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  • Fairie-ality-Style

David Ellwand

As an adult

David Ellwand began his career in photography at the age of eighteen. He uses a variety of formats and techniques in his books: black-and-white photographs, collage with hand-tinting and full colour photography of handmade objects. He is also a mouse trainer, sculptor, and highly skilled self-taught computer artist. He lives with his wife and daughter in a village in West Sussex, England.

As an artist

David Ellwand says he has long been intrigued by folklore and tales of the little people. "I've been to a lot of places where folklorists say that fairies have been sighted," he reflects. "Nowadays anything supernatural might be supposed to be a UFO, but in Victorian times it would be considered to be a fairie, or a will-o’-the-wisp, or whatever. It's really quite fascinating." Now add to this fascination a painstaking attention to detail and an imagination in permanent overdrive, and you'll have some sense of what inspired Fairie-ality, the fashion collection from the House of Ellwand. "I've worked as a photographer for more than fifteen years and spent a lot of my time photographing flowers," David recalls. "One day, after working with some calla lilies, I left them out without any water. They started to dry naturally, and I noticed how one of them resembled a small silk shirt. I then started to bend and shape the flowers and model them into items of clothing suggested by their organic shapes." The resulting "fairie clothes", fashioned as playthings for David Ellwand's then three-year-old daughter, became the basis for Fairie-ality, an exquisitely designed, tongue-in-cheek catalogue of fashions for fairies. David says that his biggest challenge in handcrafting designs from flowers, feathers, leaves, grass, shells, and other natural materials is "trying to handle the delicate materials without messing them up." Through meticulous experimentation, he learned that feathers have a natural flex that creates a perfect loop, flower petals have a natural curl, and lilies especially, when half-dried, can be worked into all sorts of shapes. He also discovered that his diminutive creations needed to be photographed instantly before they began to fade and wither. Reproduced in breathtaking detail, the 150 fashions David showcases in Fairie-ality – dresses, coats, trousers, hats, underthings, and shoes – have grabbed the attention of such fashion moguls as shoe designer Stuart Weitzman, who commissioned eight almost-human-sized "fairie" shoes for a window display making the round of his boutiques.

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