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Fashion Inspired by Art: Aubrey Beardsley’s “Salomé” Illustrations

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What is it about black and white that seems so classic, yet so mysterious? Is it the prevalence of black-and-white imagery in religion, literature, music, and art? Is it our subconscious connotations with darkness and light, and the cognitive dissonance the contrast between them creates? Or is it because it’s SO EASY to create chic outfits using black and white elements?

In today’s Fashion Inspired by Art post, I’ll be showing you how to create witchy, artistic black-and-white looks based off of the beautiful, bewitching illustrations of Aubrey Beardsley for Oscar Wilde’s opus, the play “Salomé”:

The Platonic Lament
Aubrey Beardsley’s “The Platonic Lament” (1894) via Wikimedia Commons. (Click image to enlarge.)

I do a lot of work in black-and-white and in ink, and sometimes working without color can be really limiting and frustrating. I am just totally blown away by how skillfully Beardsley uses black and white to enhance his composition, and how perfectly the drawings captured the beauty, darkness, and mysticism of Oscar Wilde’s “Salomé.”

About Aubrey Beardsley and “Salomé”

Born in 1872 to upper-middle class parents in Brighton, England, Beardsley grew up in a home surrounded by the arts. In his youth, he had many poems and drawings published, and in his early teens he toured as a musician with his sister Mabel.

He began a career as a professional illustrator at 19; he was influenced by Japanese woodcut prints and the paintings of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and associated with Art Nouveau, aestheticism, and decadence. His work proved to be controversial, as his obsession with the intersection of the erotic and grotesque led him to highly sexual and disturbing topics, such as Aristophanes “Lysistrata” and Oscar Wilde’s “Salomé.”

The eponymous “Salomé tells the story of King Herod’s stepdaughter on the night of her death. She falls in love with the imprisoned mystic, Jokanaan (John the Baptist) and uses her stepfather’s lust for her to have the prisoner beheaded after he spurns her advances. Many important motifs and images of the play, such as the interplay of black and white, the moon, eyes and the gaze, and the ‘duality’ of feminine sexuality are present in Beardsley’s illustrations, which were printed in the first English edition of the play, in 1894.

Shortly after, in 1898, Beardsley died of tuberculosis. Despite his brief creative life, the influence of his work is still seen today in the work of many illustrators, graphic novelists, and artists.

Outfits Inspired by the “Salomé” illustrations

The Peacock Skirt

The Peacock Skirt
Aubrey Beardsley’s “The Peacock Skirt” (1894) via Wikimedia Commons. (Click image to enlarge.)

“The Peacock Skirt” is one of the first illustrations in the set, and shows a Syrian soldier (on the right) gazing at the beautiful Salomé in her royal finery; the peacock motif of her cloak is a foreshadowing detail that alludes to her deal with Herod, and his promise to her of riches and royalty (symbolized through 50 white peacocks with gold beaks and purple feet) if she forgets her love for Jokanaan.

Beardsley peacock skirt outfit
Ring, Boots, Leggings, Dress, Bowler, Belt, Lip Gloss, Mascara

This ensemble combines the Young Syrian’s look with Salomé’s: the gauzy, flowy white dress cinched with a wide obi-style belt emulates the soldier’s garment, while a large statement ring with a peacock-feather design mirrors the princess’s finery. A pair of tall black boots keep the outfit fall-appropriate, and pair of warm leggings and a cute hat will keep you warm on chillier days. (Put a peacock feather in your cap for a fun dandy touch.)

Some unassuming but pretty makeup, like a shimmery neutral lip gloss and mascara, will keep the focus on your outfit, but neutral looks like this are also the perfect canvas for a bold lip, bright eyeshadow, or holographic nail polish.

John and Salomé

John and Salome
Aubrey Beardsley’s “John and Salomé” (1894) via Wikimedia Commons. (Click image to enlarge.)

Here, we see the meeting of Salomé and Jokanaan. Salomé, the figure on the right, is again decked out in her white royal finery, covered in feminine and cerebral symbols, such as butterflies, carnations, and slivers of moon. This is in direct contrast to Jokanaan, who is dressed almost entirely in black, and is without ornamentation.

The dichotomy of black and white is particularly important in these scene: Salomé is both attracted and repelled by the impoverished Jokanaan; to her, his white skin is like that of a leper, but his black hair is beautiful. The two are depicted similarly, however – her infatuation with the mystic is made identical to the young Syrian’s and Herod’s infatuation with her.

Beardsley John & Salome outfit
Jeans, Blouse, Hat, Boots, Ring, Earrings, Bag, Bronzer

Like Salomé’s outfit, this getup is all about the accessories. A creamy blouse, black jeans, and fold-down boots are the perfect canvas for your favorite baubles. Here, I’ve included sparkly moon earrings, a large cocktail ring, and a spiked hat, but a metal collar or statement necklace would look fabulous, too. Finish with some well-blended bronzer to complete this polished but bohemian look.

