‘Mermaiding’: summer 2016’s fashion inspiration
he mermaid has been a perennial stylistic reference point for the past five years. Everyone from Paris Hilton to Lady Gaga and Katy Perry has co-opted mermaid imagery as a way of indicating both otherworldly glamour and childish innocence. But now a new (ahem) wave of “mermaiding” is upon us. And it isn’t just about looking a bit like Ariel – it’s more than that.
Instagram is filled with visually compelling nods to the beauty of the classic mermaid. Search the hashtag #Mermaidmakeup and you’ll find tons of pastel eyeshadows, and purple, pink and blue lips, while #Mermaidhair features intricately braided, bunched or waved hair in rainbow colours. In real life, the trend for hair dyed multiple ways can be seen in the popularity of Kylie Jenner as a lifestyle guru (including her Kylie Hair Kouture, a range of coloured extensions) and Bleach London (the hair salon that specialises in 3.0 colouring). Meanwhile, the dreaded flower crown looks as if it is about to be replaced with the mermaid crown, as popularised by Chelsea Shiels, a florist whose Etsy store sells bedazzled crowns made from seashells and shiny car-boot-sale jewels. Meanwhile royal wedding dressmaker Sarah Burton’s collection for Alexander McQueen featuredmermaid crowns in the AW16 show, while accessory designer Sophia Webster’s SS16 collection had a Birth of Venus themed mermaid boutique.
A mermaid crown by Chelsea Shiels.
A mermaid crown by Chelsea Shiels. Photograph: Chelsea Shiels
The new mermaid scene feels part of the same lineage as movements such asseapunk, vaporwave and cybertwee – all of which incorporate the aesthetics of 90s rave culture, the 80s synth music movement and the far-out pastel colour palette of the early internet (remember Geocities?).
But mermaiding is more sophisticated than a wink to day-glo Lisa Frank school supplies or My Little Pony. There’s something powerful and modern about the trend, with typically “feminine” colour schemes (such as rose quartz and serenity) being so prevalent online. It seems fitting that the star of the remake of 80s Daryl Hannah film Splash will be Channing Tatum. We’re hoping for plenty of nods to Madonna’s Cherish video as well as a bit of Step Up-esque backwardbeard-flipping.