High Fashion’s Halloween Hierarchy

Above: Lurid makeup from John Galliano F/W 2007.

‘Tis the season to delight in darkness. Thanks to collections from our favorite offbeam British, American, and Belgian iconoclasts — Rodarte, Rick Owens, Luella, AF Vandevorst, Giles Deacon, and Hannah Marshall, just to name a few — you can induce the fatal fantasy and black glamour of Halloween all winter long.

But will Fall 2008’s moody totems stand the test of time, like Thierry Mugler’s batwing dress? That remains to be seen – but we’re enjoying fashion’s witching hour while it lasts.

In the mean time, enjoy our “Halloween Hierarchy” — the designers who most convincingly channel the dark side.

McQueen: The Master of The Macabre
No one knows how to chill an audience’s bones like McQueen. From the demon-eyed models on his late 90s London runway to the iconic Voss Collection to Fall 2007’s exploration of witchcraft and persecution, he continues to elicit wonder and true fear in all who witness his sinister spectacles.

Galliano: The God of the Garish & Ghoulish
On par with McQueen’s showmanship is John Galliano’s styling prowess. Embracing the beautiful and the beastly, his runway vision runs the gamut from impish to gaudy to batshit insane. For Dior’s ready-to-wear and couture displays, Galliano’s madcap makeup, wild accessories, and astonishing hair styles usually outperform the clothing itself for sheer outrageousness. His fall 2007 eponymous collection turned Pigalle era courtesans into ruinous banshees, and elevated his devilish theatrics to dizzying heights.

Gareth Pugh: Architect of the Alien Avant-Garde
Earlier this month, Gareth Pugh — millennial London’s #1 enfant terrible — made his formal entry into the elite couturier class, presenting his Spring 2009 collection on the hallowed Parisian runways. In only 3 years, Pugh has stunned critics and the indie fashion cult with his alarmingly ambitious conceptual designs. Obscuring the line between sculpture, sci-fi, and cyberpunk, he seems poised to rival McQueen’s legacy as Britain’s most visionary designer.

Olivier Theyskens: Prince of Dark Romanticism
Everyone’s favorite Belgian Goth, Olivier Theyskens, has been conjuring up gloomy, celestial magic for over a decade. In the late 90s, he dressed Madonna in her “Frozen”/Dark Kabbalah phase, and attracted major buzz. Since then, he briefly (but oh-so-brilliantly) revived the dormant house of Rochas, and now helms Nina Ricci. Theyskens’s poetic gowns are fit for a literary Gothic heroine: they evoke the torturous emotion, conflict, and tragedy chronicled in 18th century romanticism.

Riccardo Tisci: Lord of Gothic Opulence
Riccardo Tisci is also no stranger to dressing Madonna: on her current tour, she regularly dons customized Goth-tinged finery, courtesy of Givenchy. Whether he juxtaposes dark religious iconography with fetishism or creates modern-day mourning dresses, Tisci’s work unfailingly arouses high drama. While his penchant for the dark baroque risks suffocating Givenchy’s legacy in morbidity, Tisci is matchless in the domain of evening elegance.