy Girls, Soiled Doves and other Ladies of the Evening." A book I highly recommend on the subject is Anne Seagraves' "Soiled Doves: Prostitution in the Early West."

Lastly, I should explain why the typical "saloon girl" costume is not appropriate for streetwear in an Old West sim. "Costume" is the key word here. "Saloon girl" is a loose term for women who worked in saloons as barmaids, dancers, and prostitutes. Depending on the saloon, a woman could serve as all three, or only one or two.

A "saloon girl" dress is essentially a uniform -- a costume worn when a woman is working in the saloon, entertaining. The shiny fabrics and feathers, the short skirt, the low cut bodice and bare arms, are part of the entertainment factor.

This stands in sharp contrast to the "proper" fashion of the day -- long sleeves, high necklines, ankle length skirts.

Here we get to one of the double standards of Victorian fashion -- while modest clothing was expected of respectable ladies conducting their daily business in public, at formal evening events it was perfectly acceptable for decolletage and porcelain shoulders and arms to be put prominently on display (pale skin was a sign of a woman of better means who did not have to do manual labor outside in the elements).

Meanwhile, a prostitute might be seen in public doing her day to day errands with a low neckline on her dress -- this suggestive attire being a not-so-subtle advertisement of her profession.

As the Deadwood reset draws closer, I am currently working on some "working girl" dresses that will hopefully fit into the rough and tumble world of 1876 in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

New ball gowns arriving at MNC

Thanks to an overly scheduled RL the last few weeks, what time I do have in SL I've been devoting to finishing a number of MNC projects that have been on hold for various reasons.

One of those projects I've been pushing to finish, for release in the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day, is a new line of ball gowns. And finally, they are here! Well, at least the first one.

"Reine du Bal" (French, "Belle of the Ball"), is a rich velveteen brocade and satin evening gown featuring a bustle and train adorned with roses.

This first gown, in ruby red, is available at a special sale price of L$175 -- 50 percent off the retail price -- now through Valentine's Day, Feb.14.

More gowns will be arriving soon for Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's Day.

Reine du Bal can be found in the "New Arrivals" showroom on the ground floor of both Caledon and Antiquity locations. The gown is also available on XStreet.

Friday, January 15, 2010

New menswear just arrived!

By request of our gentlemen customers, Montagne Noire has just released a new suit and two classic hat styles.

"Le Mountebank" (a huckster or charlatan) is a Western Victorian sack coat style suit completed by a string tie & basic black derby (bowler) hat. The suit comes in two colors, coal and bronze, and retails for $225L.

Gentlemen now have two choices of hats at MNC -- the basic black derby/bowler hat (available in the Le Mountebank set) can be purchased separately for just $50L. Also available is a traditional black Western wide brim hat.

All these new releases are currently available at our Caledon Oxbridge Village and Antiquity Township shops, and will be coming to soon to our other locations and XStreet.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Remodeled Caledon & Antiquity shops now open!

Renovations are finally complete on MNC's Caledon and Antiquity shops.

After a lot of research, I came back to my original choice for a new building, "The 1875 Shoppe" by Four Winds.

Four Winds makes some exceptional buildings, from many different eras, both residential and commercial. As I went around SL, I really didn't see anything quite as nice. That likely has to do with SL's Search function, which is frankly a rather frustrating and often futile experience. But that's a topic for another post...

The shops now feature a third floor devoted to our complete line of low prim Victorian & Old West furnishings, in addition to our regular selection of men's, women's and girl's Victorian clothing and accessories.

If you haven't seen MNC's furnishings before, the line has grown considerably, and includes everything from Victorian sofas & armchairs to a Chinese tea table & seat cushions. Oriental rugs, bookcases, English & Chinese tea sets, Edgar Allen Poe cigars, fireplaces, wine & liquor cabinets, shop counters, stained glass lamps, armoires, kitchen furniture are just some of what the line now offers.

All this I've designed over the last two years with Victorian & Old West role play sims in mind, where every prim counts. As I said in a previous post, they are simple, yet functional.

I'm very excited about the new buildings, as they give MNC more room to grow. They also have a more open feeling to them as you walk in -- large plate glass windows in front give visitors a picturesque view of Caledonian and Antiquity waters.

Please be my guest and stop by some time to say hello! I'm often at one or the other location, tinkering. :)