The Rise and Fall of The Vampire’s Wife

Last Updated: June 8, 2024By

The Rise and Fall of The Vampire’s Wife



The sudden closure of the fashion label The Vampire’s Wife this month has broken many hearts. This brand had a magical charm, blending creativity, celebrity allure, and luxury. It was founded in 2014 by Susie Cave, a model turned designer, and was named after a novel that her husband, musician Nick Cave, had once started but never finished.

A Royal Affair

In just four short years, The Vampire’s Wife became a sensation. Its ruffled dresses graced Hollywood red carpets and even the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, where three guests wore them. In 2020, they adapted to the times by creating bespoke face masks and even collaborated with H&M to produce dresses in recycled silver nylon, which sold out in a single day. Vogue even called one of their designs, the Falconetti, the “dress of the decade.” A shimmering emerald green Falconetti dress was painted in the first official portrait of the then Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, adding to its legendary status.


A Fashion Fairytale

This is more than just a story about a small British brand that couldn’t survive market forces (the company blamed supply chain problems and the collapse of the online retailer Matchesfashion in March). It’s also about how fashion can capture the spirit of the times, often quicker than other forms of art. During the tough days of the Covid pandemic, people craved the magical glamour that The Vampire’s Wife dresses offered. The singer Florence Welch once said, “They make you look like you’re practising witchcraft in a very romantic cult.” That’s why it wasn’t seen as a fashion mistake when multiple people wore them to the same event.

Capturing a Moment

When the now Princess of Wales chose to be photographed in the Falconetti, she knew the cultural impact it would have. The royal portrait by Jamie Coreth has cemented The Vampire’s Wife in art history, much like how John Singer Sargent’s portraits immortalized the Parisian House of Worth. The founder of Worth, Charles Frederick Worth, believed fashion was an art form, claiming, “I have Delacroix’s sense of colour and I compose. A toilette is as good as a painting.”


Fashion as Art

Sargent’s 1897 portrait of wealthy New York newlyweds is a great example. The wife, dressed in practical walking clothes, stands confidently with her hand on her hip, while her husband stands behind her like a loyal dog. This image hinted at the future freedom women’s fashion would embody, leading to the creations of designers like Coco Chanel, Mary Quant, and Barbara Hulanicki of Biba. Quant famously said that short skirts and opaque tights allowed a girl to run for a bus and saw fashion as “a tool to compete in life outside the home.”

Legacy and Memories

Both Chanel and Quant recently had retrospectives at the V&A; Biba’s history is now showcased at the Fashion and Textile Museum. These exhibitions featured outfits treasured as artworks by the women who wore them. The Vampire’s Wife may be gone, but its dresses will live on in closets, in photographs, and will be loved again on the vintage market. Susie Cave, its designer, had an uncanny ability to tap into women’s fantasies and dreams.

The brand might have faded, but the magic of its dresses will continue to enchant for years to come.

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