Bloody Beautiful! Horror Comes to Fashion Week 2018 - Dread Central
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Bloody Beautiful! Horror Comes to Fashion Week 2018

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New York’s Fashion Week runs from February 8 through 16, and if last year’s looks are any indication, 2018 is bound to boast even more cutthroat couture. Not only because of the box-office bingo our favorite genre enjoyed in 2017, but it just seems designers have had a devilish streak of late: We’ve seen runway shows clearly inspired by “Stranger Things,” “The Walking Dead,” and even The Shining!

Fearful fashions have made icons of horror characters since 1935’s The Bride of Frankenstein (Elsa Lanchester) which have, in turn, informed some of the most memorable runway productions of all time. The super-stylish erotic vampire thriller The Hunger (1983) spawned Alexander McQueen’s spring/summer 1996 collection, also called “The Hunger.” In the film the immortal Catherine Deneuve was dressed by Yves Saint Laurent, while Milena Canonero–who had designed for boutiques before going into cinematic costume–was the threads behind the remainder of the wardrobe.

This year various iterations of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980s psychological thriller The Shining have appeared everywhere from Marco de Vincenzo to Calvin Klein to Undercover’s Jun Takahashi.

As Fashion Undercover reported in their Spring 2018 overview, “De Vincenzo’s homage came in the form of a handbag, which displayed a needlepoint design of the spooky, blue-dress-clad twins who haunted little Danny Torrance in the eerie halls of the Overlook Hotel.

At Calvin, Raf Simons gave us his version of the American dream—and the American nightmare—via a Sterling Ruby-designed set that included elements of the horror film, like axes. British Vogue even [likened] one look to an outfit actress Shelley Duvall, who played Jack Nicholson’s wife, sported in the film.

As for Undercover, which was presented in Paris, designer Jun Takahashi took it a step further by sending his models out in pairs, their hands interlocked just like the ultra-creepy Grady twins. The finale look was shiver-worthy—a set of models appeared wearing dresses just like the ones from the movie, and one was even draped in red fringe that looked exactly like blood.

If you’re looking for guts, gore, and glam, look no further than The Neon Demon (2016). This freaky AF film is not only set in the couture world, it actually uses fashions by famous designers. Costumer Erin Benach worked with the likes of Saint Laurent, Giles Deacon, and Hedi Slimane to achieve just the right looks that kill. Elle Fanning’s entrance in a strapless electric blue Emporio Armani spring 2015 dress, Swarovski crystals on her cheekbones and blood streaming down her glistening chest, made quite a visual statement.

Not all horror is visceral. Sometimes it’s more cerebral—The Stepford Wives (1975) is a perfect example. And we do mean “perfect.” That’s the scary part. In the dystopian suburbia of Stepford, CT, husbands systematically slay their wives and replace them with domestic-goddess fembots. The iconic costume worn at the end by Katherine Ross was designed by Anna Hill Johnstone, and it plays a key role showing her transition from human to automaton.

While it’s mostly femme fetales flaunting their fashion, sometimes the guys get in on the act. Of course, David Bowie in The Hunger is an obvious go-to, and so is the label-obsessed Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) in American Psycho (2000). But other fashion-forward fellas include Candyman (Tony Todd) and Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd.

The influence of vintage cult horror was on unironic display at fashion shows in almost every city last autumn. Raf Simons of Calvin Klein says his muse is “the dream factory of Hollywood, and its depictions of an American nightmare and the all-powerful American dream.” On the runway his models wore heightened, streamlined 80s-type fashions strongly influenced by “Stranger Things” and Stephen King’s IT.

Both ‘Stranger Things’ and IT are targeting two audiences at once.” Stacey Abbott, a researcher in on-screen horror at Roehampton University, told The Times UK. “People who actually grew up in the 1970s or 1980s, and those young audiences who feel a false nostalgia, a cultural sense of connection to the music, the clothes, the look of it all.

Even when they’re not referencing films directly, some designers are tapping into the fright zeitgeist. Ashish delved into darkness with “Witch,” “RIP,” and “Good Mourning” scattered in sequins across his dour ensembles. Calvin Klein’s collection sported blood-spattered skirts and pumps.

As we reported last year, avant garde artist and fashionista filmmaker Flora Sigismondi made a series of creepypastas featuring bloody beautiful famous folks. Even Vogue Italia tapped into the trend with a spine-chilling reel showing off its most shocking looks.

Here’s an ensemble of essential viewing for Fashion Week:

1960s:
Blood and Black Lace – Posh lingerie, by Tina Grani

The Birds – Upscale mod, by Edith Head

1970s:
Stepford Wives – Suburban shock, by Anna Hill Johnstone
Eyes of Laura Mars – Couture street fashions, by Theoni V. Aldredge

1980s:
The Hunger – Vampire Chic, by Yves Saint Laurent
Dressed to Kill – Caught dead in a white trench coat, chosen by Gary Jones & Ann Roth

1990s:
Bram Stoker’s Dracula – A bounty of brocade, handmade by Eiko Ishioka
Candyman – Full-length shearling coat, chosen by Leonard Pollack

2000s:
The Neon Demon – Fashion road kill, by Saint Laurent & Armani
American Psycho – Wall Street winners, by Valentino & Oliver Peoples

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