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Post-Apocalyptic Style

Six or seven years ago, I was dressed head to toe in All Saints clothing. They were making clothes that really appealed to my dark side; with their trademark asymmetrical cuts, slouchy pirate style clothing, dresses with Vivienne Westwood inspired handkerchief hemlines and t-shirts emblazoned with terrific artwork by the wonderfully macabre artist Laurie Lipton.

I was absolutely in my element… and then something shifted. Fashion trends changed and All Saints became a completely different animal. It went down a very minimalistic route, and whilst I like to call myself a minimalist goth, this was just, in my opinion too… plain. Uninspired, even.

For years after I struggled to find fashion like it, until I stumbled across a German fashion site called Orimono that offered mostly men’s fashion, but also some women’s and some unisex clothing too. I found a piece from brand called Preach and a piece from Thom Krom that just jumped at me straight away. They weren’t on the lower end of my budget, but I knew I had to have them. Here they are modelled on the site:

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Image copyright Orimono.eu

and here are they are on me:

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Thom/Krom – The night is your friend, my love.

 

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Preach Clothing

Here is what a poor minimalist Goth’s wardrobe looks like right now:

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It needs filling… clearly….

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Rock and Roll Jewellery

When I was in my early twenties I briefly dated a blues musician and one of his good musician friends – Joanne Shaw Taylor – a no holds barred guitar goddess; go look her up – showed me a gorgeous piece of jewellery she had recently acquired. She told me it was from a shop in Covent Garden called Crazy Pig Designs.

My boyfriend at the time was also interested in this so called “Rock Star jewellery” so we both went down there for some window shopping. I wasn’t particularly on the market for a piece of jewellery but it’s one of those things when you know, you know; the one… it just talks to you.

So, in about 10 minutes flat I’d treated myself to a rather sensational looking sterling silver ring for my middle finger. Now, I’m not talking about just a sensible sized ring for a lady, this is a motherfucker of a statement in the shape of an anatomical skull hand crafted for a proper woman (or man, as it’s unisex). It’s not for the faint hearted!

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Image copyright Crazy Pig Designs

 

Crazy Pig designs is the brainchild of the crazily talented silversmith (and guitarist) Armand Serra. His edgy, macabre and purely rock and roll silversmithing skills have continued to be commissioned by a long list of musicians, celebrities, actors galore since the 1980s. I do believe he started his silversmithing career at The Great Frog in London before he started his own Crazy Pig Designs (named after a band name he wanted but his band mates vetoed) and I am so glad he did. Armand’s designs are incomparable in quality and life-likeness. The image below shows my Crazy Pig ring called the Live Skull ring which is the best anatomical skull ring I have seen; believe me, I’ve looked at so many skull rings and none of them are quite as good as this one.

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My love for this ring has not diminished, if anything, I love it more than ever. As you can see, it rarely leaves my finger. The quality of the silver is outstanding, it is so heavy -it’s solid silver not hollow and looks as amazing now as it did the day I bought it over 5 years ago. It’s my pride and joy, my baby. I wouldn’t be me without my Crazy Pig Live Skull ring and I simply cannot wait to add more to my collection.

Here are a few of their pieces that I am hoping to add to my collection over the next few years (when I’m not saving for a house deposit!)

The Tudor Wing Pendant

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Image copyright Crazy Pig Designs

The Devil Made Me Do It ring

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Image Copyright Crazy Pig Designs

and the XL Skull Bracelet (a very large statement indeed!)

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Image Copyright Crazy Pig Designs

 

The loves of my life; The Mediaeval Baebes

As I’ve said many times before, I was a strange child. I was strange in that I absolutely adored listening to folk music (thank you, again, Mum!) and remember seeing the original Steeleye Span at The Stables in Wavendon back when it was just a shed – I must’ve been around 12 years old.

I first heard the Mediaeval Baebes on VH1 singing Gaudete, a song I already knew because Steeleye Span did a version at The Stables. As soon as I heard the Baebes’ arrangement, I knew I’d found something rather special.

The Mediaeval Baebes are an all female choral group who write their own arrangements to traditional medieval songs and poetry. They have a backing group of very talented musicians playing traditional medieval instruments.

As soon as I saw that their 2nd album Worldes Blysse had been released, I knew I had to have it. I can remember opening it at Christmas as playing the album on repeat, with the lyrics in the album cover. I just had to know all the lyrics and I can now recite Mediaeval Baebes songs in Italian, Medieval English, French and Latin (I’m sure I’ve missed some!) and I can’t be prouder of that fact. There is something about the Baebes music that appeals to the deeper parts of my soul. It’s like I was born to hear this music.

