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Fall Fashion Trending: The Art of Symbolism

The relationship between humans and the animal world is as deeply rooted in its mutual survival as it is in its complex dual evolution; civilizations throughout history evolved in accordance to that mutual relationship. And why would fashion be any different?

The Hall of the Bull, Caves of Lascaux, France

The Hall of the Bull, Caves of Lascaux, France

Farm scene (detail), Medieval illustrated manuscript

Farm scene (detail), Medieval illustrated manuscript

Paris Hilton’s Chihuahua, Tinkerbell, wearing Bella Paris on SNL!

Paris Hilton’s Chihuahua, Tinkerbell, wearing Bella Paris on SNL!

And of course to celebrate it, mythologies and legends both bring about stories of human-animal creatures exposing the best and worst natural characteristics of each creature.

Adriana Sklenarikova wearing "Chimère", Thierry Mugler Haute Couture fall-winter 1998-1999

Adriana Sklenarikova wearing "Chimère", Thierry Mugler Haute Couture fall-winter 1998-1999

Manish Arora

Manish Arora

Damir Doma - fall/winter 2011-12

Damir Doma - fall/winter 2011-12

Here comes the Symbolist movement, this highly intellectualized 19th century art specializing in sampling Greek and Nordic mythological tales, including biblical ones, introducing anything from centaurs to mermaids to sphinxes, and bejeweled dark forces of femininity. Sounds like a fashion show in the making, no?

Gustave Moreau, "Dead Poet Borne by a Centaur", circa 1890, Musée Gustave Moreau

Gustave Moreau, "Dead Poet Borne by a Centaur", circa 1890, Musée Gustave Moreau

Thierry Mugler as centaur, photo by Jean-Paul Goude

Thierry Mugler as centaur, photo by Jean-Paul Goude

Gustave Moreau, "Oedipus and the Sphinx", 1864, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Gustave Moreau, "Oedipus and the Sphinx", 1864, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Roberto Cavalli - fall/winter 2011-12

Roberto Cavalli - fall/winter 2011-12

Carlos Schwabe, "The death of the gravedigger", 1895

Carlos Schwabe, "The death of the gravedigger", 1895

That human-animal relationship also morphs into and complements the shamanistic side of culture and religiosity. Designers might seem to favor that relationship over others due to its sartorial accessibility. Adorning and accessorizing a body in animal pelts and other elements is much easier than transforming a wearer into a fantastic half-beast.

Alexander McQueen - Ensemble, "It’s a Jungle Out There", autumn/winter 1997–98

Alexander McQueen - Ensemble, "It’s a Jungle Out There", autumn/winter 1997–98

Gustave Moreau, "Phaeton" (Design for a Ceiling), 1878-9, Musée du Louvre

Gustave Moreau, "Phaeton" (Design for a Ceiling), 1878-9, Musée du Louvre

Thimister - fall/winter 2011-12

Thimister - fall/winter 2011-12

Ann Demeulemeester  - fall/winter 2011-12

Ann Demeulemeester - fall/winter 2011-12

This fashion season isn’t an exception with these creative rules. As expected, designers are still looking for inspiration to help hone creations that may help make them household names, or to retain their established creative edge. In this highly competitive realm, creativity is what separates the fashion leaders from the sycophants.

Ann Demeulemeester - fall/winter 2011-12

Ann Demeulemeester - fall/winter 2011-12

Gareth Pugh

Gareth Pugh

Roberto Cavalli - fall/winter 2011-12

Roberto Cavalli - fall/winter 2011-12

A fantastic look may just be a fantastic look!

Manish Arora - fall/winter 2011-12

Manish Arora - fall/winter 2011-12

Alexander McQueen - 
Dress, "
Widows of Culloden," autumn:winter 2006–7
 - Cream silk tulle and lace with resin antlers
Alexander McQueen – 
Dress, “
Widows of Culloden,” autumn:winter 2006–7
 – Cream silk tulle and lace with resin antlers

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