When considering the latest release of Steven King’s blockbuster thriller It, the revival of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, and the upcoming premier of Stranger Things 2 on Netflix, it is obvious that our society indeed has an enormous appetite for the surreal, the gruesome, and the deliciously deranged. Within pop-culture, our tolerance for horror is vast, but why is that? Stuart Fischoff, professor at California State University suggests our pleasure in “horror films” derives from our search for thrill and excitement.
“If we have a relatively calm, uneventful lifestyle, we seek out something that’s going to be exciting for us, because our nervous system requires periodic revving, just like a good muscular engine,” states Fischoff.
Hence, the more mundane and sheltered we live our lives – comfortable in our “bubbles” the higher our need to see psycho-killers sporting chainsaws and hockey slash their way across the screen. Equally, the more we are exposed to constant images of violence, the more immune we become to our tolerance of “horror” and therefore desire even more intensity. Additionally, when it comes to “gore”, as in blood and guts spewing everywhere, Prof. Deidre Johnson (1995) discovered that keen watchers typically show low levels of empathy, high sensation seeking, and a strong identification with the killer. Yikes. But when exposed to horror scenarios everywhere we look – (both fiction and non-fiction unfortunately)… of course this makes its way to the runway.
Horror film inspiration was woven into multiple collections this season, most notably at Raf Simons’ Calvin Klein. Here Simmons played on the paradox between beauty and destruction – a familiar narrative championed by the late Lee McQueen in the late 90s. Firstly, the show venue at Klein foreshadowed what was to come, causing tension in the crowd running high. Long time artistic collaborator Sterling Ruby decorated the venue with cheerleaders’ pompoms in bright patriotic colours. The RAH! RAH! RAH! was however overshadowed by the axes hanging down from the joyful fringe, swaying over the heads of the audience.
The collection played on classic Americana codes with cheerleader uniforms and cowboy boots, but it was dark. Womenswear silhouettes stemmed from that of 1950s ladylike Hitchcock blondes, no strangers in playing with fire. Prints included images from Warhol’s “Death and Disaster” series reproduced on cotton smocks and denim suits.
Menswear championed the many characters played by Kyle MacLachlan (sitting in the front row) in the cult series Twin Peaks. The contrast between sharp tailoring and rough leisurewear suited the dual personalities of Agent Cooper, which reminded us also of the latest Balenciaga’s menswear collection also referencing the surreal world of David Lynch.
The Grady Twin’s in Kurbick’s The Shining additionally played protagonist roles this spring summer season, mainly at Jun Takahashi’s Undercover. Here, identical twins were shown, both dressed in blue baby doll dresses, however only one with added long fringes of red crystal beading representing blood. As in the Twin Peak’s revival, the Undercover inspiration was based on exploring the two sides of people- an internal struggle of choice. The doomed twins also were featured in Marco De Vincenzo’s latest accessories, specifically stitched onto handbags featuring horror film motifs. These pop- culture references were applauded, most of all the Stranger Things t-shirt worn on the Louis Vuitton runway.
With all such uncertainty and living in such scary times, is there any wonder why at so many collections (Celine, Calvin Klein, Dries Van Noten…) model’s were seen carrying blankets not handbags? Sometimes to fight of the ghouls and the jeepers creepers, bundling up in a blanket in our own bubbles might just seem like the right thing to do. Especially on a spooky October evening like Friday the 13th.
dun, dun, DUNNNNN!