Admiration Medley

Stunveldt Island by Naelin
The island of Stunveldt is populated by a mix of scalies, waterland silkies and segmented societarians which inhabit the sparse woodlands, the denser jugles and the coasts respectively, making for remarkably distinct demography in each area.   Despite this sharp difference, the Stunveldti share a strong sense of tradition and unity which are embedded in customs like the Admiration Day, a celebration done once in the life of each person to mark the day in which they are considered accomplished in whichever profession or life path they have chosen.   The Admiration Day (also called the "Day of (person's name)") is focused on celebrating the individual, and the most important part of it is the reveal and fondling of the Admiration Medley, an impressive, bizarre outfit made of dozens upon dozens of distinct pieces of fabric which, together, form a gigantic collage of tactile and visual textures that the celebrated individual wears on this (and only this) day.  

The day of Admiration

"Son, you can be the most compassionate of death doulas or the humblest of teobrew farmers, it is all the same: If you have worked, you deserve your story to be told"
— A Stunveldti mother to her self-deprecating son

Peer pressure

While there isn't a specific age for a person to get their Admiration Day and the "expected" period varies wildly by profession, there is an increasing amount of peer pressure as the person ages to "get accomplished enough" to gain their day. Becoming a self-made professional is sometimes discarded as an option, as it makes getting the recognition needed more difficult.
As they grow professionally, the people of Stunveldt are observed closely by their mentors to determine the moment for considering them accomplished, usually defined as the point in which they have learned all there is for them to learn, and only fine-tuning of their craft is possible.   When this is achieved, the mentor and sometimes the community agree to celebrate the person's day. This is considered the most important celebration in a Stunveldti's life, and it usually involves their whole community.
  The celebration occupies the whole day and consists of loads of music, dances and food, especially hot chocolate and sweet baked goods. Once the main meal has passed, the celebrated person retires to change clothes, and then comes back to the most important part: The unveiling and fondling of their Admiration Medley.  

Fondling of the Medley

After the medley is revealed, the guests will approach the wearer and touch the different parts of the outfit to admire the textures, sounds and shimmers it produces. The piece will be commented on and admired, and people will usually try to identify patches of fabric and guess the original owner.
"Come on, touchy the fishy."
— Someone encouraging a child to touch the medley of a waterland silky
 

The Social Rules

During the Fondling of the Medley, the normal social boundaries about personal space and physical contact are bent. The assistants are intended and encourage to touch the Medley to feel and admire its different textures, and so the celebrated individual may find themselves with a dozen of hands running through most of their body.
While the crotch area and any uncovered portion of the body are left alone, the person must brace themselves to be touched anywhere else. This activity in this specific day is considered entirely non sexual nor intimate, and anyone found getting overly enthusiastic would have themselves being unceremoniously thrown out of the party and possibly vetoed from future ones.  

The composition of a Medley

A Medley is composed of several pieces, all intended to be interconnected and interacting with each other to form a full outfit.
The pieces are a mix of structure materials, ornaments, and dozens upon dozens of pieces of fabric, of which many would have been part of clothing items in the past.
Admiration medleys have created a niche for its tailors in Stunveldt. While general fashion design is not much of a thing on the small island, some renowned tailors made a name for themselves by specializing in the design and confection of the best medleys.
  Weeks or even months before the day of the party (or years, in the case of the close family members), the celebrated person is gifted with trinkets and pieces of clothing from their family and friends: It is customary for family members to offer a very loved piece of clothing to become part of the medley. In some cases, a parent will divide an expensive or very loved clothing article between each child.   Once the person has gathered all of the heirloom pieces they want to use, they start working with a tailor on the design. These are all different, some people focus on textures and sounds while other focus on looks, some search for harmony on the designs while others' Medleys will look as if someone threw glue and materials directly over the person.   Overall, the most traditional Medleys look for an appearance of fluidity and weight, which some people describe as "Looking as if the person had just come out of a very colourful muddy swamp".  

