Culture corner: a fetish fairy tale for adults

The second of an occasional series on fashion in the arts. This week, Australian director Julia Leigh’s first film ‘Sleeping Beauty’

It is the time when, along with other festive traditions – chestnuts roasting on an open fire, sleigh bells ringing – even the most fashion conscious among us is tempted to curl up under the duvet in flannel pyjamas, sweatshirt and stripey wool socks. But Sleeping Beauty, the debut film from Australian art-house director Julia Leigh, just released in the US, could be set to change that.

The movie features not only a mouth-watering collection of bedroom attire but a collaboration with British lingerie company Lascivious, so that much of what is onscreen is also available in-store. If US viewers have an enthusiastic reaction to the film the nation’s nightwear could be in for a mass makeover.

While next year’s retelling of the Snow White fable starring Julia Roberts and Lily Collins (Mirror Mirror, due in the US in March 2012) promises a showcase of saccharine, Disney-style fantasy dressing, in this anti-fairy tale costume designer Shareen Beringer plays with a sartorial decadence reminiscent of the 1950s and offers inspiration for fashion that goes from the parlour to the bedroom.

Troubled university student Lucy (Emily Browning) responds to an advertisement by a modern-day madam Clara (Rachael Blake) and the call plunges her into the decorous but controlled world of Clara’s stately home, where nameless bourgeois men pay to act out their deepest fantasies with women trained in the art of silver service.

“As it is a very stylised film, the costumes had to speak to the audience,” says Beringer. “The plush fabrics enhanced the seductive allure of Clara’s world.”

In a pivotal scene, Lucy prepares to become a “sleeping beauty”. She coolly sips tea laced with a sleeping drug from Wedgwood china while wearing a floor-length oyster pink nightgown made from silk velvet that has a sand-washed satin outer lining. Other “beauties” wear Hervé Léger-style cutaway body suits (£112, Lascivious) as they serve trays of Beluga caviar, and Lucy herself later appears in a creamy Belle balconette lingerie set, including suspenders (£142 and £82, Lascivious).

If you think this is a one-off commercial fable, however, consider the fact that mainstream retailer Target has just unveiled previews of burlesque artist Dita Von Teese’s new line of lingerie, Von Follies, to go on sale in Australia next year. Now the question is: will selling tickets also sell teddies?

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