12 08 2009
Chocolate Suit

Chocolate Suit

This three-piece suit in chcolate tropical wool is meant for the sophisticated avi, its black lapels giving it an unusual touch. Its lime silk shirt is for the extrovert, and comes with a prim telephone wire tie in two lengths–one is full length to be worn with the shirt alone, the other version is “tucked” beneath the vest. The bag is stuffed with everything on varied layers, to fit your requirements.

Three shirts and three ties

Three shirts and three ties

This value pack of dress shirts look great with a vest or suit or on their own! Prim collar aand cuffs increase their sharp appeal. Each comes with a prim tie with a Zulu telephone wire pattern, and each can be mixed and matched for versatility! 

Those Blues Again!

Those Blues Again!

These two long-sleeved semi-casual shirts showcase West Africa’s favorite blue! One is shot through with coppery highlights, the other is a mosaic print. Prim cuffs, prim shirttails and a standup prim collar give a sophisticated feel to this fluid shirt.

Three shirts from waffled cloth

Three shirts from waffled cloth

This value pack includes three sporty shirts in colors that show off Africa’s brilliance! Prim color and rolled sleeves team up with a sculpted shirt tail for action activities!

Men's adire shirt

Men's adire shirt

Yoruba tie-dyed cloth (adire) from Nigeria is used for this casual shirt that will catch the ladies’ eyes! Prim collar and prim rolled up sleeves add to its appeal. Has a looser tucked in version and an untucked version as well.

Crocodile skin slipons

Crocodile skin slipons

These luxurious yet casual slipons are made of two-tone crocodile skin–harvested only from the most vicious SL crocodiles that already started nipping people! Light and dark brown transition from business to fun seamlessly.

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cacao loving men, too!

11 08 2009

cacao took some pages out of the ladies book and added some men’s clothes with Telephone Wire ties or fashioned from indigo fabrics. Others don’t ostensibly link to Africa, but were inspired by remembered sights. These are my first forays into prim attachments, and I have to say I love working with them!

Now I understand why designers complain about men’s clothes or avoid making them–the way the SL mesh stretches (particularly over musclebound avatars) does some odd things, and that narrow band of skin at the waistband requires planning to cover.

Jackets are disturbing, because they are skin tight without any option for a loose fit, creating an odd waspwaisted silhouette reminiscent of early 19th c. dandies. I hope some sculpty builders will create a suit jacket from the lower chest down as a prim–it would make a huge difference, if possible!





The Mood Indigo Creations

6 08 2009
Indigo Asooke

Indigo Asooke

This outfit has a hand-painted bodice and an asymmetrical flexiskirt made of Yoruba hand-woven cotton.

Indigo Stripes

Indigo Stripes

This sexy, strappy top is paired with a playful flexiskirt; both are made of handwoven Yoruba cotton.

Indigo Corkers

Indigo Corkers

These casual low heels will have you bouncing through Second Life, their cloth uppers fashioned with a tie-dyed cloth from Guinea.

Adire Ibeji

Adire Ibeji

Ibeji is the Yoruba word for twin, while adire refers to resist-dyed indigo patterned cloth. Why “twin”? With this selection, you have a choice of skirt types and bodices–or can mix and match. Prim sleeves and bow add a three-dimensional touch. Both flexiskirts are multilayered and use varied patterns in blue and white. Like many cacao items, resizing scripts allow you greater control over prim fit.

Indigo Wax Print

Indigo Wax Print

Two choices of prim skirt allow great versatility! The short one-prim version creates a crisp, business-like dress, while the longer tiered flexiskirt with prim sash produces a sense of gracious femininity. The bodice has several eyelet-like cutwork designs at both front and back.

Wax prints first came to West Africa centuries ago, through Dutch traders who brought batiks from their Indonesian suppliers. As the trade grew lucrative, both Dutch and British factories began to produce their own versions for sale to Africa, then in the late 20th century, some African countries such as Nigeria and Ghana instituted their own industries. Both Japan and now China have joined production. While many wax prints are multicolored, indigo standards are still popular.

Indigo Exclusive

Indigo Exclusive

Every couture season, cacao will produce one exclusive item with only 10 sales permitted. This season, it’s Indigo Exclusive, a bundle of two skirts–one a ballgown, the other a day version–with a prim sash, matching shoes with sheer prim bows, spiralling silver earrings and coordinating armlets and bangles. Indigo Exclusive’s most dramatic feature is its startlingly imperial stand-up collar, reminiscent of wired Spanish Renaissance fashions.

The striped cloth is Yoruba handwoven cotton from Nigeria, the magenta a popular contrast in striped cloth. The sheer blue is shot with coppery highlights, and will remind you of romantic midnight forays in the moonlight.





Our Second Line: Mood Indigo

6 08 2009
Indigo dye pits in Kano, Nigeria

Indigo dye pits in Kano, Nigeria

Indigo has been West Africa’s most popular dye for centuries. Its colors range from the palest of baby blue to an almost black shade, depending on the thread or cloth’s submersion in the dye. Indigo is often overdyed, even sprinkled in powdered form on a cloth and pounded into it to create a rich sheen.

