Wings Not Included: Faerie Costuming

Detail, Simplicity 8629 by Firefly Path. Image: Simplicity.

This Halloween, a look at faerie costumes.

Jareth’s fairy ball in Labyrinth (1986) Costume design: Ellis Flyte and Brian Froud. Image: The Atlantic / TriStar Pictures.

Part Tinkerbell, part Titania, today’s fairy look can be traced back to Brian Froud and Alan Lee’s 1978 book, Faeries. Froud collaborated on the costumes for Jim Henson’s cult fantasy, Labyrinth (1986), while Lee became best known for his conceptual design work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The year before Labyrinth, Ridley Scott’s Legend (1985) introduced the Tinkerbell-like Oona. Costume designer Charles Knode had previously worked with Scott on Blade Runner.

Annabelle Lanyon as Oona in LEGEND (1985)
Oona (Annabelle Lanyon) in Legend (1985) Costume design: Charles Knode. Image: Pinterest.

The ’90s soon brought Steven Spielberg’s Hook (1991), with Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell. In this Dream-inspired couture editorial by Koto Bolofo, the opening image channels Peter Pan — or is it Puck, with a McQueen-clad Titania?

At the Jardins de Giverny in Atelier Versace and Givenchy haute couture by Alexander McQueen, L’Officiel, September 1998. Photo: Koto Bolofo. Editor: Guylaine Tilleau. Image: jalougallery.

At the end of the decade, Michael Hoffman’s big-screen version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999) — the first in over sixty years — featured costumes by the award-winning Gabriella Pescucci (The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The Age of Innocence).

Michelle Pfeiffer as Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999) Costume design: Gabriella Pescucci. Image: IMDb.

Froud and Lee’s Faeries was reissued for its 25th anniversary in 2002, the same year as Koto Bolofo’s “Tinker Belle’s Forest” editorial in Vogue Nippon.

“Tinker Belle’s Forest,” Vogue Nippon, March 2002. Photo: Koto Bolofo. Editor: Nikki Brewster.
Vogue Nippon, March 2002. Photo: Koto Bolofo. Editor: Nikki Brewster.

Founded in 2005, Faerie Magazine recently featured Los Angeles’ Firefly Path on the cover. (Free download here.)

Faerie Magazine issue 39 - summer 2017
Firefly Path with Fancy Fairy Wings on the cover of Faerie Magazine, Summer 2017. Photo: Ether and Smith (Ellen McGowan). Image: Enchanted Living.

In the new millennium, fairies became an otherworldly ingredient in the urban fantasy subgenre. Holly Black’s children’s series saw a film adaptation as The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008). HBO’s True Blood introduced “the Fae” a few seasons into the show, with costume designer Audrey Fisher dressing her fairies — Claudine, Maurella, even Queen Mab — in ethereal pieces from designers like LA’s Sue Wong and Marianna Harutunian.

A glimpse of Claudine (Lara Pulver) in True Blood, season 3 (2010) Costume design: Audrey Fisher. Image: HBO.
s3 e12
Lara Pulver as Claudine in True Blood, season 3 (2010) Costume design: Audrey Fisher. Image: IMDb.
"Soul of Fire" (s4 e11, 2011)
Maurella (Kristina Anapau) wears Sue Wong and Marianna Harutunian in True Blood, season 4 (2011) Costume design: Audrey Fisher. Image: Marianna Harutunian on Etsy.

In 2015, the New York Times’ T magazine featured Faerie Magazine in its Holiday issue:

"The Faerie Fantasy," T magazine, Holiday 2015
“The Faerie Fantasy,” T magazine, Holiday 2015. Photos: Marko Metzinger, Lynn Theisen. Image: The New York Times.

The next spring saw a new BBC production of Shakespeare’s Dream, adapted by Russell T Davies and with costumes by Ray Holman (Torchwood, Fleabag).

Maxine Peake as Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream
Maxine Peake as Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2016) Costume design: Ray Holman. Image: BBC.

