Eugenie Bird’s Fairie-ality: The Fashion Collection from the House of Ellwand

UnknownThis book is a trifle, a whimsy, a delightful confection. I was going to call it a “delightful bit of fluff,” but as a ten by twelve inch hardbound volume, it’s a wee bit too substantial to be called fluff. Also, at the asking price of forty dollars US, it packs quite a financial wallop for a trifle — but so does all fashion.

Yes, my dears, fashion. The fairies have finally agreed to release to the mortal world the name of their top fashion designer, and the name is David Ellwand. And what a designer he is! The House of Ellwand works with the most beautiful found items in the natural realm to create wearable art, gowns and outfits that sparkle and gleam. Blossoms, leaves, petals, seeds, stems, pods, buds, plumes, shells, feathers and bark all find their into Ellwand’s creations, tastefully accented with shells and stones.

Fairie-ality is a catalog of the new spring line from the House of Ellwand, beginning with gowns for the Queen’s Cotillion of the Pheasant (held, as always, on the first full moon after the bluebells bloom, at sunset in the Oak Grove), continuing on to flirty frocks and other day wear for numerous parties and May Day revels, and culminating, as all traditional fashion lines do, with a glorious Midsummer bridal ensemble. Ellwand includes unmentionables, swimwear, shoes and hats for all occasions; and discerning male fairies will also find plenty to choose from amongst the stunning jackets and trousers offered here.

The collection has been meticulously photographed and presented in breathtaking detail by the multi-talented designer, David Ellwand himself. Shown actual size (hence the size of the book itself) each piece is worth marvelling over. I found myself exclaiming again and again at the irridescent sheen of a peacock feather, caught up in a skirt in the trademark Ellwand loop; or at the tender almost-touchable, almost tastable rose petal forming the upper of a delicate dance slipper; or at the delicate tracery of the silver leaf skeletons layered into the frothy goose feathers and calla lilies of the bridal gown’s train; or at the shivery texture of the snake skin lingerie — oh, so racy!

Interspersed with the photographs of the pieces is accompanying whimsical text by Eugenie Bird, artfully presented as a sort of “story of the Season.” Imagine J. Peterman amongst the cowslips, and you’ll get the idea. Ellwand was presented with a minor quandary, in that he was unable to show actual models wearing his pieces (the fey being being notorious for not appearing in photographs). So instead, David Downton offers loosely-rendered watercolors of various lovely fairy maidens and lads as they might appear in Ellwand’s creations.

All of the designs in the Fairie-ality collection, Ellwand assures us, are available for shipment worldwide via special crow courier. Form of payment is negotiable. Please note, however, that this collection was designed specifically for the diminutive fey. Unless one of your abilities is shapeshifting, these pieces may not be your size.

(Candlewick Press, 2002)

About Donna Bird

I am a former lecturer of Sociology at the University of Southern Maine in the beautiful Portland area, where I have lived since 1992.