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How 'Witchcore' cast its spell on fashion for Winter 2021

By Partner


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Image: Website 24sevres

With darker days on the horizon and winter fast approaching, many of us tend to gravitate towards darker colours by default. Last year's lockdown saw the emergence of several trends, including 'cottagecore' and refined loungewear, which carried over into 2021. This year, many of the fashion trends were former favourites dressed in a new jacket, and this winter is set to be no different. Although October is traditionally seen as the season of the witch, we are seeing this season expand further and bleed into fashion and lifestyle trends. This season we see a yearning for a more swarthy, mysterious and supernatural aesthetic inspired by vintage and retro pieces from the past.

This resurgence of 'witchcore' has been spotted in pop culture and media over the past few months. The series finale of the 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina', the dark fantasy/horror adaptation of 'Sabrina the Teenage Witch' from Netflix, has been a pivotal fashion inspiration since it first aired. Drawing on the main character’s life and her changing role from mortal to a witch, her outfits become darker, sultry and dominant the more she steps into her own powers.

Other series featuring witches, such as 'Fate: The Winx', 'A Discovery of Witches' and 'Luna Nera', provide countless 'witchcore' outfit inspiration ranging from retro 1970s glam and preppy attire to 1500s Tudor-inspired full glam dresses. While the various plots from these series grip and suck the viewers in, it is truly the fashion that makes them come to life and linger in the mind long after the episode is over. Other popular films, such as the recent remake of 'The Witches' from Roald Dahl, which was inspired by 1960s glam of red lipstick, houndstooth and high-collars, and the cult classic 'the Love Witch' that blends 1970s vintage glam with a touch of sensuous fashion, continue to inspire modern-day witches each day. Recently during the premiere of the upcoming film 'House of Gucci', leading actress Lady Gaga caught the eye of viewers around the world when she wore a sheer, ultraviolet gown from luxury fashion house Gucci. Right off the runway from Gucci's Love Parade Spring 2022 show, the gossamer gown captures the true essence of 'witchcore' mixing whimsical with a Gothic-style aesthetic that's been given a contemporary twist.

Together, these pop culture moments underline that 'witchcore' is here to stay for another season - but in a more elevated and compelling form. Mixing together retro and vintage styles with contemporary touches to offer new, bold and dynamic looks, FashionUnited looks at some of the key 'witchcore' trends set to take over the streets this winter.

Long, Floaty Dresses

Nothing says 'witchcore' quite like long, floaty dresses. Favoured by celebrities including Stevie Nicks, Chloë Sevigny and Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine, these dresses remain deeply rooted in traditional Victorian fashion. While some styles favour a high neckline, others feature the popular v-neck decollete style favoured by high-class women in the 1830s. Silhouettes accentuated the waist, with attention on the wider skirt supported by petticoats. Previously crafted from thick, heavy and luxurious fabrics like velvet, silk and wool, this Gothic-style aesthetic has been reimagined for contemporary witches so that women and men around the world can embrace the craft and not feel constricted.

Cult brand The Vampire's Wife is a leading example of 'witchcore' dresses. Best known for its long, floaty yet vampy dresses, the brand successfully mixes and matches different fabrics, textures and prints to create some of the most sultry and sensual dresses. Often featuring key details, such as ruffles, ruches and bows on the sleeves or neck, these dresses can be dressed up for a special occasion or dressed down. The designs also incorporate other key themes surrounding witches, such as tarot, celestial shapes and natural prints. While some of the prints may be considered bright, bold and playful, 'witchcore' is not all about just wearing dark colours - lighter tones, star forms, and floral patterns are also an important part of this trend and are commonly seen in daywear. Other luxury brands such as Valentino, Dior, Gucci, Ganni and Rixo have also picked up on this trend. A Tarot Deck inspired Dior’s couture collection for spring/summer 2021, for example. Creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri was inspired by the arcane world of tarot and felt compelled to create a collection that reflected some of the oldest surviving tarot cards. “In this moment, when we are very lost in our personal life, this idea – this magic – can help us to have hope for the future,” she said in an interview with Alexander Fury. Encompassing the rich, ornate details made popular during the Renaissance, several of the stunning chiffon, organza and plissé gowns and skirts featured occult and celestial motifs. Favourite it-girl brand Ganni is known for its playful, flowy dresses with celestial prints, while Gucci's maximalism, opulent and vintage-inspired gowns have been turning heads since Alessandro Michele was appointed Creative Director.

