Sheer Top With Neck Bow,SHOP SIMILAR, Sheer Crystal Mesh Sleeveless Top, SHOP SIMILAR, Sheer Crystal Mesh Sleeveless Skirt, SHOP SIMILAR, MIU MIU CREATIVE DIRECTION: DANÉ STOJANOVIC & MARNE SCHWARTZ PHOTOGRAPHY: ELLEN VON UNWERTH FASHION DIRECTION: ANNA CASTAN HAIR: CIARA COSTENOBLE MAKEUP: OSSIEL RAMOS ABARCA TALENT: JOURDAN DUNN

What was your favourite fairy tale when you were growing up? The flippancy of a packet of beans that magically summons a giant, the unmistakable sparkle of a crystal shoe lost in a ballroom, the impact of 70-foot long hair cascading down a castle tower – fairy tales were invented to teach us morals with a hint of magic. Their fantastical and folkloric exploration of worlds instilled in us from a young age that women are princesses, men are princes, and kisses have the power to do, well, just about anything.

A childhood rich in fantasy and make-believe can become a magical stepping stone through life, helping us navigate our way through hardships and trials. But the truth is, we’re living in dark times, from mundane problems to worldwide upheaval. The Middle East is haunted by war, the earth is on fire, lute-playing squirrels sadly do not accompany us while we work, and my realisation of ‘happily ever after’ bears little resemblance to the sanitised Disney versions I grew up on. Everyone must deal with terrible events at various points in their lives – a reality that the age-old Disney-princess narrative neatly eschews time and time again.

Through three volumes, this issue of GRAZIA Middle East explores the heroines who are defining their own destinies; these are the stories of those who are increasingly less interested in sealing anything and everything with a magical kiss. In the age of Maleficent, Katniss, Hermione, and Elsa, what room is there for a princess whose quiet goodness is her best quality? The cinematic classics and bedtime stories we were told have been reimagined through a modern lens, one that features couture gowns, fantastical sets, and famous faces. Subversive folk tales are brought to vivid life via otherworldly stories; it’s an enchanting interplay of absurd images and imaginative text.

Magical worlds lurk so flagrantly in the subconscious of designers, and fashion’s greatest power is its ability to make people dream; to create new worlds. Clothing plays a crucial role in fairy tales, signalling everything from status to power (or lack thereof) to the all-important transformation that takes the protagonist from peasant to main-character-energy. As the SS23 shows wrap whilst I write this, one thing is for sure: fairy-tale fashion is going nowhere next season. The runways read like a retrospective of dreams and devilry, from Paris Hilton the Barbie bride at Versace to Balenciaga’s apocalyptic, mud-filled spectacle.

This issue weaves together various fairy tales – from Cinderella to Alice in Wonderland – and then pulls them, quite firmly, apart. Whether exploring the wonderful world of surrealism or following the centaurs through the labyrinth, fairy tales bring fantasy and hope, and no matter how grown up we are, we will always need to believe in magic. And this issue is just that: proof that magic exists.

MILLI MIDWOOD
@MILLIMIDWOOD
MILLI.MIDWOOD@ITP.COM

This Editor’s Letter is published in the fourth edition of GRAZIA Middle East. Click here to discover more from ONCE UPON A TIME.