From Nosferatu to Carrie: Recreating the Fashionable Look of Horror


Jaume Collet-Serra’s horror film Orphan is a demented masterpiece not to be missed. An ode to clichés past, it proves enjoyable not only for its truly bizarre ending, but also due to the child antagonist’s electrifying sense of fashion. On Cat Party they describe Orphan‘s style as “one part Madeline, one part Anna Karina,” though we believe the faux Russian accents place this demon seed squarely in Anna Karenina territory. Regardless, it got us thinking about some of the other fashionable leading ladies of horror films past and how to recreate their looks today.

Try as you might, we dare you to imagine a more well-coiffed horror victim than Mia Farrow’s Rosemary, who when she isn’t being terrorized by nosy neighbors, an insensitive husband, and the burden of carrying the spawn of Satan, sports some of the best mod frocks this side of the Valley of the Dolls.

Left: Rosemary’s Baby (1968) Right: Jill Stuart Collection “Mary Dress” Fall 08

Starting off the movie with a sunny bob and bold patterns, newly wed Rosemary looks like she just stepped off a Mary Quant runway. However, as the movie darkens, so does our heroine’s wardrobe as she sheers her hair in favor of a more gamine cropped ‘do and some serious eye makeup.

Left: Hat, Hortensia $164, Right: Coat, $109.50, Delia*

It could be said that Farrow’s transformation was an au currant social statement about the oncoming women’s movement, but there’s no doubt that the look has left a lasting impression on young starlets today — being copied by everyone from Michelle Williams to Victoria Beckham.

Left: Michelle Williams Right: Victoria Beckham

For those of you who might want a more updated version of this look (and are also on a budget) we suggest keeping your eyes peeled for Anna Sui’s upcoming collaboration with Target due out this fall. Though the collection is supposedly based on characters from Gossip Girl, there’s sure to be something for an aspiring horror starlet, too: pick out a cute dress and start practicing your scream.

Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

There would be no Rosemary without the expressive and tortured women of the silent film era with their kohl rimmed eyes, black lace, and trembling hands. One of the most stylish (and underrated) movies of this period is the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), a German expressionist film about a strange and mysterious traveling circus featuring a murderous zombie somnambulist and his passion for the exotically-beautiful Jane — who with her set waves, dark features, and painted lips exemplified the fragile and mysterious beauty most desired of leading ladies at the time.

Left: Nosferatu Center: Ann Demeulemeester, 09/10 Right: DRKSHDW by Rick Owens, 09/10

This look was also popular in Nosferatu (1922), one of the better known horror films of the silent screen. And who better to recreate the look of Teutonic terror than Belgian designer Ann Demeulmeester and enfant terrible Rick Owens?

The Hunger

Though the women of the silent screen were certainly stylish, they wouldn’t have been able to hold a candle to the lady vampires of the current era. Way before True Blood or Twilight, you had the lesbian vampire duo of Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve of The Hunger (1983). The cult hit, which also stars a love scorned David Bowie played to paranoid perfection, featured a fashion powerhouse duo with Sarandon as the tough doctor recruited to help the rapidly-aging Bowie, and Catherine Deneuve (far from her Umbrellas of Cherbourg days) as an icy vampire seductress with slicked-back hair and a closet full of power-blouses.

These two women all but embody the hedonistic (though put together) fashion of the ’80s, but with a dash of blood added to the mix. For a career vampire woman like Deneuve’s character we could easily see her gliding into a shimmering Balmain piece. Sarandon’s protagonist chose to vamp-up her fashion a little more subtly. We imagine her looking through the racks for something by Alexander Wang:

Balmain Fall/Winter 09/10

Left: White Boyfriend Tee, $88 Center: grey drop crotch woolly pants, $425 Right: French Terry Sweatshirt, $320. All available at Oak NYC and

And what kind of horror fashion list would it be without the queen of terror herself — Carrie (1976)? The image of a young Sissy Spacek as the outcast turned prom queen dripping in pig’s blood has been etched on to the minds of a generation of moviegoers. Dropping the religious fundamentalist white cotton for a sassy low-cut strappy number, Carrie showed the class of 1976 that you can’t just ruin a girl’s dress and get away with it.

Left: Carrie Right: V-backed Dress,

These are some of our favorite stylish horror stars; ff you have favorites that we forgot to mention, leave ’em in the comments.