The Gothic that unites artists, royalty and fashion

Susie Cave is one of the most respected and sought-after fashion designers of the millennium, founder and mind behind the prestigious brand Vampire’s Wife.

Wife of musician and poet Nick Cave, proud mother of actor Earl Cave, Susan began her career as a model (discovered by Steven Meisel when she was still a teenager and became successful as Susan Bick) and overcame chronic shyness and the death of a child to have today the prominence and attention for her talent. She is a favorite of Florence Welsh, Kate Middleton, Princess Beatrice, Stevie Knicks, Keira Knightley, and countless celebrities.

Fashion entered Susan’s life when she was just 14 years old and was decisive as her survival engine. With very fair skin, she always liked to contrast with her black hair, and gothic themes always enchanted her. She was introduced to her husband, already a star and adored around the world, in the late 1990s and they were married before the turn of the millennium. In 2000, she gave birth to the twins Arthur and Earl, but life wrote a tragic script for the couple with the accidental death of Arthur, at just 15 years old. The year before, she had decided to launch her brand, named after one of Nick Cave’s unpublished books, where she worked on the dresses she began creating to appear at events with him. “I’m a pretty shy person, and Nick, my husband, is in the public eye. When I go out with him, I can have a lot of social anxiety and I never knew what to wear. Nick is always impeccable in a black suit and I’ve always felt a lot less than that, so I started designing dresses that gave me confidence.”

Teamwork involves the musician helping to name the dresses, choosing fabrics, and occasionally posing as a model. “I overemphasize the female form; the waist, the shoulders – making them really big so you feel really strong – but in very simple [shapes] so you’re not demanding. Pretty minimal in a way. That’s how it all started; and then it started that people would want to wear them on the red carpet and all that kind of stuff,” Susan commented.

For the stylist, giving confidence to those who wear her pieces is essential and her motivation. It was her dedication to Vampire’s Wife that helped her grieve her son’s death and all her creative energy is there. At first, friends of the former model and musician, delighted with what she created, ordered pieces but today the brand is the most ‘in’ of all: exclusive, characteristic, and in demand.

Another detail that the stylist explores is the sensuality of being completely covered. With sparkles, of course. “I love, I love, I love, being completely covered, even with a scarf on my head, but showing my legs with these wonderful heels. I think it’s adorable because it makes you focus on the legs, or breasts, or whatever it is that’s exposed. You know, in architecture, you talk about the space around things; It’s more or less the same with the dresses I make too. There’s a definite space around the dress and it’s quite exaggerated and larger than life,’” she commented in the same interview. “I think being covered up, showing the female form in an exaggerated way is very sexy too – in the way I see what I think is sexy as a woman. I find it powerful and very attractive to be dressed from head to toe fully covered. [Think of] Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy, Cher in Bob Mackie so amazing [while] covered in rhinestones, and Marilyn and her rhinestone dress singing ‘Happy Birthday to the President… I suppose what’s common in everything I’m saying is extreme femininity, whether covered or uncovered.

With royalty using their models more frequently, Susie Cave brought goth back into fashion, with glamor and a lot of intelligence.

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