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High fashion collections mimic Maleficent's look

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She's one of the most stylish Disney villainesses of all time. With ruby lips, eyes perfectly rimmed in black, sharp, high cheekbones and a show-stopping black dress, cape and horns, Maleficent's look is more than memorable -- it is iconic 55 years after Sleeping Beauty debuted onscreen.

It's no wonder that Maleficent, the titular character in the coming live-action movie starring Angelina Jolie, has inspired one of the most extensive assemblages of fashion and beauty tie-ins in recent film history. Various elements of Maleficent's look have been translated into wearable items, from black-and-white beaded jackets by Naeem Khan for HSN to a dragon-shaped rhodium ear cuff with onyx and black diamonds from Crow's Nest Jewels to a M.A.C. red lipstick.

"Maleficent is fabulous," said Nancy Deihl, director of the master of arts program in costume studies at New York University. Maleficent, along with the Evil Queen and Cruella de Vil, are the three fashion Furies, she said. "While heroines are pretty, the villainesses are what you call striking. You can even say beautiful, in a certain way. Belle laide really applies to them. They're never going to be mistaken for the sweet heroine."

Maleficent and other villainesses are glamorous in part because "they have this power and knowledge" that makes them attractive, Deihl said. "Glamour requires a certain maturity rather than girlish prettiness." For grown-ups, the stylistic appeal of the live-action version of Maleficent is not about viewing evil as glamorous as much as it is about appreciating her sophistication and power, Deihl said.

Add to that Jolie's star wattage and Maleficent is even more alluring. In the film, Jolie's beauty (notwithstanding the prosthetically enhanced angular cheekbones) combines with Maleficent's revisionist back story to make the dark fairy much less malevolent and much more sympathetic than her animated predecessor.

Toni G, Jolie's makeup artist, created the Maleficent makeup look, which M.A.C. interpreted not only with a blue-red lipstick called True Love's Kiss but with a whole capsule collection, including faux lashes, eyeliner and a black nail color named Nocturnelle. M.A.C. also created an online guide for which 19 products to use to re-create Jolie's Maleficent visage.

Jewelry also was a natural fit for commercial reinterpretation.

Manuel Albarran, who designed Maleficent's bracelets, brooches, rings, collars and shoulder and spine pieces for the film, used gold, brass, copper, leather, feathers and precious stones to create organic-looking pieces.

In turn, London-based Crow's Nest Jewels took themes from the film, such as horns, thorns, dragons and feathers, and fashioned them into a stunning seven-piece fine-jewelry collection ($5,180-$20,880). Each item is a statement piece, from the rhodium bangle with onyx, black diamonds and twin horns that climb across the arm to the 18-karat ring with yellow and red sapphires that evoke flames.

Several fashion jewelry companies are offering their versions of jewelry influenced not just by the film character, but also by the decorative elements of the movie, including period-themed fabrics, embellishments, design motifs and architecture. The black feather necklace by RK by Ranjana Khan Jewelry for HSN ($239.95) that mimics the feathers in Maleficent costumes is one of the standout pieces.

Some clothing capsule collections, on the other hand, are not so much a literal interpretation as much as they are an evocation of Maleficent's costumes in the second half of the film, which shows her as an adult wearing mostly black in "much heavier fabrics with lots of volume" and "sculptural shapes," according to Anna B. Sheppard, costume designer.

Ranjana Khan's husband, designer Naeem Khan, whose dresses and gowns have been worn by first lady Michelle Obama and Eva Longoria, has created a black-and-white collection that references Maleficent and Aurora so subtly, the clothes stand on their own without association to the film. "I wanted to create clothes that are fun and wearable without getting too dark," Naeem Khan said. "You want to feel that they're part of the movie, but you don't make the clothes too evil. You want them to be glamorous."

Previews of the film mostly show Maleficent as vengeful and menacing. But the movie's story of her metamorphosis will likely make her an attractive, even heroic character.

Whether that will help fuel a demand for Maleficent-inspired fashion is unclear. What's evident is that those who may want to channel their inner dark fairy will have plenty from which to choose.

"Costume is not fashion, but fashion is costume," Deihl said. "What we wear and how we go about every day is a performance of our lives. Some people might decide that they are in a Maleficent mood and they have to be Maleficent for a day."

-- The Orange County Register

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 30, 2014 D3

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