Gramarye 2020

Image by Emma Z and used with permission

the event

Gramarye [noun]
gram·​a·​rye /ˈgræməri/
Occult learning; magic, necromancy, enchantment

An alternative term for Grimoire, we encourage our guests to embrace their dark side and spellbind us with their betwitching looks. It is Hallow’s Eve after all, so dressing as your otherworldly selves – be it sweet or spooky – is welcomed!

Gramarye. (2020, October 31st). Retrieved from

This dark Halloween spooky event was hosted by Bay Area Kei (otherwise known as BAK for short); a group dedicated to bringing J-Fashion content and events here in the bay. Without this group I don’t think I would have found a local community let alone meet other people with like minds. I love what they are doing and I am currently volunteering for them. I’ve yet to learn the ropes and such but I hope that I can be a great addition for them!

Pre pandemic I would usually travel for events, either local or internationally. But when lockdown hit it meant that the western community needed to figure out a way to continue to create spaces for us to connect, socialize, and share. One could say that the western community was perhaps born virtually; from groups in Livejournal, eventually branching out to Tumblr and Facebook, and to various social media sites like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok today. For the community to flexibly adapt to the current situation from in-person sites to virtual is both surprising at given the speed but also familiar as a way to come back to our roots.

With the events having gone virtual it has been a great way to continue our fashion culture. Tea parties have moved to text and video chats. In this event we were able to drift around to the various “rooms/tables” and to interact and socialize with one another. I like that we could continue to admire each others outfits and accoutrements, just like in in-person events, discuss methods of make up and style, types of brands, all while enjoying food and drink from the comforts of our living space. Being able to drink alcohol is an added plus if you are into that sort of thing.

Another area of this that I greatly enjoy are the panels. From what I’ve experienced from BAK panels are available on twitch for a live and interactive program you can participate in. If you are unable to make it at that certain time the panels are then uploaded over to YouTube so you can watch at your leisure. This is great because I can’t always keep up with the scheduling but being able to watch and listen at another time has made it possible for me to catch up. There are also times I will rewatch and listen by having panels play in the background while I am working. I hope that maybe this is something events can adopt once we are able to travel again.


I already knew that I had a certain dress I wanted to wear for this event. That particular dress is reminiscent of another certain one from Crimson Peak. It shares a similar high neck collar and prominent sleeves.

That dress is Edith’s night gown. When I first watched the movie it was this particular garment that stuck out to me, even more than the iconic yellow dress she also wears.

It is haunting and beautiful. The intimate boudoir feel that encapsulates the fragility and vulnerability of her character. The movie itself is this horror gothic romantic experience and it lends itself beautifully to the theme of Gramarye.

This event was a perfect theme to live out a bit of that fantasy.

Lucille Sharpe: [Looking at Edith] Beautiful things are fragile… At home we have only black moths. Formidable creatures, to be sure, but they lack beauty. They thrive on the dark and cold.

Edith Cushing: What do they feed on?

Lucille Sharpe: Butterflies, I’m afraid.

Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain, performers. Crimson Peak. Directed by Guillermo del Toro, Double Dare You and Legendary Entertainment, 2015

I find this dress difficult to photograph in a way that does it justice. There are multiple layers of fabrics, with the top being lace. It is a sack dress but if you wear a harness it turns it into a high waist dress. The amount of fabric used for the skirt is pretty generous, and one could wear it without a petticoat but I wanted to wear one in this instance. The sleeves are reminiscent of the leg of mutton sleeves like the costumes worn in the movie. In the back there is a long cape that is attached, which adds another dramatic layer to the garment.

I unfortunately don’t have a stock photo of this, as this was a one-off that I bought at an event from Helsinki. I do have a couple photos, one taken with one of the designers of Triple Fortune. They are known for their delectable bonnets but they also make ready to wear garments and accessories that is available to purchase through Atelier Pierrot (another fantastic brand).

For the event I decided to recreate this look, but with some changes.

pièce de résistance

One of the cooler things that has evolved to adapt during this pandemic is the idea of fashion walks. For the event we could choose to participate in a fashion walk which I find is a great way to have a creative space to truly show off their coordinates. It is easily one of my favorite parts of these events, even if I am not participating. One can simply send a photo as an entry, or video format. Then they are shown during the event, once with a voiceover that describes the various outfits in detail, and then a second time with only music. I absolutely love how this focuses on the community, and less with the version of showing brands and releases.

