Just your average American family?

I have been focusing so much on aerial and flexibility training over the past couple of years that I have had very little time to work on projects. I knew this would be the case when I closed the Poison Candy shop, however I expected that I would have managed to crank out at least a few masterpieces by now. I have declined pretty much every freelance offer in favor of swinging from the rafters, however I recently signed on for a fun costuming gig.

My friend Christopher Brown is a brilliant actor and an equally talented director. Chris introduced me to the play “HIR” by Taylor Mac over the summer and I instantly fell in love with the script. When Christopher mentioned that he would be directing the play for Cockroach Theatre, I was thrilled to come aboard as the costume designer.

Valerie Carpenter Bernstein and Tim Cummins photographed by Richard Brusky.

Good art is subjective and “HIR” is no exception. I imagine that most people who see the play walk away with a very unique perspective. Mac embraces the concept of “absurd realism”, and “HIR” is no exception. The story is an American comedic tragedy featuring a middle class family trying to navigate the ever changing culture and attempting to establish their place within it. Each character has embarked on a person journey, causing various types of clashes and sometimes disturbing revelations. “HIR” is one of those stories that tricks you into laughing only to leave you feeling like you have been emotionally dropkicked by the time it has concluded. I could theorize about the complex artistry of the production all day, however I will leave you with this great review which does a stellar job of describing the overall narrative.

The script did mention a “massive beauty pageant wig”. This is the result of two combined wigs, 14 ounces of hairspray, and approximately 3 hours of styling.

Most of the smaller shows that I have worked on have centered around glamorous performers flaunting their various attributes. It was a wonderful challenge to take on a production where my characters were more typical in some ways and completely over the top in others. I was also tasked with providing wigs which gave me an opportunity to shake the dust off of my teasing brush and drown myself in hairspray. I had a blast reacquainting myself with glamour makeup and learning how to create a believable, simple false beard. My new friend Stephanie knows every makeup trick in the book and was quick to share her extensive knowledge.

I finally had a chance to watch the show a few nights ago and I am very pleased overall. It was wonderful to sit in the audience and witness their honest reactions. The performers brought their best and I thoroughly enjoyed how Taylor Mac’s characters came alive. Much like my beloved “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”, I plan to see “HIR” performed by as many theatre companies as possible.

“I believe whole-heartedly in craft. I believe craft is essentially a commitment to learning the past, living in the present, and dreaming the culture forward.”  ~Taylor Mac

Brenna Folger and Levi Fackrell photographed by Richard Brusky.

Bewitching trepidation

“There is no beauty without some strangeness.”
~Edgar Allan Poe

Decadent dream

Ever since I can remember, I have been slightly obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe. Somewhere between the morose romanticism and engaging storytelling, I fell down the rabbit hole that is the magical world of one of the 19th century’s most prolific writers.

Although recognized more for his literary criticism during his lifetime, Poe’s writing spins gothic tales of tragedy, insanity, and magnificient macabre. No stranger to misfortune himself, perhaps Poe used his work to deal with many of the complex issues surrounding his own life. In addition to brilliant prose, Poe was also known for developing intuitive “scientific” theories and had a love for cryptography. I believe that Poe possessed a unique combination of attributes which add a delicious spin to his works, making them detective stories as well as spine tingling tales of terror.

Annabelle LeeI’ve wanted to create an Edgar Allan Poe inspired group for some time. Last winter I spent many hours searching for the ideal fabrics, drafting bustle patterns, and collecting a myriad of vintage findings in order to put together a trio of beautifully melancholy couture looks. I was so happy to find that The Velveteen Rabbit was the perfect backdrop for my concept. I recruited the insanely talented team at Radiant Inc. to capture some incredible images of spooky beauties Moxie Macabre and Annalee Belle.


If you are a fan of Poe, I highly recommend you check out “Tales of the Macabre” illustrated by Benjamin Lacombe. This book has some ghoulishly gorgeous  artwork accompanying favorite works by the grim genius. We’re currently redesigning the gallery on our site, so if you’d like to see more photos from this shoot, take a peek here.


Maker Faire magic

Hello, darling! I hope your spring season is off to a fabulous start 🙂

Maker Faire

We’re excited to have the opportunity to set up shop at the Las Vegas Mini Maker Faire again this year. Swing by our booth for lots of new fashion treats! We have a ton of exclusives and limited edition items making their debut. I had a blast at last year’s event and look forward to befriending more incredible artists and sarcastic robots 😉


We’ve recently set up our website to accept Bitcoin payments! Customers paying via Bitcoin will receive free domestic shipping and a discounted rate of $20 for international shipping!

Step into my parlor…

Most people know me to be a bit of a coffee addict, however I managed to become quite the connaisseur of tea while living in New Orleans many years ago.  Instead of engaging in our usual afternoon cocktail hour, my friends and I would occasionally organize fabulous tea parties.  Inspired by the fine English tradition of afternoon tea, these little get-togethers were a way to relax with the simple pleasures of a fine beverage and good conversation.

Tea Time top and skirt

The “Tea Time” style group is dedicated to the diverse personalities that made up my little tea parties.  The top and skirt embrace the tradition of English plaid contrasted with London 1970’s punk style.  The matching pillbox hat has classic vintage allure with the spooky twist of a Kustom Voodoo skull flower.  The “Tea Time” necklace is a captivating piece comprised of a skeleton key pendant accentuated by a ruby red rosary style chain.

