Monday, September 15, 2014

Bright Star, a new collection! In the making: a story of its humble beginnings!

To all my dear and lovely followers, I'm sorry that I am never on here as much as I ought to be. I find that between my regular work, my commission work,  other design work, and trying to keep up with life in general makes my absence from blogging pretty extensive. At this point, my blog posts are about as rare as a Pokemon sighting! 

If you're ever having trouble getting in contact with me, remember you can reach me a lot more readily here:

If you're looking to support our super talented friend and illustrator, Flor//Coffeshere, you can find her here:

Today, I would like to take the time to introduce you to the new collection that Pop Princess and our talented illustrator, Coffeshere (aka: Flor Lopez), have been working on entitled: Bright Star! This print started back in October 2013 and was not completed until June 2014~ many months of Flor's dedication and hard work went into the creation of this print, which I think is even more beautiful than the last one we created together, Starry Garden. 

Where does the name "Bright Star" come from? 

Bright Star
Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art—
         Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
         Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priest like task
         Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
         Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No—yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
         Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
         Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.

 What is the story behind Bright Star? 

The story behind this one is a little more difficult for me to talk about as it’s only been a year this summer since it happened. Someone that I loved very deeply was killed suddenly in a car accident after returning home for the first time in many years after serving in the Marines, right before we were supposed to see each other. His death affects me more than I have words to express. His name was Kyle Bankes, and he was simply one of the most beautiful souls, a person who touched everyone who ever met him, who lived and loved without fear. This print is for him.

This print was inspired by the time we shared together, our memories captured in time beneath glass domes, a still like photograph kept close in my heart. It’s in memory of the way his eyes would light up when he smiled, how the warmth of his hands felt in mine that made time stop, or the sound of his laughter filling a room; how he always said our ties, the red string of Fate, would never be cut. This is for when I remember in my heart that I will love you in this life and the next, and believe we will meet again some day. 

I wanted to make something in his memory, something that would soothe the ache of missing him just a little, and something I could hold onto forever. More importantly I wanted it to be in memory of his beautiful soul that touched everyone he knew so deeply, and in honor of his family and friends who loved him. 

 How did you get the idea for the Bright Star print itself?

Like a lot of my ideas (the good ones anyway!) I tend to dream about them, see them fully and complete in my head, seeing every detail and shape as I would like them to be. I knew that I wanted the print to be in honor of his memory, that I wanted it to be enchanting and magical, with figurines placed beneath glass domes and terrariums as if there moments were captured in time, frozen, to be held on in one's heart forever. I asked Flor if the focus could be on two figures, centered, as they embraced in a waltz surpassing time and space, caught in a memory that would represent the time Kyle and I spent together.

I've never considered my illustrations a strong suit, that I'm simply not capable of getting what I see out of my head and onto paper, but I knew that just like last time, Flor would be able to take the image right out of my head and with her amazing talent, hard work, and determination put it into something beautiful and perfect. So with only a written description of what I imagined and this scribble below, Flor set to work...

And with these scribbles, the Bright Star print slowly began to form... here are Flor's WIPs images over months and months of hard work. (She never fails to amaze right? I can't believe one person can hold so much talent!) We started off with rough sketches and begin to work from there, picking and choosing the elements we liked the best...

And then it began to come together... here is the first rough sketch! 

Which slowly began to form into this, with Flor painstakingly beginning to outline each element, one by one...

And finally, after 9 long months... Flor put the finishing touches on the Bright Star and we were left with an absolute master piece. Each detail had been carefully illustrated and shaded by hand, making sure that each individual element was fully fleshed out and a work of art all on its own. Her work speaks for itself. It is simply breath taking. 

We were eventually able to have our fabric printed just in time to make a sample for the My Lolita Style event in Tijuana, Mexico in June 2014! The details looked even more amazing in person! 

The fabric was created into the Bright Star sample for the fashion show, which Flor herself wore on the runway and looked absolutely stunning in... We were even able to send a Bright Star Garment to Misako Aoki!

 It took Flor several more weeks and months to finalize and finish all the colorways for Bright Star, which you can see below, a testament to her talent and perseverance!

