Issue 1 / December 5, 2020
Words by Jessica Ann Richardson
Dear Marchi-grrrls, my style is that of Regal Riot Grrrl. Its origins lie in an enduring and devoted adoration of all things Marie Antionette. Or rather Sofia Coppola’s sugary sweet, macaroon-filled world of Madame Deficit. A love of court shoes, collars, cuffs and all things eighties to cover my muff. Yet unlike the meticulously trimmed mazes of Versailles, my lady garden is a bush I neglect to prune. New Romantic frills soaked in Champagne. Mass consumption of cake and candy whilst listening to Siouxie Sioux’s Hong Kong Garden. My fangirling of Maire Antionette is so well known that once at a soirée in Paris, I overheard one guest whisper to another ‘Madame will practically cum in her pants if you tell her she bears any resemblance to the former queen.’
Aged seventeen, whilst falling down a YouTube rabbit hole, I discovered 1990s MTV footage of girl bands Bikini Kill, Veruca Salt and Sleater-Kinney. Their music, their clothes, their attitude changed my life. Later, an obsession with Courtney Love’s band Hole — of which I have amassed a cultish collection of magazine memorabilia — provided my ultra-fem style with a much needed hit of riot grrrl: a grunged down baggy band-T paired with a pristine cotton collar. Never had I seen someone be themselves through their style and persona with as much force as Courtney Love. Fangirling over Courtney further fuelled my interest in the narratives of female musicians. The voices of Viv Albertine, Kathleen Hanna, Carrie Brownstein, Marianne Faithful, Patti Smith and Kim Gordon, now line my bookshelves.
The idolising of these female figures dates back to my youth. By my mid-teens, I’d been initiated into the ranks of a girl gang — basic bitches of the highest order. Often feeling lost and out of place amongst these Surrey girl clones, my saviour came in the form of a best friend who opened my eyes to the world of film, fashion and art. I was exposed to culture outside the cemetery of suburbia. Our after school specials involved lengthy movie marathons and re-runs of Kirsten Dunst decked out in 17th-century garb, thus the seed of Madame’s style twas sown.
The ages between thirteen and nineteen play a vital role in the discovery of who we are, what we like, and whom we want to be. Why is it the things we loved during our adolescence still resonate years later? Perhaps the same reason teenage romance runs so deep. The screenwriter Diablo Cody has said of her high school years ‘It was when I came alive,’ and has since continued to revisit this time and time again within her body of work. For Cody, the transition from an all-girls catholic school to a comprehensive state school allowed her space to explore the darker side of her aesthetic. No longer reigned in by uniformity, she adopted a punk dress code and purchased breast implants. It’s no wonder so many coming-of-age-films are so rich in their stylistic qualities: The Virgin Suicides, Thirteen, Ladybird...
The feminist writer Caitlin Moran once said, “If you look at any teenage girl’s wall, blueprinted there on the wall is whom she wants to be because there she will have all the posters of her heroes, her heroines, pages ripped from books, lyrics from songs and poetry. That’s basically her going, ‘that's whom I want to be.’ So all you need to do is take that stuff off your wall and put it into your head and fake it until you make it. The drag queen phrase of ‘fake it til you make it is one of the most beautiful and succinct pieces of philosophy ever said.”
Sadly, as we become adults, our walls become bare and our attire graduates to ‘office appropriate.’ To forget the things one loves is to forget one’s self. It takes guts to be yourself, dress how you want to, and love the things you love. Marchioness is a fashion fanzine to those who march to the beat of their own drum — and dress accordingly. I hope anyone reading will be inspired to go forth and let their freak flag fly.
Until the next issue...