I’m a fashion illustrator who dabbles in trend theory, not a gamer. When Jaime Woo asked me to interpret five female video game characters through the lens of fashion for Gamercamp, I approached the project as a total outsider. Video game heroines, to a fresh eye, are very peculiar indeed. The way they behave and dress reflects the male majority of their beholders. So how would they appear if they were style icons, appealing to a female gaze?
When I did my research, I found that video games and fashion share much in common. They’re both idealized universes full of strange characters, hierarchical in nature. Both are based on different notions of status; in one world, power is conferred by violence and skill, in the other, by snobbery and creativity. Just because fashion is perceived as “female” does not make it any better or fairer than “male” video games. The two are in many ways, more similar than dissimilar. Not the least is the way they are both demonized as a corruptor of youth. More positively, they offer safe virtual spaces where people can dream and act out their fantasies.
For each character, I have chosen a “Style Icon” as inspiration for their look, and chosen a designer collection to dress them in. What follows is my reasoning behind each illustrated interpretation.
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Chun-Li, Street Fighter
Style Icon: Anne Hathaway
Collection: Burberry Prorsum Spring 2013
I’ve chosen Anne Hathaway as iconic influence for the Chinese character Chun-Li because she is consistently popular in Chinese media for her clothing and appearance. Her porcelain complexion, large eyes and sophisticated yet conservative red carpet style resonate with contemporary Chinese beauty standards. Modern Chinese fashion favours familiar luxury brands, however the overtly logo-ed branding of Louis Vuitton is now falling out of favour for the more subtle (and more difficult to procure in China) Burberry. The Chinese conception of glamour is hyper-feminine, wealth-driven and yet also understated, and you never see Chinese actresses wearing “oriental” fashions on the red carpet. Therefore I’ve taken a departure from Chun-Li’s traditional look to one that is more about saying “money” as demurely as possible, with a British accent. Conveniently, the Spring 2013 Burberry Prorsum collection featured a variety of booty shorts to accommodate Chun-Li’s high kicks.
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Commander Shepard, Mass Effect
Style Icon: Daphne Guinness
Collection: Gareth Pugh Spring 2009
Daphne Guinness is both an aristocratic authority figure and an artistic iconoclast; I think her style is suitable for Commander Shepard because she champions individuality over ‘robotic’ sameness (paralleling Shepard’s mission), while at the same time affecting costumes that are aggressive and strong. One of the designers Guinness favours is Gareth Pugh. I’ve chosen Pugh’s Spring 2009 collection because of a stunning series of armour-like outfits in black and white. I used some artistic license and rendered the design in red & white, to reflect the character’s original design. The earrings are loosely based on the Laruicci designs worn by Beyonce with another Gareth Pugh outfit in her “Run the World” video.
Lara Croft, Tomb Raider
Style Icon: Sienna Miller
Collection: Saint Laurent Paris Spring 2013
Lara Croft’s antecedents are aristocratic, yet she chose the adventurous career of an archaeologist, so I’ve chosen Sienna Miller as her icon because that actress came from a very wealthy background but became known for sporting a very “bohemian” style that plays down her own privilege. Miller is also known for her braided hairdos which is likewise a Croft signature. For the collection, I’ve chosen one of the controversial Saint Laurent Paris collections by Hedi Slimane – his rich girls also reject their European blue blood by dressing inspired by “the streets” of California, and notoriously not even carrying handbags. They also wear broad-brimmed hats which seem to be occasionally sported by Croft.
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Mileena, Mortal Kombat
Style Icon: Lindsay Lohan
Collection: Balmain Spring 2011
Mileena’s unhinged aspect immediately suggested Lindsay Lohan as her icon – Lohan’s got this scattershot fashion sense that occasionally veers towards the overly-revealing. She’s often also unashamedly dishevelled, with overprocessed, unkempt hair and a disregard for details. Balmain SS11 is the perfect collection for Mileena because it’s essentially made for a hot mess of a rich girl, outrageous tastelessness rendered uber-fashionable by the fact that it’s very, very expensive.
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Princess Zelda, The Legend of Zelda
Style Icon: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
Collection: Alexander McQueen Fall 2008
The Duchess of Cambridge is the ultimate fashion princess of our times, and is often seen wearing Alexander McQueen in his posthumous, polite incarnation as a national hero. However, for Princess Zelda, I’d like to dress her highness in the more subversive designs of the designer while he was still alive. McQueen has often been characterized as using violence against women as an emotional and creative instigator. McQueen’s clothing plays on ideas of female submission and corrupted power which I think makes it suitable for a permanently kidnapped heroine. The Fall 2008 collection, appropriately inspired by British colonialism, features some spectacular diadems which I understand are Zelda’s signature.