Where to begin? The Gothic romanticism, the plays of feminine and masculine, the studs and spikes and silk and feathers, the dress made of human hair?
When it comes to Kathryn Beker the influences of a collection are always manifold, the techniques always complex. Because there’s no singlar story but many disparate inspirations, you can view the same collection over and again, and each time is like seeing it afresh.
Her 2013 collection dabbles in the dark side, taking the name VARGTIMMEN after the Swedish title of Ingmar Bergman’s 1968 horror flick Hour of the Wolf. But not one to pilfer too literally (or liberally) from any one thing, Beker’s collection recreates something of that vintage-Gothic mood, while simultaneously drawing its colour palette and textural elements from haunting rural landscape photographs by Jitka Hanzlova.
The results are intricate, beautiful, darkly romantic and surprisingly modern. In the look book, photographed by Amie Milne and styled by Sophie Barker, accessories add a strength that borders on fierceness, from shackel-like gold collars to black leather gloves and sock garters.
In this collection of limited edition ready-to-wear pieces feathers and lace are hand appliquéd, and there’s an inkling of past eras in bias cutting, draping and beading – a slight nod to the 1920s perhaps.
But, you ask, what of this human hair mentioned earlier? Of course we wouldn’t end the article without elaborating on the collection’s most unconventional piece. Beker created the human hair dress in part to see what reactions it would generate. “Most people love the effect this dress creates at first sight and then feel repulsed upon learning what it is,” says Beker. Finally, though, most people “come around again to finding beauty within it.”
It’s also a prompt for questioning our ideals of beauty, Beker explains: “After all, many females proudly adorn other women’s hair, in the form of extensions every day or controversially these days, the skins of animals.”
You may not have a chance to touch the fur-like hair dress in person, but you can certainly view it and the rest of the darkly enchanting Kathryn Beker (kathrynbeker.com) 2013 collection by clicking on the thumbnails.