The Mythic Ball, #5: Phoenix’s Rhinestone Gown

Liana's Paper Dolls: Phoenix's Costume. A dark navy blue gown with a high neckline and no sleeves. There's a circle keyhole cutout under the neckline, and the dress is mermaid-style, tight around the bodice and legs then fanning out near the floor. It's decorated with an abstract phoenix pattern in rhinestones all over the top of the dress and abstract swirls of rhinestones on the skirt. There's a long length of orange, yellow and red fabric patterned with gold swirls draped around the hips and legs, over one shoulder and over the skirt, fanning out like a tail. There's also a red and gold mask with stylized feathers on each side extending far past the head.Many of the attendees informally call this event the “Monsters’ Ball,” since all of the archetypes in attendance are fundamentally inhuman. (Are there human-based archetypes? Sure, but if they take physical form and throw a party, it’s not this one.) The nickname doesn’t sit right with everyone, though; Phoenix won’t let it be said around her, since she is very insistent that she’s not a monster. She likes to be known instead for her goodness and sparkly dresses.

“Destructive fire powers tend to suggest ‘monster’ to unbiased onlookers,” Dragon says. Her tone is a little arch but not unkind; they have this discussion nearly every year and the arguments are seldom novel.
“It’s not ‘destructive,’ it’s purifying,” Phoenix answers.
“Tell that to whatever’s being purified,” counters Dragon.

The ball draws to a close, and the archetypes get ready for the final event. It’s not a traditional activity, having only gained popularity in the last hundred years or so, but by now no one wants to be left out. There’s a flurry of movement as archetypes everywhere change their shape and adjust their clothes over the new, smaller bodies.

“This whole thing is so ridiculous,” sighs Fairy as she joins the line for the portal that will transport the group away from the ball.
“I didn’t hear you complaining when we found the house that was passing out full-sized Milky Ways last year,” Kraken says, poking her shoulder. The newly clumsy, child-sized feet of the archetypes around her keep stepping on her costume’s tentacles.

The portal leads to a quiet suburb, dotted with children and their parents going door-to-door. It’s dark enough that no one notices the archetypes stepping out of the portal and out onto the sidewalk, where they cluster into groups of extraordinarily well-dressed trick-or-treaters. A handful of archetypes, including Dragon and Phoenix, have retained their adult human forms, to provide what looks like proper supervision. They’ve learned it’s better if no one asks too many questions about the group.

Kraken is the first to ring the doorbell. “Trick or treat!” she says, directing what she hopes is a smile filled with child-like wonder at the woman who opens the door and holding out a rather large bag.

Now, I have an important question for you all. I understand the archetypes will abide by your decision, so think carefully…

I hope you’ve enjoyed this October’s visit to the mythic ball! I’m very proud of the five outfits I’ve done for this series. I don’t know what I’ll do next week, but it will likely not be as complex as this series has been. In the meantime, you can download combined color and black and white PDFs of all of my 2014 dolls and outfits for free! Also follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest for sneak previews, paperdoll thoughts and gorgeous clothes from India. If you enjoy my work, I’d also appreciate your support through Patreon.


The Mythic Ball, Part 2: Kraken’s Purple and Silver Gown with Tentacles

An off-the-shoulder dress with fin-like webbing on the upper arms, a corset top, a tight, sparkly silver skirt edged with more fin-like webbing and several tentacles coming from the skirt and spilling over the floor. The corset is patterned with an abstract tentacle pattern and is a deep purple. It's made of shiny fabric which is nearly pink where the light hits it, and the top of the corset is covered in sparkly silver glitter. The fin-like webbing is done in garish shades of yellow, orange and magenta. The skirt is gathered at the back and drapes over the front from the waist to the knees in graceful folds, and the entire skirt is covered in silver sequins that glitter as they catch the light. The silhouette suggests a late 1800s gown, although the colors, glitter and tentacles don't. There are about ten tentacles, shiny and colored in shades of purple, with large suckers on them. They fall towards the ground, where they spill out and curl around on the floor. There's also a shiny silver mask to go with the outfit.

Kraken had been a favorite in the Victorian era, then airplanes came along, things went poorly for her and she had slunk around the edges of the party for some time. But these days, she’s trendy again. Downright hip, in a way that ever-popular Dragon can’t be: a t-shirt screenprinted with a dragon runs the risk of being cliché and laughable, but Kraken-themed accessories have creepy steampunk style. She suggests mystery, complexity, and a hint of the taboo (as the Great Old Ones are pointedly not invited to the festivities).

Her habit of arriving at the ball with a gleeful cry of “Release the Kraken!” is getting a little old, but no one’s had the nerve to suggest a more subtle entrance to her; Kraken simply doesn’t do subtle, as her flashy dress might suggest. Plus, she has a theatrical streak a mile wide: when Vampire gave her a disdainful look and told her that her ensemble was “very Ursula” Kraken just grinned and started belting out “Poor Unfortunate Souls” right there. Can there be anything better, Kraken thought to herself, than showing off a popular sea-monster themed show tune and mortifying Vampire in the same night? She can think of a few things, but it’s enough of a triumph for this particular quarter of an hour.

