Moschino’s Fright Night

Do you like scary movies and resort wear lines?

As each Moschino collection breaks the internet, designer Jeremy Scott turned to All Hallows’ Eve for inspiration for the brand’s Resort Wear 2020 collection released back in the summer. Of course, Moschino is not the first fashion house to find inspiration in things that go bump in the night. 2019 saw cult horror nods from everyone from Prada (Bride of Frankenstein prints and Wednesday Addams plaits) to Undercover (Suspiria emblazoned overcoats) citing inspiration from the genre. Horror and fashion are becoming increasingly intertwined with the genre influencing everything from blood-soaked runways to garish garments.

Undercover Fall 2019 RTW
Undercover Fall 2019 RTW

The collection features many classic Halloween trick-or-treater tropes such as conical witches hat, capes, plastic masks and devil horns. Under the genre-heavy styling lie a collection of loud party dresses, clean tailoring and throw-back prints. These designs are not meant to form a cohesive design story but do complement and juxtapose each other harmoniously like delving into a well-stocked fancy dress box.

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Photo: Marco Ovando / Courtesy of Moschino

Jeremy Scott is not shy of EXCESS and this collection oozes with Instagram-ready looks, overt pop-culture references & tongue-in-cheek humour. Whilst some may feel Scott relies too heavily on stylistic pastiche, personally, I always look forward to watching a Moschino runway. Not content on his tribute to things that go bump in the night, Scott went one step further and staged his very own scary movie.

Opening with a homage to Scream (1996) and that cream ribbed sweater (forever in infamy, thanks to Casey Becker played by baby-faced Drew Barrymore), the runway kicked into full gear with an army of masked spooks. Naturally, things finished off with an en-masse zombie stagger through the Universal Studios backlots.

Homages to kitsch Scream Queen style staples like the maribou trimmed bed jackets are some of the most successful looks on the catwalk. Sugary-sweet babydolls as outerwear instantly bring to mind Valley of the Dolls (1967) drug-fuelled psychedelic slayings with stacked pastel Mary-Jane creepers. I’ll take one in every colour, please.

Turn of the century fancy dress costumes were recreated in bright jelly-bean shades in co-ordinating separates and overalls. Stylised Halloween inspired shapes like crescent moons, stars, fangs and Frankenstein stitches are dotted throughout the collection.

Clear slick blood-red pea-coats are complimented by jaunty bat wing hats. Patterns are bold, in childlike technicolour with graphic monster and ghouls emblazoned on everything from blazers to Day-Glo backpacks.

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Photo: Marco Ovando / Courtesy of Moschino

Inspiration comes from plastic fantastic Halloween King Ben Cooper who manufactured affordable mass-produced Halloween costumes from the 1930s to the late 1980s. Costumes consisted of from vinyl character smocks and plastic masks and ranged from the classic Universal Monsters to Mr. T. The retro company is now enjoying a resurgence in today’s popular culture thanks to shows like Stranger Things and independent clothing brands such as Vixen by Michelline Pitt collaborating with their archives

Micheline Pitt Devil Skirt
Vixen by Micheline Pitt Ben Cooper Swing Skirt
Ben Cooper assorted masks
Ben Cooper masks
Moschino Resort Wear 2020
Photo: Marco Ovando / Courtesy of Moschino

Speaking of Universal Monsters,  Moschino and Universal City Studios collaborated together a small selection of garments and accessories for the collection which are now currently available on the designer’s website. And I want each and every single one.

Prince Estate X Zara: Prince style hits the high street.

One of the world’s largest fashion retailers Zara has teamed up with the Prince Estate to release a capsule collection available online and instore across the UK and Europe.

The menswear collection consists of 5 garments – two t-shirts, two jumpers and one hoodie. The collection could definitely be viewed as unisex. The size ranges for the collection are disappointing – a very limiting S, M, L and XL. The company is known for having some of the smallest sizings on the high street so I’m not personally expecting to get into any of the collection easily. For fans of Prince’s eccentric wardrobe, filled with exquisite tailoring and embellishment, don’t hold your breath. As an activewear range, designs are mostly monochromatic with a hint of signature Prince glamour.

