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Halloween Special: Fashionistas as Vamps

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This is a guest post by Valerie Stivers , freelance journalist and author of the novel Blood is the new Black. Her work has appeared in Time Out New York, Blender, Elle and various other fashion magazines.

There’s a fun and easy way to see for yourself that vampirism is fashionable. Take a tube of red paint and a small paintbrush, and paint fangs on nearly any ad from any fashion magazine. Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle…it doesn’t matter. The fangs will look perfectly natural. When I first started writing Blood is the New Black, I saved tear-outs from magazines of models that looked particularly dead—or undead as the case may be—but then I stopped, because there were so many there was hardly a point.

The stock-in-trade of brands like Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Gucci are skinny, white, evil-looking chicks with their mouths half-open. On society pages, people like Tatiana Santo Domingo and Andrea Casiraghi already appear to have long eye teeth and the sense of vacant superiority that comes from being so rich they’re never going to die. Add delicate little red fangs, and the picture is complete.

Why this should be such a dominant aesthetic, I don’t know (besides from the supposition that perhaps fashion people really are literally vampires—for more on that see Blood). But it often seems that heroin chic has never gone out, and that year in and year out while jeans cycle through phases of cruelty and unwearability and back again and tops go from bubble to clingy to patterned with a tie at the neck, vampire chic springs eternal. A quick look at the archives of one of my favorite online fashion sites, Hintmag.com proves the point.

Hintmag makes amazing animated-video fashion spreads. In Fall 2003, they did one called “Tombstoned which showed tweaked,Bela Lugosi,style clothes against a graveyard background. A model wears Boudicca Couture, a brand named after a Celtic queen, who may have been one of the first to have had fangs sink into her lily-white neck. boudicca_vamps.jpg At Boudicca, bloodsucking is always in. Check out the Fall 2007 on nymag.com and you’ll see vampy black grosgrain wrap tops with sleeves like Victorian turrets, frilly neck-ties, black satin dress-cape-combos, white lace dresses and models with limbs the bluish-white color of skim milk.

At Hintmag.com, Fall 2004 declares “Black Magic trendy, while a blood-red gothic font scrolls across batty outfits from Issey Miyake and Comme Des Garcons. In Fall 2005, the theme is “Beware and actual animated bats flap past the models—whose famished eyes seem to glow the way cats’ eyes do in the night. Fall 2006 is entitled “I Lose Myself: A meditation on death and destruction. 2006 was a big year for the vampire, incidentally. The New York Times, always the last to bite when it comes to trends—did a story then called “Tales from the Crypt written by Zarah Crawford, which leads,

“Vampires have their fangs plunged deep into the jugular of our pop-cultural consciousness, casting a sepulchral pall over our cineplexes, infecting best-seller lists and sucking the life from the Broadway stage. And now it appears that fashion, too, is heeding their infernal call.

To get that coffin-chic look for this year, the first step would be starving yourself down to the bone (a friend brought me back a book from England called Joshi’s Holistic Detox—hope that helps). Blood-blister-blackish-red lips and nails look great with this season’s jewel tones, and will look even better come spring (see the homepage for spring 2008 ready-to-wear on Style.com). Then I’d recommend Boudicca (as discussed above), Zac Posen for crimson capes, tailored black dresses and elbow-gloves, and Jovovich-Hawk for old-timey long dresses with diaphanous chiffon-and-silk velvet polka dots that seem to beg “puncture me through my clothes. Darkly sexy lingerie and accessories can be found at Kiki de Montparnasse, a lifestyle shop that has a store in New York’s Soho and just opened a flagship in L.A.

And, finally, since vampires are like a chic secret society, membership in which is not open to everyone, I recommend a new brand so hip in New York City that I know Chloe Sevigny wears it but don’t know where to buy it—Travertine. Of course, the prices are immoral, and trying to afford all this will suck the life out of you….

valerie_stivers_pic.jpgA special thanks to Valerie for this Halloween treat. Her novel Blood is the New Black is out now. Be sure to check it out! Happy Halloween!

Photos courtesy of nymag, hintmag, style.com & ShopVogue

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