Symbolism

The Medleys are highly symbolic pieces not only as a way to mark the wearer as the central point of attention but also in the way the pieces are arranged and acquired. People make the overall shapes more delicate, sharp, wavy or voluminous to represent aspects of their personalities, but there is also an array of very specific ways to send messages across using the placement of the gifted pieces. Here are some of the examples.  
Detail Meaning
Fabric placed in shoulder pads extending outwards. A symbol for the one that gifted the piece being a positive influence in the wearer's life. "You make me bigger".
Fabric being worn as a scarf/around the neck. Represents a feeling of warmth and comfort while being around the person that gifted it. "You are my shelter"
Fabric placed between the shoulder blades. The person that gifted the piece is considered a weight being carried. "You are a burden"
A gifted piece of cloth covering the genitals. This may be interpreted as having a strong sexual desire for the person, or that the person is a prude that shuns their behaviours. "I have the hots for you"/"You are a killjoy"
A very flamboyant piece worn over the crotch or butt. This may be used as a way of telling that the wearer is an overtly sexual person, or that they expect to get laid after the celebration. "Ask me how this texture feels"
A gifted piece worn in the chest close to the heart, or in the hands. This is used to indicate that the person is loved, especially in a romantic context. "You are my heart / you always hold my hand"
A piece being worn in the legs, especially if it is made of many gifted pieces of cloth sewn together. A symbol of strong friendship, representing that these people give them strength and support. "You help me stand up and keep going"
 

A Medley's Destiny

Medleys are intended to be used once. However, as they are very expensive to make most people turn them into heirlooms given to one's child that the new owner will make changes or additions to them to incorporate the gifted pieces.
A medley usually benefits from this repurposing, as several instances of remixes and additions turn them into gigantic, impressive pieces of art that a poor family couldn't afford in one go.   On the other hand, disposing of a medley after one use is used as a symbol of ostentatious fortune, and rich people may wear the medley a second time when their bodies are disposed of after they die, or they may turn the medley's destruction into an attraction of the Admiration's Day, by shearing it in front of everyone and gifting little pieces as mementos, or even burning it. Some people even had prepared the medleys for this specific purpose, by filling small hidden pouches of the outfit with kernels, gunpowder and other stuffing that would explode and be shot out as it burns.   A medley's destiny is a source of a lot of social discourse: On one hand, they are intended to be used once, but on the other hand, only rich people can afford to do so, and as the culture of Stunveldt is one of close-knit communities and sharing of resources, this is frowned upon by many as wasteful. While some small groups delight themselves with excitingly explosive outfits, most are happier wearing an item with even centuries of little histories in its scraps of fabric.
Medley Blueprints by TJ & Naelin
Item type
Clothing / Accessory
Raw materials & Components
All kinds of fabrics and meshes


A touchy-feely day

The Day of Admiration is an extremely important celebration for the people of Stunveldt, and as such, there is a lot of social pressure to commit to it. This doesn't sit well with people that are very introverted or that value their personal space, especially those that dislike physical contact.   In many cases people just endure the party, as dropping it would generate a lot of disapproval, and sometimes a forced "surprise" celebration put together by their family (Complete with a surprise Medley).   Some people work around the issue by making Medleys that extend outwards as much as possible, forming a physical barrier that protects them from being touched, and filling the areas closer to their bodies with unattractive textures.   However, in more recent years, people started bringing the topic to light, and some sparks of leniency and respect are becoming more common around the island.


Destiny's Guts

The Admiration Medley is one of the cards in the deck of Destiny's Guts, a traditional narrative game from Stunveldt.
Drawing it during a round makes the narration go into character-focused exposition, whereas drawing it as a Destiny makes the theme be focused on the main character and the great things they accomplish.


