Notes on fashion, style and culture

Monday, 13 May 2013

Kobi Levi Designs ‘Wicked’ Shoe Collection

In the Disney fairytale kingdom, it is perhaps Cinderella who has the most famous shoes of all. However, when it comes to style, it is undoubtedly the villainesses rather than the princesses of the realm that are most memorable. It is these evil characters that have inspired footwear designer Kobi Levi – the man who shod Lady Gaga in her Born This Way video. Levi who specialises in footwear design and development likes to describe his work in terms of ‘wearable sculptures’.

His latest collection entitled Witchcraft can be described as more literal than inspired however, with the faces of the villainesses actually printed on the insole of the shoe.

Levi extravagant designs draw on characters like Ursula from The Little Mermaid, Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, and the Evil Queen from Snow White.
Evil shoes: Israeli-born footwear designer Kobi Levi has created what he describes as 'wearable sculptures' drawing on characters like Ursula from The Little Mermaid
The Ursula shoe is a sling-back sandal that represents her octopus-like body. The front of the shoe is designed to look like the top of her dress so from a front view it looks as though she is wearing it.
There is a pair of Maleficent shoes which are shiny black pointy-toed complete with her stylised headpiece and cape. A pair of sling-back heels reminiscent of Ursula’s octopus dress and body depict her character in footwear form. The Evil Queen is represented by a pair of heel-less peep-toe shoes complete with crown ankles. 

Quikry: There is a pair of Maleficent shoes which are shiny black pointy-toed complete with her stylised headpiece and cape
Maleficent’s face is framed in this pair of scaly, shiny and black pointy-toed shoes whilst her horns wind their way up your legs.

Speaking about his designs Kobi Levi said: ‘Walt Disney characters represent the ultimate fantasy world. I loved them as a child and still do today. Their naivety captures and makes me feel like I’m in a magical world. The villains are special because they are iconic and interesting. They are most memorable for me. My choice to work with Ursula, Maleficent and the Evil Queen was an easy one. I always loved them. Although they are all stereotypes, each one has her uniqueness and a distinct character and temperament. Maleficent is elegant, respectable, impressive and wise. Ursula is funny, amusing and cunning. The Evil Queen is cold, distant, majestic and beautiful.’

Queenie: The Evil Queen is represented by a pair of heel-less peep toe shoes complete with crown ankles

Intriguing designs: Speaking about his designs Kobi Levi said: 'Walt Disney characters represent the ultimate fantasy world. I loved them as a child and still do today'
The Evil Queen is a heel-less peep-toe that frames the queen’s face whilst the upper part of the shoe serves as her crown. The peep-toe itself is cleverly designed so that red nail polish on your toes completes the Queen’s necklace.
Levi graduated from Bezalel academy of Art & Design, Jerusalem 2001. In his personal blog the footwear designer describes his inspiration and working technique in detail: ‘In my artistic footwear design the shoe is my canvas. The trigger to create a new piece comes when an idea, a concept and/or an image comes to mind. The combination of the image and footwear creates a new hybrid and the design/concept comes to life. The piece is a wearable sculpture. It is ‘alive’ with/out the foot/body. Most of the inspirations are out of the ‘shoe-world’, and give the footwear an extreme transformation. The result is usually humoristic with a unique point of view about footwear. Another aspect of the creation is the realization. All the pieces are hand-made in my studio. The challenging technical development is the key to bring the design to life in the best way.’

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Blow Out: Isabella Blow on Show

Isabella Blow (2002)
Somerset House is to host a major exhibition dedicated to ‘the extraordinary life and wardrobe’ of the late tour-de-force patron of the fashion world, as well as one of its most iconic faces, Isabella Blow.

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! will feature over a hundred pieces from the personal collection of the legendary fashion editor, consultant, muse, nurturer of young fashion talent and style icon, which is now owned by close friend and fellow fashion maverick, Daphne Guinness after she purchased it in its entirety at auction in 2010.

Isabella Blow by Mario Testino (1997)
‘This exhibition is, to me, a bittersweet event,’ said Guinness in an interview with Stylist magazine. ‘Isabella Blow made our world more vivid, trailing colour with every pace she took. It is a sorrier place for her absence. When I visited her beloved clothes in a storage room in South Kensington, it  seemed quite clear the collection would be of immense value to a great many people. I do believe that in choosing to exhibit them we’ve done the right thing – and that it is what she would have wanted. I am doing this in memory of a dear friend, in the hope that her legacy may continue to aid and inspire generations of designers to come.’

