In addition to their ability to fly on brooms, their penchant for eye of newt, their proficiency at casting spells and their tendency to use sexuality for pure evil, witches have wicked style (hardy, har, har). This is particularly true of the fictional witches that appear in movies and on television (though the real life witches tend to dress quite fabulously as well. Stevie Nicks, for example). It therefore comes as little surprise that the best-dressed show currently on television is American Horror Story: Coven. I mean it, in addition to its delightful campiness and an incomparable performance by the one and only Jessica Lange, this show has all its fashion archetypes covered in every 60-minute bloodbath.
You have your quirky high fashion witch, Myrtle Snow, as portrayed by the consistently creepy Frances Conroy. With her wild red hair and shapeless satin frocks, her aesthetic is undoubtedly an homage to Grace Coddington. You have the starlet diva witch, Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts), who, in her short skirts, fur vests and oversized sunglasses harkens to a latter day Mary Kate Olsen. There’s your hippie witch, Misty Day (Lily Rabe), a spitting image of Ms. Nicks herself (who just so happened to make a cameo this week), often found twirling barefoot and braless in floor-length frocks to Fleetwood Mac. We’ve even found a hipster witch in our heroine, Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga) – as her powers have developed she has veered towards wide-brimmed hats, combat boots and high-necked frocks.
This is hardly the first time I have been envious of a witch’s wardrobe (last bad witch pun, I promise). The other week I “accidentally” found myself watching Snow White and the Huntsman and the evil witch’s frocks – with their feather embellishments and metallic hues – looked decidedly more couture than camp, particularly when featured on the irritatingly flawless figure of Charlize Theron. Often found in snakeskin bandanas and black net tank tops, True Blood’s Lafayette Reynolds looks as fabulous as any 90s New York Club Kid. And who can forget the baddest witch in the history of the universe: The Craft’s Nancy Downs. Personally, I’m flabbergasted her name didn’t come up more often when punk was having its “big revival” earlier this year.
Witchery often finds its way into high fashion, be it via sweeping black garments, pointy hats or pagan symbolism. Ann Demeulemeester’s designs invariably look fit for a coven – her Spring 2014 collection even featured gauzy black chapeaus, ideal for sorcery. Rick Owens? Total witch enthusiast. Just look at his wife, Michelle Lamy. Givenchy’s recent religious graphics often veer towards paganism. Witches have also been finding their way into high concept fashion editorial for years. Back in ’07, Terry Richardson did a slightly controversial shoot starring Lily Donaldson for Vogue Paris in which the model was decorated with pentagrams and given freaky deaky props like a human skull and a white goat painted with a red cross (pretty standard witch stuff).
So this is my love letter to all things witchy, as inspired by my current obsession with American Horror Story. Perhaps they are the very reason that black is often considered the most fashion forward hue. Perhaps they walk among us, designing our couture, styling our photo shoots and rigging our CFDA awards. Whatever the case, I salute you, witches, and pray to the pagan gods you keep popping up on screens, international catwalks and on the pages of my favorite magazines so I can appropriately incorporate your vision into my wardrobe.