There’s Fashion in Death: Vogue Magazine and its Fascination with the Death of Ophelia
By: Erica Bianca Romero- University of the Philippines Diliman
Disclaimer: No image posted here belongs to me, unless specified otherwise.
One of, if not the most memorable scene associated with Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is her death scene. Interestingly, in this part of the play, readers do not actually hear her death in the voice of Ophelia herself; rather, the tragedy was told by Hamlet’s mother Gertrude, which might have been one of the contributing factors as to why the reason behind her death remains a mystery. The insisting question surrounding her (whether she died of an accident or a suicide) makes the character more enigmatic. Perhaps it is why the death of Ophelia has undeniably been sensationalized, romanticized, and at times fetishized in a number of platforms. This particular image of Ophelia (above or near the water, and her flowers tangled around her) finds its way in movies, paintings, adaptations, and other interpretations.
It is then not surprising that the fashion industry would glamorize Ophelia’s death. Vogue, to be more specific, is a fashion magazine which has utilized this particular image over the years. A quick search would give one more than a handful of this magazine’s published photos of a girl in white floating in water with flowers. Concepts of photo shoots might have been more subtle with their references as the years passed by; nevertheless, a girl in a lying (sometimes provocative) position, the water, and the flowers are images often inseparable in specific shoots. The examples given below are a combination of those that directly reference Ophelia and those that appear under the tag: Ophelia and Vogue- meaning they might not have been explicitly citing Ophelia as inspiration but are simply categorized as such, giving the impression that the fashion industry and/or its enthusiasts have a consciousness of this image as something associated with Shakespeare’s Ophelia.
The following pictures openly cite Ophelia as inspiration:
The pictures that follow, although not directly referencing Ophelia, are still viewed as Ophelia-inspired by reviewers and fashion writers; this is a testament to how this image has an existing presence in the world-renowned magazine:
In addition to these, there is an online gallery of Ophelia-inspired pictures collected by Alessia Glaviano, Senior Photo Editor of Vogue Italia and it can be found in Vogue Italia’s official site: http://www.vogue.it/en/people-are-talking-about/art-photo-design/2012/01/ophelia-from-photovogue#ad-image157542
Amore Ophelia. Digital Image. Pinterest. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.
Borrelli-Persson, Laird. “The Return of Romance, Ophelia-Style.” Vogue. 18 Sept. 2014. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.
Glaviano, Alessia. “Ophelia from Photo Vogue.” Vogue. 23 Jan. 2012. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.
Hassett, Ben. Hidden Guardian. Digital Image. Pinterest. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.
Meisel, Steven. The Cult of Beauty. Digital Image. Partnoveau. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.
Mert & Marcus. Playing With Fire. Digital Image. Fashiononerogue. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.
Mcginley Ryan. Bloom. Digital Image. Swide. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.
Oh, Joong Seok. Oh My Ophelia. Digital Image. Pinterest. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.
Steichen, Edward. Ophelia. Digital Image. Pinterest. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.
Von Unwert, Ellen. So Full of Dreams. Digital Image. Fashionising. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.