As mentioned this is an activewear range so the small collection is more geared to running errands or hitting the gym than a night of Princely decadence. The closet we get to His Royal Badness flamboyance is a matt bugle bead encrusted logo sweatshirt. A nice touch but how amazing could this design be if they brought out the Love Symbol paillette sequins Prince favoured in the mid-1990s? Perhaps a touch far for the everyday Zara shopper.

The garments are styled very minimally for the Zara website – the opposite of Prince’s personal style. Every separate is paired with a pair of jet black skinny jeans (no high waists/ no buttons/ no stretch flared yoga pants) and LOAFERS – yes LOAFERS! Of course, I don’t expect the models to be dressed up as the musician but styling could have been a bit more inspired.

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I’ve read many online comments about this latest release from the Estate – Prince wouldn’t wear that/ he wouldn’t want his face selling t-shirts/ why no Lovesexy pastels? Looking at the collection as a whole I can see a (heavily watered down) trace of Prince’s sartorial handwriting. The capsule collection is (mostly) monochromatic, clean and graphic. Attributes that could be seen in previous Prince design details such as the Nude tour and 3121 outfits. Unlike the majority of Prince’s clothing, these garments are not tailored but oversized and would not look out of place in your average high-street streetwear collection. Zara and the Estate have been clever here – this is what sells, not assless canary yellow pants.

The ‘Love Print’ sweatshirt initially seems the furthest away from signature Prince style but the graphics are lifted straight from a 1996 black leather design currently housed within the Paisley Park archives. Nice attention to detail guys! The bold collegiate style white and black letters are blown up and emblazoned across the plain sweatshirt in white and grey.

The Lovesexy hoodie seems to be getting a lot of love online – it’s a no brainer really – we all want that iconic Lovesexy font down on forearms. How I wish there were some matching leggings too! What is apparent throughout the capsule collection is Prince’s dynamic style cannot be easily transferred into highstreet fashion. In fact, Zara and The Estate have cleverly adapted iconic (and not so iconic) gems from Prince’s wardrobe and translated them into accessible activewear that even a non-Prince fan could enjoy.

Following the unnerving news that the Estate is severing ties with Graceland Holdings, could this collaboration be part of the funding plan to help manage Paisley Park? I wouldn’t be mad if selling some bog-standard Controversy t-shirts for accessible prices on the high street would safeguard the continuation of Prince’s wardrobe being accessioned, conserved and displayed for future purple fans for many years to come. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

A love letter to the iconic costuming of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Thankfully The Wizard of Oz always seemed to be on ‘council telly’ growing up over Christmas. With no flying snowmen in sight I would still happily take Oz over a rerun of The Snowman (even with the Bowie intro). I have fond memories straining my eyes watching the film on my Grannie’s tiny television, in awe as the screen filled with glorious Technicolor. I’m not the only one who holds the fictional land of Oz dear, the film has continued to top cinema-lovers polls since its revolutionary cinematic release in 1939.

Everyone has their favourite character from the film. For me it was the gleefully villainous Wicked Witch of the West that stole my heart. With just a mere 12 minutes of screen time, actress Margaret Hamilton birthed a screen icon. Each time I revisit Oz there’s nothing I love more than to watch the Wicked Witch of the West and her band of smartly dressed Flying Monkeys torment Dorothy and friends down the yellow brick road. 

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It’s crazy to think The Wicked Witch of the West has been scaring and delighting audiences for over 79 years. She didn’t need ruby-red slippers or a clumsy Scarecrow dance to appeal to audiences. Her overtly cruel, camp performance along with her costuming sealed her fate as one of cinemas most revered baddies. Hamilton’s on screen witch was visually iconic with thanks to the creative makeup from artist Jack Dawn who hand blended the legendary green body paint. Margaret Hamilton endured hours under the painful hot studio lights in the copper based green paint and prosthetics. The role had a lasting effect on the actress, specifically that of a greenish hue that lasted for months after shooting. Styling details such as the long green pointed fingernails echo the eerie long fingers of Nosferatu but also the elegant, fashionably poised manicured nails of the late 1930s. I wonder if she wore Revlon’s Cherries (or how about poppies) in the Snow? Quick reality check – the snow used during the poppies scene was of course everyone’s favourite multipurpose material – Asbestos!

