Spells begin with an intent. Former model and eternal muse, Susie Cave, birthed The Vampire’s Wife out of a desire to see feminine beauty embraced in a world that she felt had long been deprived of it. Through her fashion label, Cave’s ideals manifested themselves into prairie dresses, of all things.
These are no ordinary dresses. For one, they shine with a liquid smooth glamour, often made in silks and velvets with rich patterns. They are daring in their prettiness (see the ruffled cuffs and hems) especially when the zeitgeist declares that we prize the opposite. And yet, The Vampire Wife’s dresses have the power to seduce.
Yes, they conceal with high necklines, long sleeves and sweeping skirts, but these markers of modesty only add to the mystery of the wearer. What is plain to see is the wearer’s silhouette, because each dress is made with a flattering cut that drapes beautifully — proof that Cave is learned in all the ways that clothes interact with the body from her time as a model.
It’s no wonder that The Vampire’s Wife’s unabashedly romantic frocks have worked their magic on many a woman, including Jodie Comer, Chloe Moretz, Alexa Chung, Margot Robbie and Florence Welch. And now that the label is available on Net-a-Porter and Dover Street Market, it will be even harder to resist. Here, we discover how those dreamy dresses are conjured through an interview with the vampire’s wife herself.
Youʼve always been a part of the world of fashion, but what made you go from wearing the clothes to designing them?
I think I always had a strong desire to dress up. Even when I look back at the clothes I wore and the looks I invented as a little girl, they were very similar to what I like now. I think a lot of us find the things we love early, our concept of beauty, and repeat it in different ways. First, I was a model and this is where I learned what looked good on a woman and what did not. Now that I am designing clothes, I feel I am just in the business of making my little girl dreams a reality.
The Vampireʼs Wife is best known for its prairie dresses. What drew you to that silhouette?
It was very intuitive to begin with. I was just tired of clothes that were aggressive and ironic and deconstructed and all the rest of it. The concept of feminine beauty seemed to be sacrificed on the altar of designers’ egos. So, I just felt I wanted to celebrate women for their intrinsic power and beauty in a true way.
How does your husband, Nick Cave, inspire you?
Well, my husband is a musician, so the business of music is all around. He is always writing or playing or composing. What I learned from him is the idea of commitment – commitment to whatever it is you are working on. To work hard, to be bold and to follow your own impulses, no matter how out of step they may feel with whatever the current trends are.
Do you believe that style can be a powerful thing?
Style is having an understanding of one’s intrinsic place in the world. You fill the space around you in a meaningful way. It is very important. It is an unconscious understanding of one’s own power.
How would you describe your own style?
Chaotic, mostly. The way I dress is usually last minute, intuitive and at odds with whatever the occasion may be. This is not deliberate. I just tend to get it wrong. It has always been that way. It took me some years to realize that getting it wrong was actually a way of getting it right. So I basically dress for myself, lose myself in that moment of preparation, then step out the door and hope for the best.
Your label has amassed quite a number of fans, including a handful of famous ones. Why do you think your dresses appeal to so many women?
My dresses appeal to women who have an interest in beauty. I think women have been deprived of this for some time. They are forced to wear clothes made by designers that have no fundamental understanding of what women actually want. Women dress for themselves, mostly, and want to look beautiful and playful and comfortable.
What do you hope they feel when they wear your designs?
My personal wish is that people will look at a person wearing a Vampire’s Wife dress and think, “What a beautiful woman” not “What a beautiful dress”. This comes not from the garment itself but a certain self-belief. The dress can help foster that self-belief.
If you had to pick a song that best represents The Vampireʼs Wife, what would it be?
Edge of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks. My heroine!