Symbolism du Monde: the Red Dress

in Fashion/Noteworthy/Visual Art by

Colors bear their own code of associations, conjuring certain perceptions in our mind and triggering a physiological reaction. One can argue that the way we wear certain colors is similar to the way writers use poetic devices – to represent emotions, sensations, and ideas that are otherwise hidden in our subconscious mind.

Certain colors are often seen and used in close proximity to various Holidays throughout the year. Christmas and the New Year in many parts of the world call for the celebration of the shade of Holly berries and desire (how is that for assymetrical contrasting, eh?).  

RED

Unlike the little black dress, which Coco Chanel deemed imperative for every woman’s wardrobe, the red dress is something more special and distinctive. Owning a red dress is not a necessity, but rather – a privilege. Wearing red is the smart weapon of choice when a lady wishes to stand out in a crowd. 

Photo by Plamena Mileva for Fashion House Alegra

The most feminine of colors has inspired more than one artist down through the ages – from Renoir’s and Gaugin’s paintings to Cliff Richard’s famed ballad to Christina Dodd’s novel Danger in a Red Dress. The reason behind such a prominent declaration of love is the symbolism of the color red: the red dress represents femininity, temptation, seduction, magnetism, provocation, and a fiery temperament, all wrapped up into one. It has a direct effect on the senses and almost always invokes a spell of imminent lust.

We present to you our favorite statements that no other color can make quite as prominently as red, demonstrated by Falchion’s enchanting damme en rouge Mila Belcheva.

Photo by Plamena Mileva for Fashion House Alegra


Longing, Passion, Temptation

The color of blood and fire, red is naturally associated with earthy sensations such as yearning and sexual desire, and it encourages action and the unleashing of one’s seductive powers. 

The red dress is a flamenco dance, passionate and flame-inducing; the ultimate battle of the sexes as expressed through art. It is the fatalistic and deadly attractive Carmen – the immortal heroine depicted in worldwide masterpieces such as Prosper Mérimée’s novel, Bizet’s opera, Carlos Saura’s film, and in Théophile Gautier’s poem:

 […] for her men go mad:
The Archbishop of Toledo
Kneels at her feet to say Mass;
And gleams, through the pallor,
A mouth with a conquering smile;
Red chili, a scarlet flower,
Hearts’-blood gives it fire.

Photo by Stoyan Draev

In this poem the Archbishop of Toledo has fallen under Carmen’s spell – and for good reason, too. When it comes to forbidden fruit, the Devil never comes with horns and a foul smell. Quite the contrary, for he cannot have chosen a more tempting and seductive messenger than the fiery Gypsy woman who knows how to push a man’s buttons and drive him wild with passion and jealousy.

Enjoy this excerpt from the masterful Gades-Saura production “Carmen,” in which the red temptress demonstrates how to awake the bull in men (copyright EuroArts Chanel).


Magic

Speaking of dangerous ladies in red, one can’t help but evoke the most talked-about woman in the recent history of television, namely the mysterious red priestess, lady Melisandre. A captivating beauty (that is, for as long as she keeps on that ruby neckless of hers), she has the power to give birth to a shadowy assassin or to raise the dead, among many other impressive properties. As per her faiths’ tradition, Melisandre wears red clothing, which is not a random choice of color for red has powerful magic attributes. 

Lady Melisandre, “Game of Thrones” (HBO)

Both Western and Eastern cultures have strong beliefs when it comes to the color red and its ability to protect against malicious forces or to enhance good fortune. In many parts of the world, for instance, wearing a red thread around the wrist wards away evil eyes. (I personally rarely part with my little red bracelet, being a bit of a South Slavic sorcerer in my own right…)


Luck and Prosperity

While on the subject of potent magic attributes, in Chinese culture red is famously associated with fortune. A red mark on one’s forehead is believed to bring good luck in India. The principles of Feng Shui dictate that,  should one desire to invite prosperity into one’s home, one must paint one’s front door red.

Photo by Diana Kraleva for Wedding Boutique Bulka


Vitality and Willpower

Psychologists link this color with the male beginning (which could explain its powerful effect on male senses). Feng Shui, again, associates red with life’s energy, self-confidence, bravery, and willpower. Furthermore, in ancient Eastern mystical and philosophical traditions, red is the color of the root chakra, known in Sanskrit as Muladhara. Located at the base of the spine, the Muladhara is believed to be a power station, responsible for one’s physical vitality, mental perseverance, passion for life, and sense of security. Throughout the centuries, people have believed that wearing red stimulates the root chakra, which awakens our physical life force and enhances our vigor, stamina, and spontaneity.

Photo by Plamena Mileva for Fashion House Alegra

Scarlet, crimson, ruby, rose, maroon, burgundy, auburn, carmine… As the legendary Audrey Hepburn noted insightfully:

There is a shade of red for every woman.

Have you chosen yours yet?

Photo by Plamena Mileva for Fashion House Alegra

 

Julieta Kaludova is the Creative Director and a contributing author at Falchion Publications, an award-winning essayist, a gatherer of uniqueness, and a collector of the exotic. In her writing Julieta often draws from the exciting experiences she has had over the years, including being a radio journalist, media and PR liaison, university instructor, translator, director of a political press centre, and stage performer. Her greatest source of inspiration, however, remains her curious little daughter.