Style Lessons to Learn from Cinema’s Spookiest Heroines

Horror is a genre where femininity has been too long been associated with being a victim, but within the archives, there are some feminist treats not tricks that you should check out this Halloween.

Whether it’s putting a curl in your hair and taking on the bitchy bullies like Carrie, or decorating your body with fake blood to scare off the hungry models of The Neon Demon. Whatever you do, do it like the spookiest heroines around, and learn some style lessons from the horror masterpieces below…

pastels don’t mean perfection

Suspiria (1977) – Dario Argento

Hiding behind perfect pastel pink tiles and art deco wallpapers is something sinister beyond your most psychedelic nightmares. Soundtracked by 70s prog rock band Goblin, the film is a hallucinogenic experience of horror and aesthetics alike. Directed by Dario Argento, Suspiria follows ballerina Suzy Bannion who starts at a new German academy, but finds out there’s more than bitchy dance mums to deal with. Having to learn the hard way that satin frills don’t mean a kind heart, and hairspray can keep your perm in place but can’t keep the demons away.

beauty is in the blood

The Neon Demon (2016) – Nicolas Winding Refn

“I’m pretty, and I can make money off pretty”, Jesse (Elle Fanning) promises from the get go of The Neon Demon: mesmerising and disturbing in equal measure, the beauty-hungry models seek the ultimate fashion feast. Learning that her inside is just as addictive as her outer looks (but not in the True Colours shining through kind of way), as Abbey Lee’s Sarah sucks on her cut hand to lap up the young blood power, after Jesse is cast instead of her. The ultimate beauty lesson to learn is the answer to “are you food or are you sex?” Jesse decided, so should you.

Red is the warmest colour

Blood and Black Lace (1964) – Mario Bava

Usually admired and envied on the runway but untouched at home, Bava’s Italian horror masterpiece sees fashion house modelled being knocked off one by one in a boarding house by a masked assailant. Stark red acts as the violent focus of the film’s colour palette: with a blood coloured phone acting as a statement piece to an otherwise monochromatic outfit, and red mannequins hiding in the gloomy corners. Style as well as substance, Blood and Black Lace boasts a horror set you’d want to live on until you see what’s hiding in the dark.

sharpen your fringe and your knife

Rosemary’s Baby  (1968) – Roman Polanski

Moving into a ghost-storied apartment block is a rite of passage for some New Yorkers, but Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes aren’t cut out for the weird goings on in their new home. Inspiring 2017’s most controversial film Mother!, Rosemary’s Baby has neighbours just as strange as Darren Aronofsky’s unwanted guests. With a bob and doe-eyes that even Margot Tennenbaum would be jealous of, Rosemary attempts to ward off the dark forces attempting to get at her unborn baby with some killer looks. Don a blood red dress to show them you’re unafraid and hide the true fear behind sleek berets and sharp tailoring.

makeovers will be the death of us

Carrie (1976) – Brian De Palma

Although dressed in head-to-toe library chic for most the movie, Sissy Spacek’s prom night reveal is arguably one of the best fashion moments in horror history, made evermore eye-catching by the addition of pranking pigs blood. With long golden locks straighter than her mother’s personality, Carrie hides from the bullies behind her god-given shield. There’s nothing like a bloody climax to get them back, and the grande finale sees her ditch the chunky knit for a plunging satin number: not your average make-over but Carrie isn’t your average horror pin-up either.

  • words and visuals Kitty Robson

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