Fashion is having a LOVE AFFAIR WITH ASTROLOGY – from SHOPPING BY STAR SIGN to wearing talisman accessories, PENNY McCORMICK investigates this CELESTIAL TAKEOVER …
When to book a haircut, sign a contract, hold off on cosmetic procedures or plan a holiday – the level of detail in Susan Miller’s monthly horoscopes is one of the reasons why she has six million followers globally, many of them in the fashion business. Thanks to Miller, plans are changed and deals are stalled. “Astrology is the ultimate individualistic discipline, so the people who love astrology are the most creative people. An artist knows what’s coming before the general public knows.”
As one of her devotees, a ritual I enjoy is logging on to AstrologyZone for the monthly predictions; a typical reading is 2,500 words and feels like a pep talk with shopping tips included. I’ve learned it’s not ideal to buy electronic goods during Mercury retrograde, am conversant with full moon cycles (and how they affect my sleep) and am thanking my lucky stars that Saturn has finally passed through my star sign (Pisces). For the record; no, I do not waft sage sticks in my apartment, hang New Age dream catchers by the window, nor have I lost control of my senses. As French fashionista Garance Doré confessed in her blog on assimilating New York life, “What’s shameful is to not respect people who believe in horoscopes. It’s totally weird if someone doesn’t know his rising sign.”
Latterly it seems, if we’re not reading our stars we’re wearing them – the talisman necklace is one of the biggest accessory trends at the moment – many reference sacred geometry, mystical symbols, the ubiquitous evil eye or hand of Fatima. Eye roll aside, it cannot have escaped your notice that fashion is in the grip of astro fever. Marks & Spencer’s Constellation dress was one of the hits of its AW17 collection, selling out within days, and designers such as Prada, Pucci, JW Anderson, Rixo and Givenchy, also channelled the trend which has been gaining momentum over the last few years. Mary Katrantzou’s Cosmology show for SS16 was “a quest to solve a personal puzzle”. Rock ‘n’ roll jeweller Stephen Webster whose Astro collection has fans such as Madonna and Ozzy Osbourne, believes, “the personal story contained in a star sign makes people feel more emotionally attached to the purchase.” Meanwhile Charlotte Olympia’s “Birthday” shoes collection helped establish designer Charlotte Dellal who said at the time, “even the biggest sceptic is interested in their star sign”.
Such fascination now pervades interior design and retail trends. Tiffany & Co in New York recently commissioned Rubelli to design a zodiac-inspired fabric for its Fifth Avenue window. Selfridges initiated a shopping-by-star-sign service (and has an inhouse Astrolounge), which complemented their zodiac Christmas windows last year (apparently only a handful of pernickety Virgos complained about their representation). Talking of which, Carine Roitfeld in an interview with Karl Lagerfeld, revealed she was a Virgo: “Either you are a good Virgo or a crazy Virgo!” It’s safe to say, she’s probably a mix of both.
For fashion, like showbusiness, is big on superstition. For her debut at Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri’s side buttoning jackets referred back to the couturier’s Oblique Line of 1950 and her scalloped lingerie was a nod to his gilt moon Mexique dress of 1951. Christian Dior was highly superstitious – having his cards read before each show, and having talismans such as the number 8, clovers and hearts. “Chance,” wrote Dior “always comes to the aid of those who really want something.” The Rose des Vents collection by Victoire de Castellane, creative director of Dior, is an eight-pointed star motif referencing Mr Dior’s lucky number (currently on my wishlist). Coco Chanel meanwhile famously took the belief in signs and symbols to an obsessive level – the shooting star or comet, the Maltese cross, the wheatsheaf and the camellia were all motifs with which she surrounded herself. Before either of these couturiers, Elsa Schiaparelli’s winter 1938-39 Astrology collection, and more specifically, her iconic Zodiac jacket (recently updated and available in a limited edition) was inspired by the solar system with embroidery by the House of Lesage featuring twelve glyphs representing the star signs. Her interest was familial – Schiaparelli’s uncle, Giovanni, was a renowned astronomer. In her biography, Shocking Life, she recounts how her uncle told her the beauty marks on her cheek were arranged like stars in the Ursa Major constellation.