 

 

In contrast to the neatly trimmed cuticles, Hamilton’s brows were brushed upwards and crudely overdrawn. Her green complexion appeared both patchy and caked on in various scenes, never achieving over all opacity in the film. To put it bluntly she was not HD ready. To finish off the look a glorious hairy wart was perched upon Hamilton’s hooked prosthetic chin. To this day what child isn’t terrified of warts and unkempt eyebrows? Nowadays the green makeup of Hamilton’s witch is still viewed as one of the archetypes of the modern witch and has continued to influence the  visualisation of witches in popular culture ever since. 

 

 

 

The Wicked Witch of the West wasn’t always destined to be the green-skinned Margaret Hamilton. The role was originally that of Gale Sondergaard, a 40-year-old actress who originally was dressed in full sequined cowl, body-conscious dress and hat. To complete the character – overdrawn lips, fashionably heavily pencilled arched brows and full false eyelashes.

 

 

At first the film was majorly influenced by the recent Disney hit Snow White and the Seven Dwarves but things quickly went to the darker side. Sondergaard’s glamour ghoul morphed into a drastically dowdier witch with frizzy wig, unflattering prosthetics and gasp…no sequins!

 

 

Ultimately Sondergaard  decided playing the character would do her career no favours and in came along character actress Margaret Hamilton whose favourite book growing up was…you guessed it…The Wizard of Oz.

Head of Metro Goldwyn Mayer Costume Department Gilbert Adrian designed over 3000 costumes for the film. His designs for the Witch have now helped define how we envisage an atypical witch in the twentieth century. Adrian designs were typically extremely ostentatious, evoking high glamour and paying no real close attention to historical accuracy were required. He did not need to worry about realism whilst working on Oz, Adrian had free-reign to design a whole world of colourful costumes fit for Technicolor. Dressed head to toe in black Adrian’s witch was albeit less flashier than the previous sequined cowl for Sondergaard but still had that signature Adrian style.

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The black gown itself was a full length a line gown with detailed leg of mutton sleeves, nipped in waist and laced faux stomacher. It appears that Adrian was inspired by some aspects of 17th century clothing especially in the faux stomacher and trademark conical hat. The hat received the Hollywood treatment with black wool bunting base, steel hopped brim and a sweep of black silk which menaced through the air. The bewitching ensemble was of course finished by a dramatic jet black cape because all witches have to have a cape right?

 

 

Throughout her career Margaret Hamilton held the role dear to her heart, reprising the role several times including an ill-fated episode on Sesame Street. Early tests of the show proved once again children were transfixed with Hamilton, in particular her green face. Despite the overwhelming positive response from the kids, parents were outraged by having a Wiccan women on a children’s show and sadly the episode 0847 never aired.

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Margaret Hamilton and Oscar the Grouch, 1976.

His Royal Badness & Me

A lot of people are often surprised when they find out I’m a huge Prince fan mostly due to the way I dress. One fellow (immaculately dressed) Prince fan commented on how it’s very uncommon to see someone like myself, an active part of the vintage scene, to enjoy Prince. I had never really thought of it that way before and it got me thinking about my relationship with the vintage community and sub-cultures in general. My own personal taste in vintage clothing, ranging mostly from 1940s to early 1960s, can make dressing as a fan, at times, awkward. Yes I wear seamed stockings and obsess over finding affordable bakelite in Scotland (no chance!) but I am not strictly committed to ‘vintage’ music tastes as such. Don’t get me wrong I love Little Richard – without him there would be no Prince – but I’d much rather listen to the purple one than Gene Vincent.

With thanks to my parents who have admirable music tastes I grew up in a house where Prince would often be playing in the kitchen. The first time I put a face to the voice was watching Prince bare his (wonderful) ass at the MTV Music Awards in the now infamous canary yellow jumpsuit designed by Stacia Lang. I remember feeling the magnetic fuzz of the television as I pressed my face up close to the screen gawking at His Royal Badness. Looking back I think this introduction really set me off on my path for overt displays of glamour and style that I continue to love to this day as  a thirty year old woman. Things came full circle a few months ago in Minneapolis where I got to tell Lang just how much of an impact her creations had on me growing up and yes I did cry.

 

Fashion was incredibly important to me growing up. At the same time as I was discovering Lauren Bacall’s houndstooth suit in The Big Sleep I was also delving into charity shops for the first time and realising clothing didn’t have to just come out of Tammy Girl. Already a firm Prince fan it took me surprisingly 14 years to watch the film Purple Rain. I distinctly remembering staying up late to watch Prince writhe to Computer Blue through the bars of my (naturally) purple bed bunk and thinking to myself ‘why didn’t my parents tell me he did THIS too?’.

