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Rayne (Alr)
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« on: 11 February 2012, 16:48:46 »

I know, I know... beginning another project when I'm still working on the other!--but I fear if I don't get the ideas down now, they may flutter away from me.

It is fashion week here in the city, and while not nearly done with the same chaos and revelry as the Fall version, I've enjoyed browsing the creations of the various designers. Often, there's no accounting for fashion--but it got me thinking about elven fashion: if everything is spirituality and art, then it seems as though fashion would take on special meaning for elves, no?

With this in mind, I've begun writing. I realize that, for tribes and races, this is generally termed "clothing." I've decided to use fashion as a larger term--encompassing more than just clothing, but also accessories, shoes, etc.

This is still a rough work as I dip my paintbrush into the palettes of elven philosophy and paint out how elves live and breath in this lovely world. Questions, comments, concerns are all welcome, for they help me discover colours I did not see before.


ELVEN FASHION

Everything elves do sings of airy zephyrs and ethereal melodies winding through deep forest trees. From the way they move and live to the feelings they evince in others, elves embody their metaphysical birthright as a wind-touched race. In few areas is this as clear as in their sense of fashion. Naturally, fashion varies widely between tribes, each having a slight variation on beauty and how their deeply-ingrained spirituality should manifest in the clothing they wear.

Among other races, such as humans and orcs, fashion is often tied to vanity, extravagance, pettiness, and superficiality. Elves do not share this view of fashion. First, fashion maintains an element of practical necessity: clothing, shoes, etc. helps to keep the body warm, protected, and safe. Second, fashion serves a social purpose: elves do honor to themselves and one another by wearing the appropriate clothing for the appropriate situation, and in this way, clothing is quite similar to speech, address, and other varying social considerations. Third, and perhaps most importantly, fashion is beautiful: it is another canvas upon which one may paint herself into the Dream, and help bring others to closeness to the Dream by seeing her and experiencing all aspects of her appearance.

Fashion, for elves, is an offshoot of art, and is therefore tied to the elven spirituality, which blossoms in all corners of elven living.


Aesthetics of Fashion
Despite their many veriagated aesthetic tastes, all tribes share desire to inspire movement, for all elves are born from the Element of Wind. For this reason, they prefer clothing that does not hinder moving--dresses that constrict motion of the legs and heavy materials that weigh down the body rarely find their way into elven fashion. Movement is viewed as natural, and anything to restrict it is seen as unnatural and thus unattractive.

The stress on the natural pertains, too, to the body. Elves see their bodies as extensions of their identities, their thoughts and feelings, and the beauty of their bodies is not less than the beauty of their thought. To mutilate the body is relatively rare, confined to tattooing and occasionally piercing--and, most rarely, body scarring. These are practiced most often in dark elven tribes where it is tied to worship of Coor and destruction as a way of honoring the Dream. However, in other tribes, such as the Tethinrhim and Diorye'oleal, the practice of tattooing is tied to tradition and identity, and corresponds with the tribe's own interpretation of the Dream.

In terms of clothing, most tribes honor the elven body. The use of corsets, so common among many human tribes, is unheard of among elves, who see the practice of wearing corsets as tied to the sexually-driven vanities of humans. In elven fashion, there is a desire to accentuate the form, which needs no tugging, pulling, twisting, pushing up or squeezing in, but is rather beautiful in and of itself, without any such manipulation.

It need also be mentioned that materials for elven fashion are far more creative and reaching. Almost anything of natural origins can find their way into elven dress and jewelry, from common items like wood beads and gilded bits of metal to more unusual materials like feathers, leaves, fresh flowers, seashells, fish scales, mosses, lichen, tree bark and branches, fallen leaves, etc. However, it's important to note that elven fashion never seems dramatic: while the materials may be unusual to many races, the end result is always something that seems natural, subtle, and unobtrusively lovely.


Female Fashion
The focus and variety of female fashion far exceeds that of male fashion, though it is prominent among both genders to a greater degree than many other races. While male and female elves are very similar in appearances (and, in fact, can at times be difficulty for other tribes to distinguish), among elves, there is no doubt: female elves, in general, have unrivaled closeness to the Dream--hence why the leaders for most tribes are females. The female form, as among most races, is generally viewed as being quite beautiful; for this reason, clothing designed for it seeks not to hide it or obscure it--but enhance and accentuate it.

Traditional elven clothing is very simple; for females, traditional clothing is epitomized by the avsufr (derived from av'sufr meaning "one cloth") and the ssufra (derived from ss'sufra meaning "two cloths"). The avsufr, generally worn by younger elves, is merely comprised of a single piece of cloth draped over one shoulder and extended out to cover the body, tied off with a cord or chain below the bust. The ssufra dress, traditionally worn by older elves, was similar, but comprised of two cloths, one draped over each shoulder and spread to cover the body. Because of the nature of the dress, the chord or chain used to tie it off was either worn below the bust or about the waist. Though most records are lost, it is believed that this style of dress may have been worn at the time of the Elven Empire of F'v'cl'r.

