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Dream On: The Best Surreal and Chic Womenswear
Unconventional silhouettes and other-worldly prints are the order of the day in our evening wear edit inspired by the Surrealist movement.
Fashion is, in its purest form, a form of fantasy. While our everyday dress may require a certain element of practicality, the joy of dressing up is playing with the boundaries of reality, perhaps mining our subconscious desires to create an ethereal character, even if for one night only. It's precisely this fantasy which makes surrealism and fashion a natural pairing. The likes of Joan Miro and Salvador Dali dedicated themselves to capturing the uncapturable, those fleeting moments of the dreamworld which certain avant-garde designers also dare to delve into, with embellishment, print and illusory silhouettes.
The idea of the artist-designer collaboration is not a new one, as anybody familiar with Elsa Schiaparelli's work will already know. The visionary couturier had a long-standing relationship with Dali, the most famous product of which was their Lobster Dress. New York-based brand Onia pays direct homage to their striking work with an oversized crustacean print, delicately placed between the thighs as per the original. While Dali's lobsters (which also appeared in drawings and atop sculptures of telephones) had strong sexual connotations, Onia's feels playful rather than provocative.
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Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren often describe themselves as fashion artists, creating gowns which are more objet d'art than wearable garment. This short tulle dress is a callback to their seminal Cutting Edge show, which included a series of dresses inspired by another of Schiaparelli and Dali's works, the Tears Dress. Where Schiaparelli used printed silk to create the illusion of a torn, tattered gown, Viktor & Rolf carved into layers of tulle to create an entirely different trompe l'oeil. The 2019 version is simplified, but maintains the same otherworldly charm.
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While surrealism often represented an attempt to capture dreams, sometimes the unconscious manifested as nightmare. Ants were a recurring theme in Dali's work, representing his fear of death and decay, but at the same time a certain sexual attraction. Tibi's tribute is less focused on mortality, instead celebrating the female-led strength of the ant farm with a large-scale painted print, handkerchief hemline and full sleeves.