 

Sights, sounds and feels

Visuals are not the only aspect to enjoy in the medleys. The outfits are intended to be heard and touched, as well as seen. To manage that, some people have added inventive features to their medleys, such as the following:  
  • Sand glued to the fabric in patterns
  • Shoes with hollowed platforms that hold beads inside
  • Segments filled with dried leaves that make crackling noises
  • Flowing gauze that follows the person's motions slowly, like a dance
  • Shiny beads encrusted in the fabric in intrincate patterns
  • Glinting buttons at the seams


  • Cover image: Admiration Medley by Naelin

    Comments

    Author's Notes

    A gigantic THANK YOU to TJ Trewin for his help with the "Medley Blueprints" picture and the css for this article!


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    24 May, 2021 14:36

    Very nice article! First off the layout is good looking and a pleasure to read with all of the different boxes spread througout. I love the idea of the celebration that goes with this outfit, very original idea! Also nice how you added some info about how some people want there to be less fondeling and that it is being looked into.   The last part is especially interesting where each fabric's location can mean different things about the person who gifted it. Really awesome work.

    Feel free to check out my Bard Challenge article and my Worldember Overview if you want to see what I am up to!
    24 May, 2021 18:09

    Thank you very much!! I try not to have a giant block of text because I suffer reading these myself n_nU Glad that you liked it!

    24 May, 2021 17:55

    THIS IS SO GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD I love this concept so much!!!


    Check out my worldbuilding in the dark fantasy world of Melior
    25 May, 2021 00:07

    Thank youuuuu~ A lot of it is thanks to your amazing help <3

    24 May, 2021 18:21

    There is so much originality wound through here and so many cool community-based accents/additions to the outfit. The ritual itself and the process of the selection and gifting of pieces is excellent, as is the description of textures, experiences, and celebration of one's Medley.  

    "Son, you can be the most compassionate of death doulas or the humblest of teobrew farmers, it is all the same: If you have worked, you deserve your story to be told"
      That quote in particular is just the nicest sentiment: being celebrated for being you! <3   If someone were to burn my Medley I would definitely have that sucker lined with copper dust so the fire would just go POOF in all manner of pretty colors too lol...also keep wanting to call it a Melody instead of a Medley: it's like a visual representation of a musician's entire discography XD


    You are doing a great job! Keep creating; I believe in you!
    Luridity: Love is love, and chivalry is most certainly not dead. A galaxy of sweet, silly, sensual & downright sexy characters, their lives, & their loves. Contains NSFW content.
    25 May, 2021 00:36

    Thank you Daniiii <3   The quote (and to some extent the celebration) was inspired by a line in an old popular Argentinian song called "El témpano". The line says "That man worked. Who will write his story?". I thought about something that celebrated hard work, no matter which kind of work it was. (Also that song is littered with incredible raw quotes, like wtf)   (I loved the comment about the copper dust lol, that sounds... very much like you XD)

    24 May, 2021 18:27

    I love the background for the article. Pretty!!! I love the idea of this tradition so much, particularly the idea of all the history and symbolism in the outfit.   What happens if someone doesn't achieve enough to get a day? I guess that'd be covered in the article for the festival haha.   The 'you are a burden' makes me laugh. I'm like 'how rude!'   Great job, Naelin! <3

    25 May, 2021 00:44

    Thank you so much, Doc <3   I thought about the not-good-enough thing and then didn't write it down because I thought it was too much already n.nU   They will be willing to overlook some issues if the person is actually trying their best even if they are not quite there yet, and they will celebrate anyway when the mentor considers they are at their best, but if a person is seen to not really be putting their weight on it they won't get their day, which would be quite a reason for shame.   Some people may change jobs/mentors if they have a particularly strict one, obviously creating quite a bit of gossip and leveraging about which work would guarantee the earliest celebration, especially in small villages.

    Sage Timepool
    Garrett Lewis
    24 May, 2021 20:06

    This came together real well!

    25 May, 2021 00:45

    Thank you very much Timepool!

