Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Clothes make the man.Ă˘â‚¬Âť So said American writer and humorist Samuel Langhorne Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain. Given what I do here, youĂ˘â‚¬â„˘d think IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘d be inclined to be in complete agreement. But IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ve got news for youĂ˘â‚¬â€ťit takes a lot more than clothes to make a man. Skin, shape, hair, eyes, accessories and (yes) clothing all work together to make your avatar what you want it to be. This is far more than just a simple Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“lookĂ˘â‚¬ÂťĂ˘â‚¬â€ťitĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s a personality, an identity, the face you show to others.
The seeming paradox is that itĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s more than possible to make a man without benefit of much in the way of clothing. But the apparent paradox is deceptive, illusory, false. Skin, shape, hair, eyes and accessories in concert go so far to make the man that clothing can be essentially an accent and still be effective, still make a contribution, still Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“work.Ă˘â‚¬Âť
To illustrate my point, I return to the barest, most revealing, perhaps least understood genre of clothing designs. I am talking, of course, about silks. You may recall my first public foray into this extensive arena. Although necessarily limited in scope, I thought my initial excursion had been an interesting and worthwhile first step, and resolved to one day travel further down the Silk Road. Some recently released silks that came to my attention were clear signs that the time had come.
Here, then: see the mysterious alchemy of skin, shape, hair, eyes, accessories and clothing, and how it works to make the man. See the various talents of some of my favorite, most respected designers brought together in (if I have done my job well) harmonious expression. All credit for artistic success belongs to these fine designers; any artistic shortcomings in the various final ensembles are mine and not theirs.
Although a number of the silk designs here are recently released, it was the new line of Al Jamal Silks for Men, a collaborative project between Photos Nikolaidis and Storm Torvalar, that caught my eye and set the wheels in motion for this feature. (Storm creates the fine prim work for these designs, while Photos textures and makes the clothing layers.) TheĂ‚Â finely detailed silks from Al Jamal come in three different styles, in a variety of exotic colors. Unlike some other silks, optional coordinating Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“modestyĂ˘â‚¬Âť garments are also included. The shop also features a wide range of accessories, including the silk-accented armbands and wrist cuffs IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘m wearing here. Jewelry and other add-ons are available individually, so you can decide for yourself what to buy (mix and match!) without having to commit to an expensive package. All items are quite reasonably priced. Take special note of the L$2 cuff vendor, which sells single cuffs at random from a selection of 47 variations. TheyĂ˘â‚¬â„˘re also transferable, so you can trade or give them away. I bought ten and managed not to get a single duplicate. ItĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s actually kind of fun!
The skin is Ororon KamachiĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Tergum2 Ă˘â‚¬â€ś Easterner,Ă˘â‚¬Âť a beautiful alabaster-toned Asian skin that IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ve worn here before, albeit with a different shape. Ă‚Â Unfortunately, as far as I know this skin is not currently available. The last time I visited the shop, it was under serious reconstruction and there werenĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t a lot of things out for sale, and nowĂ‚Â Harajukubox City, the sim where the shop was located, has closed down. If I had realized that when I started putting this post together, I would have chosen a different, available skin for this ensemble, so my apologies. The hairstyle is a sweet design by Alair Cortes, and I chose it here for its deliberately exotic, even whimsical look.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“RyojiĂ˘â‚¬Âť shape by Shinichi Mathy (Aska Shapes)
“Tergum2 – Easterner” skin by Ororon Kamachi (Animus)
“Blaze” hair by Alair Cortes (Pocket Mirrors)
Shamsee silks in Persian Rose, Jinn armbands and Gacha bracelets by Photos Nikolaidis and Storm TorvalarĂ‚Â (Al Jamal)
YouĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ve seen this skin here before, and the shape as well. This may be Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“onlyĂ˘â‚¬Âť a secondary look for me (although not an actual alt), but I tried on a dozen or more black male skins before falling somewhat in love with this one: Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Kamal,Ă˘â‚¬Âť by shiloh Jun. This is easily my favorite black skin, and the only one I wear regularly, but I do have my eye on another designer who has a black male skin in the works. It should be a thing of beauty and a joy to behold, if the designerĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s gorgeous female skins are any indicator.