Today, styles are far more diverse. While the avsufr and ssufra are still commonly worn for traditional events, fashions have become increasingly more diverse. However, cording off a dress at the waist or below the bust (in an 'empire' waist) remains popular: dresses that have no waist are extremely uncommon, due to the fact that they hide rather than show the elegant lines of the female form. Also, while more humanly 'masculine' fashion is more common now-a-days (e.g. breeches, trousers, jerkins, etc.), dresses, gowns, and other long and flowing clothing remains in vogue--in no small part because these items accentuate movement in a way that other clothing does not.

In fact, elven fashion strives increasingly to play on the dual aspects of accentuating movement and accentuating form. The struggle between these two conflicting aspects have quite literally cut the body in two: the hem of elven dresses tends to be flowing, with light, airy fabrics that catch the breezes. They may be long or short: longer dresses tend to work in rhythm with the natural movements of the wearer, while the short are lighter and more easily flutter like bird wings. The body of elven dresses, on the other hand, tends to be more close-fit, hugging the torso and revealing the natural curves of the female form. The fabrics here may be woven, sculpted, but are always cognizant of the body: they cradle rather than constrict.


Male Fashion
While female clothing tends to physically accentuate shape, male fashion seems more concerned with lines: the line created by vests, necklines, and the overlaying of fabric--which tends to come in darker colours. Naturally, there are exceptions to this: the Cyhallrhim of Cyhalloi may wear light colours to blend into the snowy climes of their northern homeland, while many dark elves, like the Diorye'oleal, wear black as a tribute to their worship of Coor and their focus on the ending of one's experience of the Dream. However, darker colours and more line-focused cuts and styles tend to be the standard for masculine clothing in many elven tribes.

As in female fashion, there is a tendency toward clothing that accentuates movement. Therefore, even in male fashion, you find loose-fitting pants that may appear almost like a long dress. Robes are often popular among many tribes, though, as with female fashion, there is occasionally a desire to show the beauty of form. Male and female elves are often quite similar in appearance, and while the female form is generally considered closer to the beauty of Ava and the Dream, male beauty is also greatly admired and respected. For this reason, it is not uncommon to layer robes or loose-fitting garments with vests or jackets. However, clothing that hinders movement is rarely preferred.


Elven Footwear

Shoes, boots, and other footwear are not as common among elves as among humans, nor do they go barefoot as commonly as halflings. In the mythical ages, during the empire of F'v'cl'r, it was common to go without shoes; today, elves generally only go discalced to special events and some ceremonies.

Both genders wear both sandals and boots, though styles may very in the same manner as clothing, with female footwear taking rounder styles and male footwear, more angular ones. Heels are extremely uncommon among elves, who have neither need nor desire to increase their height--or really to give any false illusion of form.


Belief/Origins
While woman's fashion focuses on lighter, airy colours and tends to accentuate shape, men's fashion focuses on darker colours and more accentuation of the line. The reason for this (rather loose) dichotomy draws directly from elven myth. When the High Ava'rnn emerged out of the joyous union of the Rain of Life and the first breath of Wind, it is said that she took cover under the Eu'reoll and the first shadow was thrown upon the earth, and Melr, the first of the Axhi, emerged. He looked upon the High Ava'rnn and knew he was bound to her for all of existence.

From the High Ava'rnn's association with light and Melr's association with shadow seems to have emerged the variation in the colours and styles of male and female dress. Light, when it shines in the darkness, shows without lines, and from a distance, particularly, appears only as a soft, bright, rounded shape in he night. Shadow, on the other hand, is often cast with lines and angles. And so it is that women, associated with the High Ava'rnn and therefore with light, take up lighter colours and softer, rounder styles while men, associated with Melr (the first male elf) and therefore with shadow, have taken up such dress. By donning dress that links a male or female elf to that first profound and everlasting relationship between the High Ava'rnn and Melr, they communally represent the lasting bond between the genders.
« Last Edit: 23 October 2012, 10:28:28 by Rayne (Alr) » Logged

"There is much misjudgment in the world. Now, I knew you for a unicorn when I first saw you, and I know that I am your friend. Yet you take me for a clown, or a clod, or a betrayer, and so I must be if you see me so. The magic on you is only magic and will vanish as soon as you are free, but the enchantment of error that you put on me I must wear forever in your eyes. We are not always what we seem..." -Schmendrick the Magician, The Last Unicorn
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« Reply #1 on: 11 February 2012, 20:26:00 »

I skimmed only very quickly over it, Rayne, but it looks very good, what I could see.

