The sun bleeding in the western sky, draining slowly, the nocturnal plain. What ends, what persists. Gathering in sylvan fields, forming constellations with our bodies, trees looming as lost angels do, beseeching the sky. We listen, we wait, parting our lips and extinguishing the lanterns, a shallow breath. As the moon rises she pulls our skin tight across our tired bones—rebirthing us, glistening and raw—till our eyes fall from their cold hollows. The pain, oh the pain of outgrowing, but still I remember; I remember the scent, the taste, the thin film in the darkness, crossing over. We abandon our eyes to the earth, for they are simply organs of despair and isolation.
Then we are moving, moving outwards, moving west, guided by the sound of your tightening heart. The ocean awaits us, sucking eagerly on her broken jaw, shining like oil, or blood. She loves us—we, the sensual beasts who digest the light. Slick, wet. You’ve heard our calls; the wolves skirting the edge of town, the dark-eyed omens you have chased and burned and nailed to the railroad tracks. Yet we return, year after year, resurrected from twisted metal and ancient dust, running in the night, gazing skyward, clawing truth from the clotted belly of the world, keepers of the unkept. We tend to the bones, as we will forever, long after the grass grows from the knotholes in your own.
In February, I had the opportunity to shoot with the radiant creature that is Danielle Lindenlaub, a talented photographer who I’ve (secretly, not-so-secretly) wanted to collaborate with for a long time. We’d been musing about possible shoot themes (with a mutual interest in the offbeat) before deciding on something dark, playful, and sensual, with the flavour of ritual and the occult. Danielle brought the flowers, I brought the skull, completing the necessary binaries of lightness and dark, life and death.
The night of the shoot it was a full moon—Virgo moon, no less, she who asks us to open the cages of our minds and seize our infinities. Since I’ve eloped with the west, I’ve been drawn to those lunar mythologies. So it all seemed fitting.
Pentagram harness: Teale Coco | Boots: UNIF Reverb Boots | Rune beanie: Disturbia, from Dolls Kill | Sunglasses: Zero UV | Disco shorts: American Apparel | Bustier: American Apparel | Garter leggings: Yandy| Skull lantern: Forged and Foraged
With the support of the moon and the equally celestial Danielle, I was able to access those darker, sharper, deeper centres of myself; insecurities sloughed off like dead weight, passivity and shame dissolved. It was a fun and empowering experience. Danielle is so kind and encouraging in her approach, and her creative energy is infectious. None get more genuine than her, and I hope to collaborate with her again. You can check out her work on Facebook and Instagram.
Signing off again, into the nocturnal ether,
– Style Raven
I’ll make sense when I can, lover, and wander the shores when I can’t, for someone once told me that salt water heals all things. As the tide ebbs I’ll gather the bones and glass left behind, I’ll pluck glimmering pearls from hollowed carrion eyes, I’ll cast silent spells on the wet stones. I might even leave this city one day, with flowers in my hair, nose in the seawater, pupils gashed open against the oncoming dark, the opaque slope of a dream. But I’ve always been one to look back, even though they say it brings bad luck. And so I’ll always follow the scent back home.
Coastal marauder, sensitive renegade, dark blot against cerulean horizons; there are many ways I like to romanticize my penchant for wearing black on this veritable island oasis. I’ll wear it until they invent a darker colour, as someone clever once said. It’s the eternal paradox of sensuality and strength, passivity and assertiveness, a way to hide while chanting ominously on the breakwater—or something.
This was shot on an impromptu mission with the lovely and eternally witty Rachel Rilkoff, a good friend and talented photographer hailing from this paradisiacal locus of Victoria. She called me (me, still in bed), and I became her improvised subject, resorting to my usual morbid shades as we explored the shore.
Till next time,
– Style Raven
Growing up with a morbid imagination, I also developed a prolonged fear of the dark. Now it allures me. Darkness is the shape shifter’s elixir — we shed our skins when the night falls, and the world becomes an opaque sphere that hides the eyes but urges the soul. With our senses stimulated and obscurities deepened, we move as our own sources of illumination.
