Folk dresses and my enduring fascination with cult culture

(Originally posted on my Tumblr.)

I don’t think I’m alone in my desire to escape it all and live in a commune at times.

There is something infinitely tempting about waving goodbye to this loud, bright, fast-forward kinda life, and embracing something simpler and more meaningful. Unfortunately, the most successful communes over the years have arguably been attached to cults, therein significantly lessening their appeal to me. However, that isn’t to say that cults aren’t appealing. I’m not saying I’m ready to head off and join one, and I’m certainly aware of the terrible acts that have been attached to a multitude of them, namely abuse, financial control and murder. On the aesthetic face of it, though, there is something sexy about ‘cult culture’ concepts and visuals, and I know I’m not alone in this feeling.

Cos I’m your jazz singer, and you’re my cult leader, lyrics from Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence, blares from my phone as I type this. Inherent Vice, by Thomas Pynchon, a book painted upon an undercurrent of Manson family fear and fascination, sits next to me. In one of a million tabs I have open, sits Netflix – amongst the most watched shows on Netflix are various cult documentaries, especially one on Jonestown.

There are so many reasons why this fascination might be so pervasive. One that stands out is that we love to watch things that creep us out a little – pleasure and pain, fear and intrigue, so often they intermingle, causing us to be a little turned on by things we know are wrong or may be bad for us in real life. Anyone who likes to play with ideas of submission/domination will be a little curious about the all-consuming nature of cults and the power they have over their members. Second, we all want to feel like we belong, and the cult narrative presents that, again, in such an all-consuming way of extreme belonging, while also causing us to question if this deep desire is really such a good thing after all.

All of this combines to give such striking visual aesthetics that I can’t help but be in love.

Religious iconography, 60s and 70s Woodstock aesthetics, flowing sunkissed hair, pale hippie-esque cotton dresses and minimal or artistic make up. Trippy, pretty girls, the OG manic pixies, in love and obsession in woodlands, in bedrooms, and nearly always in California.

I will leave you with this thought and Lana Del Rey’s video for Freak, with the enigmatic and magnetic cult leader himself, Father John Misty – scroll down if you’re curious about the clothes and the makeup details.


Dress by Ecoté, from Urban Outfitters.

Crystal necklace by Urban Outfitters.

Cross necklace from Topshop.

Ganesha picture from my darling friend Ruby on her travels.

Sunglasses by Missguided.


Skin – Foundation is MAC Mineralize Moisture SPF 15 in NW 15. Highlighter is Benefit High Beam. The brush I used to apply it all was TWO POUNDS from PRIMARK and looks exactly like one of those Artis brushes that looks like a spoon. It is so soft and legit makes me wonder if airbrushing is now a real life thing, honestly, I am continuously amazed by this little brush and I think everyone should run out and get it before my secret is discovered and they cease to exist.

Eyebrows – Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade in Taupe.

Eyes – I used a little bit of Divine from my Lime Crime Venus palette as a base, before covering my lids in Aura from the same palette, as well as underneath my eyes and into the corners. Then, and get this, I used the light holographic shade from the cream/gel PS Galactic Eye Palette that I got once again for TWO POUNDS from PRIMARK of all places. Then after some thick black gel eyeliner, Twiggy inspired drawn on lower lashes and three helpings of Diorshow mascara, I used the Lime Crime glitter helper under my eyes and a liberal helping of gold stars from Stargazer.

Lips – Just a little bit of Saint lipstick by Topshop.

Sophie Syzygy xo

Leave a Reply