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American Girl, keep giving us Dolls of Color for Girls of the Year.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Clothes Reviews: Starry Night Outfit (2002)

Happy St. Nicholas Day from Kanani Akina!
Who should be next? I thought as I was sorting out outfits and cursing the name of stick on decor and mule shoes. I'm a 3rd Decanate Libra with Aries Rising and Moon in Capricorn,1 so I'm brash and bitchy and distant if I don't know you, but when you get down to my essence I'm fair. And part of fairness is making sure all my girls get a day in the spotlight. So while Naomi is chomping to show off some new and old duds and Addy would like to know why she's not in her holiday dress yet, I have to cover the girls who have never been in a review yet first. Everyone gets a turn. So this is how we ended up with Kanani Akina displaying on St. Nicholas Day. You know, that guy who got turned into the secular Santa Claus. I'm not Catholic, Anglican, or Episcopalian--I've never been, though the religion fascinates me. But I like St. Nicholas Day. And I happen to be posting on it. Enjoy your presents, European children!

The Starry Night Outfit was released in 2002 and, like the Twilight Outfit and Garnet Holiday Outfit before it2 and the Radiant Rhinestones Outfit after it, was a Limited Edition Holiday Set that came with extra accessories, a shiny special box, and was gone by early 2003. The dress cost $26 originally. I actually bought the set twice; once with just the dress for $15 with shipping, and one that was complete with another set for, when divided, $22. But I gifted one set to AJ when I sent Miss Mari along to her because when I like a person, all the generous comes out. So either way, I got it for below cost.

The dress came with a long black sleeveless velvet dress, black knee high net socks, and black ankle shoes. Accessories had a purse, silver hair combs, and a present in a silver box that was--spoiler--a Coconut snow globe. Excitement, she said in a flat sarcastic voice. Instead, we have decided to dress this up with a black grosgrain ribbon and a black choker made of a black ponytail holder.

Our presenter today is Kanani Akina. Kanani is the absolute best. I loved her the moment I saw her. She was so exciting for me as a collector--what's that? A collection not focusing on another boring white girl?--that I ordered her and a massive part of her starter collection at midnight with my Giftmas money from my in laws, and then blew my then work bonus on the rest of her collection when AG Seattle opened in July. I have all of her collection except the ice stand, because it was sold out when I went to buy it in November. (Eventually someday, she said.) Also, while book canon has her as half white, here in my gang her mother is Hawaiian and her father is Japanese. I don't need a spoonful of whiteness to make the ethnicity go down. She loves her heritage, warm sweaters, Cooking Mama, and  Lilo and Stitch.

Dressing up.
Dress: The dress is a sleeveless ankle length black velvet dress. We have already discussed my sexy love of velvet in yesterday's review, so let's not again. Black velvet is some of the loveliest stuff, though. If it wasn't too warm I'd wear it year round and look so good doing it. About the only thing I don't like about black velvet is the way it picks up lint everywhere. I didn't roller brush this dress down before snapping pictures, because my lint rollers are in need of a wash down. There really aren't enough wholly black holiday AG dresses nowadays; they either do the red and white thing, something silver or gold, and something dark and muted but not black. Le sigh.

Bodice. Could use something over it.
The bodice is a sleeveless one that comes down to natural waist. Yes, this has the semi-basic shape of the GeneriDress. However, the bodice has a wider neckline with black satin bias trim around it, instead of just double backing itself and sticking it up to the neck. See, that is how you make it less boring.

Embroidery, baby.
The dress also avoids the boring of GeneriDress by putting something actually visually stimulating there: decorative embroidery. This has mirror symmetrical swirls and floral patterns done in a mix of magenta and purple-to wine color with hints of silver accents. It's really hard to describe the pattern of swirls, loops, curls, and floral pops. It's just swirly. But it is balanced, and I do love the way it looks.

