As Spring/Summer fashion week spills over into October, witchy behaviour is more or less to be expected. We begin to feel the pull of Autumnal heavens and embrace the darker attitudes that come with colder nights and dimmed evenings. However this season, the sage in the air seems more potent than ever. In fact, I’m beginning to wonder whether a particularly ‘sick of florals’ witch put a spell on fashion week altogether. However it may have happened, Spring/Summer 18 is the the season of the witch.
London designers are notably known for carrying the contemporary culture and specific eye of the youth through the four cities of fashion week. Emulating trends that stem from either the streets or issues that have the younger generation wanting to collectively hex, London Fashion Week is often at the forefront of exploring cultural movements. This season’s ‘it’ movement, as you should've by now guessed, is witchcraft. Dilara Findikoglu danced an all-star cast of femme archetypes down the altar with Pentagrams and Sigil emblems drawn ritualistically on their faces. Ashish explored the obvert with infamous-Ashish sequin ‘witch’ slogans and the more covert with cosmic glamour. Clio Peppiatt engaged a collection inspired by Anna Biller’s ‘The Love Witch’ and Ashley Williams’ sage show invite pointed towards environmental cleansing.
The appropriation of witchcraft in fashion isn’t exclusively new to this season - for example, witches and paganism played a role in Alexander McQueen’s whole back catalogue and Vivienne Westwood also dabbled in occult influences in the 80s. So why suddenly a unified obsession with putting magick onto the catwalk? More and more young people have tapped into the exploration of witchcraft and practices of magick as a result of a second-wave spiritual awakening - current political, environmental and social upheaval acting as a catalyst. Consequently, witchcraft has become 2017’s answer to punk; not just settling as a belief system but becoming a lifestyle. And like any lifestyle craze of today - it’s soaked through the social media abyss. From the Dolce and Gabbana selfie to Moschino’s play on consumerism, URL sub-cultures seem to be exactly where designer and fashion houses’ inspiration comes from today.
And as per any suddenly popularised movement or culture, there become questions raised around the potential for business and how it influences authenticity - just read my Business of Crystals feature in The Healing Issue (available to buy here) for more on how this is played out in the spiritual world. I just often wonder how embellishing a ‘The World’ tarot card onto an evening purse or printing a Pentagram onto a tailored jacket is any different to wearing a Bindi as an accessory or Kendall and Kylie exploiting every other culture than, well, their own? Witchcraft has it’s loopholes because it’s possibly one of the most eclectic religions to exist. But it still is, nevertheless, something people follow daily and incorporate into their lives for more reasons than looking like the current, most fashionable, ‘on-brand’ version of ‘goth’. Although it’s great more people are embracing spirituality and all it has to offer (especially in such intense, uncertain times), It’s pretty crystal clear which designers will continue to pursue influences of witchcraft into their work, because that’s who they are as a person - not just a designer, and those that will jump to the next politically motivated culture once witchcraft isn’t deemed the most ‘cool’ by social media. Feminism was a huge politically motivated influencer in fashion during the last Spring/Summer shows - who’s now mysteriously forgotten their supposed feminist ethics now there’s a new dominating movement that can somehow pass as a fashion trend?
You don’t need me to tell you how political fashion is and always has been, I know trends come and go simultaneously to what’s going on in the world. It would be wasted opportunity, and quite frankly boring if fashion was just florals and sequins. And although I have adored dreaming up which piece from which collection I would wear to my next seance, I would be interested to know what others that actually practice witchcraft feel about this so-called appropriation. I suppose at the end of the day it’s no different from wearing an Oxford University sweatshirt without having gone to Oxford University or a t-shirt that has the NASA logo on without, you guessed it, being employed by NASA. For someone who finds witchcraft very personal and in many ways a part of my daily life, I’m not totally convinced that all of fashion feels the same. It may be the season of the witch in London, but not yet does every culture accept witchcraft. Modern-witch-hunts still exist all over the world and if practising tarot regularly puts the majority of self-acclaimed witches (including myself) into the margin of the privileged, creating collections around the aesthetic of witchcraft without respecting the culture first, sure as hell takes the piss.