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© 2019 by Cindy Chen

AVANT GARDE FAIRY TALES

October 27, 2015

So Halloween is coming up, and everyone is frantically searching for that perfect costume, so I decided to post some of the shots that I took for Artists Unknown Magazine. The concept behind this was to take a spin on the classic Fairytale characters. The difficulty in this is that people have been coming up with artistic interpretations for ages, so how do I come up with something that is both original but rings enough truth to the character we all know from the storybooks that it can be instantly recognized? The costume design process had no thought process to it. I was scurrying on my knees and tiptoeing on cabinets, digging through archives of random scraps my parents told me to throw away for years. I am one of those people who absolutely hates throwing things away, because I feel like they either contain some sort of important memory or I know one day in the future (in the next ten weeks…years maybe) I will need it for art. This used to drive anyone I lived with nuts because they didn’t see how this accumulation crumpled colored paper, pieces of broken jewelry pieces and badly cut fabric could be useful for any situation. Well I just proved you all wrong!

 

My origami paper that I received as a gift when I visited Tokyo as a kid was used to create the butterflies. This might sound so strange, but origami paper has a beautiful smell. It’s sort of sweet and delicate, and when I first opened the plastic covering, I caught a whiff of the scent and it brought me back immediately to the moment when I stepped off the plane in Japan over a decade ago. I sewed the butterflies on a red piece of lycra that I used in high school for my final art project. It was the first time I attempted using a sewing machine and no one at the fabric shop informed me that lycra was one of the hardest fabrics (next to chiffon) to work with. I just remembered that I would buy lycra and spandex clothes for dance and it was stretchable so I could fit it onto different models. I totally did not expect to spend 8 hours resisting the urge to smash the sewing machine because the damn needle and thread wouldn’t work with me. But I divest.

 

LITTLE RED

 

For the second look I literally went on a scavenger hunt for the seashells my family uses as decor in the bathrooms, you know, to have more ‘feng shui’ and stuff (just kidding, I know nothing about feng shui). It was like playing hot potatoes as I tried to glue gun the shells to tulle, trying not to burn the skin off my fingers. But I ended up with a wonderful shell helmet thingy that photographed really well, so I’m not complaining. Now it serves as a beautiful centerpiece on my childhood desk. For the lips I lined them with white Ben Nye creme and colored them in with SFX liquid gold Mehron face paint. Honestly I think I tried a seashell pattern on my lip, epicly failed and then just started drawing white stripes down the top lip. Painting your lips with a tiny brush makes them itch like crazy. Maybe my lips are ticklish but it takes serious willpower to not laugh when adding small details to them.

 

LITTLE MERMAID

 

The last look was done in Taiwan actually, while everyone was out and about, but it was raining so I stayed indoors for once. I wanted to go for a feathery look because as I had chosen butterflies (woods) for Little Red Riding Hood and seashells (sea) for Little Mermaid, it seemed only appropriate to go with birds (her song and clean-up crew) for Snow White. I had considered the poisonous apple, but it almost killed her off in the story and it was cliche, so I went with the friendly birds she sang to. Well the feathers were harder to draw on than I thought because 90% of my makeup kit was still back in America, hence, it didn’t work out the way I wanted to so I sort of look like I have strange hairy cheeks and waves engulfing my forehead (but again, it photographed pretty well so I’m not complaining). Then the feather eyelashes were bought in this really cool store somewhere in Taipei that sold cheap nail art and mass produced false lashes, but I put up a tutorial in Issue 2 of Artists Unknown Magazine to show how to make feather eyelashes if anyone is interested.

 

SNOW WHITE

 

Well, that concludes my fairytale series for now. I’m sure I’ll pick it up again with more characters in the future. Hopefully this avant-garde twist on Little Red, Little Mermaid and Snow White inspires someone out there to do something different this Halloween. Just a friendly reminder to be conscious of being culturally aware when choosing costumes. Dress to impress but dress with respect.

 

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