Tea Time hat and necklace

From my tea party to yours, wishing you all the best in 2014!




Luck be a lady tonight!

When I moved to Las Vegas in 2003, I never imagined that I would still be living here a decade later.  I had spent several years hopping around from one place to the next and didn’t plan on settling down anytime soon.  I’ve always loved to travel, but even when I’m having the time of my life on an exotic trip, a part of me is always a little homesick for Sin City.

I remember visiting Vegas as a kid and falling in love with the bright lights of the strip and the Flamingo hotel in particular.  I still recall looking out of the car window as we passed the gaudy pink accented structure, knowing that one day I would come back to explore all of its mysteries and nuances.  I had also developed a fascination with showgirls, so it was a particularly wonderful experience when my dad took me to see a show featuring statuesque dancers draped in feathers and rhinestone jewels.  Even as a child I knew I was witnessing something amazing that I would never forget.


Vegas is a decadent city and is always evolving.  For people like myself who feel a close association with the “good old days”, it’s a bittersweet experience to watch the transformation that occurs daily in this unusual town.  As much as I love seeing new and exquisite attractions, I still long for the era of seductive lounge acts and stylish chorus girls.  As a lover of the retro lifestyle, it’s these images that come to mind and inspire me constantly.

I’m incredibly thrilled to introduce the “Casino Queen” dress and “Showgirl Flower” hair clip!  I had so much fun designing a silhouette that embodied my affection for Vegas.  I’ve always been a fan of halter dresses, especially those which feature sarong style skirts.  The festive colors in the “Key To My Heart” print look stunning with the combination of pink shades in the “Showgirl Flower” hair clip.  Whether you are strutting down the glittering streets of my town or strolling the avenues of yours, this ensemble will take you back to a simpler time when big bands dominated the airwaves and curve hugging skirts graced the runways.


Further evidence that nerds are awesome

We had such an amazing time at the Las Vegas Mini Maker Faire!  I knew that it would be a cool event, but really underestimated how many fabulous makers would be in attendance. To top it off, we had a fabulous turnout!  I met so many wonderful people from all over the world, as well as interesting folks located within my own little city.  My newest  demographic consisted of adorable little girls who reveled in the specialty hair clips and jewelry I put together just for the event…how awesome it was to see them rockin’ their new skull and bat embellished accessories all day long!

Although I’m not a tech girl, I have always been fascinated by the creativity and innovation of the technology industry.  I often find myself swooning over great thinkers such as Jeffrey Tucker, who eloquently writes on the subject quite regularly.  There’s something truly amazing about those individuals who are able to push imagination to its limits while mastering concepts that would make the average human’s head spin.  Although many people tend to take modern conveniences for granted, I find that it’s important to reflect upon how these advances have improved our quality of life and society overall.

The Syn Shop is cooking up nothing short of excellence.  Within the walls of their hackerspace they build everything from steampunk 3D light goggles to 3pi line racing robots.  Not afraid to take on any challenge, the Syn Shop is quickly setting the standard for the type of community many of us have been dreaming of for years.  Unpretentious, facing a brave new world, these resourceful warriors have set the bar high.  Their shop caters to inventors, artists, and tinkerers interested in having a place to get their hands on tools to bring their ideas to fruition.  A membership to the Syn Shop gains access to laser cutters, 3D printers, and tons of incredible classes.

Cirque Mechanics performed at regular intervals throughout the day, infusing the event with their delightful brand of vaudeville chic.  I had seen their act described on the Las Vegas Mini Maker Faire home page and had no idea what to expect.  They have managed to perfect sideshow swank with an industrial knack for storytelling.  Founded by German Wheel artist Chris Lashua, Cirque mechanics is an absolutely fantastic concept.  Combining talented dancers and acrobats with sleek costuming, Cirque Mechanics delivers a rare and beautiful show atop a traveling stage.

For those of you who have heard me talk about the Maker Faire in recent weeks, you are well aware that I have really been looking forward to meeting some robots.  Imagine my surprise when ICAN the showbot made his way over to our booth, cracking jokes and turning on his exquisite charm.  I have been familiar with Show Creators for quite a while, however I had not had the opportunity to see them in such an organic environment.  ICAN was interactive and adorable, setting the tone for an energetic show.  Show Creators is also home to several other styles of showbots, one of which can be seen featured in the new Blue Man Group show at the Monte Carlo hotel.

One of my regrets is that I didn’t spend enough time with Romo the Smartphone Robot.  Lucky for me, the outfit responsible for this cute little guy is located right here in Vegas!  Romo 2.0 is powered by your smartphone or tablet, making him efficient as well as affordable.  He moves around the room, smiling at the silly humans he sees, no doubt planning fun and interesting ways to get into trouble.  Funded by Kickstarter, the folks who brought Romo to life plan to add all sorts of amazing apps and features…word on the street is that we can also expect to one day meet his female counterpart, Julia.

In closing, I want to give a special thank you to everyone who came by the Poison Candy booth.  It’s always a pleasure to meet new friends and see familiar faces.  Maybe next year I’ll get to dress up a robot 🙂