Thursday, September 18, 2008

You Just Can’t Kill It

NY Times on Goth

New York Times on Goth, it's history, endurance and place in high fashion - as seen in a new exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Perhaps one teenager too many lay awake after midnight, unable to get Edward Gorey’s disturbing Black Doll image out of his head. Maybe a girl with 14 piercings in each ear sang Siouxsie and the Banshees’s “Cities in Dust” to her cat enough times to warp the entire light spectrum.

But there was a distinct point in San Francisco, in the late 1980s, when all the postpunk wardrobes of my extended tribe — a lower Haight-Ashbury aggregate of motorcyclists, college dropouts, would-be artists and nightclub workers — turned as abruptly and completely black as if a wall of ink had crept up from the Pacific and saturated everything, save for occasional outcroppings of little silver skulls.

[Same in every other city in the country...]
“ ‘Gothic’ is an epithet with a strange history, evoking images of death, destruction, and decay,” the fashion historian Valerie Steele writes in “Gothic: Dark Glamour” (Yale University Press), a new coffee-table book, written with Jennifer Park. An exhibition of the same name, curated by Ms. Steele at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, unpacks the evolution of goth in fashion from its early beginnings in Victorian mourning to its most current expressions.

...goth fashion is not just for maladjusted latchkey kids. A recent proliferation of Haute Goth on the runways of designers like Alexander McQueen, Rick Owens, Gareth Pugh and the spidery crochet webs of Rodarte (not to mention various darkly inclined Belgian designers) suggests, once again, that black still is, and probably always will be the new black.

The origins of contemporary goth style are found in the Victorian cult of mourning.

“Victorians had a joke when women got into fashionable mourning dress — they called it ‘the trap rebaited.’ ” Ms. Steele said, showing me one of the highlights of the F.I.T. exhibition: a 1905 Victorian cult-of-mourning gown by Desbuisson & Hudelist that was off-the-shoulder, had a plunging neckline and was covered with matte-black sequins.

[I quite like this next one...]
The show also makes a healthy foray into what Ms. Steele calls the “diabolism, dandyism and decadence” of Dracula. “Just as the devil is the prince of darkness, the dandy is the black prince of elegance,” she explained. “And the paradigm of the gothic man is a dandy vampire aristocrat.”

The vampire introduces the idea of the “erotic macabre” into gothic fashion. There are stunning examples in the show of vampiric sex appeal — e.g., a voluminous blood-red gown by John Galliano for Dior, printed with a Marquis de Sade quotation: “Is it not by murder that France is free today?”


related:
CoutureLab The Dark Side of Glamour
National Post Dark glamour: Why does goth fashion never die?
FIT current exhibitions

1 comment:

dr said...

Goth...even in it's heyday (pre-Bauhaus breaking up?), that scene was so (un)dead =P

Here's an appropriate song for this post:
http://robotsound.com/files/church_of_carbon-bela_lugosi's_dead.mp3