The Cabinet of Dr Cowie & The Power of Feminist Fashion
Discover the new collection from Scottish fashion designer Ryan Cowie in this femme-fatale inspired editorial photographed by myself, modelled by Anne Catherine Dahlmann, with hair and make up by the talented Cait Owens.
THE CABINET OF DR. COWIE, a play on the title of a 1920's film 'The Cabinet of Dr. Calgari', is a collection rooted in the visual language of German Expressionist film, female villains and the darkness found in human emotions during a time of trauma.
Black, grey and white are the three primary colours used, each relating to the emotions of anger, empathy and sadness respectively. Metallic silver and clear PVC are also used due to their historical attachment to the German Expressionist language.
Chiaroscuro, a form of high-contrast lighting used throughout 'The Cabinet of Dr. Calgari', is drawn upon through out the collection as seen in an a-symmetrical jagged PVC bodice and mesh corset with squint lacing and the sickly PVC and nylon ruffles that edge particular tops and skirts. The twisted black or white shapes also personify the rapid emotional changes from rage to sadness and back again, often seen within new victims of trauma.
Oversized garments and sleeves that are too long for the wearer both represent the uncomfortableness and awkwardness of changing emotions while also providing a sense of comfort by cocooning and armouring the body, like a child wearing their parents clothing for protection from the cold. This armour is also referenced in a single sleeve which projects upwards to shield the wearers face and a metallic silver peplum belt which jaggedly protects the wearers hips.
Finally, classic tropes of femme fatales and female villains are explored. Body-conscious silhouettes meant to attract and ensnare he prey are evident throughout the collection. Sweetheart necklines are twisted with elaborate elastic strapping and jarring colour blocking. A Cruella De Vil inspired fur coat makes an appearance and text such as 'BITCH', 'WITCH' and 'DAMN REBEL BITCHES' all reference how aggressive women have been villainised throughout history by the language used to refer to them.
What do you think of Ryan Cowie's new collection? I'm already in love, having bought the oversized jumper for myself straight after this photoshoot, which I can't wait to wear in the new year! A selection of limited edition pieces is available now at www.ryancowie.com/shop, with prices starting at just £20!