Humans are capable of surviving in extreme environments from arid deserts to the thin air of frosted mountain peaks, but the ocean, despite covering 71% of the earth’s surface, is a life force of its own that we are unable to control or conquer. Predatory sea beasts, depths of the dark unknown, formidable surging waves, and rapidly changing tides have instilled a perpetual fear in our minds and imaginations.
We know more about the surface of the moon than the deep-sea canyons and the dark abyss’ of our ocean. And as time has told, what remains unknown will manifest both fear and fantasy…
For Spring 2008 couture Jean Paul Gautier presented an mythic underwater fantasy. Models come mermaids were a romantic vision of pelagic folklore in silk-scaling, netted macramé, squid-like fringed parasols, squid prints, seashell cone bras and fishtail silhouettes.
Alexander McQueen’s Spring 2010 collection ‘Plato’s Atlantis’, was an oceanic epic in true McQueen darkness – an ominous forecast of a futuristic world swallowed by the ocean in an apocalyptic deluge . Rising from the wash of glacial melt came reptile sea monsters. Digitally-printed silk dresses in green, tan, yellow and variants of electrifying blue captured the scaling bodies of McQueen’s nightmarish sea beasts, with hair twisted to replicate reptile tubercles, worn with grotesque claw-like shoes.
Perhaps a calmer approach but not without its own dark side, Something Else encapsulated the loneliness evoked by the enduring binary of land and sea, with their collection ‘Castaway’. The seaside can be both calming and formidable as an environment in a permanent state of flux, capable of transforming into an inhospitable frontier of baron rocks, forceful breaking waves and echoes of whipping wind – a mood captured in their video lookbook, directed by Lorin Askill.