    24 May, 2021 20:57

    I love the concept and the article, but what happens when the person do not reach the mastery status needed for this ceremony?

    Feel free to check out my costume entry. :)
    25 May, 2021 00:46

    Thank you! I've just replied to Serukis above that I considered writing this down and then thought it was too much, seems I was wrong hahaha   I will copy what I said there: ------ They will be willing to overlook some issues if the person is actually trying their best even if they are not quite there yet, and they will celebrate anyway when the mentor considers they are at their best, but if a person is seen to not really be putting their weight on it they won't get their day, which would be quite a reason for shame.   Some people may change jobs/mentors if they have a particularly strict one, obviously creating quite a bit of gossip and leveraging about which work would guarantee the earliest celebration, especially in small villages.

    24 May, 2021 23:09

    Beautiful article!! I love everything about this, the concept, the colors, the symbolism, the ritual! You're an inspiration for this community and me. I admire you so much <3

    Am I writing or procrastinating? Take a guess and visit Hanzelot
    25 May, 2021 00:49

    Aaaaaaaaaa thank you so much Melu!! ;w;   I admire you as well, few have the ability to put the level of emotion you manage on your quotes. (Not to mention I'm supremely jealous of how fast you learned English, yes I will mention it again and again, it's impressive)

    25 May, 2021 10:56

    I think my absolute favorite part is the symbols and what they mean. Combined with the sights and physical sensations, this is not only costume but a language!   I wonder... over time does the work of different tailors slowly cause different 'dialects' in this to emerge? Or just shift the sensation language that is communicated through the items?

    6 Jun, 2021 11:26

    Thank you! :D   I'd say both! With time the "tropes" change and the focus may be put on different things, and different designers will have different techniques and visual (and tactile, and sound) language.   However Stunveldt is a very culturally rich, but very culturally stagnant nation. They are quite change-averse, so most important style differences can be traced back to specific designers more than specific times.

    25 May, 2021 11:18

    This is a fascinating tradition and outfit!! You really outdid yourself with this one, its absolutely amazing- the art, the culture and history behind it, I mean everything is just like *chefs kiss* <3 <3

    Author of Interarcanum
    6 Jun, 2021 11:29

    Thank you TCcccc ;o; I'm glad you liked it <3

    28 May, 2021 03:10

    This was a lot of fun to read. I don't think I've read about a piece of clothing that was such an event. It was really easy to feel the depth of the culture involved in this one costume.

    7 Jun, 2021 23:39

    Thank you very much! I'm glad you liked it, I usually go super culture-focused when I talk about this particular island :)

    Eternal Sage AmélieIS
    Amélie I. S. Debruyne
    29 May, 2021 10:56

    Great article! I love the idea of this tradition and all of the cultural elements that go around it. This is an interesting variation on a graduation from apprenticeship ceremony :D   I'm wondering a bit about practicalities regarding the choice of a day to celebrate the medley. What's the size of the population and who is expecting to take part in the celebration? The whole city? Does this means that there would be several admiration days going on at the same time? Or are they careful about spreading them about so that they don't coincide? Still, you could easily get a celebration every day if you have a big enough city XD   I like the card game idea, this really show the impact this event has on the local cultures :D   I love the inclusion of different senses into the Mdeley, this is really a fantastic idea :D Though I do notice that smell is missing. Would they not attempt to wear special perfume for the occasion? Maybe perfuming pieces of clothing differently and they move them, different smells are realsed?   Oh, I absolutely love the different meaning depending on where ethe pieces of clothing are placed! Though a piece would have to be place in certain area regardless to cover it, would it not? So what if the person wants to cover their whole back but doesn't wait to tell anyone they are a burden? Do they choose a piece of cloth that they bought themselves?   "Some people even had prepared the medleys for this specific purpose, by filling small hidden pouches of the outfit with kernels, gunpowder and other stuffing that would explode and be shot out as it burns." That feels as if some accidents must happen sometimes with the outfit burning before they have the time to get out of it :p   Reusing the medley by gifting bits of it as family heirlooms is really lovely :D   And I almost forgot to say it again, but those are fantastic illustrations, congrats to you and TJ :D

