The Cloud Orchid Crew was invited as VIPs to the “Fall of the Byzantium Empire” Fashion Show by our dear friend, Silversärk. Co-editor Bryan Thompson of Graffiti Photographic was unable to attend. He is currently over seas moving into his new home in Dubai, UAE. Little Alice attended and had the double duty of documenting the show in photos and video. She was pleased to have a wonderful front row seat, perfect for capturing all the sumptuous designs. She was seated next to the co-founders of Autism Solution Pieces, Cathy Wathen and Cindy Shultz (the mother of Silversärk). Alice was honored to have the opportunity to speak to Cindy Shultz before and after the show.
Find out more here.
The show took place at the Hot Water Wherehouse in Milwaukee, WI. A large warehouse converted into a nightclub, the perfect setting for a fallen empire, raised once more. Like ghosts between the walls. DJ Dave UV wove the songs of haunted beings wanting to rule the world, eliciting shivers from every spine.
Many vendors donated their wares and services to the silent auction. The proceeds were given to Autism Solution Pieces. Many thanks to
Spot of Tea
This is the story of the ending of a civilization – of the breaking of a way of life. The story of a nation facing extinction, & of the choices that it’s people made. The story of the ending of an empire, & of the beginnings of the modern world.
Justine in “Sol Invictus”
In 312 A.D., Constantine saw a “cross-shaped light” in the sky to indicate where to build “Nova Roma” – The New Roman Empire. In his vision, an angel laid out the walls of the new city, and it was here that he later encouraged all its citizens to celebrate the “Venerable Day of the Sun.” On the banks of the Bosphorus strait, the strategic location of the “Eye of All the World” joined East with West.
$550 Solis Dress, $150 Capelet
Heather in “Constantine”
Rising to the position of Emperor after proving a formidable military officer, Constantine the Great had a vision to build an extension of the Roman Empire. Marking a turning point in ecclesiastical history by ending Christian persecution with the Edict of Milan in 313, he fitted pagan temples with Christian imagery, yet remained neutral in his religious stance, most likely a political move to prevent usurpation. Such was the impression he made, that there were 10 other Emperors who tookon the name “Constantine” in hopes of creating an equally profound legacy.
$220 Solidus Dress
Vivian in “Justinian”
The nephew of Emperor Justin, Justinian I was clever & intelligent, yet came from humble beginnings. The Great Builder, his dedication to the Christian religion formed Constantinople in law as well as in architecture. Revolts, The Black Death, Raiders & Heretics could not stop this resilient Emperor. He even assisted the fashion industry by having silk produced domestically instead of imported from China. Throughout his 38-year reign, & up until the day he died, he never lost his passion for the doctrine in hopes of finding the answer to uniting his Empire under one Orthodoxy.
$240 Basileus Gown, $100 Gold Sequin Mini-Capelet
Anne in “Theodora”
Once a prostitute & performer in the Hippodrome, her rise to Empress occurred swiftly after meeting Justinian I. After coronation, she drove out prostitution, converting brothels into convents, & having former prostitutes become nuns. Despite her being a Monophysite & her husband a devout Christian, their happy union set an example for the subjects of their vast, growing empire, that they had an equal share of power. She even served in his stead while he was ill with the Bubonic Plague.
$350 Regina Dress
Sheila in “Nika”
In 532 AD, Rioters set fire to the palace, churches, houses, & baths, after the New Year’s annual games in the Hippodrome. In an attempt to overthrow Justinian I by choosing a new Emperor, their rebellion led to a most horrific event. Approximately 30,000 unarmed rioters were massacred in the Hippodrome in a last-ditch effort to stop the rebellion. An ironic consequence of the city left in ruins was Justinian’s opportunity to rebuild Constantinople to his specifications. He would re-imagine the city on a grand scale only 40 days after the Nika Revolt.
$200 Bellatora Dress, $60 Faux Leather Fringe Mantle
Jane Love in “Ravenna”
In Italy, Queen Regent Amalasuntha had feared for many years that the occupying Gothic nobles would overthrow her, & had Justinian I prepare a mansion for her in Dyrrachium. Despite her intuition being true, she remained in Ravenna, & after appointing her cousin Theodohand as King after her young son’s untimely death, she was swiftly arrested & executed. This provoked the dawn of the Gothic War; as soon as Justinian I hear this news, he declared war on the Ostrogoths, which in turn led to the even more destructive sack of Antioch.
$80 Ravenna Skirt, $100 Gold Capelet, $40 Gold Blouse
Suzie Sally in “Veba”
Despite already being entrenched in battle from every side, in 541 AD, The Black Death found its way to Constantinople, coming in on grain shipments from East Africa. Despite having the best medical schools & in the Empire, nobody knew its severity or cause. Famine followed pestilence; Death stalked the streets, & in the Empire, nobody knew its severity or cause. Famine followed pestilence; Death stalked the streets, & showed it was egalitarian by striking Justinian I. The death toll was approximately half of Constantinople’s population, but this would not be the only time the Bubonic Plague struck the city; nearly 500 years after this, the plague decimated all of Europe. Many afflicted claim to having been touched by a ghostly apparition prior to falling ill, represented by Suzie Sally in the Mortem Cloak.
$200 Mortem Cloak, $300 Orpheum Gown
Cheyenne in “Ilkbahar”
The peacock was a popular subject for Byzantine artists, often used to represent paradise, renewal, eternal life, & spring. Associating the peacock with heavenly paradise was an extension of the Byzantine vision of earthly paradise – many wealthy citizens were known to have kept peacocks to roam about in their gardens.