Curated by Alistair O’Neill with Shonagh Marshall and featuring installations by celebrated set designer Shona Heath, Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! will chart Blow’s life in fashion chronologically, highlighting her aristocratic background, growing up at the family seat  at Doddington Hall in Cheshire, her championing of Philip Treacy, Alexander McQueen, Julien McDonald and Hussein Chalayan amongst others, her love of the British countryside with a huge installation of a hedge and the legacy she left behind when she tragically committed suicide aged 48 in 2007.

At the American Embassy in Paris by Roxanne Lowit (1998)
The exhibition will feature priceless outfits by the then-fledgling designers that she championed, as well as bespoke Isabella Blow mannequins adorned in full outfits worn by her and will serve to demonstrate her distinctive, avant-garde style.

Designers whose pieces will be on show in the exhibition include Alexander McQueen, Fendi, Philip Treacy, Dior, Prada, Viktor and Rolf, Manolo Blahnik and Marni.

Blow had hard-core fashion beginnings, assisting Anna Wintour in New York at US Vogue (At Blow’s memorial service, Wintour amusingly recounted that when Blow worked for Vogue she did everything fabulously, even cleaning Wintour’s desk with Perrier water and Chanel perfume) before returning to England to work as fashion director of The Sunday Times Style, and then to the same position at Tatler where she masterminded many of the magazine’s most memorable – and costly – fashion shoots.

Alexander McQueen and Isabella Blow, Burning Down the House (1996)
The outlandish accessory-loving Blow not only nurtured a whole host of graduate and young fashion designers, but also discovered some of the industry’s most famous faced models, giving Stella Tennant, Plum Sykes, Honor Fraser and Bella Freud their first shoot in British Vogue in 1993 with photographer Steven Meisel.

Guinness is the founder of the Isabella Blow Foundation, set up after her death and which promotes fashion, encourages young talent, and supports charities promoting further research in the fields of depression and mental health.

In partnership with Central Saint Martins, the Isabella Blow Foundation collaborated with Somerset House to present Blow’s collection. The show is to run at Somerset House in London from November 20 to March 2, 2014.

Isabella Blow with Horns, Gloucestershire (1996)

Monday, 6 May 2013

YSL muse auctions her 12,000 piece haute couture wardrobe

Yves Saint Laurent
Luquet in YSL
Danielle Luquet de Saint Germain – a friend, model and muse to the late Yves Saint Laurent – is auctioning her 12,000-piece haute couture wardrobe, an historic collection of creations by fashion masters such as YSL, Claude Montana, Azzedine Alaia, Paco Rabanne, Thierry Mugler, Christian Lacroix and Francois Lesage. The auction which will take place in Paris in October and the collection is being billed as one of the world’s most significant private holdings of couture.

Danielle Luquet de Saint Germain, who was born in Lyons but has lived in Geneva since the 1970s, is credited with being the catalyst behind many of Saint Laurent's most famous looks. The eponymous ‘le smoking’ tuxedo for women, his see-through blouse and the YSL ‘la saharienne’, or safari jacket.  It is said to be Luquet’s boyish frame – a petite size 34 – which apparently first drew Saint Laurent to the model in the Sixties. As he trailblazed through his career, in 1968, even though trousers were still considered inappropriate for women, the designer decided to hijack the hunting suit, a virile garment, to turn it into an urban classic of the feminine dress code: the Safari jacket – that he created on Danielle Luquet de Saint-Germain’s back.

Their partnership began when Luquet arrived at her first casting with the designer in the 1960s, aged 19, wearing male clothes – a trenchcoat and man’s trousers – ‘One morning I arrived at the same time as Yves, dressed in a pair of pants and a men’s trench,’ Luquet recalled in an interview she gave to coincide with a retrospective dedicated to her collection at the Museum of Geneva in 2001. She recalls the designer was so intrigued, that ‘after the presentation, he asked me if I could leave him my clothes for inspiration’.

