Blakespotting: Enitharmon’s hair

William Blake’s own balding pate is highly unlikely to prove influential in the fashion world any time soon, but his colour print The Night of Enitharmon’s Joy (previously known as Hecate) has become something of an inspiration.

Konstantina Mittas, an avant-garde fashion designer based in Sydney who also has her own fashion label, launched her Spring/Summer collection this week at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week, with hairstyles drawn from Blake’s 1795 large colour print. According to a hyperbolic account at Styleicons.com.au (worth visiting for the marvellous photos, if not the prose), Mittas sought to “create a collection that reveals a paradoxically furturistic world of myth, ruled over by the Greek Moon Goddess, Hecate”. Of course, it is really Enitharmon rather than Hecate who is the subject of the painting, but the connection between Blake’s mythical character and the Greek goddess was one that had been well-established in popular imagination for more than a century.

Whether Hecate or Enitharmon, Mittas has made a good choice. In Europe, it is the “nameless shadowy figure” whose “snaky hair brandish[es] in the winds of Enitharmon”, and generally when Blake does describe the hairdos of his characters they are snaky, flaming, covered in fire, which must surely appeal to some manufacturers of certain hair products. Anyone who has read it is unlikely to forget the following description of Orc from plate 77 of The Four Zoas:

Howling & rending his dark caves the awful Demon lay
Pulse after pulse beat on his fetters pulse after pulse his spirit
Darted & darted higher & higher to the shrine of Enitharmon…
Then bursting from his troubled head with terrible visages & flaming hair
His swift wingd daughters sweep across the vast black ocean

You can see more Konstantina Mittas designs at http://www.konstantinamittas.com/.

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