Perhaps we should not be surprised the fashion world is so heavily involved with all things astro. For one, they are both cyclical and seasonal and they both predict trends. They also both worship beauty and it’s easy to see that the fashion set’s love of horoscopes is another opportunity to talk about me, myself and I. Yet it’s much more than aspirational sparkle. For many it’s about returning to an ancient form of wisdom. Physicist Albert Einstein noted, “Astrology is a science in itself and contains an illuminating body of knowledge. It taught me many things and I am greatly indebted to it.” In the corporate world, JP Morgan – America’s first billionaire – once said “Millionaires don’t use astrology, billionaires do.” Millionaire Natalie Massenet has revealed she disconnects “by looking at the stars.”
It’s not a surprise therefore that the Pantone Color Institute has named ultra violet (Pantone 18-3838) as the colour of the year, which apparently, “suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now. The vast and limitless night sky is symbolic of what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own.” In a world that is increasingly fraught and digitally led, astrology allows many to tap into something timeless, magical and in some cases illuminating. Ultimately astrology is not a belief system or religion – it’s a language which has been harnessed by creatives and will continue for a long time to come.
Linda Goodman: Check if your mother or grandmother has a copy of Goodman’s Sun Signs, Love Signs or Star Signs lurking in a corner. In the 1980s, the books were frequent bathroom reading material. The former topped The New York Times bestseller list in 1968, bringing astrology in from the cold. Written in an elegant style, it still has much to teach about personality traits and back in the day, many a fledgling relationship foundered if they did not pass Goodman’s compatibility predictions.
Shelley von Strunckel: The first astrologist to have a column in a broadsheet newspaper, Strunckel was hired by Andrew Neil in 1992 to write for The Sunday Times and her horoscopes also appear in the Evening Standard. She says they “feed our hunger for inner peace”, while her Champagne Mystic blog posts reveal spiritualism is not incompatible with luxury. She lives in a spacious loft apartment in London with room to entertain 80, by the way.
Susan Miller: With fans ranging from Gloria Vanderbilt to Katy Perry, Miller is the fashion set’s favourite astrologer who started writing her AstrologyZone columns in 1995. On average, she writes 47,000 words each month and is responsible for introducing “Mercury Retrograde” into mainstream parlance.
Jonathan Cainer: Remember cosmic ordering – when you asked for a car parking space (and much more) and it didn’t quite deliver? All Cainer’s creation. The hippy recluse was apparently the richest astrologer on Fleet Street – his planetary predictions equalled a £2mstg turnover each year until his death in 2016. Ironically, left-leaning Cainer was the Daily Mail’s resident soothsayer who also dished out readings on premium rate phone lines and online. Many editors tried to lure him away from this lucrative contract – temporarily to the Daily Mirror and Daily Express, before he returned to the Mail. Cainer often went on meditative retreats to India, and having written his predictions well in advance, he continued to offer advice long after his death. He revealed he often rewrote horoscopes with the “suicide filter” in mind.
Joseph Hong: A former accountant, the Dublin-based Hong discovered astrology when exploring plausible reasons for a sense of unhappiness when living in Australia. “Locational astrology, a specialised branch, describes the potential impact of relocating to a city or town and provided me with spot-on insights.” He has a growing clientele and explains, “astrology can provide insights and observations on most, if not all, areas of life, though it is not a substitute for common sense, experience or effort.”
Margaret Gray: Having launched her business Relationships and Astrology just over a year ago with business partner Dr Armand Diaz, Dublin-based Gray is very busy. Psychological astrology is her forte and a reading offers a short-cut into a client’s psyche. Her work is closely based on Jungian psychology. “It’s very popular with psychotherapists and counsellors in the USA and I have often worked with therapists to help them with clients when they felt a little stuck.” She also works as a mediator and has found that many manager/employer issues can be helped with the tool of astrology. www.astrologypsychological.com.
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