Help me out — I have plans to introduce three more guests this month, and I know who two of them are but I’m not sold on the third…

Who comes next? I’ll give you a hint: if you recognize next week’s archetype you can congratulate yourself for being hip to Internet pop culture. In the meantime, don’t forget that you can now download combined color and black and white PDFs of all of my 2014 dolls and outfits for free! Also follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest for sneak previews, paperdoll thoughts and drawing tutorials I think might be useful. If you enjoy my work, I’d also appreciate your support through Patreon.


Bat Costume in Purple and Dark Grey

A bat costume consisting of a dark grey dress with long sleeves, a square neckline and a full skirt that reaches to mid-thigh. Up and down the sleeves, and on the hem, are small floral patterns, there's purple lace at the wrists and shiny purple ribbons running from the waist to the hem. Over this is a purple satin bodice with a split purple satin skirt that reaches partially down the grey underskirt and small purple ruffles at each shoulder. The bodice is open in front, and laces over a reddish-purple and pink patterned panel. The costume has little black bat wings with purple accents, as well as black and purple bat ears on a black headband. The stockings reach above the knee and are vertically striped in pink and reddish purple, with purple lace at the top and shiny black shoes.Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

So way back in May, Nikki won a contest for guessing that my great-grandfather was born in Alaska. She wrote:

I’d like the bat costume (http://lianaspaperdolls.com/2010/10/09/halloween-10-day-7-black-and-white-cute-bat-costume/) colored in dark grey (almost black) and shades of purple. Where the colors go and if there is a pattern is totally up to you. I just really want to see that outfit colored and purple is one of my favorite colors.

… And then I completely forgot about it. Completely. I am so sorry, Nikki, it was truly thoughtless of me and I apologize for making you wait so long. If it’s any consolation I went all out in the coloring. I think it turned out to look really cool, and I really hope you think so too. Briana, thank you for reminding me, I had forgotten all about it.

I’ll do another contest at some point in time, and this time I won’t make anyone wait half a year!


Black Velvet and Chartreuse Gown with Spiderweb Lace

A black ballgown with a flared, full skirt and long sleeves. The skirt is made of black velvet, with triangular cutouts that start near the waist which reveal a underskirt made of swirled green and chartreuse fabric and covered with lace that looks like spiderwebs. There are two flies trapped in the webs. There's a wide V-shaped copper belt at the waist, set with orange, green and yellow jewels. The bodice is made of black velvet and has a feathery pattern near the top. There are more copper accents near the shoulders, and the green sleeves are straight, fall to the wrist, and are overlaid with more spiderweb lace.Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

It’s almost Halloween, the paperdoll-friendly holiday, and I’ve been thinking about what would make a dress scary. The things that scare me don’t generally translate well to dresses, though, since they are too intangible. But there’s a couple of fears that aren’t…

My pride causes me to say I’m not scared of spiders, I just don’t like looking at them. If I put it that way, it’s perfectly reasonable to do things like cover up a picture of a spider when I’m reading a book, or avoid the tarantula exhibit at the zoo.

But it’s never reasonable, really, to wake up my husband at 4 AM when there’s a spider in the bathroom. It’s not reasonable that I have to use paper or my phone to cover up a spider picture in a book, and not my hand. And it’s not really reasonable to move as quickly as I do when there’s one close to me. Before I know it I’m halfway across the room, denying that anything’s wrong at all, I’m just fine, it’s not like I’m scared of such a little spider, because that would be ridiculous. (It’s gone now, right?)

When I was a little kid, I was scared of black holes, and I feel like I’ve gone down in the world since I stopped fearing the random indifference of the universe and picked up such a pathetically obvious, stupid, gendered weakness. I know perfectly well they’re more afraid of me than I am of them. I know they eat lots of annoying bugs and that they’ve only got two more legs than ants (which I don’t mind at all). I know I can kill them perfectly well myself, and I do, if there’s no other option. I put on my heaviest shoes and make a lot of noise, cursing each stupid spider leg and shouting warnings to all the other spiders that they’d better stay well out of my sight, or they’re gonna get it too. I calm myself down by calling up my husband and telling him “I killed a spider!” just like a normal person might say “I got a promotion!” or “I won a new car!” Kind man that he is, he indulges me.

If you were to stalk me over my various online activities, you’d notice I almost never mention this fear, because I’m just paranoid enough to consider how people could use it against me. There’s no real reason to share with the world how to yank this particular chain. But oh well — it’s Halloween, and while I amuse myself with ghosts, vampires and sorceresses, I don’t believe in the supernatural. I’m mostly just frightened of the quirks and instability of the human mind… and spiders.

What do spiders have to do with this gown, do you wonder? Well, there’s the spiderweb lace, and a couple of twitchy, fat flies caught in it. There must be a spider around somewhere, don’t you think? Ah, yes. A gigantic one, four feet long, with spindly long legs and a full set of eyes.

It’s on the petticoat.

Does that make the whole dress different for you? It does for me. I’ve drawn nothing, but all the same it’s still there, just like those spiders that disappear behind furniture while I’m still dithering about looking for my shoes. Now, is it merely embroidered or painted on? Or does it cling to the thin lace on the petticoat, waiting for its host to lure some prey away from the party and into the shadows? Dance with the lady in black and green at the Halloween ball this year, if you like, but I hope you will have the sense to leave that particular mystery well alone.

I’m never going to talk about spiders on this blog again, so let’s have a poll…