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I first saw the Baebes perform live at The Stables when I was around 15 and a few times at Berkeley Castle Joust where I managed to get the courage to have a poster signed by them, which of course, I still have (and will be proudly displayed when I have my own place!) and I’ve also seen them at Birmingham Cathedral for a wonderfully festive Christmas concert and last year at Loxwood Joust .

I’m also happy to report that the (other!) love of my life, my partner loves the Baebes too, so now instead of dragging my Mum along, I get to take my man instead!
(Cue me wanting the Baebes to perform at our forest wedding one day!)

In 2010 the Mediaeval Baebes put together an opportunity for us ‘normal’ folk to learn a couple of their songs and sing alongside them in a mini concert in front of our friends and family. Of course, I had to do it! It was a fantastic (if, very nerve wracking!) day and I got to sing with two of my favourite Baebes – Katharine Blake and Bev Lee Harling. Sadly Bev is no longer singing with the current Baebes lineup.

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My love for the Baebes has never waned, although they did lose me a bit when they released Undrentide, which was a bit too new-age and modern for my tastes and I’m pleased to report that the Baebes are sounding more like their original selves than ever before!

One of the many things I love about the Baebes is their professionality when they perform. They are always so tight, their timings are beautiful and you can see how much work Katharine puts into writing and arranging the songs. I am a huge admirer of Katharine Blake as a musician, a true artist. Anyway, enough blowing smoke up their ass!

Here are a few pictures I took at the 2015 Loxwood Joust…

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So, if you’re into medieval music, folk music, acapella or classical music, I cannot recommend the Mediaeval Baebes enough. The Mediaeval Baebes have played such a huge part in my life and I can say I am a forever fan.

From the young geeky bespectacled girl singing along at the top of her voice at Berkeley to the twenty something woman at the front singing along at the top of her voice, a fan for life x

A permanent decision…

Love them or loathe them, they are now more popular than ever; I’m talking about tattoos.

Tattoos are an emotive subject and everyone seems to have an opinion about them so I thought I’d share my somewhat surprising views (or so I’ve been told!)

Now, on the surface, I look like an ‘alternative’ lady. I have dyed black hair, wear a lot of black clothing, skulls being a particular theme I go for so people naturally assume I am tattooed. The surprising thing is, I’m not – well, I was but I’m not any more.

As I’ve written previously, I began an apprenticeship in body piercing when I was 24 and absolutely loved it; I had lots of unusual piercings in my ears, had skin divers along my arm, a nipple piercing, tongue piercing, navel piercing to name a few. But, I had one lowly tattoo on the inside of my right wrist and that was it.

Customers were surprised that unlike my fellow body piercers and tattooists, I wasn’t covered in inkings and my piercings weren’t all on my face. I liked being the odd one out (shocker, I know!) and eventually, got sick of seeing people covered in tattoos; it wasn’t shocking or interesting any more – particularly as the tattooist at the place I was piercing at wasn’t actually very good at all. But that’s another story for another day!

When I left the piercing place, I ended up being a full time vintage and pinup model and spent a lot of time with other models. It didn’t take long to notice a fascinating overlap when it comes to pinup and tattoo modelling; I was surrounded by “alternative” models who did both alternative and pinup modelling.

During the two years I spent with one group of models, it seemed to me as though they were getting tattoos simply to get photographed for front covers of magazines. Whilst, I applaud their dedication, it really did put me off being tattooed because to me, they all started to look the same.

A part of who I am is my need to be different. In a world where everyone seems to be tattooed, I decided I wanted to undo my foray into being tattooed myself. So I went about having laser tattoo removal.

Before I show you what my non-tattoo-tattoo looks like, I’ll show you what it looked like when I had first had it done.

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I chose to have my favourite name tattooed on my wrist – my late Grandma’s name and the name of my favourite Monarch, Elizabeth I. Yes, my name is also Elizabeth – cue the jokes about forgetting your own name so having this to remind me… blah blah blah!

My vintage modelling was going really well so I decided I wanted to remove my black tattoo and have my ‘blank canvas’ back. Vintage modelling is as it sounds – I wore all original vintage clothing from the 1940s and 1950s, set my hair in rollers and wore a lot of red lipstick. As you can guess, tattoos weren’t a hugely popular look back in the 40s and 50s so I wanted to look as authentic as possible; this meant removing my tattoo.

