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  • Writer's pictureginaelisebradbury

Killer Spider Style; The Web Inspired Dress

A look at the beauty and glamour of the spider web inspired dress- from the 1910s to now


Spider web inspired design makes for intriguing and alluring fashion. The spider's web can be seen as symbolic of a multitude of feminine qualities: complexity, both delicacy and strength, allure and beauty to name a few. Whilst spider web designs are now associated with the goth aesthetic and Halloween attire, early spider web designs reach far beyond these confines and denote a sense of timeless strength and glamour. The detail of the spider's web has inspired intricate creations with beads and embroidery. Shining materials, glittering beads and diamante can mimic the beauty of sparkling raindrops on a web.


The images in this post include a variety of spider web inspired dress designs from over the last 110 years. The popularity of spider web fashion designs for 1920's womenswear is hardly surprising. The 1920s saw women use fashion as a statement to express their growing independence and strength. The bobbing of hair, the showing of ankles, loose fitting, boyish silhouettes and the smoking of cigarettes were all used as statements of rebellion. Considering the morbid fact that certain species of spider, famously including the black widow, feature a physically stronger female who may eat her mate after procreation (scientificamerican.com), the spider can certainly be seen as a bold representation of female independence and strength.


A cream and metallic glistening, shining 1927 spider web designs 1920's dress by Vionnet.
A glistening example of 1920's opulence. 1927 spider web design embellished dress by Madeleine Vionnet. This gown is called 'Araignée', meaning spider. (Image via americanduchess.com)

This concept of the woman as a black widow can be seen in the below video fragment from the lost 1916 film, 'The Wolf Woman'. Actress Louise Glaum can be seen wearing a revealing, spider web inspired design. This dress perfectly represents the idea of the alluring and dangerous femme fatale. The placement of the web and spider over the breast are a blatant symbol of female sexuality as a dangerous trap. Later spider web dress designs (including those of the 1920s) can be seen as turning this negative idea of female sexuality on its head; the wearing of web designs can reach beyond the concept of the evil, dangerous temptress and be worn with pride in feminine sexuality.



a 1920's illustration by Jules De Ban of a womenswear grey spider web design with a parasol. Made in 1921 for Lucille.
An illustration by Jules De Ban of a womenswear spider web inspired outfit. This outfit was made in 1921 for Lucille. (Image via collections.vam.ac.uk)


A 1927 fashion illustration by Erté (Romain de Tirtoff) of a grey beaded spider web dress for the play 'Manhattan Mary'.
This 1927 fashion illustration, by Erté (Romain de Tirtoff), shows a grey beaded dress design for the play 'Manhattan Mary'. This low cut, revealing dress has a spider web effect which is connected in the centre with a black spider detail. (Image via metmuseum.org)

Model Helen Bennet in a black spider web themed gown with a cloak in a 1939 advertisement for Bergdorf Goodman.
I've previously written that, for me, 1930's fashion is the height of glamour. Why aren't gowns featuring a spider web cloak created today? Model Helen Bennet in a 1939 advertisement for Bergdorf Goodman. (Image via americanduchess.com)


A glamorous silver spider web detail ball gown by Dior. S/S 1953.
Proof that spider web inspired fashion design isn't confined to the goth aesthetic. Glamorous silver spider web detail ball gown by Dior. S/S 1953. (Image via metmuseum.org)

A black spider web detail back bathing suit at a Gottex S/S 2006 fashion show..
A jaw-dropping spider web effect bathing suit at a Gottex S/S 2006 show. (Image via vlada-sasha-natasha.tumblr.com)

Enchanting spider web back dress detail at the Schiaparelli Haute Couture 2016 show.
Enchanting web detail at the Schiaparelli Haute Couture S/S 2016 show. (Image via hautekills.tumblr.com)

Zendaya wearing a custom Valentino nude and black spider web slip dress at the 'Spider-man: No Way Home' premiere in 2021.
Zendaya wearing a custom Valentino nude and black spider web gown at the 2021 'Spider-man: No Way Home' premiere. (Image via popsugar.co.uk)

Below are a selection of current spider web inspired designs (including fast fashion, designer, made to order and vintage) that are available to purchase today. Considering the glamour of such styles and the time of year, there are a surprisingly limited number of web inspired designs. Whilst they are ideal for the Halloween season, they are much more than a costume. They are a celebration of female complexity, strength and glamour:








Please let me know in the comments what you think of this evocative design style. Is a spider web inspired dress something that you would choose to wear? Thank you for reading and happy Halloween, Gina.


If you have found this post interesting, you may enjoy reading the following posts by 'American Duchess', 'Lady K Loves' and 'The Closet Historian', which also delve into the vintage glamour of spider web designs:





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