The World on a Dress

world on a dress
Words can only begin to express how much I love the opening credits from Castle in the Sky, everyone’s favorite 80s pastoral steampunk delight (that has aged amazingly well!). A sepia-toned sequence of what appears to be illustrations from some printed manuscript, or travelogue, or old children’s book…all telling the story of Laputa’s past and grounding us in Miyazaki’s world before the adventure truly begins.

So imagine how pleased I was to find a dress that mimicked those credits’ exact aesthetic during a thrifting quest today!

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This dress is an enigma–a strange relic of closets past. Art researcher though I am, I may never fully understand its provenance. It doesn’t have a visible tag, or a stitched logo, or anything that could connect it to a brand, a time period, a history. With the exception of a frustratingly visible size number scribbled on the back near the neckline (thanks, thrift store), this dress defies identification. And although it appears to be factory-made, who knows? Perhaps it was handcrafted by an artist who will remain forever anonymous…

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When I first spotted this dress tucked away amidst morosely wrinkled H&M blouses and surprisingly appealing wool skirts that looked very Rosie Cotton, I was drawn to it because of the birds. It seemed so strangely bucolic and subtle for a bird print, and the colors reminded me of the palette preferred by the self-taught, “outsider” artist Henry Darger. Upon taking a closer look, however, I noticed that the birds and the branches they grip so tightly are merely part of a much more complex design: and I knew it had to be mine.

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I just can’t get over the many layers of landscapes drawn together on this one dress–it makes me wonder if the print was an original design, or if it’s based off some older image or engraving.

In any case, as excited as I am to uncover its secrets, I’m equally eager to wear it on an autumn day, paired with brown boots and a head full of stories. If you had the opportunity to wear a tiny little world, wouldn’t you?

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3 thoughts on “The World on a Dress

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