— March 7, 2013 —
In this column, AnOther takes a retrospective look at the style icons of the past
Glinda the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch of the West From Shakespeare’s wayward sisters in Macbeth to the White Witch Jadis in The Chronicles of Naria, witchcraft has played a significant role onscreen and in literature. Most famous of the fictional witches are Glinda and Miss Almira Gulch, the Good Witch and Wicked Witch of the West in L Frank Baum’s celebrated The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, re-released this month.
Historically, a witch is, ‘a woman claiming or popularly believed to possess magical powers and practice sorcery.” In cultural progression, the term has come to represent somebody who is cunning, wise and otherworldly; skilled at one’s craft. Or, on the flipside, somebody spiteful, overbearing, ‘a hag’.
Until Glinda, as Dorothy herself declares in the opening moments of the Wizard of Oz, witches were characterised as ‘old and ugly’. According to the books, Good Witch Glinda travels by bubbles through the sky and wears puritanical white gowns, but it was her arrival onscreen in 1939, in an 8-foot circumference dress glittered with stars and topped with fairy wings and storybook crown, that has entered the sartorial hall of fame, since referenced by multiple fashion houses.
"Home is a place we all must find. It's not just a place where you eat or sleep… If we know ourselves, we're always home, anywhere"
Glinda’s wicked foe has a painted green face and is described by Baum as having one eye and carrying an umbrella as opposed to a broom, but it is her manic laughter and pointed nose have become the definitive characteristics of a witch. Afraid of the dark and aquaphobic, she eventually passes when Dorothy throws a bucket of water over her body, causing her to melt away.
Sartorially, certain moments stand out in the original Oz film, which have come to act as cultural milestones in cinematic history – the wrinkled black and white stripy tights peaking out from under the house that falls on the Wicked Witch of the East; Glinda’s crown, Dorothy’s dress and of course, the Ruby Red slippers, one of the most iconic pieces of footwear of all time, clicked three times to take Dorothy home. “Home is a place we all must find, child,” says Good Witch Glinda in the Wizard of Oz, “It's not just a place where you eat or sleep… If we know ourselves, we're always home, anywhere.”
AnOther Magazine cover star Michelle Williams stars as the Good Witch in Oz the Great and Powerful in cinemas from March 8.
Text by Mhairi Graham