Saturday, November 1, 2014

Supernatural Couture

Gorgeous "Da Vinci" couture
Recently I've been thinking about supernatural couture, which is one of those "background but essential" aspects to Fantasy.

In part, the thinking was sparked by Rebecca Fisher's column, Big Worlds On Small Screens, in which she looks at SFF TV shows and films---most recently, Da Vinci's Demons, in which she wrote:

"...there’s also very little attempt to adhere to history accuracy — although you only need to glimpse the astounding outfits of the women to realize that."

As the pic shows---very outstanding and drop-dead gorgeous!

In books, too, attention to couture detail is often part of the background fabric (he-he) of the storytelling.

In Laini Taylor's fabulous Daughter of Smoke and Bone, for example, Madrigal goes to a ball, and the ball feels so much more real because she is wearing this:

" was midnight-blue shot silk. a form-skimming sheath so fine it felt like a touch could dissolve it. It was arrayed with tiny crystals that caught the light and beamed it back like stars, and the whole back was open, revealing the long white channel of Madrigal's spine all the way to her tailbone. It was alarming..."
When Blue goes on her first date with Adam, in Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys, she dresses a little differently:

"She wore heavy boots she'd found at the Goodwill (she'd attacked them with embroidery thread and a very sturdy needle) and a dress she'd made a few months earlier, constructed from several different layers of green fabric. Some of them striped. Some of them crochet. Some of them transparent."

Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson is a motor mechanic, so overalls and a monkey wrench are part of her essential everyday attire and off-duty she's more of a a cropped T and jeans kinda gal.

In Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive series, noble women like Sharran always go out in public with one handthe "safehand"—covered by a special sleeve or glove.

In The Heir Of Night, a young Malian attends a feast in "an elaborate black velvet dress" with her hair "bound into a net of smoky pearls." 

When the Prince first meets the newly woken princess at the end of Thornspell (a retelling of Sleeping Beauty from the prince's perspective), she is also "richly dressed": 

"Her gown was velvet over silk, and there was a golden fillet around her brow, a net of jewels and gold wire lying across her hair."

From the sumptuous, to the zany, to the practical—supernatural couture is an essential part of the Fantasy milieu.

But perhaps you have a favorite outfit associated with a book or character? Feel free to share here if you do. :)

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