And now the Seelies, as the Fair Folk are known in Shadowhunters, have their own spinoff trilogy.

The Fair Folk (season 2 e14)
Lola Flanery as the Seelie Queen in Shadowhunters, season 2 (2017) Costume design: Shelley Mansell. Image: fandom.

Fairies have long been a fancy-dress standby, but a more recent trend is fairy costume patterns for adults. This empire maxi dress from Andrea Schewe adds wings, cape, and a crown for tissue lamé.

Simplicity 9454 by Andrea Schewe (2000) Image: Etsy.

Disco fairy rings are in store with this Simplicity design from the mid-aughts. From Elaine Heigl Designs, it has a ruffled skirt, corset, and top for sheer knits. Wings not included.

Simplicity 4902 by Elaine Heigl Designs (2004) Image: Etsy.

Also from Elaine Heigl, this fairy costume has several variations, including trousers. (“Purchased Wings.”)

Simplicity 3632 by Elaine Heigl Designs (2007) Image: Etsy.

In the teens, Cosplay by McCall’s released patterns for a horned headdress, and DIY fairy wings with matching hat and stockings — this last by cosplayer Becka Noel.

M2101 Hornery (2017) Image: Cosplay by McCall’s.
Cosplay by McCall's M2104 - Ala Glow by Becka Noel (2017)
M2104 Ala Glow by Becka Noel (2017) Image: Cosplay by McCall’s.

Simplicity has licensed several Firefly Path designs, including this highly detailed fairy princess ensemble. For your faerie wedding, designer JoEllen Elam Conway also sells Firefly Path bridal gowns and capes in her Etsy shop.

Firefly Path pattern Simplicity 8629 (2017)
Simplicity 8629 by Firefly Path (2017) Image: Simplicity.

How on-trend is faerie dressing? Out this month, Vogue’s latest book is Fantasy & Fashion.

Happy Halloween!

Saoirse Ronan in Chanel bridal couture by Karl Lagerfeld, photographed by Steven Meisel for Vogue, December 2011
Saoirse Ronan wears Chanel couture on the cover of Vogue: Fantasy & Fashion (Abrams 2020). Photo: Steven Meisel. Editor: Grace Coddington. Image: Vogue.com.

Summer 2020 Designer Pattern Highlights

Sasha Belyaeva photographed by William Eadon in Cynthia Rowley Resort 2019
Detail, Cynthia Rowley Resort 2019. Model: Sasha Belyaeva. Photo: William Eadon. Editor: Kit Keenan. Image: Vogue Runway.

Have you seen the new summer patterns?

For Summer, 2020, Rachel Comey covers the Vogue Patterns lookbook for the second season in a row.

Rachel Comey top and pants (V1704) on the cover of Vogue Patterns lookbook, Summer 2020
V1704 by Rachel Comey. Vogue Patterns lookbook, Summer 2020. Image: Issuu.

Like Spring’s Agave suit, the aqua and gold cover look is from Rachel Comey Spring 2019. The Amplus top features big puffed sleeves and overcast edge detail, while the New Joust trousers are high rise with a tapered leg. Both pieces were offered in a linen blend.

Guinevere van Seenus photographed by Annie Powers in Rachel Comey Spring 2019
Guinevere van Seenus in Rachel Comey Spring 2019. Photo: Annie Powers. Image: Vogue Runway.
Vogue 1704 by Rachel Comey (2020)
Vogue 1704 by Rachel Comey (2020) Image: McCall’s.

The second Rachel Comey design is the Frida jacket, seen here in cotton-blend seersucker. Ruffles abound on this fun, cropped jacket, including the raw-edged trim for the elbow cutouts.

Rachel Comey Pre-Fall 2018 photographed by Gus Powell
Rachel Comey Pre-Fall 2018. Photo: Gus Powell. Image: Vogue Runway.
Vogue 1710 by Rachel Comey
Vogue 1710 by Rachel Comey (2020) Image: McCall’s.

