Since the release of Tim Burton’s adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s story Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in the spring of 2010 the fashion world has responded to this pop culture phenomenon by working Alice- and Victorian-inspired designs into their collections. Before the film was even released the public was already seeing twinges of the fashion that was to come, but the culmination of Victorian fever has finally reached its peak during the Fall 2010 season.
Since the main character of Carroll’s narrative is Alice, it is no wonder that the focus of inspiration is the female form. Classic pieces that were originally made popular during the Victorian era, but have been appropriated by punk rock and gothic fashionistas are now being reclaimed by the mainstream. I’m talking about the ever-fabulous corset. Back in the day these uncomfortable contraptions were worn to exaggerate a woman’s figure, but they have since become more comfortable to wear (as many popular renditions of them have forgone the stiff boning in lieu of more flexible plastic pieces to maintain structure). The curvacious female figure is still on display in these pieces, as it was during the Victorian era, since the goal is still to cinch the waist, and exaggerate the bust and hips through adjustable lacing down the back. To further emphasize curves below the waist, skirts and dresses have also become poufier. This style less reflects Victorian fashion, as it immitates the Disney version of Alice, as well as Arthur Rackham’s original renditions of Carroll’s Alice. Since long skirts are nowhere near coming back into style, these poufy skirts decline from becoming demure by maintaining short hemlines that contrast volume in the hips and slenderness in the legs. These two styles are dominated by one very Victorian material: lace. They are covered with lace overlays, have lace detailing, they rely upon lace for volume, and in some cases are made from lace entirely.
Women’s fashion has not simply “gone girly” though, as more and more women are wearing masculine-inspired clothing that would have been completely in vogue for Victorian dandys. On top we’re seeing more women wear super fitted blazers that create masculine shoulders, while still emphasizing small feminine waists. Bright colours, and fantasic patterns make these jackets anything but masculine, and give any plain outfit a pop of personality. Skinny jeans and pants have been the style for a few years now, and at this rate will continue to dominate the fashion scene, but it was men’s clothing that originated this style. Slim-fitting stovepipe pants were all the rage during the Victorian era, so it makes sense that we’re picking up the style now for women since the goal is to emphasize slender legs.
For men, the Victorian style may seem a little bit too dull in this day and age, but don’t depair, it’s easier to add touches of the style rather than trying to rock an entire Victorian look. Formal wear, such as suit jackets, dress vests, and ties, are an easy addition to any outfit to dress them up. The key to these pieces in any outfit is colour: wear a neutral palette and then add a brightly coloured accessory that is unexpected. The same can be said of bold patterns in scarves, shirts, and pants, as long as it’s done properly. No one wants to see more than three patterns or bright colours in a single outfit, and simplicity is definitely the key to avoiding headaches for those around you.
Accessories from the Victorian era are the easiest way to add a little bit of flare to an outfit. More and more design houses are creating masterpieces fashioned from a mixture of metals and ever-classic pearls. That’s right kids, pearls are no longer just for grandmothers and society women! Jewelry gets the same rules as I previously mentioned for men’s fashion: large, glamorous statement pieces are key, but don’t overdo it. Headbands are the other key pieces that I would recommend for embodying the spirit of Alice. The fabulous styles that I’m surrently in love with have simple bows in black and white, flowers with jewels, feathers in bright colours (especially peacock feathers) and of course lace overlays.
The most practical accessory to use, since we’re required to wear them outdoors, is of course shoes! What, did you really think I would leave you hanging without a piece of advice about my favourite obsession? No, I just saved the best for last of course. Having bright splashes of colour for shoes is something I always enjoy, but for this style I would recommend sticking to neutral colours that rely on detailing for their personality. Nude shoes that have been taking over since last fall, simple black, and of course charcoal greys are the way to go. Look for styles with crossover laces or buckles, men’s-inspired oxfords, and ruffles to fully embody the Victorian style. These can come in flats of course, but the contrast between these seemingly demure styles and a super pointy stiletto heel is one to die for.
Models: Riella, Chelsea, Logan, Kris
Designed by: Riella
Photography by: Holland, Riella, Chelsea
Wardrobe provided by: models. Pocketwatch from Kaegan.A big thank you goes out to everyone involved in the photoshoot! It turned out better than I ever could have hoped <3