 The Stomach Dance

The Stomach Dance
Aubrey Beardsley’s “The Stomach Dance'” (1894) via Wikimedia Commons. (Click image to enlarge.)

When Oscar Wilde saw Beardsley’s illustration of Salomé’s ‘dance of the seven veils’, he was incredibly disappointed: Salomé’s expression is stony, her body language tense. Yet it is easy to understand why Beardsley depicts her this way.

Salomé performs the dance for her lecherous stepfather in order to get what she wants, not for the sake of her love of dance or her pride in her craft. This is reinforced by the cackling lute player in the corner, who may represent Herod’s lust.

Beardsley stomach dance outfit
Scarf, Jacket, Earrings, Top, Eyeliner, Heels, Harem Pants

Despite this, Salomé’s outfit is still luxurious and befitting a skilled dancer. Black-and-white printed harem pants emulate her trouser’s silhouette, while a crop top bares just enough skin to still be appropriate for your afternoon lecture.

Cover up with a structured jacket, then add a black-and-white scarf in a contrasting print to give the outfit some interest. Finish with a swipe of eyeliner and strappy black heels to polish off this slouchy and comfy ensemble.

The Dancer’s Reward

The Dancer's Reward
Aubrey Beardsley’s “The Dancer’s Reward” (1894) via Wikimedia Commons. (Click image to enlarge.)

In the final illustration of the set, Beardsley shows Salomé claiming her prize after her dance: the head of Jokanaan. The text that accompanied this illustration is one of Salome’s monologues, in which she claims she still loves Jokanaan and he can no longer refuse her advances.

Her demented stare and powerful grip on the prophet’s head perfectly illuminate the hidden themes of the play – the Victorian era’s fear of female sexuality and women’s independence, and the defilement of the individual through the gaze of the other.

Beardsley the dancers reward outfit
Headband, Salt Spray, Kimono, Top, Purse, Ring, Sandals, Jeans

I thought this kimono jacket was the perfect modern counterpart to Salomé’s carnation-embroidered robes; it’s the star of this outfit, and perfectly proves how one interesting piece can pull together an otherwise basic outfit. Keep the contrast heightened with a simple white top, jeans, and strappy sandals.

A black suede bag adds a touch of luxury, while the fringe detail nods to the kimono. Finish the look with a gold chain headband and a few other gold pieces, like this creepy-cool claw midi ring. A spritz of sea salt spray will give your hair some body without looking quite as ridiculous as Salomé’s.

What do you think?

How do you feel about Aubrey Beardsley’s illustrations? What about the story of Salomé? How often do you wear neutral, monochromatic looks? What art would you like to see featured in this column? Let me know in the comments below!

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3 Chic Home Furnishing Collaborations to Check Out

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Shopping carts
Photo Credit

Designer collaborations are one of our favorite things here at CF, and there have been some pretty exciting ones in the past – remember the crazy 400-piece Missoni for Target collaboration that threw everyone for a loop a few years ago?

While large fashion powerhouses tend to partner with mid-tier department stores for their more affordably-priced lines, the realm of home furnishing collaborations has always seemed to prefer the independent designer, with some even branching into online Etsy stores and up-and-coming names in design.

When it comes to dorm and apartment decor, designer collaborations are a great place to look for unique pieces that will only be available for a short while. Even a small accessory here and there can dramatically change the look and feel of a room.

In this article, we’ll talk about our favorite home furnishing designer collaborations at all different budget levels, covering everything from the large-scale to the indie designer. Let’s get started!

Nate Berkus for Target

Nate Berkus for Target
Our Nate Berkus for Target picks: Stapler, Faux Fur Stool, Bowl, Bedding

If you like clean lines, metallic accents, and kitschy-cute details, look no further than the Nate Berkus for Target collaboration. Gold-plated everything – from scissors and staplers to wing-shaped bowls – reign supreme beside faux fur covered stools and delicately patterned origami comforters.

Ideal for a simple room with one metallic tone throughout, Nate Berkus specializes in nature-inspired design with a geometric twist. Keep the other colors in your room neutral for a soothing color palette that is perfect after a trying day in class or at work.

Etsy for West Elm

Etsy for West Elm
Our Etsy for West Elm picks: Adventurist Pillow, Periodic Table Coasters, Be Brave Banner, Cloud Bread Board

The end-all-be-all of independent, unique design is undoubtedly Etsy, a haven for those who dabble in handcrafts and the powerhouses around the world alike. West Elm, a well-known home furnishings company, hand-picked various Etsy products from shops all over the place, and have compiled them into city-based categories, each with their own distinct style and flair.

These pieces tend to be smaller decor items that can easily blend into any room’s color scheme or design. Get them while you can, since many of these items sell out rapidly and it’s difficult to predict when they come back in stock.