Voluminous Sleeves

Large, flowing and voluminous sleeves are an essential part of 'witchcore'. The bigger, the better is usually the case with this trend, which can vary from full, drapey sleeves to short, airy sleeves. Fully encapturing the floaty essence that tends to be associated with witches and witchcraft, voluminous sleeves are a playful, fun detail that is added to many tops and dresses. British designer Simone Rocha is known for her ornate, detailed and signature sense of subversive femininity, which is a key part of 'witchcore'. For winter 2021, the collection narrative included Edwardian balloon sleeves, sheer chiffon puff sleeves, sprouting frills, and oversized sleeves paired with tough black leather biker jackets. A leading design trait and aesthetic within the 'witchcore' trend, the combination of a fragile fabric with volume was popular in many designer collections for winter 2021.

All about the details: Ruffles and Ruching

Sometimes more is more, and when it comes to the details in this trend. The ethereal, surreal and light quality that ruffles and ruching exude is why they remain an essential part of 'witchcore.' Seen on maxi dresses, blouses and skirts alike, they add a touch of femininity and airness to any outfit. Following lockdown last year, fashion became even more of a form of escapism, as everyone sought out new ways to form their own reality. A part of 'witchcore' is rooted in this sense of building and creating your own world, narrative and path through rituals and various undertakings, which can be linked back to extreme ruffles and ruching. As seen on several of Simone Rocha designs for winter 2021, other designers known to embrace and exaggerate their designs with ruffles and ruching include Erdem, Shrimps, Molly Goddard and Prabal Gurung. British designer Molly Goddard in particular, is known for her love of ruffles, tulle, and taffeta frocks. Celebrated for her otherworldly designs that featured angular bows, oversized ruffles and ruching for this winter, have been staples of her collections that tapped into the 'witchcore' trend.

Big Collars

Big, oversized collars are one of the leading trends for winter 2021, but they are also a key part of the 'witchcore' aesthetic. Formerly associated with more preppy, conventional styles, large collars, in particular, link back to vintage styles from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. In the past, many of them would be made by hand from natural materials, such as cotton or linen and feature delicate yet intricate trimmings. Ranging in shape, from pointed ends to soft scalloped edges, collars in all forms are here to stay. The perfect accessory to add to any top or dress, oversized collars have long been used in 'witchcore' designs—the more detailed, with gems, pearls, sequins or lace, the better. Gucci took inspiration from children’s uniforms, and school mocks for winter 2021. Incorporating oversized collars finished with lace or velvet with rounded edges and scalloped hems with romantic skirts or intricate gothic lolita long, floaty dresses, this is 'witchcore' at its finest. Designer Alberta Ferretti showcased a double ruffle collar with a pussy bow paired with a puff-sleeved shirt, bringing together different aspects of 'witchcore'. Tory Burch showcased sharply pointed collars which were so oversized they hung nearly down to the waist, while Moschino paired ruffles with large collars that echoed the styles favoured by Marie Antoinette in the 1700s. But it was designer Erdem who captured the collar's more refined, serene and elegant side by adorning collars with detailed embroidery, pearls and gems - the perfect addition to any witchy holiday outfit for winter.

Wide-Brimmed Hats

A much-celebrated accessory across several trends, witches have thought to wear pointed, wide-brimmed hats since as early as 1215. While most of the hats commonly associated with 'witchcore' are not pointed, they remain wide-brimmed. Considered by many to be a more formal and elegant option, a wide-brimmed hat adds a sense of mystery, sultry and romance to most outfits. A design that is favoured by luxury brands including Gucci and Saint Laurent, a black felt wide-brimmed hat with ribbon detailing is one of the finishing touches on any 'witchcore' outfit.

Celestial Jewellery

One of the things that help ensure the 'witchcore' aesthetic stands out is the jewellery. The more ornament, the better is usually considered the norm with this look, with layering necklaces and rings in gold or silver being a big part. Coloured gems and natural stones are also a leading aspect of this trend, linking back to witches' love of the earth and all things that come from it. The sky, galaxy and all celestial forms are popular shapes that tend to come back in jewellery, so keep an eye out for motifs in starbursts, moons, suns and planets. Linking back to people taking comfort in the idea that there is something so much bigger than themselves out there, especially during darker times, jewellery with celestial motifs and zodiacs are likely to spark a sense of joy and magic this winter. This is likely why designers like Celine and Gucci incorporated them into their collections.

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