Exhaled onto the streets when the music ends, the city greets us as a landscape of shadowed corners and haloed streetlights. The deep, visceral thrum has deafened our ears but electrified our flesh. We wander, contented, forgetting the dawn. With the night as our shroud, we are enigmatic and intimate creatures all at once.
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Holographic skirt: Supershop 24 HRS | Backpack: OMIGHTY | Boots: UNIF Reverb Boots | Earrings: Marina Fini | Hat: Dolls Kill, by Supershop 24 HRS | Penatgram harness: Teale Coco | Bracelet: Dolls Kill | Gloves: Chicnova | Bustier: American Apparel
Several things are at play in this outfit — the influence of festival season, my enduring love for electronic music, and a mash-up of Tokyo– and Los Angeles–based fashion. Flanking the Pacific, I find these two urban centres have intriguing aesthetic similarities: their subcultural, street fashion scenes are characterized by contrasts and a daringness that illuminates eccentricities rather than neutralizing them.
As I’ve mentioned in my other posts, the 90s have been resurrected on the streets of LA for a while now. My holographic skirt — made by Supershop 24 HRS (part of LA’s legendary Lip Service Cult) — is indicative of this; such iridescent pieces are nostalgic of 90s rave-wear while also suggesting the infusion of digital culture into contemporary (alternative) fashion. Taking Cybergoth as an influencing style, I attempted to darken the ensemble with a leather jacket, gloves, and Teale Coco’s pentagram harness — although, with the help of Centennial Square’s glowing fountain, an inner, neon-drenched rave-worm persona burns through.
This was shot, as always, with the amazing Kim Jay Photography. If you’re interested in festival fashion, check out her portraiture project, We Are Revellers. You will find no better collection of beautiful (and beautifully strange) people wearing neat things and having an outlandishly fun time.
Split down the centre, flayed open, an illuminated plane encroached by the shadows. Here: the jagged cliffs, there, the rushing sea. Now: the ascending sun, later, the darkness that engulfs everything at once. Contrasts are my lovers. Disparity quickens the blood. For that which attracts and provokes is that which is different.
For this shoot, Kim Jay and I visited (what I would identify as) one of Victoria’s strangest places: the Gonzales Observatory, a cliff-side building with an edifice that glares like bones bleached in the sun. Surrounding it is a rather impressive panorama of the city. It is beautiful and absurd, resembling something transported from the terraced coasts of the Aegean sea. According to local legend, the observatory is one of the oldest structures in Victoria, having first served as an observatory, and then, as a consequence of light pollution, a weather station. Like an architectural hybrid of a mausoleum and an acropolis, the atmosphere surrounding it is both eerie and commanding.
The white walls were far too seductive for one who obsessively wears black. After being inspired by Auxiliary Magazine’s Tomorrowland fashion editorial (featuring the work of Gelareh and other designers), I wanted to experiment with similar high-contrasts of black-against-white and angular poses. Of course, I’m not the space-age fashion queens featured in Auxiliary — but it was fun none-the-less. The focal points of this outfit would be my two UNIF pieces – the boots and the crop, both of which emanate that LA (west coast) street-style I love so very, very much. I’m also wearing another custom work by the sublime Marina Fini, who I’ve featured earlier: a mirror version of her Happy Sad earrings, whose mood swings look spectacular in the sun.
Thanks to Kim Jay for another fun shoot!
Till next time,
– Style Raven
Death, that “sad bone,” that “good night,” our “dream kingdom,” stirring within us “like a barking where there are no dogs” — the poets have named it well. As self-aware and lethal creatures, death haunts and inspires our imaginations, signifying not only finitude and sorrow, but transition and transformation. I have always been fascinated by literatures exploring this abstract “state” (or “passage”? Or “absence”?), and I think many of us are, not to romanticize death, but to better feel with peace and satisfaction the earth beneath our feet, and perceive the ubiquity of growth and loss; the seasons, our bodies, ideas, desires, pain — everything in constant flux. And so it is, and here we are.