Design By Conran for JCPenney

Design By Conran for JCPenney
Our Design by Conran for JCPenney picks: Clock, Candelabra, Striped Pillow, Button Pillow

Legendary British designer Sir Conran has crossed the pond and made his debut stateside with his home furnishings line for JCPenney. Characterized by grays, navys, and simple no-fuss style, his slightly pricier pieces are great for transitioning into post-grad life and adding a bit of subtle sophistication to any room.

Keep your color palette slightly toned-down or smokier to blend well with these pieces – think dusky European den, but then brighten it with white lines to balance out the potentially heavy gray tones.

What do you think?

Do you like these designer collaborations? What other collaborations have you noticed and appreciated? Are you hoping that more designers and small businesses will partner with large-scale companies in the future? Let us know with a comment!

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Runway Looks for Less: Chanel Fall 2014 RTW

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Chanel fall2014 rtw
Chanel Fall 2014 RTW | ELLE

When pictures of Chanel’s Fall 2014 RTW collection first emerged, all I could think was “A Chanel show? On a supermarket runway?” Once I got past the whole supermarket thing (and fully appreciated Karl Lagerfeld’s creative decisions because hey, it’s Karl Lagerfeld), I was in love.

From matching sets to Chanel’s iconic tweed, there were so many gorgeous pieces in a variety of colors that reached the opposite ends of the spectrum. Almost every look featured sneakers (a continuation from Chanel’s Spring 2014 Couture collection) and each was impeccably styled, right down to the grocery baskets some models carried. This season was definitely one where Chanel deserved all of the hype.

Are you also in love with these Chanel looks, but definitely not into the price tag? Keep reading for three budget-friendly outfits inspired by this fab collection:

1. Pretty in Pink

Chanel fall 2014 look 1
Photo: ELLE

One of the comfiest-looking outfits that walked down the runway, this look mixes preppy pink with a Sporty Spice feel. The varying shades of pink, from a pale blush to a purple-pink, look cool rather than over-the-top. In addition, the sparkly sneakers and silver eyeshadow continue the chic yet trendy vibe.

Get the Look:

Chanel fall 2014 inspired outfit 1
Product Info: Shirt- JCPenney, Sweater- H&M, Pants- ASOS, Shoes- Guess, Scrunchie- New Look, Eyeshadow (in “Up In Smoke”)- Target

If you’re not ready to dive right into all the pinkness of the original look, don’t fear! For this recreation, we chose a white turtleneck and distressed white jeans to channel the leggings in the original look. Wear a slouchy pink sweater over your turtleneck, then slip on sparkly silver sneakers.

Finish the look with a silver smoky eye and a scrunchie in a similar hue as that purple-pink in the original sweater. Yes, a scrunchie. They’re making a comeback!

2. Black & White Forever

Chanel fall 2014 look 2
Photo: ELLE

I admit, I am the first to gravitate towards a black-and-white outfit (as you can probably tell from my previous posts), but there are a couple of reasons for that: it’s flattering, sophisticated, and I can guarantee you, it will probably never go out of style.

What’s so great about this particular B&W outfit from Chanel is its sporty vibe – just look at those knee-high sneakers! – and we love the bright orange eyes and flushed cheeks that add a dash of color to the look.

Get the Look:

Chanel fall 2014 inspired outfit 2
Product Info: Shirt- Forever 21, Skirt- ASOS, Jacket- Boohoo, Shoes- Go Jane, Necklace- H&M, Blush (in “Tangerine”)- Sephora, Nail Polish (in “Trick Or Treat”)- Sephora

To get a similar look for a fraction of the price, start by tucking a white-button down into a black, knee-length skirt. Grab a soft, zip-up jacket, then accessorize with a delicate pendant that’s reminiscent of the subtle sparkle in the Chanel outfit. Add a pair of knee-high lace up boots, then apply a bit of orange-hued makeup to complete this getup.

3. Yearning for Yellow

Chanel fall 2014 look 3
Photo: ELLE

Even though it’s one of my favorite colors, I tend to avoid wearing yellow. However, this look is definitely changing my mind! The bright yellow coat and bold orange sneakers are mixed with a busy print, but grounded by sleek, black leather pants. This ensemble is THE prime example of how to play with color in a sleek and polished way.

Get the Look:

Chanel fall 2014 inspired outfit 3
Product Info: Shirt- Zara, Pants- H&M, Coat- ASOS, Scarf- River Island, Bag- Forever 21, Shoes- DSW

To recreate this look, pair leather-look pants with a simple white long-sleeved tee. Slip on a bright yellow coat, then add a trendy multi-colored scarf. Continue to channel Chanel by tossing on this cute crossbody bag, which is reminiscent of their much-loved quilted bag. By switching out sneakers for a pair of fierce orange heels, we think this ensemble would be perfect for a dinner date on a chilly night!

Your Thoughts?

What did you think of this collection? Are you inspired by Chanel’s Fall 2014 runway looks? Which one of these outfits is your favorite? Would you wear any of them? Remember to let me know your thoughts in the comments below, along with any fall collections you’d like to see in upcoming weeks!

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