Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood, L'Wren Scott: Charles Dickens on the Runways (PHOTOS)

On his 200th birthday, Charles Dickens has permeated culture high and low. He's the subject of an exhibition at the Morgan Library and Museum, and a film adaptation of Great Expectations is slated for later this year. But his presence has been felt on the runways as well, as designers from New York to Milan cite the author in their Fall/Winter 2012 collections.

On his 200th birthday, Charles Dickens has permeated culture high and low. He's the subject of an exhibition at the Morgan Library and Museum, and a film adaptation of Great Expectations is slated for later this year. But his presence has been felt on the runways as well, as designers from New York to Milan cite the author in their Fall/Winter 2012 collections.

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Dickens’s Previous Fashion Adaptations

Just one year ago, for Fall 2011, both Prabal Gurung (let) and Marchesa (right) cited Miss Havisham as their collection’s inspiration. Gurung’s designs appeared a bit more unraveled, while Marchesa designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig evoked the spinster’s softer, more romantic side.

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Marc Jacobs Does the Twist

Marc Jacobs scored his Fall/Winter 2012 runway show to the song “Who Will Buy” from Oliver! His set, designed by artist Rachel Feinstein, was a backdrop of spindling towers, beautifully reminiscent of Dickens’s signature “great rotting metropolises of corruption and filth,” as Salman Rushdie described them while discussing Dickens’s 200th anniversary on an episode of The Charlie Rose Show last month. And the clothes were thoroughly Dickensian too, with buckled shoes, chimney-sweep hats, and Victorian silhouettes.

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Anna Sui’s Raggedy Bourgeois

New York Fashion Week brought a new viral video entitled “Shit Fashion Girls Say … at New York Fashion Week,” in which the protagonist loudly proclaims: “Hobo is the new Boho!” Nowhere was this truer than on the Anna Sui runway, where gauzy dresses were matched with animal-shaped hats and fuzzy knits.

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L’Wren Scott’s Bright Tailoring

New York Fashion Week’s final day brought L’Wren Scott’s famed luncheon show, where she served editors caviar alongside her designs for the season. Scott’s Fall 2012 collection exemplified the dandy movement shown in technicolor—very much in tune with Dickens’s personal taste. Three-piece skirt suits were composed of ascots and velvet waistcoats, while smoky eye makeup lent the collection a chimney-sweep edge.

SUNO

SUNO’s Storybook Tale

“We were really inspired by the openness of our childhood, and the works of Shel Silverstein and Edward Gorey,” Max Osterweis, half of the label SUNO, explained to The Daily Beast.  He and partner Erin Beatty created a lighthearted, layered collection filled with interchangeable prints and pieces that are stylishly suitable for the everyday. “There is a very cool thing in mixing prints … it can be coy and intellectual—there’s something kind of flirtatious about mixing all of these things,” Osterweis explained.

Creatures of the Wind

Creatures of the Wind and Chris Benz Take to the Tightrope

Creatures of the Wind and Chris Benz, two labels known for their love of color, presented layered, mix-matched looks that evoked the rummaged sensibilities of Dickensian characters. Benz told The Daily Beast via email that his fall collection is “not overly serious with a lot of humor and warmth … it ended up being such a fun process to layer on more pieces to every look.”

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Giles Deacon’s Burnt Wonderland

In Great Expectations, Miss Havisham encounters her ultimate demise when her age-old wedding gown catches fire. A literal interpretation of that story showed up in Giles Deacon’s London show, where an uncanny series of white gowns were embellished with burnt details.

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Pringle of Scotland and Basso & Brooke’s Youth Quake

The Dickensian trend’s more youthful interpretations were found in collections from Pringle of Scotland and Basso & Brooke. Pringle served up color-blocked overcoats and separates, while Basso & Brooke offset their mixed prints with tailored elements. Both topped off their looks with classically Victorian bare faces and sooty red lips.

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Vivienne Westwood Does What She Does Best

Vivienne Westwood’s collections are no stranger to Victorian influence—the era’s classic tailoring and corsetry serve as a foundation for Westwood’s personal aesthetic. For Fall 2012, her "Red" label showed layered ascots, striped shirting, and tailored overcoats with sculpted leather tops and plaid skirts, creating the ultimate embodiment of Victorian dishevelment.

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Fendi and Giorgio Armani’s Luxurious Fabrications

Giorgio Armani and Fendi’s collections each epitomize one of the two components that make up the Dickensian trend, but they are both constructed of sumptuous materials. Armani took on dandyism with structured hats and stiff waistcoats, designed in a Dickens-friendly bright palette. At Fendi, Victoriana reared its head with rummaged furs and knits, each topped off with era-appropriate lace-up booties.

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Antonio Marras’s Mix-Matched Finery

Emerging Italian designer Antonio Marras presented a standout collection filled with mixed prints, fur trim, and modest shapes. It was instinctively Milanese, exhibiting fine handicraft.

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At Etro and Missoni, It’s All in the Overcoat

In Missoni and Etro’s collections, dandy-like stovepipe pants were topped with overcoats, each recalling the undone aesthetic of Dickens’s rummaging characters.  Both were embellished with fur, Etro’s with the increasingly trendy astrakhan.