Okay — perhaps I should have mentioned above that this post was going to get a bit dark. It is shot in a cemetery, after all (Ross Bay, for my fellow Victorians), a hushed place between worlds, a shadow garden, a waypoint for wanderers, philosophers, poets, mourners, and the departed. Follow the paths among the buried dead and introspect deeply. Yes, it’s dark, but there’s also an element of subtle illumination; for while it is not always easy to observe darkness within the world (and within the self), what emerges is awareness, an empowering, intimate understanding of one’s own strength, vulnerability, and presence.
This shoot was intended to be a portrait of such subjective ideas, while also depicting the muted beauty of the cemetery. Kim Jay did an excellent job capturing what I had envisioned; the style is similar to our Cataclysm shoot, where she and I meshed my outfit with a particular mood and the setting of Summit Hill. Such environmental portraiture is engaging, in that it tells a story — and as a lover of literature (and thus narrative), Kim and I will be going for this imbrication of style, environment, mood, and character in our future posts. We’re both excited about this new direction.
Dress: Killstar | Vegan leather jacket: John & Jenn, via Reunion Boutique (Victoria) | Beanie: Jawbreaking | Tights: Doll Kiss, Nagoya (Japan) | Boots: Dr. Martens, via Heart’s Content (Victoria) | Necklace: Aldo
The featured piece in this outfit is my (appropriately named) Sorrow Hood Dress by Killstar, a UK-based brand of “occult couture.” Pentagram tees, Baphomet leggings, and spiked jackets à la Hellraiser are all staples in their dark line. The material of the dress is lightweight but durable, and despite the boxy fit, it seems to hit the body in all the right places. The hood is a nice touch, too — although someone might mistake you for an assassin transported out of a fantasy novel. But I suppose that’s part of the look.
And for some final pieces to this story:
Till next time,
– Style Raven
It’s Halloween, my friends, and the dominion of death has encroached upon that of the living. While I don’t follow any particular organized spirituality, I am deeply intrigued by the concept of liminality — that is, states of transition and ambiguity, as in the space that exists between our conscious lives and the opacity of death. In my perspective, Halloween is a time when we can openly face — and perhaps even celebrate — the macabre and the reality of our own mortality, as well as revel in those latent curiosities for demons, wayward spirits, and the undead. Mix this with the transformative effect and obscurity of nightfall, and this is what gives this “holiday” its unique and undeniable energy.
Another form of All-Hallows-Eve liminality exists in our ability to shift our identities, to role-play, to try on that which we are not, or that which we secretly are. I don’t believe that self-hood is ever entirely stable; thus, I find it empowering to act out our fantasies through our clothing (or costumes) — even if it expresses our darker sides.
For this shoot, I went with an exploration of the occult, of possession, of the power that lies in darkness. This beautiful red velvet dress by Motel can be dramatically transformed — it was, after all, my Christmas holiday dress last year, and now, with the addition of Lip Service’s cathedral tights and those damningly beautiful horns, it has become part of a gothic ensemble. I had a lot of fun with this one (as you may be able to tell).
Returning now to those horns, I’d like to take this moment to acknowledge an incredibly talented and creative designer in our midst — Faeri of Faery Essences, who makes (among other things) custom horns, dreads, and wigs. I’ve seen her beautiful creations worn on people at local events, I’ve heard people speak in testament to her skill, and, as her Facebook page shows, her works have travelled as far as Burning Man, New York, and the UK. I emailed her explaining I wanted dark horns, “curved back” (as that is how I envisioned my personal, fiendish profile), and she made them exactly to my description. Check out her Facebook page and Etsy for her work and to see what she has currently available.
And now, let us witness what happens when a foul succubus is exposed to the purifying light of an LED panel. Begone, vile demon! Back to the cavernous, hellish depths from whence you came!
Aaaaand an awesome .gif Kim Jay made to top things off:
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Happy Halloween, all!
Till next time,
– Style Raven