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Minnu Model Skins

Edit: I talked to Minnu Palen today about the yellowness of the skin that is pictured below and she was very concerned about this issue. To other people's computers, they are apparently *not* the same as what I came up with, but I don't understand the graphic card references she was making sooo... I'll investigate this again when I get a better computer, hopefully next month. :D I just wanted to put it out there in the interest of fairness - make sure you always try on demos before buying skins!

Proprietor/Designer Name: Minnu Palen
Type of item/services: Skins and eyes
Price Range: Single skins are 1100 (non-gloss) and 1150 (gloss), fatpacks are 4000 (non-gloss) and 6000 (gloss)
Location: JT World VI (211, 208, 22)
Quality: ****
Newbie-friendly: N/A
Customer Service: Signs on walls.
Clearance rack/Sales outlet: Older skins are sold in the little shop to your right as you teleport in.
Other locations: N/A
Designer Blog: N/A
Mailing List: MM Skin Group

Items Reviewed: Minnu Model Skins - 1100L each
Make-ups: Dark Skin-Secret. Tan Skin-Vanity. Mid Skin-Copper. Light Skin-40s. Pale Skin-Dominate.

Now, I think everyone knows that I love make-up, so I was incredibly excited when Minnu dropped this review pack on me. I was hoping to find excellent skins with detail and beautiful make-ups and I was not disappointed!

First off, these are her non-glossy skins and I'm pretty sure they are Generation II. She's got a little shop across the way that's got some of her older skins in it - I think there were five skintones and four make-ups for each. Those started at 900L, with fatpacks being 3500L. (A savings of 100L.) I won't comment on their quality because, other than noting their existence and cost, I didn't really pay attention to them.

She's also got a line of glossy (well, I'm calling them glossy) skins that she released after she released the ones that I'll be showing you down the page. It looks like she's got a lot more make-up options scheduled for those, and they're a teensy bit pricer (only 50L more). Each set right now has at least six make-ups, and there are four skintones if I recall correctly.

But, for the non-glossy ones, there are five skintones with four make-ups each and they're priced at 1100L for a single, 4000 for a fatpack.

Now, I have to say that I'm really not into huge contrasts on skins. While it's nice to see a little shine, I don't like my skin looking as though there's a limelight on it all the time. And I think Ms. Palen did an excellent job with the definition and detail on these skins. As you can see in the below picture, the back looks good, the tummy is nice, there's some great knee definition and the hands - well. The hands. Apparently designing hands and feet in SL sucks major arse. There's a slight seaming issue on the hands, but it's not something that'll pop out to the average user who doesn't stare at their avatars on a pose stand for hours at a time. *cough*

Actually, though, I also did a close-up on the hands for another reason than that - I love that she did natural nails. I can't stand it when I buy a skin that's already either colored the nails or just didn't pay attention to them. Yeah, I can get a prim manicure set (I own a very pretty Tete a Pied set) but I'd prefer not to because of the way it makes my hands end up posing. Even if the nails do look good. (Anyone know of a way to fix that so it doesn't have my hands held in weird positions?)

Click to enlarge.

Also, I used different skins next to each other to show you the various tones. While I like four out of the five skintones very much, I have to say that the pale one is waaayy too yellow for me. (It's the full frontal body shot one, if you can't tell.) I mean, she did such an awesome job with the dark skin - which is now one of my favorite dark skins - and the tan, light and mid-tones. But that other one ended up being just too yellow somehow. The make-up colors look odd on it.

Speaking of make-ups, check out this picture:

Click to enlarge.

Aren't the make-ups pretty? I love the shape of the lips, and the eyes are quite nice. I'd like to again point out her darkest skin tone and how wonderful the make-up looks on it. My other favorite of hers is the Tan Skin-Vanity, which is right below the darkest one. They're not overly complicated and overwhelming make-ups, they're simple - and in their simplicity end up being even more appealing. I will say that I don't think the yellow eyeshadow on a yellowish skin was a good idea, but that would really be my only issue. I'm also not sure if charging 100 to 150L more than most skin vendors out there, without creating radically different skins or hugely different make-up options, is really worth it, but the market will decide in the end. All in all, they're pretty skins with pretty make-ups.

Bikini: Celestial Studios Infini-kini set
Hair: Gloxinia by Calla - 200L
Poses: Digital Dragon Designs and Luth Brodie
Eyes: Custom dk brown by Jen Shikami, Seven's Selections

Friend list: No
Review Copy: Yes

Digital Designs

Proprietor/Designer Name: DBDigital Epsilon
Type of item/services: Jewelry, photo albums, fireworks?
Price Range: Most pieces are in the mid-100s.
Location: Lebeda (238, 5, 31)
Quality: ***
Newbie-friendly: N/A
Customer Service: No policy seen in store.
Clearance rack/Sales outlet: N/A
Other locations: N/A
Designer Blog: N/A
Mailing List: N/A

Items Reviewed: Ruby Star earrings and necklace, Emerald Star earrings and necklace, White Pearl earrings and necklace

Okay, I know, yet again I've been slacking off on the reviews and now I'm desperately trying to go through my backlog. I don't even have the excuse of lazing on the beach like Coral because we'd been in monsoon season for what seems like months! Ugh. And now we're in a heat wave.

Anyway, on to the review: There was a metric ton of jewelry in the review package, but I only picked out three sets to show in the review.

The jewelry itself is very delicate, at least the pieces I looked at. The artist obviously knows how to make tiny prims - so tiny that it's hard to see the detail work. I pulled out the Ruby Star pendant - it's got great detailing! I love the shape and the tiny little diamonds put around the edges. I think that the pendant gem itself was very well done. The designer also knows how to use gem textures correctly, something I'm still trying to figure out. I like the way that the gem facets are created - it gives the gem a more realistic look and is a different approach.

There's also a huge selection of gems to choose from at Digital Designs. If your fancy goes to different kinds of colored stones, or different colors of pearl, your order can be filled at a reasonable price since most, if not all, jewelry is around 150L. The pearl earrings that I'm wearing in the top picture have a definite shine to them, reminiscent of an actual pearl, rather than simply a colored round prim.