I decided to try video format; mostly to see if I had the chops to do it. For the event it is to be 20 seconds long or shorter, which I did a version of to submit. But I also have a ~1:00 version that I wanted to make for myself:

In hindsight it’s not the best in terms of showcasing the outfit but I wanted to lean more to the romantic gothic horror elements that I liked. Before starting out I wanted to do a bit of digging and I looked up various fashion videos to try to understand the format.

This was to be the first time attempting this in our space and setting up our studio. We used what lights we had available; one was missing it’s stand so it needed to sit on a high enough surface. I used one of our box fans to create a continuous slight breeze, just enough to focus on the hair. We kept our shots pretty tight, mostly because there wasn’t much space to move around, and at the time we were using my old vlogging camera. It created this sort of a rag-tag guerrilla look; maybe not ideal but these projects are more about attempting things with what was available rather than trying to get this high production value look. It’s what I’ve got and it works well enough for what I do. If all I had was my phone I would have used that too.

The music was a birthday gift from a dear friend of mine, @justinwongart! There was a little bit of criticism from darkhalo, saying that it didn’t quite match but it felt right to me. There is a background, a history, and definitely fond memories in how this video was put together. When I look back on this those will be part of my experience and integrated into this project.

queen cavendish

If you are looking for rococo or Georgian era accessories I would suggest to start looking here. The pieces are incredibly detailed and nothing short of gorgeous.

The owner of this brand also has an Instagram, and in the tagged section there are a number of beautiful worn shots.

I am not a historical costumer, but there are many overlaps when it comes to these garments and what I like to wear. I like to wear them when it suits my fancy, and it may or may not be the correct era. I wore this brooch with this outfit as kind of a reference to victorian era mourning wear.


Continuing with the victorian era aesthetic I also wore a belt with the phrase “Noli me Tangere “printed on it. I found the message “Do not touch me” befitting, since oftentimes people who are curious about the fashion will occasionally touch you or your clothes, and the most irritating being photos being taken without asking for permission first.

The fact that 10% of every sale goes to the National Network of Abortion Funds is commendable and made it another reason to purchasing it.

I found that I liked the strong contrast of the white text against the black background of the rest of the outfit. The message is loud and clear.

i do declare

If one message isn’t enough, how about two? I Do Declare and VooDoooDolly often collaborate together and their styles are pretty complementary. I love having a smaller version of the same message, for the times I want to wear something small and inconspicuous.

I Do Declare also donates 10% of the sales of the brooch to the National Network for Abortion Funds.

I have a few dresses from this designer, which is what she is often known for. It can be difficult to acquire one since whenever the site updates the garments are fast to go. Your best bet is to follow the designer’s Instagram because she will often announce the next drop through there.


This is a brand I am not too familiar with. I had seen someone wear this brooch and it seemed perfect for this event. I have yet to try their other products, especially since I believe they are known for their scents. I definitely love their Adornments section, and I would most likely buy another piece from them.


Disclaimer: the photo isn’t the identical one I own, but it’s definitely the closest to what I have (but mine is black).

This brand is a staple at Dickens Fair. If you’ve never been I recommend going at least once; I like to go every year!

Their work is gorgeous and a sight to see in person. Whenever I would go to the fair this was always a store I would visit at least once, and one I would take my out-of-town friends to whenever they came to visit. Their walls would be covered with various head pieces and accessories. You are immediately surrounded in an explosion of feathers in various colors, lace, beads, and tassels. It is very difficult to leave without at least trying something or with empty hands.

If you want lush headpieces, this is definitely a place to check out. I own several pieces from them and they are very well made and comfortable to wear. But with the high price point I find it a better shopping experience to see their work in person.

jeffrey campbell

What can I say? I am infatuated with interesting shoes, and this is no exception. There are multiple versions of this style, and variations of color and material. Mine are made from velvet with pewter. I wanted the bow to be slightly obscured by the dress, and to peep out while walking. Since I’ve yet to truly try them outside they also double as a pair of house slippers if I am feeling particularly indulgent that day.

*disclaimer: These were all bought by me. I enjoy sharing my finds!


I had a great time with this event. With the current times these can feel like a lifeline when it comes to interaction with others. I like that we’re able to continue in holding on to our ties and passion with others. I am able to feel a level of excitement with anticipation. Social media can be a great tool to have in keeping in contact with others but with conversations spaced out and asynchronous it can still leave you feeling lonely.