Once upon a time (in another reality) I had enough money to whizz over to New York for this Exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Technology (January 15 – April 16, 2016).
When I was younger I used to sit and look through my Ladybird copy of The Little Mermaid for hours. Tim Walker’s 2013 interpretation for W Magazine capture the Little Mermaid’s transformative journey through scales to skin perfectly, whilst using fabric anchor his mermaid somewhere between human and creature.
By far the allure of fairy tales for me was always the villain(ess) – Maleficent was always my favourite. The ‘dark ones’ also always wear the best costumes, there’s something in the excess of their characters that translates to such rich costumes be it embellishment or through outrageous shaping (Maleficent’s speciality- especially in the headwear department).
It seems almost surprising that the most monstrous of fairy tale characters are often so clothed; a Witch’s warty skin is as obvious an identifier of her evil as her cloak. The tentacles of Ursula the Sea-Witch blend seamlessly into the basque upon her upper body.
Monstrosity has no limits upon Fairy Tale bodies.
Inspired by this theme, one of the most celebrated designers who truly wove magic into his garments, was Alexander McQueen. His models are not maidens or monsters; they emerge on the catwalk somewhere between beauty and beast. Their stories are as important as the ones in Grimm’s tales; be strong, believe in yourself, be different, be wild.