For one of my biggest issues regarding jewelry in Second Life, it has been addressed wonderfully by DGDIgital Epsilon. I want to note that I love sparklies. But I don't like bling. Can't stand it, in fact. It's hugely distracting and, in my opinion only (because I know a lot of you LIVE for it), rather distracting and unattractive. So I'll be happy to note that all jewelry from Digital Designs comes standard with bling - but it's turned off on purchase. If you want to turn it on it's really easy and the ads give you instructions. Bling off, or bling on - it's moddable for any customer.

While I liked the jewelry, I have to say that there were a few flaws. The chains in particular for the "star" series seemed to be somewhat awkward. If they had a more natural curve to them, I think that they would fit better, but as they are now it's a huge loop that goes around the neck and I had many issues getting them to fit as well as they do in the pictures I took. Also, while certain aspects of their work are good, like the gem pendant, there are a few other refinements that could be added to their pieces to make them even better. I think that as the artist creates more jewelry, it'll just keep getting better and better.

There is, as I noted, a huge selection. The shop also sells photo albums and I saw a sign for fireworks there as well (although I have to admit I didn't check it out).

Hair: Lotus by Calla - 200L
Make-up: Nadia - Bamboo by Skin Within - 1200L
Dress: Tin Roof in black - Simone! - 150L
Eyes: Woody Eyes by Skin Within
Pose: Me! And, uh, Linden Labs because I didn't really use a pose this time.

Click to enlarge.

Friend list: No
Review Copy: Yes

Shapes by Zada

Proprietor/Designer Name: Zada Zenovka
Type of item/services: shapes (both ready-to-wear and custom) and eyes
Price Range: EyeFidelity eyes are ordinarily 120L per color (each color pack includes three eye styles), while Zada's prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear) shapes range from 275L (the copy-okay Basics line) to 800L (the copy/mod Fashionista line). Her haute couture, or custom, shape packages vary in price from 1000L to 8000L, depending on permissions.
Location: Kusawa (221, 115, 36)
Quality: ****1/2
Newbie-friendly: N/A
Customer Service: Wow! Shapes by Zada has some of the most thorough, detailed policies that I've ever seen in a store. If there's anything that you want to know about her products or her services, odds are good that the answer's in one of the Notecards offered in her shops; if not, Zada's very friendly and accommodating via IM. She also regularly updates "The Skin Insider," a guide to some of the best skins in SL and how they work with an avatar's shape.
Clearance rack/Sales outlet: N/A
Other locations: Ernst (160, 122, 36); Odessa Luxurious (170, 36, 32); Yawgoo (97, 162, 97)
Designer Blog: N/A
Mailing List: Shapes by Zada Updates

I've never dropped a single Linden on a shape (I'm pretty pleased with my flat-chested, big-bottomed body as it is), but visiting Shapes by Zada makes the prospect really tempting. The sheer wealth of information available on both shapes (which Zada makes) and skins (which she does not) is, by itself, worth the trip to one of Zada Zenovka's neat and organized shops. She provides in-depth Notecards on what goes into her "off-the-peg" shapes, her method for creating custom shapes, and how your shape can affect the look of your skin. The last one, "The Skin Insider," is, in fact, an ever-evolving guide to skins, "a permanent work in progress," as Zada notes in the introduction; it explains the relationship between shapes and skins as well as provides mini-recommendations for the most attractive and versatile skins that you can find in Second Life.

As intrigued as I am by Zada's approach to shape-making and the descriptions of her work, this review isn't about Zada's shapes; it's about her new line of eyes, EyeFidelity.

Items reviewed: eyes (Eyefidelity IdealEyes in Deep Blue and EyeFidelity RealEyes in Deep Blue)

There are a lot of really gorgeous eyes in Second Life. I know; I've looked. =) My Sin Skins eyes, for example, are beautiful, and I've barely taken them off (out?) since I bought them. Although I've yet to buy a pair, I'm also drooling over the Luminous collection by Miriel Enfield. So pretty.

Zada's eyes caught my--um, eye... heh, sorry... because they're not only stunning (and entirely hand-drawn; I'm a sucker for anything that's hand-drawn), but I also loved that EyeFidelity eyes are offered (separately) in both a "normal" Second Life eye size and a smaller, more realistic size -- a practice that I've seen several times elsewhere and enthusiastically support -- and each pack of eyes actually contains three pairs that differ according to lighting: Indoor, Neutral, and Outdoor. I'll let Zada explain the details...

"Indoors," Zada remarks, "the highlights resemble window lighting, the pupils are larger. Neutral have a generic highlighting. Outdoors, the pupils are smaller with bright sunlight hinting, and an overall skyline sheen." She adds that she doesn't expect people to switch versions that often, but she thinks that it's nice to have the option to do so as well as a different "mood" of the same eye color to reflect how you're feeling at any given moment. I, personally, think it's an awesome idea for snapshots -- I'll definitely be paying more attention to my light levels from now on, especially when shooting close-ups. To me, it's the little things that count, and this tiny bit of added realism just delights me.

Speaking of realism... when comparing the two iris styles, IdealEyes (the standard SL size) and RealEyes (the smaller and more realistic size), I have to say that I prefer RealEyes, although I think they're both wonderful. Each style currently comes in twenty colors that can be viewed in Zada's shops, and you can even try on a demo that's included with the explanatory in-store Notecard. Individual colorpacks are ordinarily 120L, but you can snag 'em now for the introductory price of 100L per color; if you like what you see but you just can't decide which color to get, you can buy a fatpack of five colors for 360L.

