Iris Wants to Know: Is Your Virtual Style More Important to You Than Your Virtual Space, or Vice Versa?

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

Avatar fashion has been a priority for me since well before I ever found Second Life, so it should be no surprise that that's exactly what I gravitated towards when I started. When you give me a dollhouse, my first priority will inevitably be the dolls themselves -- that's just how I am, and I have the sim households to prove it. That's not to say I'm not interested in what my spaces look like, but usually I care about the appearance of those spaces only in relation to the "dolls," as an extension of them (or even just a backdrop.) If I'm forced to choose between character customization and home customization, I'm probably not going to humm and haw about it terribly long.

But for every fashion-focused SL user who treats their virtual spaces like one big photo backdrop, there's someone else treating it like a canvas; placing everything just so, spending hours perfecting, tweaking, and upgrading it. Even if their shoes are dated (and honestly who even cares) there's no denying that their front foyer is current and on trend.

So what about you? I know for some it will be a tough choice, but here's what I want to know: If you had to choose between virtual fashion and vitual decor, which side would you choose and why? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Snap Up These Tempting SL Teacups While You Can

Apple Fall Kustom9 teacups (2)
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Chalk this post up in the "Second Life designers are agonizingly talented" category, because I can't deal with the gorgeous little teacups that Apple Fall has released for Kustom9. He shared a few work-in-progress shots via Plurk earlier this week. They're almost beyond belief, and although each of the three in the set is stunning, the pearl-draped variation pictured above absolutely takes the cake.

It's no exaggeration to say that Apple Fall is one of the highest quality decor brands in SL these days, which shouldn't be any surprise if you've come across their work before. For instance, this set inspired by ancient Greece is another Apple Fall favorite of mine, as was the Breakfast at Tiffany's set they released for The Arcade a while back.

These immaculate little teacups (and loads of other items) are available at the Kustom9 gacha event [SLURL] until the end of the month, so don't dawdle if you're interested. You can also check out the full set on Apple Fall's Flickr, or visit Apple Fall on the SL Marketplace or in-world [SLURL] to see more.

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You Won't Believe What This Second Life Picture Looked Like Before Photoshop

French Perfume after
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Xantheanne Resident (or Xanthe for short) is a damn talented Second Life photographer with consistently gorgeous output, and her blog is practically a visual feast for any fashionista who crosses its path. It's Xanthe's latest post that's caught my eye today -- particularly for the glimpse it offers at her snapshotting skills.

"French Perfume" is dark and decadent in the post-processed pic above, but what makes it stand out even more is the unprocessed version of the picture that Xanthe shared in advance on Plurk. Exactly how much work did she do to get that shot as flawless as it is? Just take a look at her original snapshot straight out of SL:

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Here Are the Five Cutest Things You'll Find at Second Life's Favorite Seasonal Gacha Event

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

The Arcade, one of SL's most popular gacha shopping events, always has a pretty eclectic mix of items available for sale, but something about this fall's lineup is almost too cute for words. There are some stunning antique-inspired sets of course, others drawn from mermaids and princesses, still others focused on pulpy sci-fi, but for me the latest round of The Arcade is being utterly dominated by cute, and it goes well beyond the animated mesh puppy I wrote about a couple weeks ago...

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Pantone Problems: Here's Why Seasonal Color Trends Matter in Virtual & RL Fashion

Color palettes pantone
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

SL fashion blog Juicybomb is typically a one-woman show, but this week Sehra Kauffman stepped up to share a pretty enlightening post about seasonal colors that applies just as much to our offline fashion choices as it does our online ones. If you've ever wondered why Pantone exists or why constantly shifting color palettes and "Forecasts" are an important part of fashion (and fashion marketing) Sehra's got your back. She explains:

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Enjoy All the Charm of a Summer Sunset in This Stunning (and Unedited) Second Life Snapshot

Nivaya Barbosa Persephone Paine
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

I'm a sucker for great, unprocessed screenshots, and this happy little accident shared by Nivaya Barbosa on Plurk and Flickr takes the cake. The contrast, the lighting, the depth of field, the lush colors of the environment against the muted tones of the dress -- it all just feels so natural even though typically (as most SL artists and virtual photographers know) that natural feeling is one of the most difficult elements to capture.

