Elfy Essex: Feathers and Hand Grenades
Designer Elfy Essex pulls inspiration from Alejandro Jodorowsky's 1973 film The Holy Mountain, which has no clear plot and is more like a psychedelic assemblage of nightmare moments. If you haven't seen it yet, take my hand (sorry it's so sweaty), and I'll show you around. Here's the person's face caked in flies. Here's the quadruple-amputee dwarf licking the forehead of the lithe, bearded Christlike figure. Here's the old man plucking out his glass eye. Here's the tree strewn with hundreds of dead chickens and a laughing, naked maniac. Here's the dialogue: "I eat the flower, and its perfume is my blood." And here's the guy cutting a slab of flesh from a living horse, and now he's eating it.
Elfy's designs emerge from a less disturbing mid-movie sequence involving an interplanetary war weapons manufacturing plant, with necklaces made from feathers and hand grenades, friendly packs of sheepdogs, and female-to-male transvestism. "I thought about doing pastel unisex business suits, but that interpretation was too literal. So I went with school uniforms, they're for a prestigious girl's academy on Mars," says Elfy. She boosted the adorableness with jumpers and string-tie Peter Pan collars; delicate pointelle knits; florals, polka dots, or strawberry prints; puffed sleeves; furry mini-pockets; and toy military style beribboned armbands. Elfy's other influences include club kids, Kewpie dolls, lavender-dyed cats, and the Japanese clothing brand 6%Dokidoki, which is crammed with girlieness and ruffled layers and candy tones, and is named for the sensation of "your heart beating fast, but in a good way. Like when you have a crush on someone and you see them somewhere."
Building Elfy's fashion story, artist Frank Correa created the line's visuals with his customary methods: "I have a basic point-and-shoot camera, I take one shot, and that's it. I work with whatever I get," he says, and after Frank has scanned the developed images, he photoshops the fuck out of them, adding jungle details or neon effects to make his fantastical retro-futuristic cartoon-apocalypse alien-scapes. Frank chose indoor and outdoor activities to demonstrate the model's private and public behaviors, he says. Props included a leash made from nylons (Elfy: "I have hundreds of pairs, in every color"), faces splattered with blue (Frank: "It makes all the other colors seem brighter"), pointy headwear loosely based on a mid-century Little Red Riding Hood illustration (Elfy: "I wanted them to look like fairy creatures"), and a sociable but mild-mannered shih tzu that had been out late cruising the streets (Frank: "That dog just happened to show up").
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