This Halloween, I have decided to honor one of my favorite fictional heroines, Vanessa Ives. I love Vanessa for her ability to hold both light and darkness within her–to be more than what she seems. I wrote a longer article on Vanessa’s complex characterization on the show Penny Dreadful in my last post here. In that post, I fantasize that Vanessa’s life ended with her happily on the moors with Ethan Chandler, practicing the craft passed onto her by the Cut-Wife. There was one detail I left out of Vanessa’s relationship with the Cut-Wife: the nickname Vanessa received from her. The Cut-Wife called Vanessa her ‘little scorpion’ for her fierceness and power. This nickname transformed into something of a talisman for Vanessa as she continued to battle the dark forces that hunted her. Her scorpionic nickname reminded her of the secret venom within her–a power that was undeniable and unstoppable. Though Vanessa remained a kind and generous character throughout the series, at her core she had a powerful potential that wasn’t so apparent from the outside.
To honor Vanessa, I have created my first re-worked vintage piece in quite some time, The Little Scorpion Top. It features a bleeding hand with a scorpion running along the pointer finger surrounded by the words, ‘things are so rarely what they seem,’ which Vanessa says to Dorian Gray early in the series. I felt that this quote encompassed Vanessa’s mystery and secret lethality.
I was dying to take some spooky photos with this piece, but sadly, I am no longer living in London so we couldn’t use its dreary streets to set the scene. Instead, we took some inspiration from Vanessa’s time by the sea, where she committed her ‘original sin,’ if you will. I teamed up with Janneke again, who truly is a Victorian beauty. Check out the top, now listed on my Etsy here, and have a stunning Halloween!
Photography: Jenna Opsahl
Embroidered Top: Scarlett and Giselle