Fashion Beast

Fashion Beast by Alan Moore, Fashion Beast vol #1-10

Doll was unfulfilled in her life as a coat checker of a trendy club. But when she is fired from the job and auditions to become a “mannequin” for a reclusive designer, the life of glamour she always imagined is opened before her. She soon discovers that the house of Celestine is as dysfunctional as the clothing that define the classes of this dystopian world. And she soon discovers that the genius of the designer is built upon a terrible lie that has influence down to the lowliest citizen. This unique retelling of Beauty and the Beast was written in 1985 alongside Alan Moore’s comics redefining work on Watchmen. 

Fashion Beast is the collected works of volume 1 to 10 of the original comic and is published by Titan Book and Avatar Press. Alan Moore is well known for his other comics of which some even have become adapted to the big screen; V for Vendetta, Swap Thing and lets not forget Watchmen. What got me interested in Fashion Beast was the mentioning of the retelling of the story of Beauty and the Best. This is a story that I have seen and read in my younger years. In Fashion Beast Alan Moore gives a dark and twisted spin to this classic fairy tale. 

The story itself carries a definite message to the reading audience. It might seems a bit deep to delve into certain subject matters in a comic book but Alan Moore does a great way of highlighting several themes. Looking back on the original publication date back in the 80's some of these message still count for our current society. Set in a dystopian background, where a nuclear winter threatens existence of the people, Fashion Beast shows a story of struggling for power, sexual preference, abusing ones power and moreover manipulation and psychological influences. I think that if you read this book you are bound to interpret some of these things in your own way but overall Alan Moore did a great job in showing some of the flaws that we are living by. 

In Fashion Beast you follow Doll Seguin who was working as a coat collector in a night club, but though she might seem content with everything she wants to do more and by a chance encounter she finds herself auditioning for a mannequin and to more astonishing new she is recruited as the new front of Celestine fashion. This is just the start and everything until this point was "normal"; as you see Doll being dressed up and used by Celestine you get to see how dark and twisted it all is. In the story there are some important learning moments for Doll and even though in the beginning of the story you see her living up to her fame and getting a bit high on her feet, this is all struck down by several other characters and the angry mobs outside that boycott Celestine. 

One important turning point in the story is the introduction of Jean Claude, the mind behind all the creations of Celestine. One strength from his character was directly made visible, or I should say not-visible. From the start you get the idea that he is an evil, twisted malformed man that is hiding in his shady office, when there are scenes with him you only see his contours. However there are some quite important revealing later on in the volumes of Fashion Beast that readily changed my own perspectives and my vision on the whole of the collection of comics. And by this changing it really comes to show the idea of Beauty and the Beast. Jean is the Beast in this tale but his agony goes much deeper, being always told that he was ugly by his mother he tries to do his best with showing his fashion style, creating the most beautiful styles. I was pleased with how Jean character was shown, how he was haunted by this make believe of his mother and how it shaped his character. The ending of it is sad and just when Doll and Jean had something going on, but it fits directly into the lines of what Alan Moore wanted to tell. 

The storyline of Fashion Beast is a unique take on the existing fairy tale but where everything comes together is the drawing of the comic. The illustrations really help to capture the right moments of the story and are in itself beautifully drawn, from some of the happy moments of Doll and Jean to all that happens behind the scenes of Celestine; the more violent scenes with the protestors against Celestine. The illustrations show the type of "stereotypical" images of what you can expect in the fashion scene. And I mean this not at all negative, take for example Madam D. and Madam S. they are old burned up lady's, rule with an iron hand but they look horrible, this is nicely accentuated by the drawings. What also falls to note is that there were several series of scenes when you saw things happening one at a time, for example with the tarot deck and with these scenes I really was focusing on not only what happened but tried to identified if more things were happening. The illustrations are immaculately drawn and very rich. 

Alan Moore has done a great job with retelling this classical fairy tale. In Translating it to the modern era, everything is included from several prejudices to stereotypes. Alan Moore tackles some debates that are even partially ungoing in our time. What is real beauty? Aren't we all just perfect as we are? It's a great read and with a comic book it wont take you much time to finish it. Recommended.

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