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Monsterlune style for Foolish Fire

21 Apr 2019

Tiger Moth Divinity! On the Monsterlune catwalk, I was to be a Tiger Moth Divinity for the opening night of Foolish Fire – a week-long exhibition of work by Sarah Gilbert and Estelle Riviere Monsterlune. I felt honoured to be trusted with Estelle’s sacred Tiger Moth emblem, and relished the chance to show-off in another of her awesome fashion creations…

Foolish Fire

‘Foolish Fire’ is a translation of the Latin words ‘ignis fatuus‘ – the original name given to the flame-like phosphorescence caused by gases released from decaying plants in marshy areas. The phenomenon is now more commonly known as ‘Will-o’-the-Wisp‘, which itself has become a metaphor for any deceptive hope or unattainable goal… an especially poignant choice;  rest in peace, wonderful magical genius, Mr Ben Hell.


Eleven of us were to take part in Estelle’s unique fashion parade at the Islington Arts Factory on Friday 22 March. We’d been asked to arrive from 5:30pm so Estelle could work on us backstage from 6:30pm, in time for the show to begin at 7:30pm. I was the first one there, so I took time to absorb the extraordinary collection of items on display in the exhibition – realised visions, passions and emotions; powerful and exquisite.


Our salubrious backstage dressing room was the ladies’ toilets. All eleven of us fitted inside and began changing into our designated outfits while Estelle flitted between us, attending to every minute detail – ropes to be tied around legs, the attaching of wildly long finger extensions, securing top-heavy head-accessories, ensuring each garment was aligned or hanging correctly, refining each design to maximum fabulousness.

© Sallyanne Wood

I knew from previous experience that our one-hour preparation time would fly by and Estelle would be under pressure. The situation was not helped when a woman walked in and demanded we all leave so that two young girls from a dance class elsewhere in the building could get changed. Despite us having prior approval to use this space, we nonetheless relocated our entire operation to the gents’ loos instead. Farcical.

© Sallyanne Wood

© Sallyanne Wood

© Sallyanne Wood

Fashion show

Somehow everything came together and we were only a few minutes fashionably late for our 7:30pm start. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to us the exhibition space had filled to capacity with Monsterlune enthusiasts eager for our appearance. Deep breaths, then Estelle ushered us out to our catwalk entrance. Eerie lilting music began to chime; a special recording based on original piece by Ben Hell. One by one, we entered…

Catwalk © Flavio Matani

Katherine – ivy feral goddess from magical forest – © Richard Kaby

Michael – several faces possessed by an evil giant doll – © Balazs Studinger

Amelia – red ghost from Venetian carnival – © Balazs Studinger

Sara – pop art sexy creature – © Richard Kaby

Sonia – divine glamorous skull girl – © Richard Kaby

Pavol – PunkyFunk female trouble – © Richard Kaby

Gloria – naughty pixie from a dark rainbow – © Richard Kaby

Aizen – black flame sexy cat – © Richard Kaby

The music was to play for six and a quarter minutes as models entered at 30-second intervals. Our movements would be slow, elegant and graceful. Katherine headed the procession, while Estelle gave us each in turn a signal when to follow. Somehow lost in the moment, our soundtrack reached its end before the final three models entered, but we continued regardless as the haunting melody resumed from its opening bars.

Ruth – mystical eyeball lady – © Richard Kaby

Steve – tiger moth divinity – © Richard Kaby

Sallyanne – fire goddess – © Richard Kaby

Mingling moth

Upon reaching the end of the runway we stood perfectly still like mannequins awaiting the rest of our number. When all were present, we styled out the final few moments of music and then together with Estelle – most especially for Estelle – accepted the rich applause that followed. Our formal work done, we were at liberty to mingle among the guests; sometimes chattering, sometimes posing, always bewitching.

© Richard Kaby

© Richard Kaby

© Richard Kaby

The end

The occasion was winding down and our audience began to thin, yet still we twirled in the open spaces till, with the hour approaching nine o’clock, a microphone was set-up for Estelle’s closing speech. She gave warm thanks to everybody who’d helped, taken part or attended this special evening, and once again affectionate applause resonated to the rafters. It was a beautiful moment.

Estelle Riviere © Richard Kaby

Sarah Gilbert © Richard Kaby

Islington Arts Factory was the venue for my first ever life modelling experience, and this was the first time I’d returned since that defining moment in 2012. It has a special place in my heart so it felt to good to be back with special people at a joyful event. My congratulations to Estelle on an exhilarating opening night, and to both her and Sarah for the vivid sensory banquet of their exhibition. I am an enraptured moth to their fire.

From → Art

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