The new Guy Laroche is from Fall 2018, the same collection as Winter’s V1666 pantsuit. The runway version better shows the seaming detail:

Guy Laroche by Richard René, Fall 2018 collection. Image: Vogue Runway.
Vogue 1709 by Guy Laroche (2020)
Vogue 1709 by Richard René for Guy Laroche (2020) Image: McCall’s.

From Badgley Mischka, a pattern for the Belcanto dress. The duo’s Spring 2018 collection was inspired by Capri.

Badgley Mischka Spring 2018
Badgley Mischka Spring 2018. Image: Vogue Runway.
Badgley Mischka lace-up broderie anglaise gown
Badgley Mischka Belcanto lace-up broderie anglaise gown. Image: The Outnet.

Triple-tiered tassels not included.

Tassel detail, Badgley Mischka Belcanto lace-up broderie anglaise gown. Image: The Outnet.
Vogue 1693 by Badgley Mischka (2020)
Vogue 1693 by Badgley Mischka (2020) Belcanto dress. Image: McCall’s.

In terms of adaptations, there’s a version of The Row’s Abel blouse.

The Row Abel blouse
The Row Abel blouse in white cotton. Image: Farfetch.

A maxi version opened the Spring 2019 presentation.

Saskia de Brauw in the opening look for The Row Spring 2019. Image: Vogue Runway.
Vogue 1701 after The Row's Abel blouse
Vogue 1701 after The Row (2020) Image: McCall’s.

For Spring 2020, Oscar de la Renta designers Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia were inspired by the Dominican Republic. Margot Robbie wore their blue, wide-leg jumpsuit — bowless — on The Tonight Show in February. The moiré faille is a cotton-viscose blend.

Oscar de la Renta Spring 2020 by Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia
Oscar de la Renta Spring 2020 by Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia. Image: Vogue Runway.
Oscar de la Renta Spring 2020 blue moiré faille jumpsuit
Oscar de la Renta jumpsuit in blue moiré faille. Images: Moda Operandi.
Vogue 1708 jumpsuit or romper pattern after Oscar de la Renta (2020)
Vogue 1708 after Oscar de la Renta (2020) Image: McCall’s.

It’s always nice to see current-season looks. The new Cynthia Rowley jumpsuit is from the Spring 2020 collection, which the designer presented on a Dr. Seuss runway near her new Tribeca headquarters. Rowley’s original is Tencel, a sustainable cellulose fibre. (View in webstore.)

A black jumpsuit in Cynthia Rowley's Spring 2020 collection
The Devin jumpsuit, Cynthia Rowley Spring 2020. Image: Vogue Runway.
Black D-ring Cynthia Rowley jumpsuit pattern S9151
Simplicity 9151 by Cynthia Rowley (2020) Devin jumpsuit and romper. Image: Simplicity.

Reviewing Rowley’s hometown Resort ’18 lookbook, I thought this dress looked sewist-friendly. Simplicity didn’t include it in their Spring lookbook, so I missed adding it to my previous pattern report.

Cynthia Rowley Resort 2019. Model: Sasha Belyaeva. Photo: William Eadon. Editor: Kit Keenan. Image: Vogue Runway.
Cynthia Rowley dress in silk-viscose. Image: Cynthia Rowley.
Simplicity 9098 by Cynthia Rowley (2020) Tinley dress.

For variations, add contrast trim, use a print, or make it a maxi with sequin appliqué.

Cynthia Rowley Resort 2019. Model: Sasha Belyaeva. Photo: William Eadon. Editor: Kit Keenan. Image: Vogue Runway.
Cynthia Rowley Resort 2019. Model: Sasha Belyaeva. Photo: William Eadon. Editor: Kit Keenan. Image: Vogue Runway.
Marquette sequin applique dress, Cynthia Rowley Resort 2019. Model: Sasha Belyaeva. Photo: William Eadon. Editor: Kit Keenan. Image: Vogue Runway.