Spellbinding power

Calling your inner fairy princess or wicked queen. Stephanie Smith celebrates a winter of fairy tales.

Fantasy fairytale and on the  Alexander McQueen fashion actwalk in Paris
Fantasy fairytale and on the Alexander McQueen fashion actwalk in Paris

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, forward-thinking folk became so sick and weary of living within the clean, pared-back lines of recessionary minimalism that it was decided the time had come to try something altogether more complex and intriguing, bringing magic, myth and wonder – in short, what we needed were fairy tales.

And so it came to pass that this autumn/winter has become the backdrop to one of the most enthralling themes to come along in fashion for many a season. The fairy tale trend is rooted in the natural world, a strange blending of the down to earth and the ethereal. It’s folksy with fantasy, looking back to ancient tales, customs and dress, featuring magnificently complex embellishment alongside primitive and naive elements reflected in hand-crafting techniques from throughout the world, from lacework and embroidery, to fringing and folkish smocking.

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On the catwalk, Dolce and Gabbana showed long black gowns decorated with the twigs and branches of an enchanted tree festooned with unlikely bursting blooms, squirrels and toads. Another design features a white embellished swan set again the black and, throughout the trend, bird, trees, fish and supernatural flowers feature prominently. Photo-shoot backdrops and catwalks have been transformed into enchanted forests to set the scene for this mystically eclectic fashion theme.

Fantasy fairytale and on the Alexander McQueen fashion actwalk in Paris

Capes and hoods recall Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White’s wicked queen – and look out for that dress shape from the Disney depictions, medieval long fluted sleeves and fitted high-neck bodices with bias-cut long skirts billowing with menace … or enchantment.

For this is a theme for both princesses and wicked witches – and sometimes the lines are blurred, so you don’t know which is which (making it all the more fun).

Mary Katrantzou showed flowing medieval-style gowns in pastel blue fitted to the hip with pleated skirts rippling about a richly decorated central panel (very Guinevere), while Alexander McQueen showed both tiered white folkish lace gowns and darkly glinting wickedly Borgia-esque designs.

For high-end luxe looks at not-so-bad prices, try Wondaland.com, which has a selection of magical queenly designs perfect for this season, while at River Island, Liz Black, who has designed for Lady Gaga, looks to the last Russian royal family for inspiration for her evocative and moody print creations to team with fur muffs, shawls and hats.

Fantasy fairytale and on the Alexander McQueen fashion actwalk in Paris

There is a carnival Ponchinello side to this winter fairy tale theme, and Paper Doll, an independent boutique in York and Pocklington, has got this covered with its bright and folkish hand-dyed collections.

As for anyone planning a winter wedding, the folkish fairytale theme could provide much magical inspiration, from staging of the wedding breakfast to the gown. See the Joanne Fleming creations here for ideas – and hope the Bad Fairy doesn’t turn up.

Blanket coats, capes and ponchos are what is expected of modern-day fairy princesses and evil queens, so look out for them in all lengths, from cropped capelets to as long and as sweeping as you dare.

We all need a little myth and magic in our lives – and this is the season to find it.

Fantasy fairytale and on the Alexander McQueen fashion actwalk in Paris

Twitter: @yorkshirefashQ