 However, I don't yet knowmyself, if you should say, that the female body is seen as more beautifully as the male. Is that not a bit human thinking? Are not the elves above that? Those were my first ideas, but I don't know myself, what to think about it. I mean, there are good looking men possible :D (WoW male night elves are NOT beautiful... ;) )

Are the elves all slender or are there thicker ones also, is that seen as beautiful also? Maybe there is a difference between persons who have more fat on their bones naturally, those could look good also, in contrary to just  overweight ones?
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« Reply #2 on: 12 February 2012, 01:02:37 »

Females, I think, are in general viewed as more beautiful because they are closer to the Dream. It may be easier to think of elves as a fragment of a fragment of a thin chard of Ava's beauty. Av is female, and so those elves who are female already reflect her in muliebrity if nothing else. If women (in general terms) reach closer to this ideal, they're likely to be viewed as more beautiful. It's best to not forget that those considered the most beautiful have generally been female: Av, the High Av'rnn, the Ranna, and even famous mortal like the beloved and tragic Ai'mern--daughter of one of the Axhai, all of whom were beautiful and all of whom were female.

As far as I know, elves in general share  similar body composition of being tall and slender. I'm certain that there could very well be overweight elves, but I think this is a rarity. I spent a few hours last night sketching and brainstorming elven fashion and most of my visions of it are more suited to the traditional elven frame. Clothing, like many things, should match the body of the wearer--not just in fit but in style. If an elf were thicker-boned, so to speak, the fashion they wear would probably be different than if they were slim.
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"There is much misjudgment in the world. Now, I knew you for a unicorn when I first saw you, and I know that I am your friend. Yet you take me for a clown, or a clod, or a betrayer, and so I must be if you see me so. The magic on you is only magic and will vanish as soon as you are free, but the enchantment of error that you put on me I must wear forever in your eyes. We are not always what we seem..." -Schmendrick the Magician, The Last Unicorn
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« Reply #3 on: 12 February 2012, 08:02:29 »

Quote
Av is female, and so those elves who are female already reflect her in muliebrity if nothing else

That is a unbeatable argument! :)   thumbup
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« Reply #4 on: 06 September 2012, 04:04:51 »

As you're looking for more things to do, Rayne, I thought maybe we could tackle this one next and get it up on site. Looks already pretty done basically. There's also an entry on Elves and Art, so that might be the next one.

First a couple of smaller things to fix:

Quote
However, it's important to note that elven fashion...

Quote
Because of the nature of the dress, the cord or chain used to tie it off

Quote
dresses that have no waist are extremely uncommon

Quote
dresses, gowns, and other long and flowing clothing remains in vogue

Quote
which tends to come in darker colours.  Naturally, there are exceptions to this: the Cyhallrhim of Cyhalloi may wear light colours (colors is used a couple of times)

Quote
Both genders wear both sandles and boots (my dictionary hasn't heard of this one before - do you mean sandals?)

General comments:

- Entry looks pretty fine to me in general, even though fashion for sure is not my main field of interest :) Basic question therefore: Is "fashion" the right term for the entry here, or doesn't "fashion" imply more, than say "wear" (now this word sounds quite lame in comparison). I'm not even sure in German, because "fashion" also seems to imply seasonal clothing which changes (e.g. "out of fashion"), or is this just a modern implication. Because especially all this more human "go with the latest fashion" probably is exactly what elven fashion does not include. Well, you probably chose the right word as a native speaker, just wanted to mention that from my perspective.

- On the matter of accentuating form: I guess here would also be a good point to elaborate the differences between human and elven understanding. Humans would accentuate form as well, like female curves, in line with a seduction effort, and the more curves the better. (I hereby ignore the apparent fact that fashion designers of today consider elf-like super models as the non-plus-ultra of beauty. I'd say that this is actually against human nature, and thus works against the point I'm trying to make here.)

Elven seduction I would assume is more or less completely spiritual, and the accentuation of the body's form is entirely secondary in this regard. For example high heels of course aren't necessary for one because elves are taller, but high heels are designed with the intention to accentuate certain back parts of female anatomy (and the breasts as well as I've just read on Wikipedia). This is a prop to highlight a woman's sexuality. So to put it bluntly: It would make an elf sexy, and that's definitely not what would cross an elf's mind.

I'd say that it wouldn't happen in an elven community that women dress up to impress men, or not to a very high level, quite different to how the whole seduction thing works in human communities. Not that the middle ages are as advanced as the 21st century on Earth, but there's a huge difference in the principle itself. Maybe that could still be worked into the entry a bit.

That much from here,
Artimidor Lagerfeld Federkiel
« Last Edit: 06 September 2012, 04:11:27 by Artimidor Federkiel » Logged



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« Reply #5 on: 11 October 2012, 12:20:31 »

So my wife and I watch Project Runway and they constantly use the word "Aesthetic", so it made me laugh a little when I saw it in your entry.  grin Anyhow this entry makes me wonder if there is a fashion industry in the elvish communities.  Are there professional designers or is the Elvish Aesthetic something that comes natural to all Elves?

Also does this entry apply to all Elvish races?  Or maybe it is applicable specifically for a few of the main tribes?  Perhaps you could mention some unique examples from specific tribes.
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