‘La Sahareinne’ style, YSL on the catwalk, Paris 2012
Luquet known during her modelling days as ‘the red-haired model’, rarely appears in public now choosing to live a more reclusive lifestyle away from the limelight. She has however,  been keeping her clothing collection in pristine condition. . According to Georges Delettrez, of the auction house who are looking after the sale, she has kept the collection in museum-like conditions on the upper floor of her home in Geneva. In her lifetime, as well as muse to Yves Saint Laurent, Luquet spent her later years as artistic director at Dior and then Claude Montana, which further allowed her to build on her impressive collection. From season to season, she collected the most beautiful creations by designers from Yves Saint-Laurent to Christian Lacroix, Thierry Mugler to Azzedine Alaïa. Mythic pieces from the late 60s to the 2000s, which she amassed with the greatest of care partly on an aesthetic level - through pure admiration of their beauty, but also because of what each piece bore witness to - clothes as physical documents/tangible visual articles, able to speak to us of the changing times. This is perhaps why this collection is considered so unique.
Luquet in typical masculine tailoring

Among the expected YSL pieces (including a rare black see-through chiffon dress decorated with ostrich feathers, expected to fetch over £12,500), the collection also includes prototypes by Claude Montana and Lesage embroidered pieces one of which – a satin ‘Picasso’ dress embellished with embroidery – is predicted to go for no less than £10,000, and quantities of couture jewelry and artistic headgear, one of which was crafted from sheaves of wheat to match a golden kaftan designed by Thierry Mugler in 1978.

Saint Laurent who died in 2008, once said of his muse: ‘I’ve been systematically looking for girls who resemble the girl of the moment. Danielle came from Lyon, she had done very little fashion, but I realized that her body, her gestures were typical of the woman of today. I had nothing to teach her. On the contrary, it was she who helped me get rid of all outdated references. Everything I did on her – because I always work on a model, never flat – and everything that came tumbling down, was for the better. She made me advance.’ 

Françoise Sternbach, a member of the French Union of Professional Art Experts who helped curate the auction, told Women’s Wear Daily: ‘She had a strong eye, she did not pick any pieces that were banal’. He went on to comment: ‘I know everyone will focus on the YSL pieces, which are magnificent, but I tell you there are dresses here by Claude Montana which would not have existed without her. They are one-offs, prototypes designed especially for her.’ 

Sternbach said the collection was clearly the result of a lifelong passion: ‘This is not the work of a random person, but that of a lover of fashion. What we see here is one of the most significant private collections of haute couture in the world.’

Auction house, Gros & Delettrez who have been chosen to look after the sale, will sell approximately 350 lots beginning October 14, and continue every few months until the entire collection is sold.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Maison Margiela for H&M revealed

Maison Martin Margiela’s complete collection for H&M has been revealed, and the clothing and accessories are consistent with the avant-garde fashion house’s distinctive style.

A spokesperson for the house said that the clothing would mainly be reissued items from the Margiela archives, and these garments would embody the classic large silhouettes, deconstructed styling, and incorporation of found items the house became renowned for. While prices for original Margiela pieces can cost several thousands of pounds, prices for this collection will run from £20 to a few hundred pounds.

When it was first announced that Maison Martin Margiela was intending to work with H&M, the response was enthusiastic and considered as something of a coup. Karl Lagerfeld, Donatella Versace, Marni as well as Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons have all worked with H&M recently, but Martin Margiela, who founded the label in 1988, is renowned as the most elusive personality in fashion. He is notorious in fashion circles for never having agreed to an interview or even to be photographed throughout his career.

What we know for certain about the mysterious Martin Margiela is that he graduated from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts before going on to work as a design assistant at Jean-Paul Gaultier between 1984 and 1987. Perhaps as a reaction to Gaultier’s flamboyant personality and openness with the media, Margiela preferred to focus instead on the clothes. And it is with the clothes that his considerable reputation rests. From the faultless, sharp-shouldered jacket to sequinned dresses; from wide-legged trousers to the celebrated circular-heeled tabi shoes, Margiela’s work became the fashion world’s best kept secret.

Since the original H&M partnership with Karl Lagerfeld in 2004, the launch of each capsule designer range has become a major event on the fashion calendar. For a brand such as Margiela, with a loyal but cutting-edge clientele, it’s clearly an opportunity to reach a mainstream audience, while for the H&M shopper, these ranges have become collector’s items with a high resale value on eBay.