Here's hopin' that Zada will continue to branch out even further in the types of content that she creates, showing the same fastidiousness that she's demonstrated with her shapes business and, now, EyeFidelity. I know I'll be waiting for more! :D

EyeFidelity IdealEyes in Deep Blue - 100L (introductory price)

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Hair: Houstonia by Calla - 200L
Skin: Vogue Summer Series 1 in Cashmere by Celestial Studios - 1000L
Shirt: Surf Stormcloud Graphic Tee by Sand Shack Surf Co. - 90L
Jewelry: Shark Necklace by SiniStyle - 100L

EyeFidelity RealEyes in Deep Blue - 100L (introductory price)

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Hair: Houstonia by Calla - 200L
Skin: Vogue Summer Series 1 in Cashmere by Celestial Studios - 1000L
Shirt: Surf Stormcloud Graphic Tee by Sand Shack Surf Co. - 90L
Jewelry: Shark Necklace by SiniStyle - 100L

Review Copy: Yes
Friends: No

plus NINE

Proprietor/Designer Name: Tamiko Kenzo
Type of item/services: swimwear, men's and women's clothing
Price Range: ACE Halters and some shirts cost 100L; the Rosso Tweedy outfit is 185L. The bikinis as well as the Velvet Line Boogie suits (both men's and women's) are 175L apiece.
Location: Teffelaw (25, 29, 22)
Quality: ***1/2
Newbie-friendly: N/A
Customer Service: No policy seen in store; "Store policy" Notecard included with dollarbie gave me the "You are not allowed to read this note" error when I opened it.
Clearance rack/Sales outlet: While there's no clearance rack or outlet, you can pick up a couple of dollarbies.
Other locations: Cocololo Island (227, 165, 23); HappyDispatch (170, 220, 24)
Designer Blog: http://kenzotamiko.blog99.fc2.com/ (Japanese)
Mailing List: plus NINE (not yet functioning)

I don't recall if I've said this before here on the Guide, but Second Life hates my poor PowerBook. I lag like crazy, I have a difficult time controlling my avatar as a result (which makes surfing a real challenge), and the program crashes all the freakin' time. If I have a good connection, I don't want to lose it, so, rather than quitting the game while I go eat some Ben & Jerry's Crème Brûlée ice cream (mmmmm) or watch an episode of "Magnum, P.I.," I'll plunk my av down somewhere -- usually on a beach, to no one's surprise -- and go into Busy mode; that way, people will know that I'm not ignoring them if they talk to me and I don't respond.

Problem? While I'm in Busy mode, any Inventory offers automatically go to my Trash without so much as a "Yo!", and I don't always (okay: almost never) remember to check for new items when I come back from being Busy.

That's what happened when Tamiko Kenzo of plus NINE dropped the Vivace Earth Top + Hotpants on me. It was a good week or ten days from that time until I happened to open my Trash, and then there was some momentary headscratching over this mysterious folder followed by a "Yikes!" as I realized that I'd been sitting on a review copy without even knowing it. So not cool.

Moral of the story: root through the Trash more often! I'm trying to avoid going into Busy mode now, which means that I'm not giving you the cold shoulder if you IM me and I don't reply; just drop me a Notecard, and I'll get back to you ASAP.

Items reviewed: clothing (Vivace Earth Top + Hotpants; Cocololo Halter)

Once it dawned on me that I had a review copy from plus NINE on my hands, I threw on the outfit and noticed the earthy color scheme right away; it reminded me of my favorite Namiko Surf Co. bikini (the one that I practically live in), which made me smile. The combination of taupe, moss green, black, and white also serves to balance out the somewhat less down-to-earth cut of the top and the hotpants. =)

So, I really liked the color scheme and general look of the outfit, but I had a couple of nitpicky notes that I've illustrated in the photo below. First, the prim cuffs on the hotpants don't match the rest of the material, at least on my screen; you can see that in the first snapshot on your left-hand side. I honestly thought that Vivace Earth looked better sans cuffs, as you can see in the next pose over. I liked the idea of the cuffs -- sort of funnel-shaped and flexi, so they moved as you walked -- but the execution could've been a little bit better.

My other note: there are some seam problems. Again, uneven seams don't send me screaming from the sim as they do some people, but, after spending a good deal of time adjusting the prim cuffs and staring at the hotpants, the mismatched seams on both the waist of the hotpants and the lower edge of the top were obvious even to me.

Beyond those two quibbles, though, I liked Vivace Earth; besides the appealing color scheme, I thought the texture looked wonderfully soft, and the prim straps on the top were a great touch. Once Tamiko cleans up the seams a bit and works on the prim cuffs, Vivace Earth will be a great outfit.

Next up: plus NINE's dollarbie Cocololo Halter paired with shorts from Emma Gilmour's Sand Shack Surf Co. This is a really cute top (I love love love hibiscus blooms), especially for being (almost) free, and, other than some slightly jagged edges that you may be able to see in the last photo on your right-hand side, I didn't notice any technical difficulties. It's a fun little addition to any girl's closet (or guy's, if that's your thing), and my husband tells me that I need to get a top like that in my First Life, so it definitely has his seal of approval. =)

Tamiko's storefronts are all attractively designed and easy to navigate, which is greatly appreciated, and plus NINE sells a variety of swimwear as well as some casual clothing for both women and men. I thought the SHIMA shirts, in particular, looked lovely, and I'm sure that plus NINE is going to be fantastic with just a little time and a tiny bit of polish. Meanwhile, I'll be wearing my halter top and scouting for its First Life equivalent. :D

Vivace Earth Top + Hotpants - 175L
Cocololo Halter - 1L

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Hair: White Rose by Calla - 200L
Skin: Fresh Sol (newbie skin) by Sin Skins - 1L for Residents under 30 days; 1000L 500L otherwise (Vivace Earth Hotpants + Top); Vogue Summer Series 1 in Cashmere by Celestial Studios - 1000L (Cocololo Halter)
Eyes: EyeFidelity RealEyes in Deep Blue by Shapes by Zada - 100L
Shorts: Messy Shorts in Sand by Sand Shack Surf Co. - 100L
Jewelry: Shark Necklace by SiniStyle - 100L
Tattoos: "Maria" by Tiki Tattoo (custom shown) - 240L; "Moorea" by Tiki Tattoo - 160L

Review Copy: Yes
Friends: No

69Divine Designs

Proprietor/Designer Name: Alice Biondi/Hobbit Bagration
Type of item/services: clothing, hair, accessories
Price Range: From 39L for an Expressin' Me Tee to 139L for a ball gown; there are also fat packs available at a discount.
Location: Newfoundland (71, 64, 26)
Quality: ***
Newbie-friendly: There are freebies throughout Rock and Roll Heaven, the mall that 69Divine Designs calls home, as well as items given to newcomers; Alice and Hobbit usually set up a newbie with a complete wardrobe and hair. Nice! :D
Customer Service: Policy stated in-store invites customers to IM the creators if they're in need of any assistance. While I was there, in fact, Alice Biondi stopped by and was most helpful in answering my questions.
Clearance rack/Sales outlet: There are freebies throughout Rock and Roll Heaven, the mall that 69Divine Designs calls home, and Alice says that she tries to send out freebies to 69Divine Designs group members several times a week.
Other locations: N/A
Designer Blog: http://rocknrollheavenwear.blogspot.com/
Mailing List: 69Divine Designs

Playing with dolphins? Surfing? Lazing about on sandy beaches? Why, Delfina, I have no idea what you're talking about! ...oh, okay, I'll admit it: I've been out enjoying the summer sun when I should be writing reviews. But, really, with the gorgeous weather lately, can you blame me? :D As a result of my all-play-and-no-work streak lately, though, I have a bit of a review backlog, so I'll get right down to business and make up for my slacking!

