Escapism is one of the pleasures of getting dressed. Fashion’s most outlandish fancies are often derided as ludicrous. It’s easy (and sometimes fun) to carp “Would they wear it in Wigan?” at outré couture, but to do so does rather miss the point. Which is this: what’s the use of intelligence without imagination? The two facilities are like chambers of the heart, working together to power not just each person’s individual intellect, but – you’d hope – to help our imperfect species progress.
Unreal works of art are an absolutely intrinsic part of human evolution. As Einstein put it: “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
Grown-ups need fairy tales, too, of course, perhaps now more than ever. The fact that Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games and so many others have navigated the long and perilous journey from the far-flung land of genre fiction all the way to the mainstream certainly attests to our appetite for them. Look ahead to the autumn-winter collections and you’ll see fashion’s new mood is one of escapism. There were several collections that drew richly on fantasy, folk and fairy tale. A dark dream time lies ahead.
Dolce & Gabbana led us into the forest with a collection that blended historical influences with folk and fantasy – Little Red Riding Hood, Joan of Arc and Maid Marian were all reference points. Meanwhile, at McQueen, Sarah Burton produced clothes fit for a Snow Queen – or should that be a Wildling? Her dramatic collection seemed to be heavily influenced by the chilly bits in Game of Thrones. If you want to introduce a bit of Narnia to your wardrobe before autumn, capes will be a key trend. If you’re expecting a few chilly summer evenings and want to get yours early, this Miss Guided one is a reasonable £60, but you will find homemade-looking designer numbers (if such a concept isn’t too much of a contradiction) at Anna Sui.
Embroidery is a huge part of this look. The romantic aspect of the folksy stuff that has started to appear on the high street makes it particularly appropriate for weddings.
An occasion is a good excuse to try something ornate like this Asos shift, whereas a more laidback piece is perfect for a festival. (This chambray frock from Sea NY has got Glastonbury written all over it).
White dresses and broderie are a classic summer option and featured heavily at the McQueen show. Try Boden and Dorothy Perkins.
Accessories can be simple leather, or serve as a canvas for everything the folk-tale trend has to offer. Witness this maximalist handbag, which features pompoms, buttons, beading, fringing and mirrors – it’s quite literally fantastic.
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