Revisiting the Victorian Fashion Era

The fashion of the 19th century is renowned for the sophisticated romanticism of shimmering lace, smooth silk, ruffles, crinoline, heeled boots, red-colored lips, and hair tied back into a bun. The poetic charm of the Victorian era has inspired Donica, an LA-based makeup artist, to recreate century-old fashion looks with a breath of fresh air.

Creative Director/Makeup Artist/Wardrobe Stylist: Lady Donica | Photographer: Shahab Ettekal | Models: Maeve Kelley, Daniela Aita | Hair Stylist: Tiffany Minynon | Hair Stylist: Ciera Henry | Hair Stylist Assistant: Kasie Herring | Photographer Assistant: Homa Azarm | Photographer Assistant: Keyvan Bigdeli | Wardrobe Assistant: Mary Holmes | Video Assistant: Lynette Holmes

“From a very young age, I used to watch my mother getting ready. She was always so fashionable, she just wore the most amazing clothes”, says Donica. I used to go shopping with her at the Department Stores Marshall Fields & Carsons in Chicago and we would always end up in the Designer Department where she would buy me one expensive piece before we left the store. She used to put clothes together and dress up to the Nines for parties and music events.

Today, fashion has shifted towards sustainability, which increased the appetite and popularity for vintage shopping. I LOVE THIS! I believe all things are recyclable. And if a lot of high fashion clothing can be made sustainable then that’s great because it would help the greater good of the planet.
Vintage Shopping is what I love to do in my spare time. For this particular photoshoot, I was able to use vintage clothing in almost every piece. The look I was going for was from the 1800’s so the older something is, the better it looks! I feel like I scored with the pieces I found for this shoot.
What inspired you to create a photoshoot in a Victorian style?
I love history of any kind and this is the period of Queen Victoria. I’ve always worked on makeup projects that are focused on the future look or the upcoming new styles for the season.
The Victorian Era specifically in the latter part of the 1800s was the time that marked the women’s rights movement.

The women of the 19th century were demure yet there was power in the simple yet confident makeup and the way they did their hair was nothing but extravagant! It took them at least an hour and if it was winter sometimes 2 hours to get ready because of all the layers of clothing they had to put on.
What did you want to transmit through this Victorian photoshoot? What is the story behind it?
This idea came during the pandemic of 2020. I was in a vintage store where I found the red skirt which became the first piece that started the entire Victorian-themed photoshoot. So I created a story around the red Victorian skirt. I was wondering who gave this to the vintage store? I held on to the skirt and finally decided to buy it not really knowing what I would do with it, but a few hours later I started to create the idea for the shoot so I went around to at least 10 different vintage stores and found the other pieces, accessories, and shoes. I even had my wardrobe assistant sew on the jewelry to give it a more authentic feel. It was soo fun!

Some of the accessories and shoes came from a 60’s photoshoot I did earlier so I used a few things from that shoot and rolled them over to this Victorian shoot. Recycling is something I really try to do everytime I can and this was a perfect time for it.
The makeup for the Victorian Era was simple and clean. The idea was to have a very pale face: women of those times used zinc oxide to attain the pale look. They had rosy cheeks and used actual berries to accentuate their lips with a nice ruby color.

The hair was big mostly updos and very tight curls. Bangs were not in at the time, so they put jewels and feathers in their hair especially for a special occasion.
The few challenges I had for this photoshoot were finding the right venue. Luckily, I had the best photographer who took the mood board I made and created all of the looks.

What is the biggest motivator in what you do? I enjoy creating and having a story to tell. No matter if it’s someone else’s vision or my own, that motivates me to do my best. I have always been a creative person and thinking outside of the box is second nature to me. Helping others achieve their goals motivates me. Ideas for me are endless. I just need a platform to showcase what I do. So thanks for letting me do that.

"Everything that is real was imagined first."

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