In conclusion, a thank you...

First and foremost, I would like to say thank you to each and everyone, friends, family, and all of you out there for supporting the Pop Princess brand! It can be a tough path to follow when you’re trying to turn dreams into reality but all of the support, encouragement, and smiling faces I encounter make feel like it’s possible and not to give up!
I would like to especially thank my talented, lovely, and amazing friend and illustrator, Flor (aka: Coffeshere), who teamed up with the brand in 2013. She works incredibly hard to make the most beautiful prints for Pop Princess and I honestly can’t express my thanks enough. 
 ...And one last loving memory of Kyle...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Where In The World Is Annika? ~Paris, France 2011 Edition, Part 2

Paris, France 2011 Edition, Part 2: Versailles, Laduree, More Food, and Baby the Stars Shine Bright!

And weclooooome back to this episode of: Where In The World Is Annika?, where we are returning for the second episode of Paris, France 2011 Edition. In this episode we shall cover the magical pink frills of Baby the Stars Shine Bright, the glittering royalty of the Versailles palace and grounds, and more cute Parisian treats from Laduree!

We all had to know that this segment was going to be opened with my visit to the Baby the Stars Shine Bright shop in Paris! I made it my absolute mission to visit this store, even if I saw nothing else, as it was the first brand shop I had ever been to and of course, Baby is my first love. I must say that the men that got dragged along were less than enthused for this venture, perhaps even to say dismayed, as the one knew nothing about Lolita fashion and thought it strange.

The store front is a big sparkling pink gem in the middle of a rather normal, blase looking street and just a short walk from the subway station. Prominently displayed on the window was the Baby logo, set off by the beautiful dresses, shoes, and accessories shining elegantly in its shadow. Ah, and there it sat, calling out to my frilly soul to come inside and stay awhile.

Step inside, and you are greeted by the sweetest French shop girl, dressed in gorgeous old school Baby threads! It is a small shop, but small in a way that is warm, friendly, and inviting. Each display is set up with care, each piece laid out to look like a lovely work of art to admire. I spent a good deal of time carefully roaming through each dress and garment on the racks, taking in as much detail as I could, and as they say, "When in Rome Baby..." I decided to try some things on! (I know you're not supposed to take photos but I couldn't help it! Oh what a bad influence you have on me!)

Alas, my dream had to end but not before the shop girl informed me that I had coincidentally just missed Mr. Isobe himself, and left with a pair of cute ribbon socks!

My heart was not heavy for too long, as the next day we hopped a train to go visit the magnanimous dream world that is: Versailles! I cannot express to you in words what a magical place this is, so instead, I will have to show you. It's truly amazing! (I took over 200 photos of Versailles alone, so here are the best.)

Sigh. Wasn't that wonderful? And that's only a few of the photos. Visiting the Versailles grounds was like being transported back in time. I really hope that I am able to visit their again one day, and I might I recommend if you visit: rent a little golf cart! Not only does it blast opera music the entire time you drive, but you are able to see all the grounds so quickly especially if it's chilly chilly cold like in March!

And lastly, to fulfill our little photo journey of France... one cannot visit without going to Laduree!
What a queue! They are so popular you had to wait nearly an hour just to get to the front of the line.
I can only imagine how divine it might have been to dine at the restaurant!

Now while I may say this to the aghast of many, I think macaroons are adorable but I do not much care for the taste. However, I absolutely adored the packaging and cakes we bought there! I kept the boxes. : )

Visiting Paris was an absolute dream come true for me! It was one of the best weeks of my life, and I sincerely hope that I will be able to revisit France one day and explore more of its gorgeous landscape and sights.

I hope you've enjoyed this brief interlude of traveling with me! : ) xo Annika

Our Next Journey: China? Scotland? Thailand? It's up to you! Tell me, where you would like to see next! : )

Monday, February 10, 2014

Where In The World Is Annika? ~Paris, France 2011 Edition, Part 1

Though I am no renowned Carmen Sandiego with a fire engine red trench coat or tall enough to be spotted in any crowd, let alone be Waldo, I have been blessed with a fair amount of traveling in my days. This is not to say that I have sated my wanderlust, far from it, but that the countries I have been able to travel to have not only been memorable but absolutely beautiful, each in their own way.