Even though you're most likely to find me wearing a T-shirt, jeans, and a bikini (or just the bikini!), I do like to switch things up, and the cute clothes from 69Divine Designs are definitely a departure from my usual style... although I do have a soft spot for skulls. Must be a lingering fondness for my Anatomy & Physiology class. =)

Items reviewed: clothing (Punk to Go and Pretty in Punk)

First up: Punk to Go, a cute little number available in five colors (and a fat pack); I'm sporting the blue version in the photo below. This outfit includes a black-and-blue tee printed with skulls, stars, and music-note-skulls along with a coordinating plaid flexi mini-skirt and glitch pants. My favorite part is the belt buckle: even though I don't consider bling a friend of mine, I think the Mr. Skullhead on the front of the belt is just precious!

I do have some concerns with the outfit's construction, though. There are some seam issues that I couldn't help noticing, and the shirt's collar and sleeves are blurry; it looks as though the shirt was given its shape in Second Life rather than in a graphics editing program. If I had my druthers, the shirt's edges would be smoother, there'd be a little shading, and the glitch pants would match the skirt just a wee bit more closely.

That brings me to Pretty in Punk, which was described nicely on Rock and Roll Heaven's blog: "Pink and skulls, who can go wrong!" I always love juxtaposing femininity with morbidity. :D I usually prefer blue to pink (what can I say -- I've always been a tomboy), but I found myself liking this outfit more than Punk to Go. Although it's still not really my style, I think the technical quality of Pretty in Punk is superior to that of Punk to Go; the odd smudge along the hem aside, the tee is much smoother and better-defined (it brings to mind Robin "Sojourner" Wood's wonderful T-shirt template), and the glitch undies here seemed to work better than Punk to Go's glitch pants. The skirt's skull print is cute, but it's a little busy; I think pink plaid might be an improvement, but, of course, your mileage may vary.

The really neat thing about Pretty in Punk is that you can purchase matching shoes (obviously not pictured here). 69Divine Designs has teamed up with Ava Choo Boutique, and now Ava Weyland crafts matching shoes for the store's outfits. Pretty sweet deal, if you ask me.

Overall, I think that 69Divine Designs has some real potential. There are, as mentioned, a few technical tweaks that could be made, but that's simply a matter of "practice makes perfect" (or, if you're me, "practice makes INSANE," since SL clothing design and I don't get along). If you like sassy skirts, flirty tees, animal print shoes, and/or skulls, you'll want to keep your eye on 69Divine Designs in the future as Alice Biondi and Hobbit Bagration continue to improve in their content creation.

Punk to Go (Blue) - 139L
Pretty in Punk - 99L

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Hair: Anemone by Calla - 200L
Skin: Vogue Summer Series 1 in Cashmere by Celestial Studios - 1000L
Eyes: EyeFidelity RealEyes in Deep Blue by Shapes by Zada - 100L
Jewelry: Shark Necklace by SiniStyle - 100L
Tattoos: "Maria" by Tiki Tattoo (custom shown) - 240L; "Moorea" by Tiki Tattoo - 160L
Shoes: Platform Stilettos by Frangipani Designs - free

Review Copy: Yes
Friends: No


Proprietor/Designer Name: Nephilaine Protagonist
Type of item/services: Clothing, eyes, skins, shapes, AOs, avatars
Price Range: 50L for many of the tops as well as for eyes; AOs can run up to 1000L. Most items seem to be in the 75L-200L range -- a great value for the quality of the products.
Location: Port Seraphine (40, 131, 27)
Quality: ****1/2
Newbie-friendly: N/A (although there are some freebie items out right now)
Customer Service: Notecards in product packages outlining service. Refund policy clearly stated on wall.
Clearance rack/Sales outlet: Periodic sales announced on the blog; BidBoxes on the main floor.
Other locations: Chartreuse (232, 105, 23); Nakama (16, 145, 46)
Designer Blog: http://www.nafii.com/PixelDolls/
Mailing List: PixelDolls

Items Reviewed: Sculpted velvet gloves (100L), Matilin pants (150L), Bonney dress (150L), Drifter dress (150L)

Y'all are so lucky! While partner Coral has been out playing with the dolphins and surfing or generally lazing about on the sandy beaches... *I* have been working on another post! (And suffering through monsoon season, damn that Coral.)

Okay, this is one of those shops that I've been meaning to review but slacked off, erm... I mean... got really busy so I couldn't do it. Now, I'd ventured in here before, but nothing really grabbed me at the time, although I did buy a few items. This second round, though... I found a whole lot that I liked! And I'm not even inflicting all of it on you folks right now (Coral already beat me to the punch on some of it anyway - and she did all of the research for me, too! She's so sweet!), but you are getting news of some of my new favorite goodies!

First of all, she's got these fantastic sculpted velvet gloves. As far as I know, Ms. Protagonist was one of the first, if not the first, to really put sculpted prims into use for clothing. (Launa Fauna was the other.) I love them, adore them, and couldn't figure out what to wear them with. Then recently she had a box of free goodness dropped in the store and I, of course, grabbed it. Inside, I found a bunch of really pretty tanks and shirts - in the first picture I'm wearing the cherry silk tank with the sculpted gloves and the brown Matilin pants. The pants are shown in the capri edition - they also come with cuffed pants legs and slouchy, and while I would love to show you those I seem to be prim deficient right now and couldn't adjust them to be shorter. Which is why I'm wearing the shorter pants in this picture. (They're really cute, anyway. And it's summer, so why not?) Also, sadly enough, I don't own a good pair of brown heels. All I have are black! What is a girl to do? So I slapped on the brown versions of the L&E signature sandals to go with this ensemble, because I just couldn't wear heels with capris anyway.

