• Fae Tyler

Why Create the Fantastic?

Updated: May 15, 2019

Clothing is an intimate art form. It has the power to transform our sense of self and identity. It is a projection into the world, one that changes with our desires and needs. I am drawn to fashion as a medium because it is an avenue for transformation. As a fashion designer and artist, I aim to create clothes that empower women. I love wearing a pair of boots that are good for kicking down doors or climbing barriers. When I wear clothes that make me feel confident or fierce, I feel ready to take on the world. By drawing inspiration from warriors, who are fierce protectors, and spirits, who are beings outside the constraints of this reality, I seek to make apparel that empowers women.

My warrior and spirit inspired art is undeniably linked to my love of fantasy books. When I was younger, I was drawn to fantasy and mythology as an escape. At times when this world proved too difficult, I dove into fantasy books that portrayed determined heroines. It was escapism—and inspiration. Through these books, I knew the kind of woman I wanted to become. As I grew older, I also found role models in the women who surrounded me, but books were early windows into the life of a heroine. Today, making clothing inspired by fantasy novels is a concrete way for me to bridge fantasy and reality. Fantasy is no longer escapism (though escapism is a simplistic description for delving into books or dreams), but a means of exerting tangible influence in the physical world.

This year, I struggled to understand the kind of art I sought to create. The easiest answer to give was that I created clothing for warrior women and queens. My love of armor revealed itself in many of my designs, and I felt the strongest when I dressed in fierce and protective leathers. I thrived creating for women of power and leadership. Yet half of my designs were ethereal and spiritual. I drew mist wraiths and driftwood-clad wanderers. These women were not bedecked in armor, so what were they?

I had never thought that strength was merely physical, nor that warriors were only those who fought in combat. Strength comes in many forms: some of them physical, some of them mental. But I never looked at my ethereal designs and congratulated myself on depicting mental strength. In fact, I usually saw the designs as beautiful, but impractical. I would never be able to move in a tree dress! Much better were the leather jackets, which were aesthetically pleasing, durable, and functional.

Seeing the world, with all the challenges that women faced, I knew my mission: to empower women. But how on earth would a woman feel empowered while wearing a dress made to resemble a tree?

I realized that the answer laid in my connection to the fantastical. By creating spirits and wraiths, I was creating women who were outside the constraints of this reality. Though they were not fighters, they were inexorable forces in and of their own. My love of freedom and nature manifested itself in art such as delicate hawk wings and dresses made of driftwood. The beings that would wear these, my subconscious whispered, were free of the rules and systems that marked the “real world.”

In other words, I create inexorable forces of nature, goddesses and spirits who walk side by side with warriors. It is my hope that the people who wear my designs will feel ready to take on the world and its many challenges.