I will admit that I find myself wishing that her subject, Persephone Paine, was wearing a mesh head purely because they tend to look a little more realistic under indirect lighting compared to the Second Life avatar's vanilla face (like her hands and dress for example.) Then again, even the imperfections lend themselves to the overall effectiveness of this shot. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I wouldn't change a thing.

Check out Nivaya's Flickr stream for more.

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Iris Wants to Know: What Are Your Experiences with the DMCA Process in Second Life?

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

With the removal of the Wowmeh mesh body line from Second Life, there's been a lot of talk about whether or not the DMCA process is helpful in SL, or just a huge hindrance. In case you missed it, the Wowmeh body was a phenomenally successful mesh body that was the target of a DMCA takedown. Creator Baby Ghosn maintained that it was unjustified and malicious, but as she was unwilling to release her personal information to someone she claimed was purely a troll, she decided to revamp Wowmeh and replace any potentially dubious components. When she released the new body it was taken down again, allegedly for being a re-release of a taken down item. At that point Baby called it quits, saying that the process of supporting and defending Wowmeh was more than she'd expected and was willing to take on. 

While Hamlet has already explained his position that Second Life and the DMCA process are incompatible, I'm not so sure. That's why I want to hear from SL designers who've ever tangled with either end of a DMCA. Click here to fill out a super-short survey and share your experiences, and share it with fellow SL content creators! Next week, I'll report back with results and the most interesting feedback received.

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Lindens Hate Her! This Designer's One Weird Trick for More Efficient SL Marketplace Listings

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

Second Life designers know just how dull and arduous it can be to list items on the marketplace, especially when you're listing items that come in several different colors or variations. Making sure that customers can easily navigate to the other items in the set via the Related Items panel is an easy way to ensure you get at least one (if not multiple) sales, but it can also be time consuming. The pop-up window will automatically close after one item is selected, meaning that for an item with 8 variations, you'll need to repeat the process 8 times... And then of course multiply by 8 again for each of the other listings. Exhausting.

Unless you're clever about it, as many merchants (including Maylee Oh) are...

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Citing DMCA Drama, Popular Mesh Body Pulled from SL

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"I'm sorry, but I think Wowmeh will not come back," Baby Ghosn, creator of the popular mesh-based body for Second Life avatars, announced in the comments of her blog last Wednesday. "I really can't manage all this all alone, I'm not professional enough nor I was ready for this big success and troubles." And with that, Wowmeh bodies are gone from Second Life.

"In short, she released a product," Iris tells me, catching me up to speed with a rough summary, "it was popular, it got taken down based on a DMCA claim, she believes it was malicious but didn't counterclaim because she didn't want to give her RL info to a possible troll (I wrote about this at the time) and instead made a revised version of the body removing purchased 3D assets she'd incorporated. That body was then also taken down because it was considered a re-upload of a previously DMCA'd item, even though she says she'd changed it. So now she's not going to re-re-release the product because she wasn't prepared for the level of attention and work involved when she launched the original." (A very casual summary, which might miss some fine details.)

My take: Whatever its value as a law to protect content creators in general (and that's debateable), DMCA is utterly incompatible with Second Life. Here's what I mean:

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From Sketch to SL: Here's a Glimpse of the Process Behind Designing a Second Life Dress

Maylee Oh Collabor88 Concept August 2014Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Maylee Oh is doing amazing work both inside and outside of SL. If her name rings a few bells for you, it may be because she released this mesmerizing machinima back in April to advertise her ultra-feminine Second Life fashion brand, The Secret Store. She's currently preparing for the August round of Collabor88, a themed shopping event that opens on the 8th of each month. This time, designers are invoking a range of greek gods and goddesses, and Maylee has been giving a behind-the-scenes peek at what she'll be offering over on her Tumblr.

She started with some colorful concept art (pictured on the left) and today she posted an animated peek at the finished product. Well, almost finished. Things do tend to look just a little bit better rendered in 3D modelling programs like ZBrush (as shown in Maylee's video) than they look for most of us in Second Life itself.

That said, I doubt this mediterranean-inspired minidress will dissappoint. See the finished product in-world when the August round of Collabor88 opens this Friday.

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