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Elena Velez The Longhouse

14 September 2023

Leather Prairie Goth Witch

Elena Velez's SS24 collection was a clear expression of the brand’s identity. The 34 looks oscillate between varying expressions of female sexuality and strength. From seductress to hunter to dominatrix and witch, the looks encapsulated the overtly sexual and ominously grotesque aspects of feminine energy. Comprising unravelled hems and dislodged bustiers, each look toyed with the “Anti-heroine” archetype. 

Somewhat monolithic in its expression, the collection took the prairie girl gone bad tone of her previous collection and twisted (or maybe dragged?) it further. Each model walked (and later fought and fell) down a muddy runway, muddying the souls of their cowboy boots, Nike slides, and kitten-heel sling-backs. The nail art was punched with holes and tied with hair, while wild swipes of dirt and clay adorned faces and bodies. Hair was long and feral, crimped out into voluminous manes, clumped down onto backs, and wrapped around necks. Similar to Fall and Spring 2023, the designer incorporated metal fixtures, this time in the form of candelabra-esque structures.

The collection was a confident continuation of the designer’s interest in the glorification of wayward women and displayed her inclination towards subverting female tropes. The organic and rough fabrics were intricately woven into sculptural corsets and delicate basques, which perfectly balanced the tension between scary and sexual.

The brazenness of the collection was amplified by droll details that reflected the humorous side of the attitude for the show, prominent in sock holders, suspenders, and one bralette doubling as a headphone case. When breasts were not restrained in beautifully tailored and oil-stained corsets, they spilt out of regency-style necklines or were exposed all together and hardened into scaly, flaking sculptures that both concealed and exaggerated the female form. The colour scheme was minimal and elemental, with only a few flashes of azurite blue.  The accessories (namely, metro cards, hats, and bags) were sparse yet severe, complementing the bleak sandy clay. The final look encapsulated the collection’s blend of functional and erotic, with ties and strings masterfully restraining and releasing the model’s body.

Velez’s skill remains not only in her craft but also in her ability, as she wrote in the show notes, to reinforce the “complex, dualistic and paradoxical conversations around contemporary womanhood.”

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SEE ISSUE #06 HERE. The theme for this issue, Revelations, delves into the unfiltered aspects of life. It’s an appreciation and exploration of raw beauty, where authenticity reigns supreme; the unconventional is not just accepted but celebrated. In a world of manufactured perfection, this issue chooses to validate our quirks and idiosyncrasies. After all, they are what make us inimitable.

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