Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Vasilisa The Beautiful

I thought I should share with you the inspiration behind our 2014 Winter Capsule collection 'Oh, Vasilisa!'. More than anything else I found myself inspired by the colour palette and thinking out to this moral tale of how innate goodness always wins out over evil; that these evils come in may guises and that all is never as it appears...

There are a few fairytale picture books that really made an impression on me when I was a small child, and one of them was the Russian Fairytale 'Vasilisa The Beautiful'.

What stuck with me about this particular picture book was how downright frightening it was! I was at an age where I was pretty freaked out about the possibility of witches hiding behind doors at night let alone the possible terrors that existed in our overgrown backyard after dark! I imagined a Baba Yaga with her hook nose and leathered skin riding out to smite me when I ventured to our outside toilet in the dead of the night...

There are many far less frightening versions of this picture book, but we had the original complete with the stunningly detailed illustrations by Ivan Bilibin.

Vasilisa sent out to find fire...as commanded by her evil stepmother, naturally.

Baba Yaga on her strange mortar and pestle contraption. Somewhat more absurd than a broomstick!

Vasilisa observes the white rider that symbolises Dawn...

...and the black rider that symbolises Night. I found him more frightening than Baba Yaga!
The illustrations are truly what makes the book really. They are evocative, dark, symbolic and utterly captivating. The way the trees are drawn, the use of light and shade, the incredible use of colour and the complete immersion in the landscape.
I highly recommend finding yourself a copy and becoming caught up in the dark, desolate and yet ultimately hopeful tale of Vasilisa.


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