Covet/Coven

Witching hour has descended on the fashion world. Fashion Editor, Laurie Shelly takes a look at this growing trend.

On the 27th of September, American designer Rick Owens built a pyre in the centre of Palais de Tokyo in Paris, set it on fire, and sent what he called “California witches” down the catwalk in his Spring 2019 Ready-To-Wear collection, in laser-cut gowns, armour-like cloaks, short angular skirts and wiry, geometric crowns. It was witchcraft being twisted into a new shape and age. There was a sense that his witches were steeling themselves against a threat, but also a spirit of rebellion and subversiveness, a reclamation of witchood and the inverse of a witch hunt; Rick Owens’ witches were carrying their own torches. On that same day, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, after weeks of being threatened and accused of lying about his sexually assaulting her when she was fifteen.

Rick Owens was not the sole designer turning to the occult this season; Ryan Lo explicitly referenced witchcraft in his collection, with pointed pink and red witch hats, and even the traditionally preppy, sporty Ralph Lauren could not help but add touches of sorcery to his huge fiftieth anniversary show, piling up the gemstones and chokers and conjuring up heavy velvets, jewel tones, strange skirts trailing the ground, with sparks of fringing and swirling patchwork. This inclination towards the supernatural is not just being seen in the fashion world; the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and A Discovery of Witches are taking over the small screen this autumn and winter, while director Luca Guadagnino resurrects 1977 witchcraft horror film Suspiria and reinterprets it for 2018, and there is a growing fascination with astrology and tarot cards. Google searches for healing crystals has increased by 40%  in the last four years. A magical reservoir of power is being tapped into.

The word ‘amulet’ comes from the Latin amoliri, to remove or carry away, and our English ‘ameliorate,’ to make something better. The desire to channel a supernatural energy that is so palpable in pop culture and beyond at the moment is probably a subconscious attempt to gain control over powers that seem larger than ourselves in what is a hugely unstable political climate. And in a world where the President of the United States would have us believe that facts can be discarded and the truth can be rewritten,  who is to say that magic and the supernatural don’t exist? So layer up lockets, burn some incense, cast yourself in a cloak, watch cult-classic The Craft, stock up on crystals and precious stones, light candles, cast charms, chant spells, poems, songs, don black lace, ward off evil but also become a redefined version of it— it is the witching hour.