This was an original leading article for the thirtieth issue of Cut Out & Keep’s zine Snippets. You can read it over there too with pictures and links!
Here at Cut Out + Keep, we talk to a lot of different people; goth queens, cross-stitching fellas and lolita icons. This month I had the pleasure of talking to one of the cutest crafters around, Miss Violet Le Beaux! This self-proclaimed ingenue (meaning innocent and wholesome) takes much of her crafty inspiration from the Japanese style of Hime Gyaru and loves to work with diamanté, lace and pastel colours.
She wasn’t always this way, of course; back in her teenage days Violet was much more of a rebel. “As a teenager I went through a punk phase for several years,” she tells me. “Then I did a 180 degree turn and delved into sweet Lolita fashion before my style evolved more into more of a Hime Gyaru style.” This particular style, which directly translates to mean ‘Princess Girl’ is heavily influenced by European royalty, specifically that of the Victorian and Elizabethan areas and French Rococo styles: picture jewels, lace, velvet. Violet’s family on her father’s side comes from England, and she has been to the UK many times for inspiration. It’s not just a style though, it can be a way of life to live like a princess. Defining features of the style can include big eyelashes and hair, heels and pastel printed dresses.
“Even now my style tends to change just depending on my mood. I like too many things to dress in one way forever!” Although her style changes accordingly, there are certain signatures to Violet’s appearance which make her distinctive. From her long, bleach blonde hair in an impeccable beehive (which she assures me doesn’t take as long as it looks like it should) to her perfectly applied makeup and fake eyelashes, she has her own style down, although severe skin allergies make finding cosmetics difficult. “For eyeshadow I tend to stick to my Coastal Scents 88 palettes because I know they work with my skin and there are so many colour choices! Lipstick and glosses are my favourite products though and I tend to go with Pretty Serious cosmetics or if I can splurge a bit I’ll treat myself to a Chanel lipstick for special occasions!” Mirenesse mascara, Illamasqua eyeliner and Jill Stuart eyeshadows also feature among her favourite allergy-friendly products.
Of course, Violet is a crafter. Many of her outfits and jewellery have been made by hand, buying diamantés, lace and pearls in bulk on eBay. “I still have dreams about the fabric district in Japan” she mentioned. “The last time I visited, I came home with around 5 cards of beautiful quality lace for less than the price of one here in Australia!” There are definite advantages to regular visits to Japan. While clothes and jewellery making are an important part of her life, she is also a long-time knitter, now and then; “ I go through phases where I will knit for weeks at a time and then get bored with it and not pick it up again for months,” a problem many people can have. She suffers from the same compulsions though, claiming she can’t walk past a yarn store without getting something, and has recently gotten involved with needle felting as a simple, quick craft.
Also among her repertoire of talents we find watercolour painting, the results of which she sells online. “It’s such a relaxing way to wind down at the end of the day and I love watching colours blend together,” and it’s obvious from her work that she enjoys working with bright colours. The artwork is adorable, featuring fantasy images including many delicately done fairy pieces which are reminiscent of a simpler Flower Fairies style. As well as her prints, she has also created a sidekick for herself in the form of Bergamot Bunny, her very first attempt at making a plushie. Bergamot was so popular on Violet’s blog that she has gone on to feature in stories, comics, paintings, tshirts and has a website dedicated just to her with regular updates of images of adorable bunnies. It seems like Bergamot is a great little buddy for Violet to share her hobbies with. “She loves tea,” and Violet isn’t ashamed of her weakness for a nice cup of English breakfast tea with a couple of sugars. Tea love and cuteness may be where the similarity ends however; while Violet is a sweet, regal girl, Bergamot apparently “has a talent for creating mischief wherever she goes!”
Violet has over 200 tutorials currently on her website and has recently been working on a series of tutorials for beginners called “Sew Fun”. The first large project on the site was her simple Lolita style skirt, a staple of many Japanese fashion styles, and unlike some online tutorials Violet’s is easy to follow and suitable for complete beginners. I asked Violet for some advice on how to work on your own style; “Don’t be afraid to try new things and don’t think that you can’t change your style later,” she wisely states. “People’s tastes change over time so mix it up and do what makes you happy!”