Fairie-ality: The Fashion Collection from the House of Ellwand by Eugenie Bird illustrated by David Dowton

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Bird, Eugenie, illus. by David Dowton. Fairie-ality: The Fashion Collection from the House of Ellwand. Candlewick, 2002. ISBN 978-0763614133. 130 pp. $40.00

*****

The fashion-magazine size and layout of this weighty volume is no mistake; Fairie-ality is an imaginative presentation of haute couture for fey folk. Based on the premise that faeries have a season, like the tony upper class, and thus require costumes for spring balls and summer swim parties, Bird and Dowton present a photo essay of tiny designer clothing concocted from natural objects: flowers, leaves, acorn caps, feathers and more.

Gowns take shape with peacock feathers, grass blades and petal skirts, paired with birchbark stilletos. Snakeskin adds pattern and texture to basic-cut undergarments. Seeds and shells add embellishment. Pheasant feathers reveal their glorious tones in a pullout section on cotillion collections. Not just for ladies, there are coordinating outfits for men as wel, including a sleek black crow feather jacket adorned with periwinkle shell buttons. There is even a ready to wear section, with pages cut into three horizontal strips for mixing and matching of tops, bottoms, and stylish caps. The pieces de resistance are outfits for a royal family, and the wedding party garments, including a mother of the bride gown augmented with fluffy feathers, a top hat and peacock lined coat for the groom, and a gossamer white lily and feather gown for the bride.

In addition to the crisp, closeup, full-color photography, designer’s sketches and watercolors accompanying many of the final products. The font matches each collection, by turns formal, hip or romantic. The textures are so clear the urge to run one’s fingers over the pages is irresistable. The accompanying text could be straight out of the pages of Vogue. The captions are lush and descriptive, and narrative accompanies each section, outlining the events appropriate for each collection, or whom each piece might be worn by. Readers will spend hours pouring over the pages and marveling at the tiny details. Although not a must have, the excellence in execution and high re-readability rate a high recommended for most browsing collections.

Review by Beth Gallaway

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