But it's not about the shoes in this post, it's about the rest of the outfit. The velvet gloves? Fantastic. I love them. I'm thinking of getting them in every color and working outfits to match them. I did find that the Trixie top in brick (I think it's brick) almost perfectly matches the red of the gloves I'm wearing in this picture. I also, of course, own the black version... and black goes with everything...but I'm digressing.

Back to the Matilin pants, before I forget: They're definitely a work of texture art. I didn't have it in this pic, but they made my big arse look fabulous! Also, all of the tops in that freebie pack? Gorgeous. But don't be fooled by the names! I thought that daffodil might be yellow and white, but it was not! I think that it was actually a blue shirt. So be warned!

Next up is the Drifter dress. It's very pretty and elegant, in a pirate wench sort of way. The prim sleeves are exquisite and remind me of 18th century gowns. There's also a silver buckle on the skirt, which I love. The floofy part of the skirt is a prim attachment, which matched up perfectly out of the box seams-wise, but I couldn't figure out how to match it totally to my body. Again, I've been severely prim deficient lately. The whole ensemble is very girly, and the dress comes in four different colors or you can buy the tops separately, sans skirts. Her textures are, again, gorgeous.

Finally, is the Bonney dress. This one is actually my favorite (at least, right now). I just can't get over how great the texture work is on all of her clothing. If you look at the bodice of the dress, there's a ribbon coming down. And if you look at the skirt (where the prim attachment meets) there's another bow. It's the tiny details that really make an outfit great, and Ms. Protagonist really did an excellent job. The prim skirt on this dress fit well, and I love the layers and the colors. I just want to go dancing and flitting on the beach in the moonlight in this dress!

Okay, the skirt also reminded me of a fairy costume I had when I was a kid. Which makes it even greater! I loved that costume...

I picked all of these up at the PixelDolls location in Port Seraphine - make sure to pick up the freebies available by the staircase while you're there before they're gone!

First outfit:
Cherry silk tank (freebie),
Matilin brown pants: 150L
red velvet gloves: 100L)
Hair: Calla Bluebell: 200L
Shoes: L&E signature sandals: free
Make-up: Arya Tawny Bare: 1200L
Pose: DDD... I think? Elegant series. Will have to doublecheck in world. :D

Second outfit:
Bonney dress: 150L
Make-up: Arya Tawny Bare: 1200L
Hair: Calico Creations Diana
Shoes: TaP Patent Black Heels
Pose: Luth Brodie

Third outfit:
Bonney dress: 150L
Hair: Calico Creations Diana
Make-up: Arya Tawny Bare: 1200L
Shoes: TaP black patent heels
Pose: Luth Brodie, I think? Will have to doublecheck in world. :D

Click to enlarge.

Friend list: No
Review Copy: Yes


Proprietor/Designer Name: Kesseret Steeplechase
Type of item/services: Jewelry and wedding accessories (like cakes)
Price Range: Ranges from dollarbie items to 1000L for a wedding set. Most lie within 100-500L.
Location: Crystal Shores (208, 25, 21)
Quality: ****
Newbie-friendly: Nothing specifically for newbies, there are, however, some dollarbies on the table in the center of the store, and two lucky chairs.
Customer Service: Long, detailed policy notecard available at store entrance, policy also seen in store and in profile.
Clearance rack/Sales outlet: N/A although there was a sale going on when I was there...
Other locations: GT HQ (209, 191, 28)
Designer Blog: KessKreations
Mailing List: KessKreations Support

Item reviewed: Platinum Diamonds and Pearls Jewelry set (400L) and Silver Italian Charm bracelet (250L)

Now, I have been a very bad girl. I haven't posted in a looong time and I have items that are needing to be reviewed from June! My excuse is that it took me two weeks to move, and then even more time to unpack, and I'm searching for a job IRL... but... that's no real excuse! Of course I should be concentrating on my Second Life more, right?! So... for that one person I owe a review to... I'll get to that real soon now!

Anyway, Kesseret Steeplechase gave me these items last month and I'm just now getting to reviewing them. (Also a v. understanding designer and v. nifty to talk to after I first messaged her a couple weeks ago! Haha... erm. Well, it's finally here!) The first item is a lovely jewelry set, perfect for your special day! It's filled with primmy goodness, diamonds, pearls and platinum filigree. (Also available in gold.) The texturing and shape of the diamonds are fantastic and I love the creativity in assembling these pieces. It's very delicate and very detailed. The only issue, and it's small, is the pearls. I'm not sure about the texturing of them, or the placement in settings, but if you're looking at the overall picture and not the ultra-close-up they have a great effect, which is quite lovely. I like that the earrings aren't humongous, they qualify as elegant instead, and that nothing in the KessKreations shop overwhelms with BLING. It's very classic pieces, many wedding sets, and are more for formal events.

Also, something I got just today is the silver Italian Charm bracelet. It is adorable. Every single little charm on that sucker is made of tiny prims! How much goodness can you take in one piece of jewelry? I love it and I think it's my new favorite piece of jewelry (aside from my own, of course.) I don't have nearly the amount of talent that this creator has and I strongly urge you to go check out the prim lusciousness at KessKreations - the bracelet also comes in gold, by the way. I didn't take a picture of the rest of the charms - just go and check it out for yourself! I love charm bracelets and dangly things in my real life, but had yet to find something similar in my Second - well now I have! The only issue, and is not the creator's fault - more Linden Labs fault - is that the charms don't actually dangle. Maybe in version 42398423.343 of SL we'll have that capability...ha!

Make-up: Skin Within Arya Tawny Bare
Pose: DDD Elegance 4 - 30 pack for 500L
Dress: Simone! Tin Roof in blue - 150L
Lashes: Sin Skins Fluff - 300L for a four pack
Eyes: Custom dk brown eyes by Jen Shikami of Seven's Selections
Hair: Hydrangea by Calla - 200L

Click to enlarge.

