Who doesn’t love a good villain? Maleficent, Cruella De Ville; they are so fabulously evil! My favourite stylish villain is from the Spanish film noir re-make of Snow White: Blancanieves. Costume designer, Paco Delgado, had such a vision! On the backdrop of 1930s Spain, the evil stepmother sports a cutting figure throughout the film.
This character is quite dark and bourgeois. Mantillas and traditionally conservative high necked frocks make her appear stern and dangerous. This appearance alludes cleverly to her motivations within the film. Each scene, rich in its sumptuous delirium is made all the more avant-garde by the stepmothers presence. A favourite scene for me is when she presents the poison apple to Snow White. Dressed traditionally, yet with a fierce style she takes on a Spanish version of an Occultist witch.
The Mantilla is draped over her face revealing a menacing smile yet, it simultaneously hides her eyes and thus her identity. Her neck is adorned with multi-layered thick necklaces of dark stones, heavy upon her as if to show off prowess. On closer inspection, a small beauty mark is below her eye which I interpreted in this scenario as an allusion to her own sense of vanity. Gloved hands give her a high fashion feel.
Throughout the film, a range of hats adorn her head. This gives a sense of her dramatised height and grander status. It also enhances the authoritative position she anoints herself at the helm of Snow Whites father’s house. The bigger the better for her! Drama and extravagance in hats serve as a direct nod to her strong character traits. She sees herself as a Queen!
Twice in the film the Stepmother is shown with her hunting dogs in masculine garb. This is a representation of her status and also her dominant attributes. Her character is all about being the head honcho, the woman in control.
The dogs are her main accessory and as their master, it is a metaphorical and clever play in the very thoughtful visual storytelling.
So, how to take this inspiration into ones own wardrobe? You don’t require the evil streak to look this good, just the following (dogs optional!)
Blancanieves Evil Stepmother Style Essentials:
- A Spanish Mantilla, for dangerous drama
- Black lace, from head to toe
- Layered, chunky necklaces and large earrings
- Hats! More hats! The bigger, the better!
- Riding attire: Jodpurs, tailored jackets and the most crisp of white shirts.
- Anything with a very large and stern collar
- Spanish style skirt suit (made for riding side-saddle)
- Gloves to match all outfits
- Avant-garde Art Deco inspired dresses that make you look like a work of art
- 20 dogs on leashes that recognise you as their master
- Apples (skip the poison)
All photos are stills from the film Blancanieves, 2012. Main image collage by The Moon and The Mirror.