Aesthetic Autopsy: Snake Girl

There is no mistaking the claim that comes blaring through loud speakers as the banner comes into view, and while some words may be different depending on what region you are in, one thing will always remain the same – she has the head of a beautiful woman and the body of an ugly snake.  Much like Spidora, the Snake Girl is a simple illusion that utilizes the head of a real woman and is proclaimed as capable of talking or answering questions, though often the popular attraction seems to be sleeping.  Despite the blatant advertisement that she is in fact one of the oldest illusions, people still make obnoxious complaints when they actually see her, perhaps hoping that the banner was some sort of indication of what she would look like.  However, that does not stop the crowds from coming in, and I had the opportunity to see the Snake Girl up close on my visits to the State Fair in New Jersey, which I absolutely enjoyed.  There is a bit of mystery as to why she is usually called Angel, but there is no denying the allure of this mysterious half-woman half-reptile that lurks inside of a dim canvas tent, drawing in the young and old alike to gaze upon an abomination of Nature.  If someone feels duped, all it takes is a simple suggestion that they can play a trick on their friend to turn their scowl into a smile.  Whatever reason people have for being captivated by these types of exhibits, they remain an integral part of traveling carnivals and offer the opportunity to experience a sideshow tradition that is slowly disappearing from midways in favor of more rides or concessions.



Translating the bold imagery of a banner into wearable fashion might seem easy considering how many garments are available in snake skin – whether real, fake or a print version of their unique patterns – yet one should also be able to edit and maintain a level of sophistication.  The cinching power of a Snake Skin Corset Dress mimics the masterful power of its namesake’s muscular body to create a curvaceous silhouette.  With Autumn in the air it would be wise to slip on a bolero jacket – the golden denim coordinates with the scales of the corset, white details such as the ruffled collar and pleated power shoulders accent its structured shape.  A pair of asymmetrical cropped black leather gloves would also be a chic way to keep warm without adding bulk to the outfit.  Continue the illusion that the lower half of your body is of reptile origin with Vivienne Westwood’s snakeskin leggings from her Anglomania collection, which features a ruched elastic waistband and has gold detailing that shimmer in the right light.  It would be predictable to wear snake skin boots, and perhaps even tacky considering the muted color palette of the other garments, so instead I suggest these stunning Jeffrey Campbell boots aptly named Runway.  The black leather is decorated with silver studs and a pair of silver-tipped buckled straps which might encourage you to strut your stuff.  Give new meaning to elegance with the Ava Crossbody Snake Bag, the metallic print lambskin and stud detailed tassel shimmering and shining in all the right places.  Establish your reign as queen serpent by wearing the bones of your enemies with a vertebra necklace, matching vertebrae bracelets, plated in black gold and  hinged so each piece moves individually, silver plated Open Bone Cage Rings and Triple Drop Bone Earrings.

The styling should be sharp and sleek in hues that compliment the detailed patterns in the above items, so hair should either be swept back in a ponytail, perhaps secured with a snakeskin cuff, or slicked back on the sides with volume on the top for those with shorter locks.  Compose dramatic eyes beginning with Illamasqua‘s Cream Pigment in Hollow, a warm toffee brown, then sweep on Pure Pigment in Ore, a rich russet bronze, and highlight with Breathe, a white pearl shimmer.  Contour cheeks with Disobey, a soft biscuit shade and blend into Ambition, a neutral shimmer that will give your face a soft glow. Line lips with Hex, a soft biscuit nude, then apply a coat of Utopia, a deep rich brown in a shimmer finish, which seems to be a prevailing theme with this makeup and mimics the effect of sunlight hitting the scales of a snake.  Add finishing touches for details that really pop by lining eyes with Precision Ink in Glister [opalescent nude], fluffing lashes with Raven Masquara and polishing nails with Baterium [pearlescent ash ochre].



When she is not entertaining curious spectators, one would imagine the Snake Girl would want to relax just the same as any other working act.  Slip into the softness of a Snake Print Suede Skirt, wrapping a black leather five buckle corset belt around the waist to maintain that hourglass figure and accentuating assets with a black studded bra top.  Tired of seeing the same generic black and white striped sweater, I was admittedly skeptical to find this Living Dead Souls Crop Cardigan; on closer inspection found that the square studs and collar detail captured my interest.  Not only will it replace relics that need retirement, but also is a great base for customization.  The simplicity of Bordello’s Black Velvet Burlesque Boots should not be underestimated, as they allow the legs to capture attention, especially if they are wrapped in grey snakeskin tights.  Hailed for the attention to details in past style guides, Iron Fist’s Lacey Days Handbag features a lace print on neutral colored background with a black skull in the middle, glossy black handles and a striped bow all make this anything but an ordinary bag.  Tame tresses into a snood and add a few loose rolls in the front, then deck your noggin out in the remnants of your last meal via this macabre  Crow Skull Fascinator.  Sport serpent solidarity via an extravagant Onyx Snake Cameo Pendant that hangs from a sterling silver chain and is trimmed in 14K gold, a glittering Black Enamel Snake Bracelet, a striking White Gold Black Diamond Ring and Snake Stud Earrings.