When people talk about tattoo removal, the first thing people say is how painful it is. Let me say right now, they are absolutely right – laser tattoo removal hurts. It hurts a lot. Even more than having the tattoo in the first place, so to anyone wanting a tattoo who isn’t quite sure… think hard before you are tattooed because it is absolutely no fun at all, having it lasered.

Luckily my tattoo is black; a colour that is more easily removed than others (red, being one of the hardest colours to remove) and it is quite small. Unfortunately I did have my tattoo on the inside of my wrist which is I’m told, quite a tender place for a tattoo.

I’ve now had around 5 sessions of laser removal leaving a minimum of 6 weeks between each laser session. The longer you leave it, the better, as the tattoo will continue to fade after each session and for weeks after.

This image was taken after the 3rd laser session. IMG_1939

This was after the 4th session so it had already faded quite a lot by then. This was taken around 20 minutes after having laser on it. It was extremely swollen and tender – feeling much like severe sunburn… Immediately after having it lasered, it looks a lot more faded than it will the next day. This is normal, but won’t last.

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This was taken around 6 hours after the session, as you can see it has all blood blistered.

And this…. is how it looks now, after 5 sessions – the last one was  a year ago.

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As you can see, it hasn’t entirely gone. It has scarred. Apparently this is a common issue with laser removal, as the skin doesn’t always react the way we want it to. I may have one more session to see if it does any more lifting. I’m quite happy with it now, as no one seems to notice it any more.

For anyone considering having a tattoo, I cannot stress it enough how important it is to be sure of who you are before you do it – or, be absolutely okay with having a painful removal procedure that isn’t 100% effective. It is extremely unlikely to disappear entirely and sometimes the only way to get rid of a tattoo is to have an expensive, dark, obtrusive cover up tattoo over the top.

So that’s my experience with tattooing and why I’m strictly on the nay camp when it comes to being tattooed. What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts!

Black Lipstick

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Ever since I was a teenager I’ve loved the look of black lipstick. I was your average teenage goth back then; though favouring purple lipstick over black because my Mum had some big opinions about black lipstick (to this day, she still screws up her nose when I walk around the house in it and I’m 29!)

I think I’ve been tainted for life because even now, I can’t bring myself to wear black lipstick seriously. I’ve never been a cyber Goth who shaves their brows and paints them in, or wears dread falls or tutu mini-skirts; not because I don’t like the look (I love it on other women) but I just don’t think it suits me. I would consider myself a minimalist Goth in that I like wearing plain black clothing and then accessorising with vintage or antique jewellery and a skull or two. I also loved dark red lipstick as it’s very glamorous. I’ve always been into hollywood glamour of the 40s and 50s so red lips come naturally to me….

But, I keep coming back to the black lipstick. I’m not sure if it’s a nostalgia thing (which seems to be a big thing right now) but I keep playing around with the look. I love it. I love how as soon as you put black lipstick on, you feel like you. All the deepest darkest parts of your soul are suddenly out there, on show, for the whole world to see. You finally feel you are part of a specific subculture that has been around for decades; the Goth subculture.

There’s been a running topic among the Goth subculture which is

Am I Goth enough?

and I think I’m guilty of having these worries myself, particularly when I go to an event that is specifically aimed at the ‘darker’ parts of life like the Satanic Market I went to recently, I found myself comparing myself with other ladies who attended the event, worrying that I don’t fit in because I’m not goth enough.

Isn’t it funny that you can get to your late twenties and STILL be comparing yourself to others? It’s sad, isn’t it? The thing to remember is that we all have insecurities. The woman I’m admiring is probably feeling a similar feeling to me.

So what have I learned – I’ve learned to acknowledge when I’m feeling insecure in myself and remember that it’s normal to have a wobbble. I’ve also learned that sometimes, you just have to go for it. Out of curiousity I posted a picture of myself wearing black lipstick on my instagram page and it has had some really positive comments. Now, I know that seeking validation from people online (or anyone for that matter) isn’t  a legitimate way to feel good about oneself, but if you can see it from a more objective perspective, it can be helpful.

To conclude; fuck it. I’m going to ROCK that black lipstick and not give a shit what anyone else thinks. It’s something I’ve always admired on other people, so why don’t I just bite the bullet!

