“When in doubt, follow the senses of beasts.”
Animals had been there from the start, even before Adam was created. So for the educated men and women who studied their form, their characters, and their doings, these little pockets of intelligence running across the face of the earth, swimming in the depths of the ocean, and rising in the heavens, were constantly revealing God’s secrets.
This interest began in medieval times. Animals extended from the real relationships that man had with them in habitual life to the view that they were metaphorical pieces in a heavenly puzzle that helped define what it meant to be human in a tumbled world.
But animals have proved that they are not only containers of knowledge but also they emanate personality and qualities that go beyond their physical beauty. Some of them have been admired for their ability as predators, their close relationship with death. Others are acknowledged by their grace and agility, others because of their tenacity, and so on. The list of virtues we have found in animals since our beginnings have been incessant, infinite, and also, a source of inspiration for our fantasies and reveries.
Today, like in the novel of Nicholas Christopher, I found myself struggling to find the world’s most complete bestiary (catalogue of animals) for fashion. I’m looking for a collection including imaginary and fanciful creatures that can describe the catwalks of the past; those items that inflamed our imagination and most secret desires. Those creations that reminded us of the beauty of the beast: the cadent movement of the fox, the stealthy travel of the wolf or the delicate and relentless pace of the swakara.
This bestiary, as most of its predecessors, will make no distinction between existing and imaginary animals, as it will focus on the belief of the emotional and aesthetic values that the designers wanted to represent. The symbolic, poetic or utilitarian value does not change, regardless of whether the animal existed or not. And if the animal actually existed, it might have been transformed into a mythical being while being recreated in the designer’s mind.
These designers have tried through their collection and the use of different types of fur to give a different view of the world. Each of the garments selected in this particular bestiary underlines the closeness of man to animals and sometimes even attempts to cross the heavenly line of the divine. Alexander McQueens’ AW14 Collection or Fendi’s AW17 are some examples of how fashion transgress the moulds of reality and renovates them in, sometimes, even spiritual, mythical creatures. Together, they form the perfect trinity: divine, human, and animal.
—From The Aberdeen Bestiary:
“It is said to live sometimes on its prey, sometimes on earth and sometimes, even, on the wind. The she-wolf bears cubs only in the month of May, when it thunders.”
Like David Bowies’s Still Untamed photograph for GQ Magazine, this catwalk was dominated by the uncontrollable, the resistant and the wild. No, Marras is not an “in your face” kind of designer, his insurgence is muted. Through his designs, Marras stands lonely, like a sentinel wolf, calling to other of his kind. He does it through a crafty and overlapped experimentation of materials: prints and beading to lace and patent leather and disheveled furs. It was a call to the wild, to embrace the animal spirit through mystical clothing with just a dash of menacing edge; just like the thunder, like the wolf.