Review Copy: Yes
Friends list: No

Sand Shack Surf Co.

Proprietor/Designer Name: Emma Gilmour
Type of item/services: Surf fashion/swimwear, accessories, skins, hair
Price Range: I find it really reasonable -- individual tops and bottoms in the Luv Meh Sum Beach Kini collection are 50L apiece, as are the Bow Surf Slides, and most graphic tees are around 90L or so. Dresses like the Kaylee design cost 350L; outfits such as Garconne Mademoiselle go for 500L. Each make-up in Emma's line of skins is 600L, and fat packs can cost a pretty Linden... but they also guarantee big savings.
Location: Shopping Islands (112, 142, 23)
Quality: *****
Newbie-friendly: N/A
Customer Service: I wish the products came with a Notecard and a landmark, but Emma Gilmour's friendliness and accessibility help to make up for that.
Clearance rack/Sales outlet: There's a package of freebies outside the door -- a beach bag, a coconut thrower, and a flexi grass hula skirt.
Other locations: Amour (137, 224, 29); Downtown (102, 87, 102)
Designer Blog: http://everythingbeachy.blogspot.com/
Mailing List: Surf Co.

I live! I know, I know... I've been slacking when it comes to reviews here in the Second Life Shopping Guide. You might do the same, though, if you had gorgeous weather tempting you to spend your free time away from the computer -- or, alternately, really nasty afternoon thunderstorms that keep you away from the computer. Ah, Florida summer. :)

Although the majority of Second Life seems to be in a permanent state of seasonal perfection, most of the Northern Hemisphere is just now catching up, and that means more summery goodness from our talented designers. One of those is Emma Gilmour, founder of Sand Shack Surf Co. Although I continue to worship at the altar of Namiko Surf Co., most of their products are swimwear, so I've needed to look elsewhere for casual beachy apparel. Sand Shack Surf Co. is the answer to my virtual prayers!

The main location, found at :the beach: on Shopping Islands, is really charming to look at: a shack, as the name suggests, with a sign fashioned from driftwood hanging in the open doorway and fireflies floating lazily around the front steps. Inside, you'll find the walls absolutely covered with clothes, swimwear, jewelry, hair, shoes, and a few randomly adorable accessories; on the sales floor, along with other goodies, you'll also see several of Emma's skins, each available in four different make-up styles that include both a freckled and non-freckled version. Basically? Sand Shack Surf Co. has it all. :D If only I had more Lindens to spend there... but I'm in SL on a budget. Boo.

Items reviewed: clothing (Taggy Tank - White and Taggy Tank - Navy; Messy Artist Shorts - Low Tide) and accessories (Towel Head - OcEaN Striped)

As much as I love the cute graphic tees at Sand Shack Surf Co., I went, instead, for two of the new Taggy Tanks: one white, one navy. As you might imagine, Taggy Tanks get their name from the tag that sticks up in the back -- just one of the little details that Emma includes in her products that makes me go, "Squee!" In addition to being ribbed for your pleasure, the Taggy Tanks sport a tiny embroidered palm tree along the hem. The belly-baring tank comes in both a shirt layer and a jacket layer, and you have the option of donning a longer version of the tank on the jacket layer if you're not into modeling your midriff (both are shown below). Two tanks for the price of one! Woo-hoo! The Taggy Tanks are simple, sweet, and fun: typical of Sand Shack Surf Co. If I'd been smarter, I would've bought these babies in bulk, because I know I'm going to get more of them in the future and the fat packs save you sooo much money -- you can either buy packs of six shades (Cool, Warm, or Neutral) for 350L, or you can pay 900L for all eighteen colors. I'll have to start saving up; you can never have too many tanktops!

Moving on to the Messy Artist Shorts, I snagged them--gosh, a month, month and a half ago? A while back, anyway. At the time, all four colors were selling in a pack for 30L, which I simply couldn't pass up, and I'm glad I got 'em when I did because I haven't seen them since. Luckily, Emma is still selling Messy Shorts in a variety of colors -- just not the somewhat paint-splattered patterns seen in the Messy Artist Shorts that I'm wearing in the photo. No matter the color, I really like these shorts; I love the buttons, the pockets, the little "SC" on the back... a perfect example of hand-painted items done right.

In addition to all the fabulous clothes, Emma Gilmour also sells the most adorable accessories. Some, like the Splash Shades and the Croissant Bag, are pretty standard; others, like the Swimmies and Towel Head, are a little more out-of-the-ordinary. I've yet to get a pair of Swimmies, but I bought the pretty blue- and green-striped Towel Head towel for those times when I don't have time to let my hair air-dry after a surf session. Proving once again that it's the little things that count, my favorite part of this towel is that the "tail" end is flexi, so it moves when you do! You can buy one Towel Head for 50L, or you can spring for all six designs at a cost of 150L, which also gets you a mystery color. Too cute!

Overall, if I had to choose a single word to describe Sand Shack Surf Co., that word would be "adorable." Everything in Emma's boutique is high in quality and just darling in design. Even if you don't surf, you owe it to yourself to buy a little slice of summer at the Sand Shack Surf Co. :D

Towel Head in OcEaN Striped - 50L
Taggy Tank - 90L
Messy Artist Shorts in Low Tide - 30L (no longer available)

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Hair: White Rose by Calla - 200L
Skin: Fresh Sol (newbie skin) by Sin Skins - 1L for Residents under 30 days; 1000L 500L otherwise
Eyes: Shy Ocean Eyes by Sin Skins - 75L
Jewelry: Shark Necklace by SiniStyle - 100L
Accessories: Lilium Longiflorium Hair Flower by /artilleri/ - 100L
Tattoos: "Maria" by Tiki Tattoo (custom shown) - 240L; "Moorea" by Tiki Tattoo - 160L

Review Copy: No
Friends: No

Wings! from Seven's Selections

Previous reviews of products from Seven's Selections are here. Please note that they have moved to their own sim, Flotsam Beach.

