Autumn is always a season ripe with change. As an inky black cloak unfurls across our early evenings there’s something spiritual afoot. October’s end brings with it Halloween traditions steeped in superstition. Aesthetically, our mood takes a darker turn: noirish colour palettes, sumptuous velvets and shimmering Lurex prove particularly bewitching while acidic sulphurs and slippery snake prints add a Medusa-like edge.
This season in particular, fashion’s focus falls upon the witch, as ideas of sisterhood, practical magic and a sympathetic connection with the natural world provide rich sources of inspiration. Think capes and pointed shoes, opulent embroidery and delicate lace, and innumerable shades of ebony, oxblood, midnight and emerald.
This renewed fascination with witchcraft, an inherently feminine preoccupation, is undoubtedly a reflection of the unprecedented power that women now hold - both individually and in a wider social standing. Political allegiances aside, the fact that we’re poised to see Hillary Clinton, Theresa May and Angela Merkel establish a never before seen triumvirate of female world leaders is an undeniably powerful moment in history.
If ever a woman were feeling unsure of her power she’d do well to take her cues from the witching world. No we’re not talking about the cartoonish ability to render an adversary mute (although Hillary would no doubt appreciate such a skill) or transform them into a frog (we’re saying nothing), or the Puritanical belief that the death of a prized goat could be blamed on the unhappy mutterings of an elderly female neighbour. A fear of this power meant witches were portrayed as a force for evil, but the central tenet of Wicca, the modern religion linked to witchcraft, belies this: “If it harm none, do as ye will.”
Modern popular culture is obsessed with the paranormal - with vampires, zombies and other inhabitants of the spirit world, but it is witches that prove a particularly captivating source of inspiration. Fittingly, contemporary portrayals of fictional witches are complex, reflecting the times in which they are made. From the button-nosed, bubbly blonde 1960s all-American housewife Samantha in Bewitched, via the socially outcast Nineties high schoolers of The Craft to the bad to the bone modern Supreme Fiona Goode in 2013’s American Horror Story: Coven, each witch has a singular story that transcends typecasting. An arch exercise in high camp, the latter show has to be given further appreciation for its casting of Stevie Nicks, a spirited and inspiring woman whose inimitable way of twirling a shawl is imbued with a magic all of its own.
Whether portrayed as good, evil or trapped in a confused middle ground, witches have long been forced to hide their abilities for fear of persecution. While their attire has also come in for close scrutiny in the past, women with a predilection for the mystical now have much more freedom with what they wear and in line with the current mood for elegantly gothic detailing and the aforementioned sumptuous velvets.
As Halloween fast approaches it’s time to tap into the power of the witch.
Gingham is laden with connotations of domesticity - the fabric of tablecloths and picnic blankets - and the youthful innocence of girls’ school uniforms. But this shirt dress, a fractured patchwork of contrasting checks and insouciant asymmetry, subverts those traditional ideas of a subservient woman in a modern, knowing way.
The Grosvenor & The Florence
The puritanical mood embraced by fashion’s minimalists and advocates of stealth wealth hark back to the days of Salem. Subvert such notions with a underwear-as- outerwear bandeau top, layered over voluminous tulip sleeves, which paired with plenty of silvered jewellery are just the thing to wave above a bubbling cauldron should you be so inclined.
There’s something thrilling about an unexpected glimpse of flesh, like those afforded by the strategically placed slits in this ribbed knit. A rich midnight blue hue, electrified by glittering metallic thread that will sparkle in the candlelight, this will cast a spell that leaves all who sets eyes upon you truly transfixed.
Few people have the power to hypnotize like Stevie Nicks when she takes to the stage in a fringed shawl set to twirl the night away, but the rich, ribbon-like pleats of this fluid skirt are perfectly pitched to do a bit of whirling and twirling should the mood arise.
Not many fabrics allude to witchcraft quite like velvet and this wide-leg jumpsuit is no exception. Ideal for the party season, this is a masterclass in quiet luxury and can easily be layered over everyday basics if the autumnal chills start to take hold.
Sulphur may not be a traditional witching colour in the same way as midnight blue and emerald green but there is something undeniably evocative about this striking shade that evokes bubbling cauldrons and slithering snakes.