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Prince performing The Beautiful Ones. Purple Rain, 1984.

 

My first thought immediately went to the clothes in that film. Those clothes really spoke to me – all those rhinestones, lace, ruffles and high-octane glamour that mirrored my burgeoning interest in Old Hollywood. I vividly remember buying a pair of nylon lace gloves from a charity shop for 20p and a handful of tangled costume jewellery pearl necklaces in my first direct fashion ode to Prince in second year of high school. However I did not spending my teen years wearing high-rise nylon teddies from Marks and Spencers a’la Apollonia instead I spent a lot of time in my teens skanking away to bands like Reel Big Fish and Mad Caddies, wearing jumbo sky blue cords, two-tone anything and plastic jewellery (nothing changes there). I didn’t really feel like my side passion for Prince was relatable to my peers but I found my way of getting my purple freak on. One of the first nights of university, amongst a group of fashion students, I put on my beloved Prince box set and we all sat down to watch to Purple Rain. Previous to this we had all watched The Notebook on mass and the memory of watching my soon to be friends drop their jaws as Prince gleefully humps First Avenue’s floors is probably one of my most fondest memories. 

As I mentioned previously this year I did something I never thought I would – I visited Minneapolis, Prince’s beloved home city. I was accepted to speak at the Prince From Minneapolis conference at the University of Minnesota and with the help of credit cards, overtly generous friends, family and strangers I made it to my purple mecca. Prior to touch down I knew I needed the perfect fashion homage to Prince and felt it fitting to recreate my own version of 1950s circle skirt complete with Prince felt appliqués. Novelty skirts were incredibly popular in the 1950s where home dressmakers and the department stores alike created whimsical thematic designs focusing on kitsch themes such as poodles, vegetables and circus scenes. My Mommie Dearest and I had the best time gluing our fingers together to make rhinestone Love Symbols and 3D felt Prince effigies. I went for Third Eye Girl P and classic Purple Rain era after an ill-fated foray in fashioning a felt Gemini Prince from Partyman but at least I tried. This skirt still feels like the perfect marriage of my identity lovingly rounded up in one garment, super glue stains and all.

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At the Capri Theatre on April 21st, 2018 wearing my Prince themed novelty circle skirt.

Standing outside Paisley Park, the epicentre of all things Prince, I watched for 4 days as fans from all over the world jumped out of taxis, buses and  insane yellow sport cars decked out in their Prince finery. Nods to The Purple One ranged from the unassuming (there was A LOT of immaculate purple manicures) to the wonderfully outrageous. One fan I met outside the Target Centre at the controversial Prince: Live on Big Screen show had worked for months with a seamstress to recreate the Raspberry Beret suit from head to toe. Boots included. Creative fans customised denim jackets with hand-made appliqués, pins, embellishments and fabric with a special shout out to the women I saw in First Avenue in FULL Dirty Mind garb – bikini brief and all. 

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Customised Prince denim jacket outside Paisley Park, April 20th 2018.
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Lovesexy look – all handmade at Prince: Live on Big Screen, April 20th 2018. 

I think the thing I admire most about Prince is his sense of self, something he remained unapologetic for throughout his career –  ill-fated blue smurf suits and all. With every encounter I have with a Prince fan his style comes up with people remarking on how only Prince could pull off his eccentric ensembles. True there aren’t many people who can pull of the Gangsta Glam unitard and skates look but I love the fact that people do revel and rejoice in his clothing in their own individual way. Recently the EYE NO: Prince Lovesexy symposium at NYU filled my heart with such happiness as I saw scholars and fans alike decked out in polka dots in honour of the album’s iconic look.

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Prince for V Magazine. Photography – Inez & Vinoodh. Fall, 2014.

Prince’s true sense of self continues to inspire me every day and rings true of my other coveted weirdos who make me who I am – John Waters, Elsa Schiaparelli, Carmen Miranda to name a few. Prince himself was inspired by other like-minded eccentrics and I like to think that I’ll continue to spread the good purple word wherever I go in life, all whilst wearing a raspberry beret of course.

Long may this celebration of outrageous glamour, race, gender, sexuality and self reign!