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The Witching Hour

Have you ever been to a séance? Candles, half-light, incense, the smoky air encouraging you to see spirits in the shadows… There is no better setting for seductive silks, delicate lace, trailing scarves and softly textured furs.

The act of deliberately placing yourself in a liminal space, allowing yourself to (quite literally) be in touch with the best of both worlds – there is an allure to the other-worldly that has long been a fascination of creatives everywhere, and the fashion industry is no exception.

Fashion and magic have much in common. They both deal in enchantment, in visual spectacle, in pushing the boundaries of what is seen as acceptable or everyday. Both have an element of performance, and both – when carried out successfully – result in a sly confidence that you are tapping in to something others don’t know about. Secrecy and exclusivity go hand in hand; it is no surprise that many rituals demand specific ensembles of clothing, so that the outfit makes up half of the occasion. For any kind of magic to work, you need to look and feel the part. After all, what is a witch without her pointy hat and billowing robe? Symbols of power are as important as the power itself, and surely there is a hint of witchery in how a certain item of clothing – a fix-all dress, or a lucky piece of underwear – can alter your mood, like holding a secret spell in your pocket.

And in each type of act – the rituals of magic and the art of getting dressed – it is important to embrace the irrational. One person’s best look will be anathema to another, even someone with the same body shape, height, and hair colour; nothing stands to reason. Style and taste are intangible, just as difficult to pin down as the tricks of a conjuror.

Which is yet another cross-over between the two spheres: the infinite possibilities of illusion. Clothes are a way of transformation, allowing you to be anyone you want to be: to mask, to disguise, even to masquerade as another. Everyone who has ever learnt a magic trick knows that it is all in the confidence, in how you carry it off – and the same applies for clothes. You don’t need magical powers to shape-shift.

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