My shape here is Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Crow,Ă˘â‚¬Âť by Fade Dana. Although Fade designed this shape specifically to go with Chip MidnightĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“CrowĂ˘â‚¬Âť skin, I think it works very well indeed with shilohĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Kamal.Ă˘â‚¬Âť The facial features and body proportions are strong, fine and classic, a perfect match for the skinĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s rich, deep coloring and defined musculature. I love the contrast with bright, strong colors of yellow and gold, colors that pale-skinned, redhead Ryan simply canĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t get away with. This second style of silks from Al Jamal is a freebie in Gold.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“CrowĂ˘â‚¬Âť shape by Fade Dana (CMFF)
“Kamal” skin by shiloh Jun (Shiloh Jun)
“Wurgle Chocki” hair by Booperkit Moseley (BooPerFunk)
Wardah Silks in Gold,Ă‚Â Masa harness in Gold,Ă‚Â Khuruj chestpiece and Gacha bracelet by Photos Nikolaidis and Storm TorvalarĂ‚Â (Al Jamal)
Boho Sandals by Fallingwater Cellardoor (Shiny Things)
The various skins IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘m wearing here are some (but by no means all) of my own favorites, both old and new. Notably missing is Funk SchnookĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Antonio,Ă˘â‚¬Âť which I specifically mention here only because it was on the lineup to be paired with the Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“ShinichiĂ˘â‚¬Âť shape (oh, those abs!) for quite a while. In the end, as fine as both skin and shape are, I wasnĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t as happy with the pairing as I wanted to be, and this made room for Simple SpadĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s impressive new Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Ocean 2.0Ă˘â‚¬Âť skin. This is one of my favorite new skins, withĂ‚Â extraordinarily handsome features, subtle shading, nipples that arenĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t just mosquito bites, and musculature thatĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s not too Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“built.Ă˘â‚¬Âť In addition to a bald head, both brown and blonde hair bases are includedĂ˘â‚¬â€ťa nice bonus. Interestingly, Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Ocean 2.0Ă˘â‚¬Âť is completely free of body hair, including the rather Ken doll-like pubic region, which is why IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ve added after-market pubic hair to this ensemble. Just in case you were wondering.
Ramses MeredthĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“JĂ˘â‚¬â„˘adoreĂ˘â‚¬Âť silks are similar in basic style to Thorn WitrialĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s Solstice Silks, but very different in approach and execution. In contrast to the Solstice SilksĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ fantastic feel, with their shimmering fabric and stylized, graceful design, here the cloth textures are grittier, theĂ‚Â front pouch realistically sculpted, the design purely utilitarian and functional rather than decorative. Even the bright metalĂ‚Â neck,Ă‚Â wrist and ankle cuffs look hand-wrought rather than perfectly formed. The sculpted feet are nicely shaped and include a HUD for choosing skin and nail colors as well as resize options. A tattoo-layer garment renders your avatarĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s feet invisible and keeps them from showing through the sculpted feet. No invisiprim option is included, so you will need to use Viewer 2.x (or another viewer that supports tattoo layers) in order to wear the Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“invisible socksĂ˘â‚¬Âť and see your feet properly.
The Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“HorusĂ˘â‚¬Âť hairstyle IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘m wearing here is a creation of MissAllSunday Lemon. MissAllSundayĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s hair designs are consistently dramatic and fantastic, and this is no exceptionĂ˘â‚¬â€ťthe look is that of aĂ‚Â great feathered headdress. It is perhaps not a look for casual everyday wear, but I liked its eye-catching counterpoint to the relative simplicity of the clothing ensemble.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“ShinichiĂ˘â‚¬Âť shape by Shinichi MathyĂ‚Â (Aska Shapes)
“Ocean 2.0″ skin by Simple SpadĂ‚Â (Mirror Image,Ă‚Â Zoobong)
“Horus” hair by MissAllSunday Lemon (Wasabi Pills)
M1 Pubic Hair by Skoda Thor (Intimate Garden)
J’adore silks by Ramses Meredith (Egoisme Haute Couture)
If you drop by to check out Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Ocean 2.0,Ă˘â‚¬Âť or even if you donĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t, be sure to take a look at Melvin DemainĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“JamieĂ˘â‚¬Âť as well. To be honest, this is one skin that at first broke my heart. You see, when I first tried on the demos, I loved everything I sawĂ˘â‚¬Â¦except even the palest tone was too dark to suit me. O, the tragedy! Nonetheless, I wrote to Melvin to express my admiration and (this part is admittedly a bit selfish) encourage him to consider releasing a yet-paler tone. In his reply, he was very friendly and thanked me for the suggestion, so I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