    Feel free to check my list of WE articles.
    7 Jun, 2021 23:48

    Thank you for your great comment!   Stunveldt is not a big/densely populated place, the island itself is around 70km long and 50km wide with dense jungles, and the people live in small close-knit towns/communities, and since you only celebrate this once in your lifetime, they aren't as many! I live in a very dense city myself and I don't see graduations very often :p   They would definitely use perfume, yes, but I don't think that is something that you really can craft into the costume, so I didn't add it :p   Regarding the placement of pieces, not all the pieces used are gifted. Besides that, as people try for the medleys to be kind of "extensive", most of the time the back has some sort of structure to support something coming out of it, so avoiding attaching a bad meaning to your granny's sweater shouldn't be too difficult :p   Also thank you for the comment on the illustrations! They took some time but they were worth it!

    Journeyman Gege16
    Gege Escriva
    6 Jun, 2021 01:45

    OMG NAEEEEE I don't know where to start...the article's layout is wonderful, pretty and very organized, the concept is amazing and really original, i love how you detailed EVERYTHING and noted even the slightest cultural aspect of it (i noticed the link to some articles from WE such as the Death Doulas, it is great because it makes the costume feel really integrated to the world).   I like a lot how all the costume is made for please all the senses and not just the eyes. The design is ffffffff no words to describe such intricasy, it must have taken LOTS of time drawing and painting it (TJ's blueprint is amazing! :D ). I like a lot how it is inspired by nature, every element resembles a body part from a different animal and the colors are so vivid! Great Job my friend!!

    Explore the Kingdom of Moskova with me! Wonders and darkness await for you. Are you ready for the adventure?   Stressed, but getting ready for World Ember!  
    12 Jun, 2021 00:56

    Thank you so much Gege! I get quite inspired on the cultural side of things when I write things for Stunveldt, I plan on trying to develop it more during SC since the seemingly disconnected things I have going for it actually go so good together somehow.   Thank you for your comments about the drawing! I am quite proud of how they came out. The drawings in the blueprint picture were done on a collaborative canvas as I was trying to picture how they'd look (I did the main drawing, TJ drew the separate tail design on the top right) and then I asked him to turn these sketches into photoshop magic, which he did in like... 10 minutes. He's amazing :p

    7 Jun, 2021 09:43

    I really like this article. The section about the application of where pieces are placed is very informative and fun. The section on "The Medley's Destiny" was fun to read. Popping and exploding articles in a fire is always fun... lol

    Check out Corrigenda and 2275 earth
    12 Jun, 2021 00:58

    Thank you very much! I would love to see one of these burnings being done on a beach in the middle of the night... Especially with Dani's suggestion above to line them with copper dust :p

    8 Jun, 2021 19:27

    Now THAT is a heirloom that sounds like it has real emotional value! Real interesting creation process, love it.

    Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young
    12 Jun, 2021 00:58

    Thank you very much Michael!

    11 Jun, 2021 18:08

    The item itself was great, but I have to say, my favourite part was the idea itself for Appreciation day! Such an interesting concept, as well as how it is still developing.   I am interested: what happens to those people who never get to have their appreciation day, but perhaps had already prepared (or began preparing) an admiration medley? How does this culture view those items and or those people?

    12 Jun, 2021 00:48

    Thank you Silo!   The short answer is... bad, but rarely talked out loud outside the family.   To compare it with our culture, It's like if, on a very traditional family, you never got to marry despite wanting to. Much scorn, behind-your-back talking, and probably quite some scolding from moms and other closer family members.   I can imagine some smaller villages may kind of force/rush admiration days in special situations, but that would probably not go without gossip.