The Winter Vampire

Posted by: Candice Daquin

The craze for all things vampire resurfaces this fall and winter, baring its fangs with a call for romantic, mysterious, layered, passionate clothing that flatters the cold season. New TV series Moonlight, and the vampire book trilogy by Stephenie Meyer or the return in soundtrack popularity of Mazzy Star, the quintessential vampire music, are resonating in the consciousness of the runway with spiked booties, floating trains, corseted gowns, and a continuation of black nail polish and smudged eyes.

Only a few seasons ago we paid homage to the image of vampirism with exquisitely high collared puff-sleeve blouses in chantilly lace, little covered buttons, flowing crepe and taffeta dresses with lace-up granny booties. The combination of urchin, Victorian and vampire hasn’t deserted the fashion world although summer saw a return to the shift dress, in pinafore and mini-tent style, trimmed in fur, harking back to medieval France, reinvented with a new twist and a combination of the 1960’s bubble skirt and the later 1980’s version found in Pretty in Pink. Summer brought out a lighter side but as we gallop into winter the penchant for dressing up beckons the Marc Jacobs tightly bound brocade coats seen in NY fashion week, with a myriad of buttons, heavy folded sleeves and pinched waists so perfect with a pair of elbow length wool gloves from H&M or a splash of latex.

Find Nanette Lepore’s exquisite teal brown wool knit floral jacket with curved oriental neck and vast Prussian detailing. Wafer-thin trapeze cardigans and dresses are transformed for winter into wool, mohair and felt to keep out the cold and mould bodies into exaggerated childish shapes, a parody of our childhood, turned naughty with a pair of high knee baroque boots and a little velvet tunic. No longer a crisp homage to sailors like spring’s wiper-snapper high-waisted skirts, winter’s skirts are tiny and precious, shy and turned up at the end, bunched and crunched into texture heaven, with nubby wool jackets, still short and Aubreyesque, but carrying the flavor of Europe with heavy ornate buttons and satin piping details. Try a pleated pallet skirt in coal-grey matched with thick ribbed tights and tiny buttoned ankle boots, funnel neck mohair sweater replete with bow detailing, and a heavy buckled coat worthy of any vampire epic.

Vampire sought delicacy in Summer’s diaphanous little shift dresses, the return to nymph wonderment created by Chloe, using lovely bright colours like purple, dark champagne, chocolate red, wild green, cinnamon, plum, and teal that a shade darker take us into winter, brightening a tiny minuet blouse with jet buttons and fragile torn silk necklines, a continuation of our love for bow-back and high-buttoned skirts, the essential cashmere twin-set, a roulette wheel jacket, and enchantress top with heavy beading, perfect with a crocheted Russian coat and wide embroidered scarf. Return to the enchantress, winter-style who lends the gauze of wings and tulle, under light wool fabrics and patterned tights. Off-set this with Mui Mui’s platform red satin boudoir shoes, or a pair of perfectly patent Marc Jacob military boots and Chloe’s teacher vintage Edith Square black leather handbag, reeking of S&M discipline.

A romantic paisley tunic, crocodile bag, Balenciaga Brushed Silk dress on a slightly warmer day, coupled with satin flats if it’s not raining. Grecian necks replaced for winter with woolen tiered and ruffled tops, see the layered ones in Zara, or shop online at Anthropologie and pair a mauve damask dress with an Alice jacket, still incorporating Peter Pan collars and ethereal exaggerated wide sleeves. Free People offers plunging-neckline alpaca shrugs with heavy wool wide-leg pants reminiscent of the 1920’s paired deliciously with a bell-sleeve azure flower silk shirt from French Connection. The 1940’s revival immortalized by unlikely fashion-icon Dita Von Teese, has picked up the 1920’s sharp-dressing in time for winter; Try removable cuffs, found in any good vintage store, swap out your buttons for pearlier, metal or huge jet ones, pay attention to beading, piping, detail in the cuffs and hems. Slip into some tri-tone court shoes, or a funnel neck tartan coat, Vivian Westwood style, with heavy belt and deep angular pockets. Pair with biker boots, think Nicole Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut meets Interview with a Vampire and pair modern with vintage, diaphanous pieces against solids, bright tights with black wool.

Vampiric panache hasn’t withered it’s transformed; from batwing and bohemian to lovely wide armed blouses pinched at the wrist with tiny buttons, fetishly tight multistrapped shoes, and thick silk skirts gathered and ruffled. The brain child of Dita Von Teese it’s hard to imagine Von Teese’s S&M glamour and her former paramour, Marilyn Manson as style-icons, but sans Manson, in a culture of curiosity, and the popularity of Kat Von D’s LA Inked, now everyone wants a little danger. So pair heavy brocade with ephemeral chiffon blouse gaping at the neck, and think Wuthering Heights meets The Secretary.  Fetish shoes with multiple straps or whiplash boots, we may keep the polka dot rubber dress for special occasions but ensure your shoes are blood red, hair swept to one side, curled, bobby pinned; youthful at the same time as Sirenesque.

Dita made thigh-high white spats fashionable, you can decide on your level of extreme, like black hair on white skin or a splash of dark lipstick, a flower in your hair, very Black Delilah, a bright green dress against white tights, or a jewel box handbag. Good material is like making salad; the quality not the quantity gives the taste. Fine fabrics, feathers, silk, satin, chiffon, velvet, they’ve long eclipsed our love affair with nylons and can give the same nipped shape if tailored corrected and paired with belts. Try a felt masculine hate with a low neck, corseted tweed suit, don’t be afraid to gender-blend.

Finally, we’re all tempted to put too many styles and colours together at once but a woman who knows what looks good on her, will not follow fashion rigidly no matter her passion for it, but understand like Demi Moore has, the value of certain styles for certain women, the enduring appeal of simplicity as Donna Karan has always avowed; the value of taking one ‘this season’s must’ and accenting it with simpler styles. As Moore grew older, her features became more angular and defined, she settled on very long straight hair which she has worn for a long time, giving her that ageless style and beauty that doesn’t need constant updating. Stick to what works rather than embracing every fashion as it comes along, don’t fill your closet with each ‘must have’ item, instead spend on one really thing.

Pay attention to the shape of your face and body, no one can wear everything, winter white isn’t good for pale skin unless it’s off-set with much darker colours, styles like shrugs and capes on broad shoulders accentuate them especially if you have narrow hips, not always a desirable shape. Bangs on short faces can hide you, whilst on long they bring out your cheekbones and eyes. Light lipstick should be used only on the young and brave, but never on really pale skin, no matter how much you want to look like Twiggy. Yellow tights, work with simple outfits, gold looks best with a tan but pale girls can wear a splash of saffron, a slightly darker yellow.

Bobby clips are usually best thrown aside after 45, and don’t buy hoards of high heals if you like to walk home, it just isn’t practical and they will languish unused to your chagrin, when you could have splashed out on a Jil Sander sweater dress and heavy leather belt instead. Funnel necks don’t work well with very large breasts because they draw attention to them, but gaping v-necks with a bit of strategic support, can be extremely flattering, whilst big shift dresses drown skinny girls and turn them into androgynous school children, as bubble skirts point at big hips and pencil skirts give hipless girls, hope. So whether you’re aiming for The Hunger and the swept golden tresses of Catherine Deneuve or the hollow-eyed maiden buttoned up in velvet, there’s sure to be a hint of something diabolic that will fit your wallet. 


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Candice Daquin
London, ON, Canada

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