Pentagram Swimsuit – Disturbia Clothing

It’s 2016, the year that I turn 30.

I’m not a huge fan of birthday parties, but I am a massive fan of pampering and massages, so I’m gathering my girl friends for a bit of a session at a local spa for the day.

I am SO tempted to buy this swimsuit for my spa day!

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82% Nylon 18% Spandex swim top with Pentagram shaped straps. Adjustable back straps. TAG YOUR PURCHASE: #disturbiaclothing IN STOCK & SHIPS WITHIN 24 HOURS

Source: Pentagram Swimsuit – Disturbia Clothing

Brand Spotlights

Over the coming weeks I shall be writing a few blogs about a few brands, designers, independent businesses and friends that I believe need to be talked about and admired.

I am a firm believer in helping those around you rather than competing blindly and carelessly to get yourself ahead. While this may not be the best way to make money, I believe authenticity and integrity are more important. Of course, money helps (especially when you are naturally more disadvantaged than most) but it’s not the be all and end all.

So keep your eyes peeled to see where I shop, whose music I listen to, what I like to drink and pretty much everything I like!

If you’re looking to get your name out there (like myself) feel free to get in touch. Email me at bethvonblack@hotmail.com

 

Just say YES

When I first decided I wanted to start a blog, I didn’t really know which direction to take as to what I wanted to blog about; there are so many facets to my life, I couldn’t narrow it down. I had written a blog a few years ago when I started running a vintage business and had some compliments on my writing style. I don’t know if they were just being polite but nevertheless, it brought about a confidence in me.

I guess most things in adult life are about having the guts to do something you’ve never done before. As Einstein said, the definition of insanity is ‘doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results’ I’m probably paraphrasing but you get what I mean.

I know too many people who do the same thing, day in, day out and complain that their life is unfulfilled. But, they haven’t actually taken the time to really sit and think about WHY their life isn’t what they had imagined it would be. They don’t consider that it is the choices they’ve made that have led them to the place they are now and another few scary but brave decisions may change their life for the better.

I’m not saying I’m perfect by any means. But, I do like to think having spent a fair amount of time in an introspective space, I have come out with a clearer knowledge of who I am as a person. As I was going through this period of ‘enlightenment’ (cue the sick noises!) I became much more of a yes person.

Crippled with Social Anxiety throughout my teens and early twenties my natural state was to avoid anything that may cause me embarrassment or even a small amount of attention. It stopped me doing a lot of things and it got so bad I spent 2 years hiding in my house rarely leaving it. I finally had had enough and decided I wanted more for myself, so I tracked down a few self help books on how to overcome social anxiety and even spent time (and a lot of money) having hypnotherapy sessions.

It took a while but I built up more and more confidence. I enrolled in some small adult learning courses and tried my hand at dressmaking and silver smithing. Slowly I came out of my shell and life started to feel a little less daunting.

A good few years have gone by now and while I still have mild social anxiety, it doesn’t rule my life. I took chances, I took risks, I thought ‘what the hell’ and did things I never thought I could do. I’ve walked down a catwalk wearing latex in a fetish club, I’ve talked about myself on the local radio, I’ve been in a tv commercial, I’ve run my own business, I’ve been published as a model, I’ve been immortalised as a comic book character.

All these things happened because I simply said YES.

What have you done lately?

 

 

 

 

Greetings to you all

 

Let me start by saying good evening to you all! I am thrilled to finally have somewhere to call my own and hope you get as much enjoyment out of reading this blog as I will, writing it.

I’ve been doing some research into what blogs are all about and I’m not sure if this is going to take off… but I’ve been told I’m interesting as a person and live an unusual life so, why not write about it and hope people weren’t just blowing smoke up my ass!

In this blog you will find out who I am, what I like to do and why I can’t do things most people take for granted. I won’t go into detail in the first post (I don’t want to scare you off just yet!) but who knows, you may end up changing your perspective…. One can only hope!

I shall be documenting in word and image most aspects of my life, from what I like to eat, drink and watch, to what I wear, the furniture I covet and the four walls I call home. I will also be giving some of you a bit of an education into the world of hidden illness – but honestly, don’t worry – I’m not going to bore you to tears with the trials and tribulations of that.

The mantra that ‘humour must be maintained at all times’ was instilled in me from a young age (thank you Mum, really) so do expect a rather large dose of sardonic wit, sarcasm and puns.

That’s enough fluff for now, I shall love you and leave you.