Vampires had their moment in the sun. And as the trend creeped into fashion—the sunken eyes, the blood-hued lips, the endless swathes of black tulle—it caused some of us to die a little death. Sure, goth can be glam... but it can also make any girl feel a little out of sorts.
That’s why I’m thrilled designers are now turning toward a new creature for spring summer 2013 fashion cues: the mermaid.
We’ve heard rumblings of this all year. In February, Katy Perry made a splash as a mermaid in a David LaChappelle-lensed hair dryer ad, and over the summer, the mermaid-tail swimsuit received lots of ‘would anyone actually wear this?’ press throughout the blogosphere. And forget Disney’s Ariel. I admit, as a young adult writer whose novel, Wrecked, is a loose re-imagining of The Little Mermaid, the trend is close to my heart. But I’m not alone. Mermaids are poised to be the next big thing, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the beauty showing up on next spring’s runways.
This newly reimagined mermaid is part princess, part surfer girl with just enough sparkles and not-found-in nature streaks of hair to recall a ‘90’s club kid. Take the hair at Markus Lupfer’s show, where Bleach London’s Alex Brownsell created metallic-green slicked-back ponytails to complement the sequin-loaded creations and futuristic, under-the-sea shipwreck set. Said Brownsell of the look: ‘I wanted them to look like mermaids’ tails. I’ve been playing with the concept of making colour metallic because these murky, iridescent tones are more wearable than the brights of before.'
Wearable is the word that gives the mermaid muse some serious staying power. In New York, Diane von Furstenberg showed shades of the sea both in the shimmery fabrics and drapey cuts of her creations. Monique Lhuillier and Derek Lam let their models loose in aqua inspired makeup. And back on London shores, Kinder Aggugini’s hairstylists created a ‘mermaid-y’ vibe with lush, half-braided back-skimming ponytails.
No matter how it’s imagined, the mermaid is fresh, fun, and far more optimistic than what we’ve seen for the past few seasons. ‘Mermaids aren’t tainted by notions of evil, the way vampires and werewolves are,’ explains Sabina Magliocco, PhD, an anthropology professor and folklore expert at California State University. ‘Mermaids are shape shifters. In our society, people are constantly negotiating between different worlds—work and home, crossing cultural boundaries in relationships, navigating the divide between childhood and adulthood. Mermaids are reflective of the intrinsic duality that exists in all of us, while their transformative ability ignites our imagination.’
And luckily, as LFW is showing us, that transformation—from everyday girl to maybe-mermaid magical—doesn’t require a tail. It’s as simple as adding a splash of whimsy, a pop of colour, or a swath of sparkles to our look. And I, for one, am ready to ride that wave.