Thursday, March 29, 2012

Articles: The Fairest of them All: Fashion and Fairy Tales

Fairy tale fashion
From left: Dolce & Gabbana a/w 2012; Alexander McQueen s/s 2012; Giles, a/w 2012,  (From FT)
The Financial Times brings us an intriguing article about Fashion and Fairy Tales this Spring 2012. It seems that the fashion industry has caught fairy tale fever, and the recent fashion shows have been fraught with clothes fit for adventurous princesses or glamorous queens: "The grand, bullion-encrusted capes shown for autumn/winter at Dolce & Gabbana, Versace’s slinky chainmail evening dresses and the ravaged rococo ballgowns at Giles in London could slip seamlessly into either of these films, give or take a smattering of medieval-inspired embroidery and the odd hint of armour."

The article goes on to expound upon the connections between fashion and fairy tale and the nature of transformation:
"Essentially, fashion is the ultimate fairy tale – every show is a Cinderella story, transforming the models from mere mortals into a designer’s fantasy. Or maybe that should be Snow White. After all, the story of a woman perpetually questioning who is the fairest, with a watchful and even vengeful eye on the competition, has a wry parallel in the youth-obsessed, beauty-fixated fashion industry.
 Over the past few years contemporary fashion and Hollywood’s interpretation of tales Grimm and not-so-grim have come closer and closer together. From haute couture to high street, fashion has increased its levels of fantasy and the fairy tales themselves become more real. Kristen Stewart, who plays the heroine in Snow White and the Huntsman, is according to the film’s costume designer, Colleen Atwood, “Much less kind of princess-y and more of a ‘badass’ girl.” On the other hand, last September’s Rodarte show, with its puffed-sleeve evening gowns by designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy, was an unashamedly girlie paean to Disney princess dresses.
Haute couture is the source for many of the clothes that real-life princesses and 21st-century crowned heads wear, as well as being a designer’s playground when it comes to experimentation and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants invention. “Mr Dior said he wanted to ‘make women dream’,” says Bill Gaytten, head designer at Christian Dior. “That fantasy element is important. You want the clothes to inspire as well as empower.” Cue, for example, Dior’s millefeuille ruffled and embroidered evening wear....
The darkness of fairy tales is possibly what draws fashion to them: the doomed heroine, of course, but also the evil queen or stepmother who, truth be told, is much more fun to dress. “I like something when it has a very definite undertone of something that’s quite dark or evil,” says British designer Gareth Pugh, whose designs frequently have a gothic, fairy tale edge. Kate and Laura Mulleavy sought the same effect when designing their costumes for Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (2011). “The story of Swan Lake unfolds as a tale of the transformation of the maiden into a swan,” say the designers. “We were inspired by the idea of metamorphosis, specifically the dichotomy between perfection and decay.”
It’s not only in the high drama worlds of haute couture and out-there costume design that fashion is in thrall to the idea of fairy tale.'The notion of fashion as a fairy tale plays a big part in our planning,' says Judd Crane, Selfridges director of womenswear. 'It’s about shopping as art.' Think about it: with the Shoe Galleries, Selfridges has the largest women’s footwear department of any store in the world – 35,000 sq ft of retail retifism. Could there be anything more Cinderella than that?" (Full Article)
Anyone who has seen my Pinterest Clothes Board knows that I most heartily agree that fashion and fairy tales are intimately connected. I am hoping the runway fashion for this Spring has fairy tale elements spill over into more wearable and affordable day-to-day clothes!

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