Day in the Life of One of Second Life's Most Stylish Avatars

O'Clock Magazine 5 Matilda SoonJanine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

O'Clock is a Second Life fashion magazine with a damn clever premise. It follows a single featured avatar through their "day", starting in the morning, with each spread themed around their daily activities. It's an interesting twist on its own, but this month's issue of O'Clock is even more special. Issue number five's highlighted avatar is Matilda Soon, a mature lady who oozes class out of every virtual pore.

Matilda's not the first stylish avatar to take on the chic older woman look, but unlike many of the others she might share the category with Matilda's not too married to her cateye frames and pearls. She dresses the part of an aging Coco Chanel as easily as she slips into trendier, more contemporary galaxy-prints and geometric motifs. In fact one of my favorite spreads in the magazine features Matilda's morning yoga routine, expertly shot without an ounce of farce or comedy.

That's an important aspect of Matilda, too. She's absolutely not a joke, and she's made that abundantly clear:

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Three Items from The Kawaii Project Guaranteed to Make Your Second Life Cuter

Kawaii Project - Foxes Bookbag
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

I don't get excited about new shopping events in Second Life very often, but when I do they're almost always kawaii. It's true that every week it seems there's a new event, a new hunt, a new fair, a new something pulling SL consumers in every direction, so these days only a handful of them ever really catch my eye. The Kawaii Project is one of them, promising to be a monthly event where designers inspired by all things cute and lovely can gather together and flaunt their latest work.

I've picked out three items you won't want to miss from the debut round of the Kawaii Project, so keep reading for the details!

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The Many Faces of Mizu, A Brand New Mesh Head for Second Life Avatars

Willow Zander TSG Mizu
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

I wasn't sold on the new mesh head from The Sugar Garden when I first saw it. I'm still head-over-heels in love with my Snow Rabbit head from a couple years back, and even with all the expression-heavy heads coming out lately none of them have come close to matching it in cuteness. TSG's pouty "Mizu" is a contender, but it took me until I saw longtime fashion blogger Willow Zander's feature on the head to get fully on board. Here's why:

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Grey Rabbit: How to Take a Second Life Fashion Snapshot With Character

Nomak Nyoki INVIZJanine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

There's typically a surplus of brash postures, bold makeup, and bright lights in fashion imagery, and Second Life fashion snaps are no exception. While this standard makes for some pretty powerful images and showcases many designs well, there's still something to be said for branching off in another direction -- pursuing a look that's decidedly more... Quiet.

Nomak Nyoki's photography is typically not something you could characterize as quiet. He's a master at portraying stylish male avatars in particular, and they're often as bold as can be. Compared to them this sombre female figure he posted today certainly stands out, but not in a bad way. It's an image with a lot of character. 

To some extent, all the brashness, boldness, and brightness in many fashion snapshots washes character away by design; it's a marketing-oriented style intended to make you want to place yourself in that scene. But images like these can feel much more authentic. The model's not a blank slate, but a person with vulnerabilities. She's the personification of her rabbit pendant, soft and slouched, and that makes this image much more interesting to me than dozens of others that could have been taken.

Check out the original here, and visit Nomak Nyoki's Flickr gallery if you're itching to see more of his work.

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I Don't Always Blog About Second Life Fashion Spreads...

Miaa Rebane SL Fashion

... but when I do, it's usually about Miaa Rebane's latest. Because, I mean, wow.

Fill Your Fall and Winter Wardrobe With These Five Picks from the Second Life Marketplace

ColdLogic_combo_-_wayne_-_QP
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

If you're looking to restock your virtual wardrobe with a few cold weather essentials, the fall fashion showcase on the Second Life Marketplace right now won't be much help. Yesterday I wrote about exactly how little help it is, but at the time I didn't offer much in the way of advice for shoppers.

So with that in mind, if you are looking around the Marketplace for a few warmer seasonal pieces to add to your avatar's closet I have a few recently released recommendations for you to consider, starting with...

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Iris Rants: I'm Sick and Tired of Meaningless Second Life Marketplace Features

SL Marketplace fall 1
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Another season, another seasonal showcase on the Second Life Marketplace. Although I've written very critically about these showcases in the past, I'll admit that I still check them regularly. When done right, they could be tremendously helpful for shoppers too overwhelmed by the sheer amount of content on the SL Marketplace to browse.

The problem is that they aren't. They never are. This time it's even worse than usual, and here's why:

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This Second Life Artist Achieves the Perfect Blend of Avatar and Environment

Marimari Yuitza 1
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

A tricky part of virtual world photography is making your subject and the background feel harmonious. There are no shortage of avatar snapshots taken "on location" that look like they could have been Photoshopped together after the fact. I have a hard time putting my finger on the exact cause of this backdropping effect (flat lighting? dissonant shading? malevolent computer witches?) but very few Second Life artists are fully immune to it. 

And then there's marimari Yuitza. Her figures and backgrounds sometimes seem to melt together, and other times...

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This Tutorial Series Will Teach You How to Rig Mesh for Non-Human Models in Second Life

Avastar Rigging Tutorial ArmatureJanine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

If you're looking for an education about Second Life modelling and rigging on a shoestring budget, you might want to check out Gaia Clary's new tutorial series. Tailored towards use with Avastar, a paid plugin that offers Second Life specific features for popular and free 3D modelling program Blender, the first set addresses non-human character rigging and costs $25 USD. That's a fraction of what similar 3D modelling courses that aren't focussed on creating for Second Life will typically cost, even when you factor in the price of the plugin itself.

Gaia's been doing free Avastar video tutorials for some time now, but her paid tutorials promise a slightly more guided approach to some slightly more specific topics. They also blend text, image and video content depending on the lesson, so you won't be forever buried in a wall of text or endlessly pausing and unpausing a video as you learn.

If you'd like to know more, Gaia's offering the first lesson in the series (containing a primer on both Avastar and the avatar skeleton) for free. Check it out for yourself here.

(Hat tip: Nalates Urriah)

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Get Ready for Battle With These Cinematic Images of Second Life Avatar Armor

Jordan Giant My Fate
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Armor doesn't get enough love in Second Life fashion circles, which makes it stand out even more when those elusive, perfect shots finally do surface. This week virtual world artist and blogger Jordan Giant captured a series of images of a gleaming, detailed suit of her own, and they look so good that when I first caught sight of them in my Flickr dashboard I mistook them for the jawdropping work of my favorite Skyrim screenshotter, Jay Faircloth.

But they're not; these pics weren't captured in a heavily modded version of Skyrim running on a lightning fast computer at all. They were captured in Second Life, taking advantage of a dramatic and skillful use of in-game lighting options -- and probably more than a little bit of Photoshop, to be fair. Suffice it to say that the full set, including the image embedded above, are a breathtaking change of pace from the usual Second Life fashion snaps you'll come across.

Check out the full series on Jordan's blog, or swing by her Flickr gallery for more of her intense and compelling work.

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