Sophomore NYC Clears the Attic

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Published May 20, 2010

PHOTOS COURTESY SOPHOMORE NYC

For 30 summers, young girls have closed bedroom doors and thrown themselves into the tawdry pages of V.C. Andrews’s novel Flowers in the Attic. The bestselling Gothic-styled horror story, which tells of four children forced by a Bible-thumping grandmother and conspiring mother to survive in an attic, is infamous for a romantic subplot involving teenage incest. Those baby-imprinting scenes in Twilight: Breaking Dawn, erm, pale in comparison.

In August, Sophomore NYC will release a T-shirt in tribute to the book’s indelibly provocative mark. While the graphic draws from the imagery of the paperback, for many it also evinces the cult 1987 movie adaptation. Starring a fresh-faced Kristy Swanson and a perfectly cast Louise Fletcher (a.k.a. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest‘s Nurse Ratched) as the abusive granny, the movie contains what are probably the most haunting poisoned-cookie scenes ever put to film.

“I think it was the first naughty book I had ever read,” says Sophomore designer Chrissie Miller. “It’s kind of timelessly cool, and deals with this major taboo topic, incest, so it’s very racy for young kids. But it also targets teens: strange!” Miller credits her friend, Dear Diary author Lesley Arfin, who designed all of the graphics for Sophomore’s upcoming fall collection. “Both of us were inspired by old book titles,” says Miller. “Lesley is a writer, so obviously she has amazing books in her house.” They also did a T-shirt based on the 1969 self-help book I’m OK, You’re OK. Arfin says the film might be an “unsung hero” before vividly recalling the impact it had on her in fifth grade. “I was definitely scared shitless of the grandma. I’ll never forgot how she used poison instead of confectioner’s sugar on those cookies. Damn they looked good! And there was something very appealing about being locked in an attic for years and years. It was so warped it became attractive to me, somehow. Maybe it was the idea that they never had to go to school. I hated school. The Diary of Anne Frank had the same effect on me. To me Anne Frank was lucky,” says Arfin. “She got to miss school and stay trapped in the attic with the guy she had a crush on.”