$275 Pavo Gown with Applique Cape
Lunariea in “Anna”
In 989 AD, in an attempt to ward off the Bulgars, Emperor Basil II asked Prince Vladimir of Kiev to join his army. Vladimir complied, in exchange for the Emperor’s sister Anna’s hand in marriage. Basil II agreed, but only if the Prince would convert to Orthodoxy. Prince Vladimir assented to his request, changing the face of the Eastern Empire by becoming the spiritual successor of the Byzantine Empire.
$325 Sponsae Dress, $35 Gold Emossed Mantle
Victoria in “Leo III”
Starting off his reign by abdicating the previous Emperor, Leo III showed his military prowess by defeating opponents from Arabia with a little help from “Greek Fire” – a Napalm – like substance that no other military knew how to make. On January 7, 730 AD, Leo III ordered the destruction icons. Met with much consternation in the West, the Empire’s Western Synod decreed any attempt to remove icons would result in excommunication. Leo III ensured that any & all revolts caused by iconoclasm were crushed by military force.
$300 Filoque Pencil Dress
Maya in “Schism”
Iconoclasm remained a subject of much controversy for 120 years, until it was finally resolved in 843 AD. Peace would not last, however, as the final break between ideologies took place in 1054 AD. Following over a thousand years of debates on the nature of their Savior, the Greek-speaking Eastern Empire was now known as Eastern Orthodoxy & the Latin-speaking West became Roman Catholicism.
$180 Schismatis Fishtail Gown
Helena in “Irene”
The argument over iconography continued through the reign of Constantine V & Leo IV. Leo IV died early in his reign, leading his wife Irene to be the only woman in the Empire’s history to rule as Regent in her own right. She reinstated the use of icons, & after being briefly deposed by her son, had him blinded & exiled. Refusing to recognize Irene’s power, Leo III crowned Charlemagne the “Emperor of the Romans.” Charlemagne set his sights on Irene as his wife, but she was deposed and exiled before she could reply.
$220 Basilissa Dress, $140 High-Collar Capelet
Elizabeth in “Stavroforia”
Like dominoes, the strongholds of the Empire fell one by one to the Turks after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 AD. The clash between the Crescent & the Cross caused by The Crusades truly was one of the most devastating & brutal series of battles to ever be fought. The capture of Constantinople may have seemed like a great defeat, but how can run reign from an Empire in ruin?
S250 Strategikon Dress, $60 Gold Embossed Harness, $40 Black & Gold Textured Leggings
Kasie in “Seljuk”
For months, Turkish spies probed Constantinople for weaknesses. The eve before the final war that took down the city, Emperor Constantine XI addressed Sultan Mehmed II in a letter, stating “As it is clear you desire war more than peace, so let it be according to your desire. I will defend my people to the last drop of blood. The Supreme God calls us both before his judgement seat.” On April 6, 1453, the Seljuk Turks seized & conquered Constantinople, ending a reign that lasted 1123 years and 18 days.
Tourkika Overdress, $350, $90 Gold Tassel Bolero, $80 Gold Skirt
Contact Silversärk to purchase her designs at firstname.lastname@example.org
Silversärk is known for the great detail she puts into her work. For the Byzantium Empire collection she called upon her friends Deborah Olson of Milliner Extraordinaire and Joan Junghans of MusesJewelry to provide the perfect headdresses and jewelry. In addition to these beautiful accessories, Silversärk decorated the models with painted tears in their eyes, and painted hands. This was done in three colors: red, black, and gold. The red represented blood, the black represented the Black Death, and gold represented royalty/divinity.
Model Jane Love shows off the headdress made by Deborah Olson, and her gold tears.
Model Jane Love reveals her gold and red painted hands, as the blood-soaked “Ravenna” who was arrested and executed by the Gothic nobles.
Silversärk addressed the crowd after the fashion show concluded, pouring out her heart with the blood, sweat, and tears that were sewn into each piece. These designs are her livelihood. As a member of the Cloud Orchid Crew, Silversärk is a valuable team-mate and friend. We believe in her vision, and support her craft. Please be sure to purchase one of her incredible designs, visit a fashion show, spread the word. In today’s age of mass-production nomcore, Silversärk breaks the monotony and provides handmade clothing with vintage resources.
Pictured: Gavin (left), Cindy (right)
The Autism Solution Pieces organization was founded by Cindy (Silversärk’s mother) and Cathy in honor of Gavin (Silversärk’s younger brother). The diagnosis of autism is often crippling for a family. The current controversy on autism and vaccinations has brought this condition to the forefront of discussions in American homes. But many families will never know the daily struggles of people like Gavin, Cindy, and Silversärk. In order to help make life easier for their family, and other families in Wisconsin, Cindy and Cathy created the Autism Solution Pieces organization in order to give families a supportive network, full of people who understand. “Awesome Events” are organized so that people like Gavin can enjoy regular activities like everyone else. One such event that the families attend is Sensor Friendly Films, where the theatres have showings with the lights turned up and the sound turned down. Having a community where everyone understands and shares has made such a difference in Gavin’s life, and the other children that have been reached out to.
Please reach out and donate to Autism Solution Pieces, and help families receive the support they need.
Find out more here.
Thank you to the contributors that made the show possible:
Cindy Shultz, Cathy Wathen, Megan Schultz, Deborah Olson, Joan Junghans, Kyle J. Krueger’s Makeup Team, Cheveaux Salon, Nathan Reid, Dave Frey, Jessika Jones, Madeline Page Hunter, Austin Feirtag, Alex Braun, Travis Feirtag, Kathy Nicols, Kat Minerath, Shane Thelen
Keep up with the Cloud Orchid Crew: