SL fashion

It’s no secret that, for what amounts to centuries in SL, the Maitreya Lara mesh body has maintained a competitive edge over the Slink Physique, because its proportions accommodate a wider variety of avatar shapes and because it’s a lot more convenient and cost-effective than the Physique. The HUD has always been easier to navigate, you only need to purchase one applier HUD for body, hands and feet, and, finally, the autohide/autoshow kit really makes a customer’s life easier and adds value to both the garment and the mesh body itself.

Am I the only one who’s annoyed by half-assed offerings by SL fashion designers? Click on the image to go to its full-size version on Flickr.
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When I first joined Second Life, way back in 2006, I was one of the many people who earned their L$ in SL’s then-flourishing sex trade – this is something I freely and readily admit. In the era of system layer clothing, prim shoes, and prim hair, many people who later went on to become major or minor SL fashionistas frequented establishments like the ones I was working at and inquired about our garments and accessories, from shoes to collars and from hair to clothing.

As always, click on the image for the full-size version (opens in new tab).

Then came the era of sculpties, with Stiletto Moody and N-Core ruling the roost w.r.t. heels, and then came rigged and unrigged mesh. Although I had all but lost interest in SL’s sex trade, I still maintained some friendships in the scene, and I sometimes visited them at work. Problem is, I had already pretty much abandoned system layer clothing and switched to mesh. And many of those establishments had a guideline for escorts and patrons to not wear mesh garments, because some people “couldn’t see mesh” or were seriously lagged down by it. While the latter was true in crowded areas, the former I found ridiculous. Since you’re supposed to be running a current viewer that supports mesh, why are you telling me you “can’t see mesh”?

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I guess one could say we girls are spoilt for choice when it comes to clothing, shoes, hairstyles, jewellery, and all sorts of accessories and trinkets in Second Life. Well, compared to what the guys have to make do with, I guess it’s true. There’s a wild variety of styles, mostly derived from Real Life (RL) fashion, available for us, and about three months’ worth of average Jane salaries is more than enough to stock a female avatar’s inventory to the hilt with hairstyles, clothes, shoes, lingerie, and so on.

However, it’s when you start looking at what is actually available that the wares on offer by SL vendors and content creators that you realise your options aren’t as many as you’d have liked. Today, I’ll talk about jewellery, and ankle and foot jewellery in particular.

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Valentina E.'s ZigZag Dress

Valentina E.’s ZigZag Dress; please click on the picture for a larger version (opens in a new tab / window).

Yes, I know: You can really hear the crickets in my blog, as the intervals between posts are now in the region of months. It’s true that I don’t blog anywhere near as often as I used to, as I have neither the time nor the willingness to give my SL blogging the effort I used to. I’m far too busy in RL and, truth be told, the things happening in RL make all the SL-related drama look like the bitching about First World Problems it really is.

I know this will offend a bunch of people, but when people are driven to suicide by the chronic unemployment to which they’ve been “sentenced” by the neoliberal psychopaths in charge, when people in our neighbourhoods become homeless overnight because the “bailout” programmes have made even renting a small apartment untenable, I really can’t be arsed to give much thought to the technicalities and intricacies of SL, Sansar, High Fidelity or whatever. Thus, until further notice, this blog shall remain a mere pastime for me, whenever I feel like blogging something.

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OK everyone. My friends already know I’ve been using mesh body parts since 2012; I started with a mesh body by DanielRavennest Ni’s now-defunct Tirion Designs brand – I used it for a few months as the basis of my latex look, and then progressed to Utilizator Mode’s <Avatar 2.0>. Also, people who follow my blog know I generally don’t blog about fashion.

Now, it turned out that the Tirion Designs avatar had piss-poor rigging. Jagged edges in the elbows and shoulders when bending your arms or raising them, and all the other problems we’ve come to know and… “love” with the default SL avatar body – that’s what you get when you download a freebie from a 3D resource website and hastily upload it to SL. Also, way back in the summer of 2013, Tonya Souther of the Firestorm Team had written a harsh, but very poignant, post on the problems of the default SL avatar, explaining why Utilizator’s avatar design was a far better choice – a choice I had already made by that time.