Needless to say, I was very happy when this new pale tone appeared in the store. This is another skin that fires on all cylinders for meĂ˘â‚¬â€ťsmooth coloring and shading,Ă‚Â appealing features,Ă‚Â fit but not overly ripped muscles, and ruggedly handsome facial hair options. (I did notice a sign the other day at Zoobong announcing “Jamie – Pale 2 Coming Soon.” This may well be an even paler skin tone, so if this is of interest to you, you may want to wait impatiently to see this new tone before buying.) Although I think it looks great here on ShinichiĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“HikaruĂ˘â‚¬Âť shape, I quite frankly like Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“JamieĂ˘â‚¬Âť even better on my own slimmer shape. Your mileage, of course, may vary.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“HikaruĂ˘â‚¬Âť shape by Shinichi MathyĂ‚Â (Aska Shapes)
“Jamie” skin by Melvin Demain (Mirror Image,Ă‚Â Zoobong)
“Ryan Short” hair by Alair CortesĂ‚Â (Pocket Mirrors)
Wardah silks in Indigo,Ă‚Â Sabah necklace and Gacha bracelet by Photos Nikolaidis and Storm TorvalarĂ‚Â (Al Jamal)
sachi Vixen is one of the most consistent creators of quality designs I know of in SL. IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘m always interested and intrigued to see what sheĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s been up to lately. Her collection of skins, in particular, is always a fascinating explorationĂ˘â‚¬â€ťall over the map, almost literally, with offerings in a wide range of color tones, ethnicities and body types. Although not all are to my own very particular tastesĂ˘â‚¬â€ťI tend to prefer less rather than more photo-realismĂ˘â‚¬â€ťthey are uniformly artistic and well executed. Here IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘m wearing sachiĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s new skin Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Tristan,Ă˘â‚¬Âť which despite the name is neither the same as nor a simple re-working of her previous skin by the same name. sachi said, Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“I have named this skin by the same name simply because I like the name.Ă˘â‚¬Âť This Tristan is strongly muscled, more so than I would typically wear on my own shape, withĂ‚Â serious pecs and abs. The face is perhapsĂ‚Â a bit less rugged than I might expect to find smiling above such a sturdy torso, but for me thatĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s actually a bonus. A selection of facial hair, body hair, eyeliner and other tattoos are also available, so you can enhance the skins to suit your preferences. Viewer 2.x (or another viewer that supports tattoo layers) is required.
I originally set out to find some rather more elaborate sandals for this ensembleĂ˘â‚¬â€ťI figured there was no reason to keep things simpleĂ˘â‚¬â€ťbut somehow none of the fancier styles I found were what I wanted. I was just about to fall back yet again on my much-loved (and often-worn) Boho Sandals, but then I came across these Gladiator Sandals by goran Osterham. The design is simple and classic, the leather textures are realistic but not too much so, and the decorative metal studs add a fantasy element that I think works well in this setting. Touch-menu scripting allows you to customize colors of the leather straps, sole, metal elements and toenail color on the integrated sculpted feet. The HUD that lets you tweak skin colors for the feet is easier to use than some others IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ve seen. An integrated invisiprim in each sandal keeps your avatarĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s feet from showing through; theyĂ˘â‚¬â„˘re resize-able, so you can minimize the alpha-channel Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“haloĂ˘â‚¬Âť around your feet.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“PierreĂ˘â‚¬Âť shape by Shinichi MathyĂ‚Â (Aska Shapes)
“Tristan” skin by sachi Vixen (Adam n Eve)
“Keith” hair by MissAllSunday LemonĂ‚Â (Wasabi Pills)
Habibi silks in Ivory, Sayef harness and Jinn armbands by Photos Nikolaidis and Storm TorvalarĂ‚Â (Al Jamal)
Gladiator Sandals by goran Osterham (Skifija Collection)
“Age of Warriors” necklace by Di Yifu (Inca Temple)
For this ensemble, IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ve returned to the place where it all started, at least for me and silks: Thorn WitrialĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s Golden Thorn. I had thought I would choose one of ThornĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s long, colorful flexi silk designs, but instead I decided on something completely different. TheĂ‚Â Solstice Silks are a fairly simple wrap for the loins, smoothly sculpted and iridescent, accented with delicateĂ‚Â metallic flexi fringe in back. They are, in fact, so very simple that they cry out for something to complement them and, as it were, expand their horizons.
To that end, I was unable to resist the coordinating tattoos by Bobo Rosselsprung, worn by the model on the silks vendor and conveniently available for purchase nearby. The tattoo artwork is really quite beautiful, with a graceful, delicate design. I do wish the artwork met more seamlessly at the join between upper and lower clothing layersĂ˘â‚¬â€ťthe flow across the waist isnĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t as smooth as it seems intended to be.
My Roman coin necklace is an astonishingly detailed piece by Di Yifu. I find myself continually amazed by the amount of seemingly sub-microscopic primwork Di can cram into one item of jewelry, and how wonderfully well photo-sourced artwork elementsĂ˘â‚¬â€ťlike the coins hereĂ˘â‚¬â€ťare incorporated without looking pasted-on or otherwise out of place.
