SOLSTICE COUTURE by Laura Gregory


It’s the pinnacle of Winter Solstice Fashion Week. The city is yearning to slumber under the crystalline edges of ice outside, but in the Fashion Tent things are heating up. Each day has been a fabulous display of fey creativity and human endeavor. Support human-fey relations – remember, they’re people, not peasants. I am at the catwalk for the Solstice Court Duel! How did I, a lowly brownie, ever score a ticket? Because of you my darling readers! I may be the only fey fashion blogger but I have the biggest readership outside of the Sidhe Royal News. So please continue to share, like and link me!

The audience is filling up and I sense a lot of humans in the mix. This is a far cry from the old blood duels of yore between Seelie and Unseelie. No weapons and no magick: this is a glamour-only event. When the Dark Court turned the Light Court’s alligator-skin satchel into a massive reptile seven years ago, there was chaos. Three victims lost into its razor fine jaws. Most humans were caught and magicked to forget what they saw, but six escaped the tent and were turned to stone by the quick thinking Dark Court Prince Cian. Today, as I crossed the courtyard covered in snow and strung with Yuletide lights, I visited the statues – such a beautiful reminder of why human-fey relations need work. Pity their cries for help still echo from within.

Tonight’s stakes are high. If the Dark Court wins, they get to reclaim the Circlet of Siestra they lost twenty years ago. If they lose, they are offering up the Amulet of Eorth. Queen Aoife thought the amulet was lost forever until Cian discovered it under a pile of shoes in the back of his grandmother’s closet. We all know Queen Aoife has the largest collection of designer shoes in the world, but I’m dying to see the closet that’s big enough to lose a sacred power charm in.

The show is beginning! Switch over to follow me as I live capture the event. I will post pictures and fashion commentary later tonight.
It starts!
Dark Court begins: knit dresses accented in plush rabbit fur with tiny beads reflecting light. Incredible glamour! I see river tumbling over rock through a nighttime forest. I sense a chill on the back of my neck and dream of cups of cocoa clutched by roaring fires.
DC is famous for their leather and metalwork and tonight is no exception. Each bracelet twines beautifully around every limb. Wait - we have our first counter-glamour! The model in a bearskin hat and structured leather trousers looks to have aged dramatically. Even the leather has dried out! He leaves the stage to a susurrus of gasps from the crowd.
Models are still walking out. Outfits are channeling forests, earthen tones and metals in a nod to the Wild Hunt. It’s stunning, but haven’t we seen this before? Prince Cian just stepped into the role of creative director – was he not up to the challenge?
The final look gives me shivers! Fur cloak, svelte bodysuit, and rugged, buckled boots. She is a huntress! Fear and beauty are a powerful mix – the humans around me are awestruck. I suspect there may be a little adoration glamour mixed into the effects. We’ll see if there’s a judge’s ruling called. But they wouldn’t be the Dark Court if they always played fair!
DC lured us into nighttime forests full of mystery, now LC draws us up into the golden-light heavens. Everything is gauze and lace and indescribable sweetness! As unique and fleeting as a snowflake from the sky.
DC begins counter-glamour. The hand-stitched lace flapper gown starts to unravel and now the model is nude!
LC rallies: a sheer, diaphanous dress takes on invisible wind currents and billows out. I sense euphoria and exhilaration within its draft. There is an edge of danger: the latest look has stilettos as sharp as knife blades. Her gauzy sleeves ripple behind her like wings and she leaves a trail of frost in her wake.
Full on attack from DC! The gorgeous bird is down, her bladed talons twisted into claws beneath her. She cannot even hobble from the stage. Humans call a pause and help her away.
It seems like DC is desperate to keep the amulet. Rumors of its powers have been circling among fey kind. It promises to reveal hidden truths. Could it unearth other unknown charms?
LC resumes with the final look: Delicate filigree lace chasing every line, the sheerest, finest silk cascades over the model, and in every step she appears light enough to float. I sense the elaborate hand of Queen Murirn in this work – she won the Circlet of Siestra away from Queen Aoife twenty years ago. Has she come out of retirement to defend her claim?
A human next to me weeps at the magnificence. Indeed, even I’m nearly moved to tears. Every stitch of lace holds devotion, dreams and the echo of bittersweet love. It is elegant. It is unanimous. Fey in the audience are willing a protective glamour around it to keep it safe from DC’s tricks. Everyone has erupted in applause. A winner is decided!
Prince Cian is at the end of the catwalk, a fur-lined cape gracing his lithe body, awaiting Light Court’s creative director. The humans think this swapping of gifts is an adorable tradition of sportsmanship between the great couture houses. They have no clue these are not mere trinkets.
It is Queen Muirin! Oh she is a vision. She is beauty itself. Her three centuries weigh so lightly upon her. She is the splendor of sunrise and the majesty of windswept mountains!
Prince Cian has offered the Amulet of Eorth. He has bowed graciously. Has the Dark Court humbled in its ways at last?
No! Oh no!
The amulet cut through Queen Muirin’s own glamour! Oh it reveals her wrinkled skin, her sagging flesh, and a cruel calculation within her eyes.
Oh beauty has died this day! The true cost of fey blood has been revealed. The Queen fled the stage! Prince Cian is choking on laughter. What cruel vengeance!
Humans are perplexed. The exits are sealed. I magicked the ones closest to me to forget what they saw. Better my manipulation than the enduring encasement of stone.
But oh, dear fey, how I wish someone could glamour me to forget as well!
Laura Gregory is a genre fiction writer and graduate of Edinburgh Napier University's Creative Writing MA. Working as a police records clerk, she fights crime by day and writes villains at night. Follow her on Twitter @lagregorla
Cover: Amanda Bergloff @AmandaBergloff

Follow her on Twitter @karenleestreet
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Edgar Allan Poe and the Jewel of Peru 

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