The long-awaited sequel to Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale is likely to answer the burning questions readers have had for years, but the author’s latest project is doing nothing but raise more.
That’s because the acclaimed Canadian writer has gone full haute couture on the latest cover of The Sunday Times Style.
The cover, released Sunday, is accompanied by a photoshoot that captures the 79-year-old at her most ethereal, mysterious and gravity-defying, the latter quite literally, in the case of her silver curly hair.
The looks she’s serving are unlike any we’ve seen from the usually conventionally dressed writer. Clad for the shoot in designer cape dresses and vintage gloves, these dark outfits are perfect for autumn, or, as many have noticed, giving off spell-casting vibes.
And yes, if you were wondering: Atwood is wearing hair extensions. She confirmed that to the Wall Street Journal, where she also made a point to mention her limits when it comes to doing publicity for The Testaments, which will pick up from the cliffhanger ending of The Handmaid’s Tale.
“I’m not naked covered in Vaseline with a flower coming out of my bum,” the author said of her modelling.
Watch: Margaret Atwood’s “The Testaments” could soon be coming to Hulu. Story continues below.
Although the creative vision for the magazine’s September issue was undeniably sublime ― you can thank photographer Tim Walker, of Vogue renown, for that ― the Hogwarts-teacher-gone-rogue aesthetic has left many online speculating about the meaning behind almost every editorial decision.
Take this mesmerizing shot of Atwood in a silk taffeta bell coat by Irish designer Simone Rocha. On first glance, it looks like a ceremonial garment. As the designer herself told Vogue, the collection the coat belongs to was inspired by womanhood and invasions of privacy. It’s easy to see why this piece of outerwear is a perfect match for the author and her feminist body of work.
Then there are the less immediate details. Like the gloves, or the necklace. Do either hold any symbolic significance? Why are her hands posed like that? Is it an occult reference? Or a religious one?
Most importantly: what’s the deal with the egg???
Some (probably wrong) theories: perhaps it’s a reference to her short story Bluebeard’s Egg. It might also point to a cisgender woman’s reproductive cycle, the focus of The Handmaid’s Tale. Or maybe it’s related to the feather in the equally stunning accompanying photo.
For the time being, there are no answers. While the Toronto-based writer didn’t clear up anything about the photos in her interview with the British outlet, Atwood revealed a desire to enter the world of fashion design.
“I wasn’t just interested in the making of clothes, but more what they looked like. I have been to many fashion shows. I follow the silhouettes,” she told the Times.
Whatever the evocative looks are meant to represent, they’re definitely stirring up powerful emotions.
Aside from the stunning visuals, Atwood opened up about her extensive career to the UK publication, as well as motherhood, Donald Trump, and the future for women’s rights.
The interview with Atwood is glowing, at times glossing over controversy. When addressing her op-ed on those accused of sexual misconduct, the writer describes Atwood’s defence as “logical.”
And what with the magical elements conjured by the photos, it’s hard not to recall the language Atwood used about the proceedings against University of British Columbia’s former creative writing chair, Steven Galloway.
The magazine also includes writing by Atwood herself. She nominated 12 women who are making a difference in the world, several of which are fellow Canadians: climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe, actress Mia Kirschner, novelist Esi Edugyan, radio personality Candy Palmater, and Amanda Brugel, who stars in Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Here’s hoping the dozen women continue championing for a better future. (And speaking of dozens, maybe the egg is a carton runaway? Yes? No? Adding it to the “photoshoot theories that will keep me up at night” list.)