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Siren sleaze: moody mermaids are fashion’s new fantasy

A deep-sea dive into the emerging aesthetic


Thumbnail: The Digi Fairy

Banner: Daniel Farò

Text: Rukiat Ashawe, Editorial Assistant

The fairy-fication of fashion

For years, the fairy’s been the it girl when it comes to Gen Z’s love of fantasy x fashion – remember when fairycore took over pandemic-era TikTok and photoshopped wings became an unlikely social media flex? Amidst the uncertainty of lockdown, many found solace and excitement in the woodland fantasy of fairycore, alongside other nature-based aesthetics like cottagecore. Fairycore also led the way in diversifying the historically exclusive fantasy genre – with influencers like @cangfru becoming Pinterest icons and the creation of Black Fae Day in 2021, founded to celebrate Black magical enthusiasts (#BlackFaeDay was even the second highest trending topic on Twitter on the day of the event).

Out of the aesthetic came its moodier little sibling, Grunge Fairycore, inspired by the supernatural styling of the Twilight movies paired with ‘90s grunge, centring around a wardrobe of dark earth tones with distressed elements (watch our analysis from June 2021 for a 60-second breakdown).

The siren gets sleazed

But, a few years into the fairy’s reign, it looks like a new fantasy icon is set to emerge from the aesthetic undercurrents – the mermaid. With the mythological figure on everyone’s mind ahead of the forthcoming live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, marine elements have appeared on the runway and online, prompting murmurings of #mermaidcore as a major trend. But we’ve detected a less traditional take on the mermaid, coinciding with the larger trend of indie sleaze – and we think it’s got teeth (read: pearl-y whites).

For proof, look no further than Blumarine’s SS 2023 collection, inspired by Creative Director Nicola Brognano’s childhood love of the 1989 animated The Little Mermaid – offering an "intriguing and sexier, less pop, much dirtier" twist on the classic mermaid look. Brogano’s moody mermaid inspo is clear – models were styled with extra-long hair, maxi fishtail skirts and dresses, flared jeans with mesh material, and of course, seashell bras – all in distressed blues and sandy tones reminiscent of the depths of the ocean. The collection is a clear departure from Brognano’s past predilection for hyper-girly pinks and Y2K butterflies and even an indicator of the fairy’s fall, with Blumarine moving beyond the ‘sparkling fairy creatures’ that acted as a centrepiece of the brand in recent seasons. 

Alongside Blumarine’s grungified mermaids, the viral siren eyes trend also indicates an aesthetic shift towards darker mythical waters. In Greek mythology, the siren is akin to the mermaid’s sinister and seductive sister – the original siren sleaze girl luring sailors to their demise. Whilst siren/mermaid sleaze is still in its infancy, our TikTok community sounded off to say that they think it’s here to stay. 

Stay tuned for more sleaze updates and special shout-out to @targetpanties on TikTok for coming up with ‘siren sleaze’ in our comment section 🧜‍♀️

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