Fashion

Of Myth & Magic

by Justin Cheong
14.05.2017
Fate and fantasy rear their mystical heads in Spring/Summer 2017’s most alluring accessories, taking the form of dragons, dreamcatchers and objects of divination
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Enamelled and engraved metal minaudières representing tarot card symbols of The Moon, The Fool, The Emperor, The Empress and The Lovers, Dior.

Dior: The Tarot

It’s been said that children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression. It’s no wonder the young Christian Dior so readily inherited his maternal grandmother’s predilection for premonitions, fortune tellers and the art of divination. In fact, when a charity fair was organised in his hometown of Granville, he would readily don gypsy garments and sling a basket around his neck to help the palm reader vend magical objects. This season, Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri pays tribute to the house’s superstitious founder with all manner of tarot-inspired offerings. These utterly enchanting minaudières – engraved and enamelled painstakingly by hand, then given an aged finish – interpret symbols such as The Fool (representing folly and extravagance), The Empress (an emblem of fecundity) and The Lovers (denoting passion and trials overcome).

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Leather Naga Dragon shoulder bags, Gucci.
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Gucci: The Dragon 

Unlike its fire-breathing and often devastating Western counterpart, the Eastern dragon is a benevolent symbol of nobility, power and propitiousness. Slithering across the front of dresses and jackets in an imposing glissade, the mythical beast – which Alessandro Michele has rendered in the kaleidoscopic hues of a ’70s nightclub (of course he has) – is incorporated into SS17 shoulder bags, its vivid head building on the more-is-more aspect of the Roman designer’s aesthetic.

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Calfskin mini Eye bucket bag, Kenzo.

Kenzo: The All-Seeing Eye

Across time and cultures, the all-seeing eye has been and remains a universal depiction of protection and spiritual awakening. The ancient Egyptians looked to the Eye of Horus (a falcon-headed sun god) for safe keeping and healing, while the Hindu god Shiva revealed his third eye to bring destruction upon all he observed (thus making it a symbol of knowledge which obliterated ignorance and evil). In Christianity, God’s omnipresence is portrayed with an icon that dates back to the 16th century – an open eye in the centre of a triangle (representing the Holy Trinity) from which rays of light radiate. First introduced in Fall/Winter 2013, Kenzo’s all-seeing eye casts its fixed gaze on the most arresting bucket bag this season. A must-have accessory that’s also a modern talisman – what’s not to love?

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Embroidered suede bag with beads and tassels, Roberto Cavalli.
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Roberto Cavalli: The Dreamcatcher

After showing his collection for Roberto Cavalli at Milan Fashion Week last September, Norwegian-born Peter Dundas announced that he would be parting ways with the Italian fashion house. His final offering: a Native American dream that referenced the geometric patterns and rich colourways of Navajo textiles and blankets. This suede bag from the collection has more than a passing resemblance to a dreamcatcher, an object used in Native American culture that is traditionally crafted from twigs, sinew and feathers, and hung over the cradles of infants to ensure peaceful slumber and reverie. 

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Goatskin and calfskin Serpenti minaudière with Dragone motif, Bulgari.

Bulgari: The Serpent

For millennia, the snake has had a bad rap – as a creature of evil and chaos emerging from the underworld. But for that equal amount of time, it has also staked its claim as a symbol of great power and healing. In The Iliad, Homer wrote of Asclepius, a physician who tended to the wounded soldiers on the battlefield of Troy and was later apotheosised as the God of Medicine. Illustrations and sculptures often depict him holding a rod entwined with a serpent. Meanwhile in ancient Egypt, the snake made its appearance in the form of a uraeus – an upright representation of an Egyptian cobra with its hood spread, and an emblem worn over the forehead by royalty and deities alike. When Bulgari introduced flexible Serpenti Tubogas pieces in the ’40s, it marked the beginning of a new era when the serpent would become associated with the Roman jeweller. Here, it takes the form of a sinuous Dragone motif on a boxy minaudière.

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Calfskin Palazzo Empire medium bag, Versace.
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Versace: The Gorgon

There is the Medusa of Greek mythology (a gorgon so hideous that one look at her would turn you to stone) and then there’s Versace’s Medusa, a woman of great beauty with lustrous, overflowing locks instead of writhing snakes, who seizes all who gaze upon her with her strength and supernatural aura. Doesn’t Spring/Summer 2017’s It bag – the Palazzo Empire, available in an array of eye-catching colour combinations – possess the same stunning power? We think this medium-sized iteration in purple and green is the most captivating of them all.

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Leather Jewels Ribbon bag with crystals, Prada.
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Prada: The Bagua 

It’s a rare thing to feel a sense of wonder these days, the way denizens of the Art Deco era were awed by the geometric forms of industrialisation and the decorative forms of the mystical Far East, elements of which have popped up everywhere in Prada’s Spring/Summer 2017 collection. Think silk separates with wrap fronts, mandarin collars and piping in contrast-colour binding as well as chunky octagonal accessories and bag accents that call to mind the ba gua, a religious Chinese motif of eight trigrams denoting the balance of yin and yang, and often used in feng shui to cultivate balance, harmony and positivity in one’s home. These striking Ribbon bags embellished with crystals are sure to attract more than a flattering remark or two, but here’s hoping their magical adornments draw in good fortune as well.

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