Although my main look is still the latex look I had created with help from Inara Pey (whom I once looked up to and considered my best friend in SL), I also need more “conventional” appearances. In this department, I’d stopped mucking about with sculpted nails and the default hands and feet, and have gone with Siddean Munro’s AvEnhance parts (hands and feet). They work fine for me, they look good, and they’re well-supported by the vast majority of skin makers and numerous shoe designers out there. But still, I was saddled with the “idiosyncracies” of the default SL avatar body.

I confess to being partial to Slink – no offence meant to other, really good makers out there like Belleza and Maitreya. Siddean’s a friend of mine, and we often exchange ideas. So, it was no surprise that, when fitted mesh arrived and I wanted a fitted mesh avatar body, I went with the Slink Physique. Fitted mesh clothing in SL still isn’t what it should be, though, for various reasons. It might prove to be a competitive market, as we see more and more creators launching their own offerings.

Tirion Designs' Alice

The “Alice” mesh avatar by the now-defunct Tirion Designs brand. As you can see, it contained the arms, hands, torso, etc., as separate parts. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

In our case, I’ll examine Violet Studios’ ambitiously named Fusion modular fitted mesh body, which is touted as a “quantum leap forward in mesh bodies”. Ms Hemi Violet, the proprietor of the brand, informs us that the theory behind this mesh body system has been in the works for three years, that the body itself was in development for six months, and that it offers the innovation of being modular, i.e. the arms, torso, etc, are all separate parts which you can find in the folder; thus, you can add or remove them as you wish and they’ll still fit seamlessly. I’m quite familiar with Violet Studios’ products, as I’ve used (in the past) her vString breast implants in my latex look with very satisfactory results.

This, however, is nothing new. The (no longer available) Tirion Designs “Alice” mesh avatar came like this, as you can see in the picture to the right – and I know, because I happen to still have one of these bodies. The box contains the full version, the headless version, the arms, the legs, the torso, the hands, the feet – all of them separately. Furthermore, other mesh avatars, like Utilizator Mode’s <Avatar 2.0>, are linked sets; if they’re modifiable, you can unlink their parts (hands, arms, torso or torso halves, head, legs, feet) and keep them in your inventory so you can add them to your outfit according to your needs – and they’ll still fit seamlessly, or as seamlessly as the designer could. Unlinking parts from a modifiable linked set is rather trivial – only one mouse click away. Furthermore, non-modifiable fitted mesh avatars (like the Slink Physique) offer a HUD which allows you to hide those parts you don’t need to show.

According to Ms Violet, the modularity of the Fusion mesh body allows it to be matched with other products from her range, such as her vString breast implants, the “Wideloads” butts, etc.

While the modular design is a good idea indeed, it must be said that support for Violet Studios’ mesh body parts is nowhere near as comprehensive as it is for their counterparts from Belleza, The Mesh Project, Slink, Lolas, you name it. Finding clothing or shoes (outside what Hemi Violet’s brands offer) for these bodies and body parts is certainly no easy task. The same goes for skins, tattoos, manicure, pedicure, the works. Also, it’s nothing new: It’s been done before.

According to the official promotional material, the theory behind the Fusion modular fitted mesh body system has been worked on for three years, and the system itself was under development for six months. Please click on the picture for the full-size version (image credit: Violet Studios)

According to the official promotional material, the theory behind the Fusion modular fitted mesh body system has been worked on for three years, and the system itself was under development for six months. Please click on the picture for the full-size version (image credit: Violet Studios)

Then, there is the issue of value for money. Each of the Fusion bodies costs L$1500. Higher than the L$400 the (non-fitted mesh) <Avatar 2.0> goes for, higher than the Slink Physique’s L$1250 price tag, with far fewer options for clothing, skins, etc. Does the quality justify the price? I picked up a demo to test at home and, for something that was under development for six months (according to Ms Violet’s blog post), I don’t think I’d be willing to pay such a price for any of these bodies – or any price, for that matter. Why? Well, see the picture below (somewhat NSFW), on which I’ve noted some areas where considerable amounts of work need to be done, and judge for yourselves:

The fusion mesh body demo

Here, you can see marked in red some of the problem areas of the Violet Studios Fusion fitted mesh body. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

Personally, I’d be much more inclined to stick with the other, established mesh body avatars, which offer considerably better geometry, some of them offer compatibility with other makers’ mesh body parts, and a far wider range of clothing items that work with them. As it is, the Fusion modular fitted mesh body system leaves an awful lot to be desired.


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