Margiela retired from his label in 2009, since when his collections have been designed by a select team who have remained true to his signature. For the partnership with H&M some of the house’s most unique fashion statements have been reborn. Aimed at both men and women, garments and accessories have been labelled and identified with the season for which they were originally designed.

It’s a summary of the Margiela archive, but overhauled for the H&M customer. From black bras on flesh-coloured bodies and invisible wedge boots to supersized clothing such as pea coats and large bleached-denim jeans.

Also included are duvet coats, a car-seat-cover dress and clothing made from belts. The collection, which launches on 15 November, will be stocked in H&M stores worldwide and will also be available online.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Chanel’s little black jacket – the ultimate in utilitarian chic?

Coco Chanel’s classic tweed jacket has transcended fashion to become a style classic, as a new exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery demonstrates. Chanel’s little black jacket has grown to become a symbol of elegance, femininity and power, making it a staple in the wardrobes of women across the globe.

1950s Chanel suit
Dior New Look jacket and dress from 1950
The new exhibition, features photographs of the jacket worn by children and pensioners, hip-hop artists and ballet dancers, fashion editors and nuns. Chanel’s Little Black Jacket exhibition envisages the tweed jacket in a plethora of different guises – 113 altogether. Each image is styled by ex-Editor-in-chief of Paris Vogue, Carine Roitfeld and photographed by current Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld, every image featuring the eponymous jacket, which somehow manages to look entirely different every time. The overall theme and message appears to be demonstrating the notion that this jacket is for everyone and can be worn for any occasion. It is often seen dressed up as often as it is dressed down. As easily worn with a matching Chanel skirt as it is with frayed faded jeans.

One of the jackets ultimate selling points therefore is its versatility – versatility being something inherent to the philosophy of the little black jacket’s creator, Coco Chanel. With the design dating back to the early 50s, the boxy shape was strikingly different to the cinched-in waist of the post-war New Look fashion of the time – the look propagated by Christian Dior.

Coco Chanel and Jeanne Moreau in Chanel skirt suits with her signature boxy jacket, 1960
To ensure the jacket always hung well, a brass chain was positioned around its bottom hem. This was then neatly concealed by the silk lining. ‘My jackets look just as good inside as out,’ Coco Chanel would often proclaim. Believing that each design feature should fulfil a function, she added pockets that women could put their hands in — something only done by men at that time. Similarly, the buttonholes were such that the jacket could actually be buttoned up and unbuttoned as desired, for comfort.

The use of braid emphasised the jacket line, pocket edges and cuffs. The visual impact of the piece was enhanced by trimming it with petersham ribbon, looped braid or countless other variations, which were sometimes cut or even sewn directly onto the selvedge to achieve an ‘unfinished’ fringe effect.

Worn by Jane Birkin with faded denim
Boxy, structured and capable of being buttoned top to bottom, the garment’s elegance lies in the freedom of movement it allows — no shoulder pads, no bust darts and only a single centre seam in the back. Writing in her biography of Chanel, Justine Picardie describes it as an example of how the designer was paving a ‘way of dressing that was masculine in its unruffled dignity, while remaining true to its creator's idea of femininity’. Chanel’s boxy cut allowed for movement, was less restrictive, but was still incredibly flattering to the female silhouette without clinging to it. Along with Paul Poiret, Chanel was credited with liberating women from the constraints of the ‘corseted silhouette’ and popularizing the acceptance of a sportive, casual chic as the feminine standard in the post-World War I era. This jacket, Picardie argues, showed she actually wasn’t very interested in fashion. Instead, as her much-quoted adage ‘fashion passes, style remains’ implies, she wanted to create clothes that could be worn for ever  – clothes that would never date.

The versatility of the Little Black Jacket

Lagerfeld deformalised it by restructuring the skirt suit, playing with the shape and continuously altering it during his reign as head of the design house. Interpretations have included Claudia Schiffer's famous turn on the runway in a 90's leather miniskirted version, while previously the gregarious 80s had seen a power shouldered interpretation. The jacket has evolved to take on every guise that each decade has thrown at it. More current visions have included grungy fraying and cropped shapes on recent runways.

