I'd harbor a guess that many of my readers are familiar with the Lolita style. If not, meet Samantha Rei, proprietress of Blasphemina's Closet. Samantha takes the girlish ruffles and neo-Victorian sensibility of Lolita style and makes it sumptuously couture.
She curates the annual Schoolgirls and Mobilesuitsfashion show, and her luxe creations can be seen at New York's Dances of Vice. And good news for dandies... she's got a men's line, too.
Samantha is based in Minneapolis, and along with previous CoutureLust featuree Heather Luca of Scoundrelle's Keep and Megan Bishop of Apatico, founded the Libertine Asylum, a "society for the spread of fanciness, hedonism, indulgence and beauty." Ah, ladies after my own heart. Let's see what's behind the flounces in Blasphemina's Closet...
How would you describe yourself and your style of work?
I generally stick to classic and gothic lolita. Lolita fashion is a style that gained popularity in Japan and has taken hold as a relevant subculture worldwide. It has a lot of basis in Victorian and Rococo fashion as well as certain other influences like stories, sweets and other subcultures.
Two of the best sites for info are Avant Gauche and Lolita Fashion.
I also tend to do neo-Victorian and aristocrat menswear and for fun and friends, wa-lolita.
Where do you find inspiration?
Books and movies. Usually, whatever I'm reading at the time or movies I've been enthralled with each season inspire my next line. Music, too. I'm not really into sweet style, and since that's what's in right now, I don't tend to be inspired by the Japanese brands as much as I used to.
This year, I've been inspired by Snow White as illustrated by Arthur Rackham (he's a HUGE inspiration in my life), Little Red Riding Hood, Josephine Bonaparte, story book villains, the poetry of John Wilmot, the films Gangs of New York and From Hell, Japanese illustrator Mihara Mitsukazu, regency era fashion plates, Valkyries, and as always, Alice in Wonderland.
(Find more links to Samantha's favorites at the end of the post.)
What do you do besides design amazing clothes?
I make fascinators and jewelry. I love that! It's one of those things where I do it in my spare time, then sell it later. I can spend time making one piece pretty. It's like meditation. Also, I love to read. If I'm not working, which is most hours of most days, I'm reading or watching crime shows.
What was the most challenging piece you've designed / made?
I had to make five bridesmaid and one flower girl dress out of bright red dupioni silk. They all needed to look the same, but be made to fit each girl. It was very tough, because half the girls didn't actually live in town. I was working on this while finishing a piece for my best friend to wear at her wedding and her sister's bridesmaid dress, all had to be done that week because they were both getting married on the same day. That was stressful, but everyone was beautiful!
What are three things that please you the most in the world?
Books, history and family.
How did you get your start making clothes?
My mother taught me to use a sewing machine when I was about 13 (early 1990s). I got into design shortly after that. I used to hand sew clothes for my Barbies for something to do. I didn't really "play Barbies" right. But I really got gung-ho into designing when I was in early high school. I started with my own clothes, then with practice styles, then made prom dresses for friends. The first year I did that, I made two dresses for friends for like $100 each. I was so proud! Shortly after beginning college, I started my Web site :)
What piece of work are you most proud of?
It's a tie between showing my collection PULP at Dances of Vice in Spring of 2009 and a black and blue silk wedding dress I made for a Halloween wedding this year. I was so proud of that collection, I hadn't done a gothic line in ages and it looked so cohesive and elegant. And the wedding dress made the bride look radiant. I love creative clients who just let me go! I can't choose...
Where can we find your line?
On the internet, at conventions (check out my ongoing con schedule for 2010!) and every once in a while in spots around Minneapolis.
List some of the top books, music, and movies that you've enjoyed recently...
Monster Blood Tattoo
Valiant:A Modern Tale of Faerie
A Lion Among Men
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Musical inspiration this year!
Rasputina (My favorite band since high school!)
The Builders and the Butchers
Gangs of New York
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Thanks so much, lovely Samantha! We'll be off down one of those fabulous interwebs rabbit holes now to find more inspiration from your links... just like Alice.