My dramatic hairstyle is Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Animal Nitrate,Ă˘â‚¬Âť by Sebastian Aries. To me this style feels refined but not too much so, controlled but only just barely, as if an animal wildness were almost but not quite released to run free. The hair designs at Shag are among the best IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ve seen and easily among my favorites, and I greatly appreciate that Sebastian and Sadie consistently release as many designs for men as they do for women.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“AntonioĂ˘â‚¬Âť shape by Shinichi MathyĂ‚Â (Aska Shapes)
“Thomas” skin by Tricky Boucher (Belleza)
“Animal Nitrate” hair by Sebastian Aries (SHAG)
Golden Sun full body tattoos by Bobo Rosselsprung (Bobo’s Masquerade)
Solstice silks in Gold by Thorn Witrial (The Golden Thorn)
“Aurum Est…” Roman necklace by Di YifuĂ‚Â (Inca Temple)
Leather straps andĂ‚Â flowing fabrics are the hallmarks of Adlor DerehamĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s silk designs. TheĂ‚Â carefully constructed assemblies are intricate and beautiful, with a distinctly handmade feel. These silks have a feature not shared by any of the others featured here: theyĂ˘â‚¬â„˘re scripted to allow others to remove them. More accurately, the scripting allows others to request their removal, as you are first prompted with a dialog box identifying the party attempting to disrobe you and asking for your permission to continue. Removal may be accomplished in a variety of manners, including Gentle, Skilled and Wild. Having such options must have raised certain expectations, because I found myself more than a bit disappointed to discover that there was no actual removal animationĂ˘â‚¬â€ťthe prim attachments simply detach themselves when you click to give your approval. Ah, wellĂ˘â‚¬Â¦I suppose the scripting for animated removal would have been prohibitively difficult (not to mention potentially lag-inducing). Still, for a brief moment I had hoped for more. An appropriately worded text chat message does announce the manner of garment removal, but that appears to be the only difference. The leggings IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘m wearing here are actually from theĂ‚Â Kajirus set of white silks, available as a freebie in the shop.
Also worthy of special mention is AdlorĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“ClaudeĂ˘â‚¬Âť skin. This is quite simply (and as always in my own humble opinion) the best L$250 skin IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ve seen. In fact, IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘d say itĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s easily the equal of some higher-profile skins that cost four or even six times as much. Priced at L$1200, you can take home the fatpack (six facial hair variations, bald and with hair base) for less than the cost of many other single skins. The skin texture artwork is smooth, professional and full of care. Although the vendor describes the skins as Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“androgynous,Ă˘â‚¬Âť with the exception of the full lips I donĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t notice any particularly feminine features. Do yourself a favorĂ˘â‚¬â€ťpick up a demo, take it home and try it on. I bet youĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ll go back to buy at least oneĂ˘â‚¬Â¦and that pack price really is awfully tempting.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“ShunĂ˘â‚¬Âť shape by Shinichi MathyĂ‚Â (Aska Shapes)
“Claude” skin by Adlor Dereham (ARIMAN)
“Aj” hair by Din Raymaker (Uncleweb Studio)
BelAmo silks in Blue and Kajirus silks (freebie) by Adlor DerehamĂ‚Â (ARIMAN)
A note on the shapes: I am, generally speaking, not a big fan of Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“pre-fabĂ˘â‚¬Âť shapes. I wear almost exclusively my own shape, which I first created on Orientation Island and has undergone only subtle (although noticeable) changes over the last four years. A lot of guys do change their shapes regularly, though, and many do buy shapes, either for regular daily wear or as alternatives for modeling, roleplay, or what have you. I find that many if not most pre-fab shapes donĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t appeal to me, usually because theyĂ˘â‚¬â„˘re big and bulky, or just not well balanced or in proportion. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Big and bulkyĂ˘â‚¬Âť are personal and subjective on my part, and many men do prefer larger shapes. Balance and proportion, though, are areas where I think itĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s appropriate to apply some criticism. All the shapes here save one are by Shinichi Mathy, and all are tall, muscular shapes with nicely balanced, handsome proportions. ShinichiĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s shapes are intended primarily as shapes for Asian men, but I found that all would work well with skins that are not specifically Asian, or would do so with only minor modificationsĂ˘â‚¬â€ťsay, to the eye shape.
In addition to sharing several worthy silk designs, my goal here was to showcase a solid handful of what I think are good examples of skin and shape combinationsĂ˘â‚¬Â¦the foundation of any human avatar. Even if silks arenĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t your thing, I hope the rest of the designs featured here have been of more than passing interest to you. And, seriously, why not at least try out some of the very reasonably priced silks at Al Jamal? Nobody else has to know. I certainly wonĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t tell.
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Believe it or not, my original intention with this post was to let the various designs speak for themselves, so to speak, by way of illustration. (A thousand words, and all that.) There are, after all, seven different ensembles, similar though they may be. But in the end the designs themselves were just too impressive to let them go without comment. I have tried to restrain myself to some more or less reasonable degree, but I do realize that this is a lot for anyone to read. If youĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ve made it this far, I thank you for your patience and indulgence. I hope this has been useful to you, and as much fun as it was for me.