Kanye West does his take on the Little Black Jacket, by Lagerfeld
Lagerfeld’s reinvention of her famous jacket then, would appear to have fitted very much into her ethos. Taking over at the brand in 1982, 11 years after Coco’s death, he revitalised a fashion house that had become a stalwart of the twinset and pearl brigade into something that was once again fresh and modern, yet with the archive still central to its image. Coco staples such as pearls, quilting, the camelia, the little black dress, monochrome and, of course, the jacket are part of the Chanel heritage that he continues to return to again and again for his new collections. When Lagerfeld stepped into Coco’s design shoes, the fashion house’s image was inextricably entwined with the potent image of a certain type of ‘lady who lunches’.

A child wears the Little Black Jacket, by Lagerfeld

Vanessa Paradis dresses down her Chanel tweed jacket with blue jeans
This constant reinterpretation and reimagining of Chanel’s stalwart ‘symbols’ is a strategy that appears to be working. Certain iconic images – the bag, the pearls, the LBD, the tweed jacket, have become so ingrained as markers of style and luxury that we have now reached a stage where we can imbue them with post-modern sensibilities. You can grungify a Chanel jacket and make it cool – the delicate pearls can be magnified to enormous balls and become playful and young. Because the pieces are so iconic and so recongnisable, they allow us to make a post-modern take on them and make them ‘cool’.

If, in Coco's day, Jackie Kennedy (the twee pink bouclé suit she wore in Dallas on November 22, 1963 when her husband was assassinated has become a part of history – although Lagerfeld reveals in the book of the exhibition that it was in fact a fake, ‘a line by line copy by [Oleg] Cassini’) and Wallis Simpson were Chanel ambassadors, a Chanel jacket is now in the wardrobe of equivalent much copied fashion icons from Alexa Chung to Beyoncé to Vanessa Paradis to Keira Knightley.

Actress Rachel Bilson in her Chanel jacket
For film director Sofia Coppola, the jacket ‘is a classic that goes with everything. You can wear it anytime, day or night, casual or dressy.’ Actress Kirsten Dunst says the jacket represents comfortable elegance and is the first real blazer for women. ‘You can throw on a Chanel jacket with anything and look good. When you own something of this luxury you don’t give it away, you pass it down to the next generation,’ she says.

For Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi who shot to fame in the movie Babel, the jacket celebrates both independence and fragility. ‘The little black jacket survives the ages because of its simplicity  and versatility. I can wear it with formal attire and change into jeans after the party,’ she says.

Actress Diane Kruger in an embellished version of the Chanel Little Black Jacket
For Karl Lagerfeld, who has been doing a good job getting Chanel jackets off the ready-to-wear shelves season after season, Coco Chanel’s legacy remains one of the classics in the industry. ‘Some things never go out of fashion: jeans, the white shirt and the Chanel jacket,’ he says.

Victoria Beckham in her Chanel Little Black Jacket
Whereas it was movie stars such as Gwynneth Paltrow who began wearing the jacket with jeans in the early 90s, showcasing a new take on how to wear the jacket. Today, it’s fashion icons such as Alexa Chung who often collaborates with Lagerfeld and serves as an ambassador for the brand. The jacket has moved from Gwynneth’s world of privilege and 5th Avenue princess, to an edgier, funkier, more fashion led world. Alexa’s tomboysih style mirrors even that of Coco Chanel, and she appears to enjoy playing with the jacket’s iconic status – demonstrating its incredible versatility as both a high fashion upscale staple, to a more irreverant post-modern statement piece. She wears the Chanel little black jacket one day with a kooky prim hairband and skirt as a nod to Chanel’s prim heritage, and on another day with no skirt at all and suspenders on show.

Kate Moss has showcased the jacket in an assortment of colours
As a result, in the past few years the boxy tweed jacket has infiltrated the high street with affordable copies by stores such as Zara and Mango becoming bestsellers for those who appreciate the style and versatility of the jacket, but can’t afford the designer price tag.