To avoid detracting from this festive feast of fashion, it is best to have a fresh face and minimal makeup, playing up the power of color contrasted with the precision of a pinup drawn by one of the masters of the art.  This time the selected brand is NARS, taking their Shimmer Eyeshadow in Voyage [golden sand] and working it from the outer corner and halfway into the crease.  From the Douce France Trio, pat the Rose Petal Pink across your eyelid, then blend into the crease color and highlight using the Icy Pink.  Line eyes with Patmos, a shimmering khaki green pencil for contrast and define lashes with a few coats of Larger Than Life Lengthening Mascara.  Add the slightest touch of flush to cheeks with Gold Member Cream Blush, a smooth and velvety texture of golden sunset with a hint of pink.  Go one step further with Copacabana Illuminator, an iridescent glistening pearl that is deceptively sheer and will highlight your best features.  Define lips with Amazon Liner Pencil [cool brick red], fill using Rogue Basque Satin Lipstick [also brick red] and give them a touch of sparkling platinum gold with Moon Fleet Lip Gloss.  Go for neutral nails with Zizi, a clear polish with peach and gold glitter; try it with a vintage style manicure when feeling extra fancy.




The basis for the inspiration behind the first two looks is the illustration that usually accompanies Snake Girl and were built on a limited color palette, though certainly there is room for bursts of bright hues if one feels too muted.  This finial ensemble however, strays away from the earthy tones and has less of a dependency on items that are snake skin or print.  Instead I wanted to use the Eyelash Viper as an influence, since it is noted as the most polymorphic of the New World tree vipers and can be seen clad in scales of orange, various shades of yellow, olive brown and dull to rich moss green; contrasting cross  bands, spotting or flecking may also be present.  The layers of this elegant 1950s lemon chiffon dress are similar to the scales of this venomous snake, and while potential prey is captivated by the deceptive femininity, the predictor can skillfully strike.  Since reptiles are cold-blooded, they depend on heat from an outside source, and when the winds of Autumn kick up be prepared with a vintage faux fur shrug.    Let your hair run wild in deep waves with lots of body or bouncy curls thick as jungle vines, but keep them away from your face with a lime Faux Croc Headband.  Slither your way through crowded parties with Jeffrey Campbell‘s death defying Night Walk Exotic heels in Ivory Python, and protect personal items in a Lulu Tiki purse, complete with retro tiki print and a bamboo handle.  If you are feeling particularly outlandish, try an alluring Classic Latex Feather Neck Corset in olive green with bronze yellow schlappen feathers by Collective Chaos .  Compensate for lack of working fangs with triple tiered gold spike bracelets, gold spike hoop earrings and gold three finger spike rings.

Prime face and eyes as you usually would and then get ready to make your eyes pop with Urban Decay’s Vintage Eyeshadow in Eldorado, a bright sparkling gold that emulates the skin of the Eyelash Viper.  Blend out using Blunt, a subtle golden beige, and highlight with Midnight Cowgirl, a luminous beige and gold sparkle.  Create a precise cat eye by gliding on their 24/7 pencil in Bourbon, a velvety brown with tiny specks of gold.  Sweep cheeks with Score, an Afterglow Glide-On Tint that is a sweet pink peach and has a gold shift.  The lips are the focal point of this look – stain them with Gash, a deep blood red, and add shine by coating them in your favorite sparkling gloss.  Accentuate eyes with 44 Lash by MAC, which are separate bundles that combine for a fabulous effect.

The provocation to compose these types of style guides comes from the hope that they will kindle the imagination of those who want something different than the usual tropes of alternative fashion.  It is not necessary to construct an outfit that is a literal interpretation of its inspiration source, particularly since one risks giving the impression of being cheap or lazy.  While it might take more effort to actually hunt down pieces that not only encompass the aesthetic you are aiming for, but also represent your personality, I feel that the result is far more appealing than something that was manufactured and mass produced for the mainstream.  There is more value in clothes which are suitable to an occasion yet remain unique enough so that one does not blend into the surging crowds that don’t even think about fashion.  Of course the right dose of confidence is the greatest accessory to carry, which will always make others want to gravitate towards you when it is positive.


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