This season, fashion is adopting dark, femme sorceress energy from the internet’s recesses

HUNGER explores why the style codes of the chronically online waif communities are all the rage.

This London Fashion Week, the industry’s very own queen of darkness Dilara Findikoglu took to a Shoreditch Church to show her FW24 RTW. Through a plethora of garments designed as an ode to the divine feminine, the British-Turkish designer explored what a world built by men would look like pending its inevitable internal destruction at the hands of women. Aptly titled ‘Femme Vortex’, it looked like a mass ritualistic ceremony centred on gothic ‘Handmaid’s Tale’-esque gowns, sculptural silhouettes, and textures ranging from leather to lace – grotesque and twisted beauty at its finest. This resurgence has arisen from the depths of online ‘female manipulator’ communities, and their own varied style codes of dark femininity, as seen on TikTok, Instagram and Reddit.

The trend has been translated by many designers come recent fashion weeks, yet it would seem the industry is a little behind on this one, instead actualising what has been bubbling under the surfaces online for months – if not years. 

Since around 2020, these online communities have been morphing into a new age of feminist spirituality. The shift in energy takes many forms on social media sites, and has come to fruition this 2024 as an amalgamation of various aesthetics and values. Its visual presence is much like that of Findikoglu’s, taking modes of the ‘male manipulator’ stereotype in pinstripe suits and crisp white shirts and injecting post-ironic pieces like satin corsets and sheer skirts. 

However, it’s the teen girl pseudoscience that is the most interesting part of its origins. It’s a popular sub-sector of TikTok and home to the aesthetic itself, branching out in recent times to include the likes of manifestation and subliminal messaging systems. Videos like ‘Desired Bigger Boob Subliminal Audios’ and ‘Plumper Lip Manifestations’ prove wildly popular, amassing 6.4 million likes collectively on top profiles. They aim to achieve changes in appearance and lifestyle, attracting what you set to believe and draw in through these thoughts.

It’s reached new levels of darkness in its practice, with the chronically online turning to complex and disturbed love spells and the idea of body-morphing possibilities as part of the ‘female manipulator’ movement. It is all set on the pillar of your own free will, and controlling your own destiny and femininity. Not directly associated with Wicca or Witchcraft, it takes the ideas of these practices for the new age sorceress and, more importantly, the dark and twisted creation in fashion that comes with it. 

The new waif is characterised by her status as the ‘female manipulator’, and instead relates to previous subcultural influences of the coquette, dark nymphet, femme fatale, and whimsigoth witch. Waif takes the forefront, previously known as a branch of the nepo baby / Tumblr ‘Sad Girl’ adopting a ballet core aesthetic, but has grown into a new community altogether. It is solidified by egocentric tones and flippant mannerisms, and takes into account how narcissism is a meta-ironic front for patriarchal overconsumption. Catholic ephemera and philosophical literature are both used satirically, and hyper-perfection and hyper-femininity both sit under this umbrella of new characteristics. 

With this in mind, subliminal messaging for manifesting a set of bigger lips for example, or a better quality of life where you simply attract money, is key. It has grown into what they dub so-called ‘black magic’ style of spells, and can include love spells to determine an ideal romantic life. It’s a chronically online religious experience in itself in a way, and calls on varying degrees of feminism and higher powers to help facilitate this warped community of extreme self-helpers.

This New Age spiritualism meets a level of feminist activism in its satirical creative direction. There’s undeniable empowerment to the movement, and everyone loves the sorceresses’ new methods of attraction and modes of creativity. But, it’s hard not to fall into the supposed ‘black magic’ side to the dark femme sorceress aesthetic, as the algorithm only perpetuates it with thousands, if not, millions of videos showing new manifestations and subliminal messaging audios to supervise your changes. These can be seen in improved levels of confidence; an irresistible feminine allure in your romantic life; more money and career opportunities; and improved physical appearance in bigger lips or glowier skin.

But then comes into question its ethics. Should we be casting love spells on our desired partners and hexing our finances? Does this aesthetic come with a brooding cloud of beauty norms and unhealthy habits? 

Perhaps what characterises the popularity of the sorceress and ‘female manipulator’ lifestyle should be taken more superficially, and the focus should be on the motifs and symbols that convey a larger idea, as opposed to actually putting it into practice. Dabbling in these uncharted waif and witching practices can be done instead through a creative exploration of the female body. The likes of Findikoglu display this energy shift best, and call on higher powers of twisted divine femininity and dark femme sorceresses through design. What good can come from flirting with the powers that be, anyway? 

Banner Image CreditInstagram @dilarafindikoglu
WriterElla Chadwick