I thought this might be a fun way to share the world with you, dear readers, and that you and I might reflect together on the experiences, swap stories, and overall enjoy traveling. I have always been grateful to travel outside the States, as I think so many people (especially when you come from and live in a small community like I do, with the likelihood of narrow views and minds) never get the chance to the view the world as a whole, to gain perspective, and realize that in the grander scheme of things you are very small in comparison to what the world offers.

In this edition, let's pack up and head to the most romantic capital of the world: Paris, France!

Paris, France. March 2011
There are two places that I have longed to travel to the most in this world: France and Japan! I consider these two places my dream destinations as they coincide with my true love: fashion. In my junior year at university in the midst of obtaining my Bachelor's degree in fashion design, I was given the opportunity to travel to Paris, France during fashion week with the person I was in a relationship with at the time. A friend of his, was a friend with Nicolas Andreas Taralis, and he had gotten tickets into a fairly exclusive fashion show for this designer~ both of them were fans of Taralis' work, collecting some of his men's wear pieces.

And so in March, just in time for my birthday, we hopped on a plane and took off to Paris!
(Embarrassingly, I must admit that I spoke only a few phrases in French as I had studied Spanish in my high school years, but would have loved to have been more fluent. )

It was by far, one of the shortest flights that I have had to be on, a little over 8 hours and with some fenagling and charm from my dear sweet father who happens to be a retired airline pilot, we got very nice seats in the front of the plane. It was a night flight so we slept most of the way, and when I awoke we were in Paris! (Well, Charles du Gaulle airport to be exact.)

Paris was as cute and quaint as I had imagined it would be! I was brimming with excitement, everywhere I looked there were shops filled with beautiful clothing and I couldn't sketch fast enough. I felt as though I couldn't possibly close my eyes or I wouldn't be able to take it all in. I was constantly stopping to stare in the windows of shops, lusting after pieces, or just taking photos like a terrible (but cute!) tourist.

We stayed in a small, cute hotel within view of the Arc de Triumph and close enough to walk to a small bakery where we ate breakfast every day we were there. These are the beautiful sights that greeted us each morning, yum!

We were able to spend a day going to the Louvre museum, which is so massive that I am sure you must need at least several days to back and forth to view everything. There are simply so many photos I'm not sure I can include them all!

I was taking a lot of art histories at the time, so I tried to snap as many photos as possible and was always delighted when I took one of a painting that I had seen in class and reveled in that feeling of staring deeply into its hues, realizing I was seeing it in person. 

 But of course, being the Rococophile that I am, insisted on seeing King Louis' apartments, which were on display at that time. I think, if I had a choice, I would have lived there and simply never left! Every single room you went to was exquisite. Everything you looked at was breath taking. It hardly felt real that all of these things could have existed in another time and people actually used them! 

To finish off this particular set of photos (let's face it, Versailles needs its own blog post...) are a few photos from the private Nicolas Andreas Taralis fashion show we were able to attend. It was a very short event, the longest part of course was waiting to get in and everyone's attitudes around us were entirely too serious for my liking. The air was thick with an almost tense anxiety, an event of who's who from the people who received invitations filled with turned up noses and long sideways glances. 

The event was held in an empty gallery, and the seating was made up of sitting on concrete stair blocks or standing against the wall. It was loud, loud enough for the pulsating music to rumble the concrete and terribly dark. Though I enjoyed looking at the clothing, and being a part of a live fashion show, the style is not one that I'm suited to, though Taralis really is a master of silhouette and fine cut tailoring. I'm afraid the venue was too dark to get any decent photographs.

And in case you wanted to know what it was like to actually be there in person, here is a short albeit poor quality, video of the event. I also apologize you either have to turn your head or computer sideways to view it...Hm.


Next chapter: Versailles, Laduree, More Food, and Baby the Stars Shine Bright!

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