Saturday, August 8, 2015

Dark Mori / Strega / Black Forest Fashion & Me

The first time I heard the term "Dark Mori," I felt an instant connection. This was it, I thought, this was the term I was looking for, a term to encompass my own style. Bohemian, Mori, Gothic, they all came close but weren't quite it. I'd always just called it "dark faerie" in my head, which is still probably the closest because, of course, no "style" is ever going to be 100% perfect, BUT when I found Strega Forest's "Dark Mori Style and Lifestyle Checklist," it confirmed my suspicions that this way of dressing was really ridiculously close to my own. I mean "wants to look like a witch or a dark fairy from the woods" is the first thing on the list! :). Fashion wise, I also particularly identify with -
  • Likes to wear dark, dusty colors, but also jewel and earthy tones
  • Antique, used, or ragged laces and silks
  • Layering is the key
  • Medieval, Victorian, Folklore, and 1920s inspirations
  • Helena Bonham Carter is a great style icon
  • And, to mix up a few from the list: Crushed velvet, vintage clothes, corsets, shawls, dresses and skirts (the longer the better), floral patterns, natural stones, silver jewelry, knitted items, laced up boots, Victorian heels, braided hair, messy curls, flowers, leaves, feathers, antlers!
And yes, the lifestyle aspects are right on too, obviously :). Loves anything spooky, is a collector, is attracted to witchcraft and the esoteric, loves the natural world, has a familiar (or two, or three...), crafty, interested in fairies and spirits, introverted, into dark music and books, free-spirited, romantic, melancholic, quirky, loves tea, antiques, and folklore, inspired by the Pre-raphaelites/Froud/Rackham/Etc, loves going thrifting, always wants to be warm and cozy, a bit messy, particularly loves the forest after the rain, at dusk, and at night... yep, all that sounds about perfect! 

Depending on who you talk to, there can be some subtle perceived differences between the three terms for the style I've listed above ("dark mori" - definitely a spin off of "mori" fashion from Japan, usually looser clothing, "strega" - often a bit more mature, less Japanese influenced and more inspired by European folklore, and "black forest") but I tend to lump them together because I enjoy and incorporate aspects of each.

Shortcut to the Stars lists this simple Strega Fashion Manifest:
- Strega means witch, and that theme is therefore the center of the fashion
- there are no other rules
- there are no established color schemes
- inspiration is taken from fairytales, folklore and myth, all things magical and witchy
- Inspiration is drawn from goth, boho, mori and whatever else you prefer
- it is different from mori in that it doesn’t have any ties to japan or japanese street fashion
- it is different from goth in that it has no inherent ties to goth culture or music
- NO ONE can demand to know what strega is or exclude anyone from the fashion or tag! Strega is the witch inside us, coming out through our clothing. 
Sounds good to me! :).

So let's get a bit more specific to my particular style - I love dark, sweeping skirts made for wandering the forest and getting tangled in the brush. I love wildflowers, ivy, and roses in my hair, smokey eye makeup, silver jewelry with folkloric themes, and pretty much anything velvet. Lace, chiffon, embroidery, tulle, paisley, sequins, and brocade are also staples. I love waterfall cardigans, layers of fabric, almost anything with an esoteric theme (particularly things with moons/roses/stars on them), and long red hair. My favorite colors are burgundy, dusty blue, silver, raspberry, purple, and black. As I say on my main website, I'm a witch-faerie princess with ink on her fingers and a book in her hands ;).
[Image by me, of me wearing a Raintower cardigan and a shirt by The Orphan's Arms]

All this said, I do think that it's important to acknowledge the problematic things that tend to get lumped in with aspects of this style as well, which I don't endorse at all and think do deserve critical attention and, hopefully, rejection. I think this post puts it rather nicely indeed - So please do try to avoid that kind of language and appropriation when talking about and incorporating this style. It's not at all necessary and, importantly, you can be inspired by cultures that are different from your own without stealing from them in thoughtless ways.

There has also been a bit of controversy recently around the term "strega" as well. Some claim it to be a form of cultural appropriation too but I find this… equally problematic and damaging to the real (and potentially hurtful) issues surrounding true cultural appropriation. "Strega" is the Italian word for witch, nothing more. No one who practices Stregheria (Italian witchcraft) has any particular claim to the word itself and proposing that simply using the word "witch" would fix the problem is frankly US/Eurocentric - why is an English word okay to use but an Italian one is not, particularly to those for whom English is not their first language?  There are some deep-seeded, postcolonial, and worrisome issues behind this debate that I won't go into further here, but I'll certainly be paying attention as it develops. 

Lastly note that I am NOT an advocate of taxidermy, fur, fox tails, etc. Even faux or ethically sourced animals skulls and such aren't really my thing, though I do recognize their resonance with the style.

So that's my little spiel on the topic! The majority of this blog will probably trend this way, so I wanted to give a little head's up about it and hopefully attract others with similar styles - welcome :). 

Want to see/read more about this kind of fashion? Of course you do!

Blog Posts:
- really this whole blog, I'm so sorry she hasn't posted in so long! - I love this description, yes yes yes! Ditto x 100,000,000!

Blogs/Tumblrs/Pinterest Boards: - I'm delighted she's started posting again!


[Image by me of some of my jewelry :).]

I'll never be able to link everything but this should be a good start. And last, a poem that seems particularly perfect... 

["Witch-Wife" by Edna St. Vincent Millay]