Proprietor/Designer Name: Seven and Jen Shikami
Type of item/services: clothing, gadgets, furnishings
Price Range: 1L Big Red Ball (one big red ball) and 350L Goth Girl Outfit (Skirt, top, leggings, earrings, necklace, wings, pet bat, hair pick, shoes, all tintable)
Location: Flotsam Beach (67, 125, 21)
Quality: *****
Newbie-friendly: Nothing specifically for newbies, there is, however, a few freebies and cheapies.
Customer Service: No policy seen in store, however if you ask either owner they are perfectly willing to accomodate most requests. They will retint objects for you and if something breaks, as my pet butterflies did (they started flying backwards) they will help you resolve the issue.
Clearance rack/Sales outlet: Freebies and Cheapies kiosk
Other locations: N/A
Designer Blog: Seven Shikami, Jen Shikami
Mailing List: Seven's Selections Subscribers

Item reviewed: Wings! Wing packs - 250L for 16 sets of wings, small and large, plus tintable, plus a HUD - 250L a pack

Okay, now, I should note that Jen Shikami is one of my best friends. But seriously? She's also one of the best artists I know, and her latest (actually, ongoing) obsession is wings. She's got a ton of different kinds of primmy wings and recently started working with HUDs and animations to make the wings even cooler than they already were! I'm not going to go through all of her wings, as there are too many for me to fit in one review (well, I could, but it'd be really long - rather, even longer than it already is!) so I just picked out a few variants. She's got them organized in her shop by different categories (fairy and butterfly, mechanical, fractal, etc.) and they take up an entire wall in their new shop on their very own sim. (My little shop is just two doors down. *shameless plug*) Again, it's very well-organized and there's even a demo version of the large quad bat wings stuck to the wall, moving, so you can see exactly how they look from out of the box.

The first picture is a collage of four wings. From left to right, going clock-wise: butterfly swallowtail rings - small, quad bat wings - small, scalpel wings - large, luna moth wings - large.

Now, one thing to note - each of her wing sets comes with small AND large versions. They're also in different colors or versions, around eight or so different types, in each size - and she always includes one that's easily tintable. How cool is that?? There's no excuse not to have wings match your outfit! (I'll note that the scalpel set is a little different as it has different bloody and non-bloody blade versions - perfect for the goth look! Or maybe more precisely, the maniac killer fairy look! "I can slice you up with my wings!" *cough* Okay, anyway...)

Hair: ETD Vixen - freebie
Jewelry: Initially Yours - Charmed - 150L
Make-up: Skin Within Nadia Petal - 1200L
Top: Marshmallow tank top from Sand Surf Shack
Pants: LF Designs Jeans

Click here for picture.Collapse )

Now I want to talk about the HUD, which is much the awesome - here I'm shown wearing one of her fractal sets - and you can also see from my inventory how many wings come in a package!

As you can see, it's pretty discrete and sits in the top right-hand corner of your screen. You can also see the options and that she differentiated between idle, or walking, and flying. Again, how cool is that?? Let's go through the controls - they're really straightforward. Speed governs the speed of the wing flapping. Style involves the position of the wings, whether you want them raised, lowered, or stiff. (These are flexi wings, btw.) And finally, "Trans" is really transparency. You can either flick them on full visibility, fade, or ghost, or even have them be invisible during one mode or another. To give you an idea, here are the dragonfly wings on the "fade" setting.

Click to enlarge

The "ghost" setting makes it even more transparent, of course. What I like to do is have my wings on fade or ghost, lowered, with slow flapping for when I'm idle, then they pop out to raised, normal transparency and fast flapping for when I fly. It's a neat effect. For more fun, you can have your wings not appear at all when you're walking around, and then pop out automatically in full force when you start flying!

Jen is a workaholic and is busy running her rentals on the Shikamis new sim, Flotsam Beach, but gave me a sneak peak of her newest line of wings which are inspired by art deco and I *love* them! Look for them to be coming out soon. She had some flamey wings, too! I can't wait. I wore the below wings for my costume for the Simone! Supermodels competition (but in black). Shown below in silver against a midnight sky.

Click to enlarge

I feel I should also say that she has lots of bird wings, too, I just didn't take any pictures with any on - all of her wings based on wildlife were taken from actual source material (okay, not actual birds or butterflies, but actual pictures of birds and butterflies) to reproduce accurately. Her egret wings make fantastic angel wings. ;)

At 250L a pack for small and large wings, in different colors and easy-tint versions, PLUS a HUD? This is a deal not to be missed. Go! Buy them now!

Review Copy: Yes
Friends: Yes

Namiko Surf Co. - Custom Surfboard

Proprietor/Designer Name: Keala Mimistrobell (Namiko Surf Co. owner; surfboard design); Sebastian Saramago (board/animations); Heather Goodliffe (scripts)
Type of item/services: Surf fashion/swimwear (bikinis, boardshorts, wetsuits) and gear (working surfboards, including customs)
Price Range: Single items of clothing range from 100L (the Camo line of boardshorts) to 450L (wetsuits), with multipacks available at a discount; pre-designed surfboards are 555L, while custom boards start out at 2500L.
Location: Quan Li (200, 130, 22)
Quality: *****
Newbie-friendly: N/A
Customer Service: Notecards in product packages outlining service. Refund policy clearly stated on wall.
Clearance rack/Sales outlet: Some locations offer a freebie Namiko tee.
Other locations: Tons! Bundoran Reef (42, 49, 26); Chi (191, 137, 30); Cocololo Island (239, 165, 23); Hedonism XII (21, 238, 25); JONES BEACH (132, 33, 23); Laguna (184, 85, 23); SLeek (234, 79, 32); Toowoomba (8, 27, 77); Venice Beach (88, 142, 25)
Designer Blog: http://www.namikosurf.com
Mailing List: Namiko Surf Co.

After what seemed like ages, my husband and I finally got the chance a week ago to take our boards out in real life and go surfing at my local (well, somewhat local) break, Cocoa Beach. Surfline's forecast for the day predicted poor conditions, but Brandon and I thought that we could manage to catch at least a couple of waves even if the surf sucked.


The waves were choppy and poorly-formed, and only the shortboarders were catching any rides at all. Since Brandon has a Chuck Dent funboard and my Walden is a nine-foot monster, we were SOL -- but that didn't stop us from trying. For our troubles, Brandon pearled in the shallows at one point and thought he broke his board; I wiped out and thought I broke my arm. When you get into a fight with a surfboard rail, the rail is going to win, and I'm still sporting an enormous bruise on my inner arm and elbow to prove it. By now, it's a lovely shade of green that makes people recoil and gasp, "Oh my God!" upon seeing it. Truth be told, I'm kinda proud of it; it's a pretty impressive bruise.