Alexa Chung incorporates a Chanel Little Black Jacket into her own modern, quirky style wearing it (below) with just a shirt and suspenders

Coco was, however, her own best advertisement. She wore her trademark jacket well into her old age. Lagerfeld – ever the opportunist – draws this out in the exhibition: Roitfeld is photographed wearing the costume of the designer, complete with fabric scissors and lashings of pearls. Without the use of flashy logos, Lagerfeld has underlined something as distinctly Chanel. While the French brand might, in most people’s heads, be associated with that trademark double-C logo, pearls and quilted bags, the Little Black Jacket puts the spotlight on another classic.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

London Fashion Week’s Top Ten Trends

The Top Ten Trends from this year’s London Fashion Week:

1. Metallics

Metallics are back in a big way – and not just as eveningwear. Sequins and metallic leather were everywhere. Burberry owned the trend with its finale of trenches in Quality Street wrapper shades. Metallic nails are a good way of wearing the trend as daywear or outside party season. Leighton Denny’s Starlet – a dirty glittery gold is a favourite shade.

2. 3D Florals

For Spring/Summer 2013 florals have been given a 3D effect. At the Erdem show (above) florals were appliqued onto broderie anglaise dresses and picked out in fluoresent cottons in pink and orange. The effect was of stand-away flowers. Clements Ribeiro’s shirt collars were trimmed with camelias made from large pallettes. Plum sequin flowers were sewn down a silk top and trouser outfit at House of Holland.

3. Oranges and Lemons

From lemon yellow to dirty mustard and clementine to fluoro orange, London was bright with citrus hues this Fashion Week. Accents of acid yellow highlighted the outfits at Pringle of Scotland (above left). Topshop Unique showed a springitme yellow trouser suit while Antipodium showcased a bright orange dress. JW Anderson (centre) put both shades together with its mustard yellow and burnt orange top and skirt combination and Roksanda Ilincic cut the two together in her dresses which also spliced the decades in their inspiration with a distinctly 20s/70s feel.

4. Model of the Moment

Jordan Dunn, as popular at the shows as the other model of the moment – Cara Delevigne, but still no solo Vogue cover – makes you question why.

5. Sports Mad

With the London Olympics not too far away in our memories, London Fashion Week paid its own tribute to the great sporting event. David Koma’s tennis nets and racket grip heels; Antonio Berardi and David Nicoll’s Aertex dresses and Rag and Bone’s rally-driving inspired collection all paid homage.

6. The Bomber Jacket

Slouchy blazers are out, and following in the wake of the Men’s Autumn/Winter 2012 shows, the bomber jacket is in – for ladies. Jonathan Saunders (above) showed a series of colour block satin bombers worn with matching bra tops or dresses. At Nicole Farhi the bomber countered the prettiness of the dresses on show.

7. Sheer

Sheer organza appeared in many of the Fashion Week collections. Christopher Kane layered a prom-length translucent organza dress over a structured mini dress (centre) to create a demure yet cool look. Dion Lee married panels of organza to stiffened cotton for a fresh sporty look. At Giles (left), organza was printed with the image of shattered glass and pleated, creating a quivering, almost sculpture-like finish. 

8. Prints

Prints got clever for Spring/Summer 2013. Maarten van der Horst's witty take on the humble Tesco plastic bag produced a print that made you do a double take. Preen, showing back in London for the first time in five years, sliced together Breton stripes with a digital image of a snakeskin jacket that one-half of design duo Thea Bregazzi owned in the 80s. It piqued the interest in snakeskin again – sandwiched with stripe and rendered in silk chiffon, it looked modern.

9. Shoe Shapes

By day two of London fashion week, the front runner for shoe trend of the season was anything with an ankle strap. Seen in glossy patent at Paul Smith (above), with furry heels at Michael Van Der Ham (designed by shoe maestro Christian Louboutin) and in peep-toe platform style at Matthew Williamson, to name but a few. This is an easy trend to do now – Zara has a great selection of ankle strap styles already in store.

10.  The Dungaree

Dungarees are not an easy trend to wear, and yet on this evidence they should be because they’re so versatile. The three incarnations above run the gamut from casual festival wear from House of Holland to a cocktail dungaree in peach satin at Moschino Cheap & Chic, while Margaret Howell’s relaxed daywear was smartened up with a neat blazer. Always to be worn with a blouse/t-shirt underneath. 

