When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with mermaids. Not happy, beautiful mermaids that welcome you onto their backs for a ride on their shimmering tails or give you rare pearl necklaces from the depths of their father’s ocean but murderous, blood thirsty, mercurial creatures that await in the depths to pull you down by your feet into the black abyss of the ocean and devour you in chunks with their gnashing pointy teeth. It didn’t help my case that I was obsessed with books from a young age, traversing the forbidden distance to the library on my own in search of more tales to feed my already overactive imagination. When I first read Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, it somewhat dulled the fear that any time I get into the water I might be eaten but instead of this horror it took away, the tale brought a dull sadness and visceral pain into my somewhat innocent view of the world. For you that have never read the original of this not-quite-suitable-for-children story, the Little Mermaid is an altogether more tortured creature: once she gains her much wished for legs, she can hardly walk for the pain is like being cut with knives, the prince she loves falls in love with another woman and the only way the Mermaid is able to turn back into her previous form is to stab the prince to death with a witch’s dagger. Innocent this story ain’t and somehow , after reading this , I understood the world as it is – altogether more tragic, melancholy, fallible and imperfectly beautiful than I had previously presumed.
When I saw these clothes in Bonel Pr’s showroom, they reminded me of the mermaids of my youth. Beautiful, fragile, kaleidoscopic, strong, unpredictable. It seemed entirely fitting that the young label’s name is Dyspnea. Established in 2012 by Aimee-Cherie Kendall, Jameen Zalfen and Rachel Motteram in Perth, the new range titled Reptilia uses Swarovski crystal embellishments, leather, soft cotton, PVC ,plastic feel fabrics and mirror detailing for a demi-couture feel. Compelled by the colours , I borrowed these clothes and gave them a dystopian mermaid make-over on one of Australia’s most beautiful (and whitest!) beaches – Hyams beach.
Dress by Dyspnea, headpiece by Sarah and Sebastian X Hatmaker
Top and skirt by Dyspnea, bracelet, rings and neckpiece by Sarah and Sebastian
Skirt and top by Dyspnea, cuff by Vera Xane, earrings by 8 Other Reasons
photographed by Alice Wesley-Smith