Sleeveless dresses bug me so much.
There are no sleeves; the armhole is outlined in the same black satin bias of the neckline. This is the part of AG dresses that I really don't care for, as it shows off that awkward arm cap. This one isn't as bad as in, say swimsuits or tank tops, but I still think that an extra accessory such as a light shawl made of silver crochet thread would help improve the look of the dress in total.3

Low back.
The back is also a touch awkward, in that it dips low towards the closures. I complained about this in Marisol's Spotlight Outfit: that low backs leave exposed neck cords, and it spoils the look when I can't tuck those away as neatly as I'd like. But that's the only part of the back I don't like.

The dress closes, instead of with velcro, snaps. This is a rarity in the AG world, and I like it here. There's a snap at the top and at the waistline, and that's it. Nice and neat.

Satin waistbands.
At the back is also a satin waistband--it starts at the sides, actually--of the same fabric as the bias trim.

Bow at the back. But how?
These come together in a large black satin bow at the back that is tacked together so you never have to untie it. Now you ask, oh illustrious reader or something like that, how does the bow close over the back of the dress without having to be untied, but not spoil the line of the dress? I shall explain thusly.

Oh, Snap !
Behold! A snap under one side! How clever. Or, you know, you already suspected that. Look, let me pretend to show you clever things, you can pretend you'd never seen them before, and we'll both get along much better.

Skirt.
The skirt is unadorned, to the ankles, and appears to be a half circle cut in total that was done as two eights for the back and a quarter for the front. This makes a nice, swishy drape to the cloth. I really do adore circle skirts. More things should have circle cut skirts. I will have to explain how a good one is made.4
Hem.
The hem is a basic hem. The dress is totally unlined, which for this style is all right. I'm giving the dress a B. The sleevelessness and low bodice make things a touch awkward on a doll, but the embroidery and circle skirt--not to mention the velvet--help mitigate that.

Ooo la la.
Stockings: Underneath the dress is paired with fishnet knee high stockings. Somewhere, one of those AG Fans people is grabbing her pearls and swooning because these are way too "sexy" for little girls, before putting the poor girl in a set of thick black stockings à la Samantha. Well, they can suck an entire fuck like the fruit pouches in stores for toddlers. These are awesome stockings. I love the fishnet, and I think under the they add a touch of class and help foster that lovely transition of a girl moving more towards maturity.

Tops
The tops of the stockings have a little elastic, to keep them up. A. About the only way I'd like them more is if they were actual fishnet pantyhose. Because fishnets are adorable, and not all stockings have to be about sexiness. Sometimes they're just about being prettyful and sophisticated.

Shoes: Hit and miss.
Shoes: We finish this set with a set of black strappy patent leather ankle shoes with a little bit of a heel that help with the mature, sophisticated look. There is an idiot on this planet breathing my air and collecting AG who I don't like one bit, who said the shoes were too hard and put them with a pair of black Mary Janes (or t-straps, I didn't look too close, I don't care that hard). This was just one of her many issues, but her weird little thing with shoes and skirts was one of the ones that made me want to throw paint at her face.

And I hate that. They are complicated shoes, yes, and they have their faults which I'm about to explain, but replacing these shoes with just a pair of plain black Mary Janes--or worse, chunky black holiday shoes from 1906--spoils the outfit so. Damn. Much. These shoes are so classy and mature, and to toss them aside for some juvenile strapped shoes is a tragedy. You could at least do black flats, for the love of fuck, if you can't stand the idea of dolls wearing cuter shoes than you.

I have lots of shoes feels.

The fault of the shoes.
Ah, but there is a fault of the shoes, and the fault is in the straps I love so much. They're designed to wrap around the ankle to the front from the back, cross over and be turned to the back, and then snap shut behind the ankle. And they do that. But they do this with a looseness that means the shoes don't stay on very tightly. The straps are a touch too loose, and the shoes can actually slip off because of it. This might be because Kanani is a Mattel girl, but I don't think that's the issue. I can test them on Tara's fat feet, but I really think it's more that the straps were not made tight enough and can't be tugged or adjusted tighter.