Monday, 20 August 2012

Dressing the Walking Dead

What would you wear in a zombie apocalypse? AMC show The Walking Dead follows a group of modern day survivors in Midwest USA who live a day to day battle on the road when the world has been overrun by flesh eating ‘walkers’. Costume designer Eulyn Womble is tasked with dressing not only the cast, but also the hundreds of zombies which feature every season. In the following interview, she discusses how the costumes of the main protagonists have changed over the three seasons . This, she claims, is to reflect the change in mindset as the survivors slowly realise that they have left their old way of life far behind. And it is not just the human protagonists who have gone through an evolution as the show progresses. For she claims even the idea behind the zombie walkers’ outfits has changed, in order to reflect how the walkers are viewed by the survivors – in earlier series as individuals, and then in later series, as a more unified swarm.

TWD_S2_WardrobeofTWD-560.jpgThe Walking Dead's costume designer Eulyn Womble describes how to make fake pus and chooses her ideal wardrobe for the zombie apocalypse.

Q: Any big wardrobe changes this season? Do our survivors finally get a fresh set of clothes?
A: They never get a fresh set of clothes. [Laughs] It wouldn’t be The Walking Dead if they looked clean... Maggie is much much tougher this year. She's left the whole farmgirl thing behind. Nothing cute or frilly anymore. Daryl is also changed. This season he has a poncho. It’s not quite Clint Eastwood in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. It's got a little bit more edge than that.

Q: What’s the biggest thing you've learned since Season 1 about dressing the cast and the walkers?
A: In Season One, the walkers had a lot more personality. We made them individual. As the story progresses, we’re trying to turn them into a herd, with one mind. So you’ll find that when we dress them, the tops and bottoms match, so it's gray on top, gray on bottom so they melt away and blend together. In the cast, from the first season to now, they didn’t know if this whole apocalypse thing was going to last. They had more hope that it would just fix itself and they were clinging desparately onto who they were, onto their jewelry, their fancy little earrings and sandals. Now they know they have to be prepared.

Q: Greg Nicotero told us that the walkers are becoming more decayed and putrefied over time. Are their clothes getting more decayed as well?
A: Absolutely, they are. If you look closely, you’ll actually see pus [on their clothes]. We actually paint it on. We’ve got the clothes more tattered, but they’re rotting from the inside. And I’ve said this before, I really do want the audience to smell them when you see them on camera. We try to make them as gross as possible.

Q: What’s the pus made of?
A: Paint. It’s different colors that we mix up to match the clothing that we create... We’re like, ‘add more pus’ or ‘add more blood.’ Blood is a huge deal on the set as well. They’re all different and they’re all labeled, and it’s very specific how we know what’s fresh zombie blood, what’s old zombie blood, what’s fresh human blood, what’s old human blood.

Q: You burned some of the walkers’ clothes with a blowtorch last year. Got any new gadgets to beat up the clothes?
A: We’ve got some specially made graters...that we had made by construction. Very dangerous. They look like cheese graters, but more hardcore, attached to wooden pedals. It’s a hell of a tool.

Q: What can you tell us about Michonne’s wardrobe? Where did you find her cape?
A: Oh my gosh. So much fun to do... I didn’t want to get too futuristic with the cape. That’s why we used burlap. I think it just adds just nice texture and a great silhouette. Her boots are amazing. They have studs on them. Everything she has she can be used to kill zombies.

Q: How about the Governor?
A: [David’s] gorgeous and he has a presence. He doesn’t need a whole lot. I wanted him to look like the everyman but with a little bit of edginess... He has a couple of signature pieces that look like modern day armor I suppose. He has a vest... and then I’ve introduced a coat. I [want people] to question why he has too many nice things compared to what his people have.

Q: You’re originally from Cape Town, South Africa, home of the Great White Shark. Do you have an opinion on the infamous Shark vs. Zombie battle in the Italian film Zombie? Who should win?
A: [Laughs] I think probably the zombie because they just don’t stop. The shark is practically prehistoric so it probably doesn’t know to bite it in the head, to pierce it right in the brain to stop it. It would probably swallow the zombie whole and get eaten from the inside out.

Q: If you were living in a zombie apocalypse, what items of clothing would you never leave home without?
A: Hershel’s pants, Michonne’s vest, Maggie’s tank top, and it would be a toss up between Glenn’s boots and Michonne’s boots because they’re both pretty hardcore. And Dale’s hat!

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