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With her swashbuckling attitude, gender-bending wardrobe and dreams of becoming a “prince,” the titular heroine of classic 90s anime series Revolutionary Girl Utena is never less than extraordinary. Strutting through most of the series in a boy’s school uniform that morphs easily into a battle-ready ensemble, she’s the white knight to damsel in distress (and classmate) Anthy, whose status as the highly coveted Rose Bride sees her fought over in dangerous duels. In this turbulent high school setting with dark fantasy elements, it’s the bond between Utena and Anthy that remains constant, as is the sheer inventiveness of the characters’ wardrobes, which run the gamut from fitted, androgynous jackets laden with epaulets to ruffled, hyper-feminine dresses in gaudy colors.
The idealistic, straightforward Utena and the mysterious, submissive Anthy couldn’t be more different, and their wardrobes reflect this split. From the beginning, Utena establishes herself as a fashion maverick by refusing to wear the girls’ regulation pastel green sailor suit. During duels, her navy blue schoolboy uniform gets a subtle reset with militaristic touches – a transformation Utena lives up to by dispatching her challengers in style. By contrast, Anthy is a vision of femininity, especially in her costume as the Rose Bride – a flowing, highly embellished princess gown whose eye-popping colors are the only contrast to her seemingly shy, gardening-loving persona. As the story progresses, we begin to see a blurring of roles, with Utena making occasional forays into feminine wear, and Anthy showing a more spontaneous side personified by loosened locks.
All images taken from Revolutionary Girl Utena
White Knight Style and Damsel in Distress Couture
as Interpreted by Utena and Anthy
I’ve taken inspiration from both Utena’s “white knight” costume and Anthy’s ritualistic “damsel in distress” gown to provide sartorial updates that remain true to their anime origins. For Utena, I aim to reproduce her hard-edged glamor and tomboyish spirit while playing up her more feminine side – a fitted waist, a sexy hemline and sensual pink tresses. As for Anthy, I’ve constructed a wardrobe with key colors from her signature costume (tomato red, sunflower yellow and blue-green), while infusing it with contemporary edge.
1. A Revolutionary Wardrobe for the Revolutionary Girl
Sharp tailoring, fitted shapes and bold color-blocking define Utena’s battle ensemble. With this in mind, I’m anchoring this outfit in a boxy, single-breasted navy blue blazer; fitted with gold-tone buttons – a tribute to Utena’s signature schoolboy jacket – and a pleated, asymmetric red skort with a thigh-skimming hemline and a hint of heavy metal, a nod to Utena’s skintight short-shorts. Amp up the outfit’s militaristic vibes by adding twin epaulets to the blazer’s shoulders. The mesh of gold-tone chains, dramatic gold-tone tassels and subtle studs will electrify the outfit with Amazonian energy. For footwear, I’ve selected red patent leather oxfords with medium-high, art deco-esque heels in place of Utena’s flat black-and-white version. Emulate Utena’s shaggy pink locks and up the rock star vibes with this long full wig in pastel pink which comes with soft, see-through bangs. Before you step out, remember to pin this fabric rose brooch to your chest – a direct reference to the rose imagery scattered through the anime, and the “accessory” by which every duel is decided.
2. A Wearable Update on Anthy’s Rose Bride Ensemble
Anthy’s signature sleeveless gown showcases a modestly cut silhouette in fiery red with flashes of yellow and bursts of blue-green. Streamlining its busy design into everyday wear with subtle sex appeal, I’ve layered a red halter top with a mock neck underneath a relaxed-fit tweed vest in red checks, topped with gold-tone buttons. This blue-green button-up pencil skirt with a front slit preserves Anthy’s ladylike energy while switching up the fairytale spirit of her ensemble with sleeker, more sophisticated vibes. Its color is loosely inspired by the cascade of ruffles embellishing the Rose Bride’s skirts. For jewelry, I’m paying tribute to Anthy’s teardrop-shaped dangle earrings with these high-gloss, gold-toned specimens, and I’ve substituted her spiky golden tiara with a wide hairband in a similar shade that comes topped with a rhinestone-embellished bow. Finally, slip into these square-toed, kitten-heel pumps in black faux leather, which fuse the medieval vibes of Anthy’s garb with a hint of quirky, witchy energy.
For Whom the Rose Smiles
Locked in a relationship defined by chivalry and deepening love, Utena and Anthy find themselves traversing an increasingly dangerous landscape as the story progresses. Every time they appear in their ritualistic costumes on the battlefield, something shifts, bringing them to a closer understanding of each other. Ultimately, Utena may not be a real “prince” and Anthy may not be as helpless as she seems, but their relationship shines as something real and powerful. Their respective styles – one boldly rebellious and one ladylike but colorful – are a true antidote in a world where the women are often confined to pastel colors, and the men to fussy, gilded ensembles.
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