Crissy crossy.
They snap shut with a black stud snap. If it had been a buckle, this could mean that the shoe could be adjusted to fit all dolls. As it is, it's almost there. I wish I could tweak the shoe myself to make it fit better.
But there is nothing to be done to fix it.

Lone Shoe.
The shoe has a black sole. B-. Pretty, mature shoes, but the straps are too loose.

*~*~*


This is the box the outfit and accessories came in. I have an old .pdf AG guide that has some shots of things like this--I think it only goes as far back as 2006-2007 or so, if that. Either way, I get pictures all the time from it for the AG Wiki. It's open source, but I don't know who took this picture.

*~*~*

Overall Feel: Unlike many later sets and a few prior ones, this one has a mature, sophisticated mid-teen look to it. I can definitely see a girl of 11-14 in this dress and think that she's starting to grow up and become a pretty young lady. The shoes, despite their failing in fit, are very mature and unique, and the stockings are trés chic. However, the bare back and shoulders feel unfinished and cold. I think that something as simple as a sheer black or sliver lacework shawl would really improve the look, and cover the bare arms and back. Time to buy some craft thread and make one, clearly.

Cost Value: I got the set on the cheap both times--when I got just the dress, and when I got a replacement set to get the shoes and socks and forwarded the dress to a buddy. Pay no more than $30-35 dollars for a set that has everything. If you can't get the outfit with the socks, then only pay about $25 and get a decent set of fishnet panty hose. Don't just do boring black tights or worse, white tights. Give it the fishnets it deserves. We want sophistication.

Timeliness/Datedness: Nope! Not in the least. Yes, it's not good for the past--I wouldn't do it before the late 90s and even that's pushing it--but as a modern outfit it looks great. Suitable not just for holiday parties, but for going to the theatre5 or a semi-formal event or other classy events.

Mix and Match Levels: Nah, not really. Unlike the last set, I think this one stands alone. The shoes had potential, but the straps make them difficult. The socks could work under another long skirt, but it might be better to do some pantyhose. If you decide to replace the shoes for whatever reason though, just do black patent leather flats or another pair of sophisticated shoes. Don't downgrade the age by using fucking Samantha's Mary Janes or some shit. And this is from someone who loves a good pair of Mary Janes.

Final Grade: B+. Good job, dress. Let me just improve you with a shawl.

--Neth

1 I ran up my entire birth chart at age 15 with Equal House Ascendant house division. Astrology is part of my faith.
2 They're coming, give me time.
3 Craft idea! *takes notes*
4 Post idea! *takes notes*
5 Weird quirk of mine. Theatre = stage, with live actors, you dress for the occasion in nice clothes and go out to dinner at a nice restaurant before or after. Theater = movies and popcorn and soda, can go in jeans or some shit. 

7 comments:

  1. I totally agree with you on that dress looking epic for going to the theatre. And I like the shoes, even if they don't stay on well.

    Also, yay. Quirk you and I share. I don't have many nice skirts or dresses, but whenever I go to the theatre I at least wear a nice shirt and dress pants.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Loving the holiday dress reviews. I currently have all mine in their holiday best, and I like seeing all the different styles next to each other in my cabinet as much as do here.

    May I ask a question not related to holiday dresses, but a Samantha clothing set?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why the hell is Samantha's Bicycling Outfit so hard to find, and so damn high when you do find it? Was it not available very long?
      I love it; to me it's iconic of the era (or eras) she is supposed to represent. And now I can't get my hands on it for a respectable price.

      Delete
    2. It was available for only about 2 years--it came out in 2006 but was kicked out with her in 2008 during the retirement, so it wasn't out as long as say, the Christmas Dress or the School set. And because people seem to think that AG everything is supposed to cost ridiculous amounts of money for some stupid reason, people try to charge an arm and a leg. My advice is wait for the January to February lull or the early summer slump when prices on eBay tend to drop.

      Delete
    3. Thanks for the tip.

      Looking forward to tomorrow's review!

      Delete
  3. This is the first time I've seen non stock photos of this dress and it is now my favourite AG Christmas dress. Great review Neth!

    ReplyDelete

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