Sick pride in war wounds aside, getting worked when you're surfing isn't fun, nor is finding out that your usual surf spot is flatter than your board or that the waves are too messy and erratic to ride. Being in the right place at the right time is a part of surfing that can be tough; Mother Nature isn't really interested in cooperating with your schedule.

That's what's so nice about Second Life surfing: the waves are perfect, shaped beautifully and so consistent you could practically set your watch by them. Whether you want to cruise along the little baby waves, rip through a tube, or brave the giants at Epic Conditions or Kahuna Beach, you never have to worry about what that next set will be like. It's always going to be there, and it's always going to be great. All you have to concern yourself with is what kind of board you buy... and that's where Sebastian Saramago's surfboards come in, scripted by Heather Goodliffe -- she of Second Life's most realistic waves -- and, in this case, designed by Namiko Surf Co.'s Keala Mimistrobell.

Item reviewed: sports gear (Custom Surfboard)

When I discovered Second Life's surfing scene, one of the first things I purchased was the Indigo board by Namiko. I'd tried out a couple of surfboards by other residents, but I wasn't satisfied with the way I seemed to "skateboard" on the water -- constantly standing up whether I'd caught a wave or not -- and Namiko's boards promised a more genuine experience. On my Namiko Indigo, I could paddle out to the lineup, duck-dive, sit on my board and wait for the next set to come in, catch a wave and pop up, carve, crouch, and even do flips. The animations, done primarily by Sebastian Saramago, are fantastic, and I can totally understand what Keala meant in an interview with SLNN when she stated, "What I found was when I started surfing in SL, it 'felt' just like surfing in RL. I could paddle out here in pixel water and sit on my pixel board, but I would still feel the same calm come over me, hearing the waves. That, for me, is my favourite part about surfing in SL."

I won't even pretend to understand the technical aspects of scripting, but Sebastian Saramago and Heather Goodliffe have managed to create responsive, realistic surfboards, while Keala Mimistrobell took my idea for a design and made it a reality by customizing one of Sebastian and Heather's creations. The whole process took just under a month, from my initial email to my surfboard's delivery, and, given how busy both Keala and Heather have been, I consider that turnaround time to be nothing short of miraculous. =) Keala, for example, not only has a fashion show to set up, but she also got SL-married to Maxwell Eclipse on June second -- and she somehow still found the time to customize my board, answer any questions that I had, and even make a revision to the design after completion.

Heather was similarly accommodating; due to the permissions involved, Heather had to deliver my board, and she was very kind when I found myself having issues with an auto-zoom included in the custom boards (namely, that my computer is too laggy to handle surfing while zoomed in). The true measure of customer service is how a retailer reacts when a customer has a problem, and Heather was extremely gracious in helping me to resolve the situation. Both she and Keala really went above and beyond the call of duty, and I admire and appreciate that so much.

As for the board itself... it's amazing. It's gorgeous -- Keala took images of the ancient dolphin fresco in Knossos and put a beautiful watercolor spin on the background -- and it rides like a dream come true. Namiko custom boards are intended for use with Heather Goodliffe's waves, which are found all over Second Life (and available for purchase if you have a beach of your own); I don't even really surf anything else, so that works for me. =) You rez the surfboard in the water, turn off your AO, and hop on, at which point your avatar will lie down flat on the board. Pressing "W" makes you paddle (as long as you disable chat, that is), and the arrow keys control the direction in which you're headed. Once you paddle out to the lineup and catch a wave, you automatically pop up on your board, and you can then carve, crouch and make fast turns, and do flips. It's not the easiest skill in the world to master, just like real-life surfing, but Second Life surfing is rewarding in just the same way, and it's so much fun once you get the hang of it. (I'm still getting the hang of it!) Plus, you don't get bruised and beaten when you wipe out. =)

If that still sounds intimidating, never fear: you have the option of clicking on your board and selecting "beginner," "advanced," and "display" modes. The above describes the advanced method of surfing, so you may want to start out in beginner mode until you get used to maneuvering. In addition to letting you choose your skill level, the touch dialog also lets you decide who has access to your board: "allow all," "allow group," or "owner only." This means that you can let your friends ride, and, if you own a sim, you can leave boards out on the beach for your visitors to enjoy. It's all about sharing the stoke! ;D

Vendor-sold surfboards are no copy, no mod, so you can buy one and actually give it to a friend, but, if the inventory bug decides to eat your board upon rezzing, you're up a creek. That happened to me -- naturally, the one object that's fallen prey to the inventory bug so far was my beloved board -- so I was really happy to learn that custom boards are no mod, no transfer, and you can make as many back-up copies as you'd like. Whew! If you contact Heather, you can also get mod/copy boards for an additional fee.

Now that I have my custom surfboard, you'll probably see even more of me out at Quan Li. I've surfed (or tried to) all over Second Life, but I keep coming back to Quan Li, and I have even more of a reason to do so these days: Namiko Surf Co. has moved in and made Quan Li its official home! My favorite surfing company and my favorite surf spot? "Thrilled" doesn't begin to describe it. :D

If you want to usher in summer by riding the waves, I couldn't recommend highly enough the surfboards that you can buy at Namiko Surf Co. -- especially the customs! The quality and the service made mine worth every Linden.

Custom Surfboard - 2500L

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Hair: Houstonia by Calla - 200L
Skin: Fresh Sol (newbie skin) by Sin Skins - 1L for Residents under 30 days; 1000L 500L otherwise
Eyes: Shy Ocean Eyes by Sin Skins - 75L
Bikini: Cocoa Beach Bikini in "Coca" by Namiko Surf Co. - 175L
Jewelry: Shark Necklace by SiniStyle - 100L
Accessories: Lilium Longiflorium Hair Flower by /artilleri/ - 100L
Tattoos: "Maria" by Tiki Tattoo - 240L (custom shown); "Moorea" by Tiki Tattoo - 160L

Review Copy: No
Friends: No


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