Embrace your dark side – get inspired for Halloween

by marlies|dekkers

Imagine if there were a night where it would be socially acceptable to indulge your deepest darkest dreams. An annual opportunity for women to dress like their sexual fantasies – be it a blood-thirsty vampire or a flirtatious nun – without getting ‘slut shamed’. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Well there is a night just like that, and it happens to be one of my favorite moments of the year: Halloween.

Straddling the line between fall and winter, life and death, horror and desire, Halloween is an ancient festival of tempting contrasts. Hundreds, even thousands of years ago, the Celts believed that during the festival of Samhain (pronounced ‘sow-in’), the ghosts of the dead would come back to roam the earth. When they left their homes after dark, people would wear masks so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow creatures of the night. They would also place bowls of food outside their homes to keep the ghosts happy and prevent them from coming inside. Et voilá, the origins of Halloween costumes and trick-or-treating.

But when exactly did Halloween become a ‘a night when even a nice girl can dress like a dominatrix and still hold her head up the next morning’? (In the words of Linda M. Scott, the author of ‘Fresh Lipstick: Redressing Fashion and Feminism’). Well, fast forward from the Dark Ages to 1973: the Halloween parade in Greenwich Village, New York City’s gay neighbourhood. What began as a family-and-friends parade quickly became an excuse for the gay community to show off their drag outfits and celebrate their sexual freedom with outrageous costumes. This rebellious Halloween spirit quickly caught on in the rest of America. Retailers jumped on the bandwagon, selling increasingly provocative costumes, and when even celebrities started parading around as sexy witches and naughty schoolgirls, it was official: Halloween had become sexy.

For me, it has become a big part of the Halloween-experience: checking out celebrities’ weird and wonderful costumes every year, from topmodel Chanel Iman dressed as a yummy mummy to Kate Beckinsale’s drop-dead gorgeous –quite literally!- Bride of Frankenstein. But the uncontested Queen of Halloween is model/television presenter Heidi Klum who once said that she would “rather stay home than go out in an uninspired costume”. The mother-of-four will spend hours becoming unrecognisable for her annual Halloween bash, and I love the fact that her looks always seem to contain some form of social commentary. Last year, for example, she arrived at her party with five perfect clones of herself in tow. Among my favorites are her real-life Jessica Rabbit for which she spent over nine hours in prosthetics and make up and her Adam and Eve inspired costume; she was dressed as both the forbidden apple and the snake, her then-husband Seal was a blonde Eve. Eat that, Adam!

When it comes to uncovering hidden desires and expressing them in my looks, you could say that everyday is Halloween for me. It’s even the main principle behind everything I design: dare to be! (And it’s certainly the reason I pioneered innerwear as outerwear.) But when a few years ago, I finally indulged my vampire fantasies, I surprised even myself. I had always been fascinated with the myth of the vampire: to me, the perfect combination of death, desire and sensuality.

For my lingerie collection named Dark Fever -an ode to the darkly romantic Victorian era- I had organized a Victorian Vampire Night. Dresscode: Victorian Romantic Poets, Priests, True Blood, Nuns, Twilight. I spent hours in make-up, had custom-made fangs fitted onto my teeth and got ‘crowned’ with a stunning headpiece consisting of metal thorns. Wow. When I looked in the mirror, I actually scared myself! Yet at the same time, I felt utterly desirable. It reminded me of what the great philosopher/writer George Bataille used to say: “Extreme seductiveness is at the boundary of horror.” And it hit me how in order to become a complete person, you need to embrace your dark side, at least once a year. So here’s to shamelessly shedding your inhibitions and looking fabulous while you do so! Happy Halloween!

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