The Tuareg nomads of the Sahara wear turbans made by Nigeria’s Nupe, the

Blue-black indigo marks this Tuareg turban and veil--and the wearer's skin, too! Its sheen comes from beating additional powdered dye into the cloth with a mallet

Blue-black indigo marks this Tuareg turban and veil--and the wearer's skin, too! Its sheen comes from beating additional powdered dye into the cloth with a mallet

color staining their skin and supplying the name “blue men.” I once got caught in a rainstorm on a hot Kano day–I’d worn a new dyed dress without washing it first and blue rivulets run down my legs, my arm pits so darkened it took several days of bathing and scrubbing before a sleeveless top was possible.

Weavers commonly produce stripes with indigo thread, buy dyers also take plain commercial cottons and dip them after tie-dyeing, stitching and drawing the threads tight, or applying starch or wax to resist the dye and create patterns. Though indigo cloths can be found in many countries, Nigeria, Mali, and Guinea produce numerous varieties.
Yoruba women painted this cloth with cassava starch, then let it dry. It resisted the indigo, much like wax does.

Yoruba women painted this cloth with cassava starch, then let it dry. It resisted the indigo, much like wax does.

The color brings a sense of coolness to a humid sunny day, and remains a favorite–the perfect choice to highlight the variety of African creativity, even within a restricted category!





The First Creations

28 07 2009
Strapless outfit with prim hem flounce

Strapless outfit with prim hem flounce

For Telephone Wire Weaving I chose a basket whose colors meshed with cacao’s logo–they in turn reflect the various shades of cocoa pods.

Telephone Wire Pineapple Treat

Telephone Wire Pineapple Treat

This basket choice was prompted by the hair! In my capacity as Saminaka sim’s editor of The Saminaka Compass, I’d went to Hair Fair a few weeks ago to investigate black hair offerings. I came across a high style booth, one with heads that looked straight out of the Vogue and Moda issues of my youth. They were made by Tabata Jewell of Vanity Hair, and I fell in love with them. So when cacao was born, I rushed over to pick some up, and this pineapple number caught my eye. I suppose I could wear this prim bodiced, flexi-skirted dress without it, but would I want to?

subdued colors that beckon male observers

subdued colors that beckon male observers

In RL, I love bright colors, and tend to gravitate toward them in SL, too. But the basket that inspired this reminded me of misty African mornings, cooled off by the rainy season. Using a transparent texture made the prim bodice more alluring–men like to zoom in (a skill I’m sure they wish they had in RL!). If you like the hair, skins or accessories of any of our models, each dress comes with a style card that lists them, along with the SLURLs of their makers.

for casual occasions, when you want to make an entrance!

for casual occasions, when you want to make an entrance!

Sometimes you want that hoochie-mama eye-popping sex appeal, but swathed in elegance–and here you are! This outfit would be at home in a luxury beach resort, at home, or even in SL’s oases–hence the exotic veil.





Our First Line–Telephone Wire!

28 07 2009
Two views of a Zulu telephone wire basket

Two views of a Zulu telephone wire basket

Plastic-wrapped telephone wires are becoming obsolete, as fiber optics replace them. But through the years lots of secondary uses have developed–I can even remember my junior high class mates weaving it to make colorful rings. Their skill was nothing like that of South Africa’s Zulu, however. Zulu women have been weaving fibers to make baskets for centuries, and the wire gave them a new medium to develop their skills. Tourists love the baskets, resulting in an explosion of competitive creativity.

A number are finding their way to the U.S. through fair trade stores , and

mastery of telephone wire by Zulu women

mastery of telephone wire by Zulu women

looking at them inspired me to create dresses that employed their colors and patterns. It also pushed me to be more exploratory with Photoshop, learning ancient features that are still new to me to create original tiled textures–I hope I remember what I did, because I am in love with the two in the “Swirl” and “Sheer” dresses.

This has also been my first foray into prim pieces–they’re a bit tricky, because as an avatar moves, flesh is likely to peek out in unexpected ways, or sashes suddenly shift to the side of the hip. Perhaps I need to learn more about the parameters of the various attachment points! I like them, though. Along with flexi panels they give a sense of three-dimensionality and movement to clothing that is exceptional. How I wish I understood and could use 3-D to create my own.

I must say it isn’t always easy to find fashion sculpties in SL or XStreet through the search feature–I’m always stumbling across shops with potential attachments, rather than finding what I want. The thrill of the hunt, I suppose!





cacao — couture from the chocolate lands

21 07 2009
Our logo, the cocoa pod revealing future delicious chocolate, just as plywood boxes will turn to senses-swimming fashion!

Our logo, the cocoa pod revealing future delicious chocolate, just as plywood boxes will turn to senses-swimming fashion!

cacao is a new boutique, located on Kiko Life in Second Life. While its clothing is contemporary in style, our designer Tamsin Barzane uses African fabrics from a variety of countries, as well as patterns inspired by African objects. These modish clothes, shoes and accessories are created for both women and men, and employ painted, flexi prim and sculpty sections for a dashing, chic look. Original and tasty! from the chocolate lands…

The blog will discuss the inspiration behind various items, comment on African textiles, and look at trends in Second Life fashion.