Monday, 3 February 2014

Glammed Up Gothic

The lovely Candela of Mis Papelicos reminded me that she is hosting a Gothic party over at her blog. With my penchant for dressing in all black how could I resist?  Not long ago we went to the theatre and this is what I wore.  We went to see Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake which was a bit of a Gothic horror in itself.  I mean that in a good way as I found it a brilliant and dark interpretation of the original ballet.

Apologies to any ex-Goth blogger friends out there (Cloud of Secrets!) but I have to admit that in my youth I was actually pretty ignorant about what the Goth subculture was about and felt I couldn't really relate to it.  I was a fan of The Cure but I always thought Robert Smith looked a million times better without his makeup than on.  Where I grew up, the Goths were a strange bunch who had painted their faces white, wore too much black eyeliner, dyed their hair black, wore black clothing from head to toe even in the forty degree heat of summer, listened to strange music and walked around looking permanently miserable.

While I did wear a lot of black, I didn't consider that I was that extreme, I was permanently happy, wasn't really into vampire stories or Gothic horror and I did wonder what all that desire to look so vampiric white was about when there was so much glorious sunshine to be enjoyed.  I didn't understand them at all.  Goths were just well... a little bit scary to the rest of us (perhaps that was the point?) and I didn't find them very glamorous.

Funnily enough, between my late teens and early twenties I would regularly dress in a what I considered a New Romantic, throw back to the eighties, theatrical kind of style with lots of period references thrown together - a poet shirt or peasant blouse with billowy sleeves, a waist cinching corset or waistcoat, a voluminous skirt, frock coats and knee high lace up boots, a feathered hat, or even a top hat with a veil, and healthy lashings of deepest darkest black - black lace, black silk, black velvet. I wanted to be Cathy in Wuthering Heights. I even quite liked some of the music considered to be Goth rock - The Cure, Joy Division and The Cult, but pretty much the obvious ones that everyone else liked.  But I never actually considered myself particularly Gothic or a Goth.  I think I was just convinced that I was a romantic at heart and was wearing that heart literally on my lace flounced sleeve.

I was well known by my mostly male university friends for having an off the wall sense of dress,   (most male engineering students don't usually make more effort than they need to), and often ribbed about it when I turned up to social events dressed up to the nines.  I was however particularly incensed when one of my male buddies, whom I was accompanying to a live music gig at the time, looked at the outfit I was wearing and declared laughing that I would make such a great Goth!  I was pretty irate as I didn't consider I had anything in common with a Goth!

When I went to the ladies room later that night I noticed a girl sitting on the floor humming happily to herself which I found odd to start off with.  She looked to me like she was on the way to being a Goth but had not quite undergone the full transformation.  She was dressed exactly like a Goth, in flowing layers of black, with dark kohl lined eyes and dark painted lips, but she hadn't gone for the all white face and she still had long dirty blonde tresses rather than dyed raven locks.  Maybe she hadn't quite committed?  Still in the trial period?

Her eyes lit up when she saw me and she came over and began chatting to me.  I thought she was being surprising friendly and a bit smiley for a Goth and I was a little nervous.  There I was in a billowy sleeved poet shirt, a long skirt of crushed black velvet, knee high Victorian black lace up boots and a floor length Edwardian style frock coat with tiny cloth covered buttons all the way from the collar to the waistline and long, long black hair.  All I was missing was the make-up.  Of course she thought I was a sister in kind and wanted to talk shop!  Or maybe she wanted to find someone for solidarity over the question whether she should, you know, go the whole way and do the white powdered face too or just fly in the face of Goth convention, like I also appeared to be doing, and leave it au natural (which in Australia means permanently sun kissed).  When she implored to know if I would be going to the up coming concert of some strange sounding Goth rock group I had never even heard of I finally politely made my excuses and ran away.

Oh my God! I screeched to my friend when I found him in the crowd, they think I'm one of them!  He of course, on hearing the story, fell about laughing telling me he'd told me so and never let me live it down afterwards.

Of course hindsight is a wonderful thing, especially when the silly tribal divisions of youth disappear with maturity.  With a mutual appreciation for the dramatic and theatrical and a shared love of period fashion, there was of course plenty more I had in common with Goths than my twenty-nothing self had realised.  And with all its celebration and romanticism of the dark and melancholic, the Goth subculture continues to be a rich seam to be mined by fashion.  I had no clue then as to how much influence the music and dress of the Gothic scene would have had in fashion globally and in shaping major trends that no doubt, had led to me coveting and owning a great deal of not just what I was wearing at the time but continued to throughout the years.  Although never fully in music, hair and make-up, maybe I always was just a little bit of a Goth at heart.

Seeing as Chinese New Year has just dawned on us, I thought it appropriate also to share a tribute to the Cheongsam.  Not just this one I'm wearing here in embroidered leather by Christopher Kane for his winter 2010 collection, but this wonderful post by Olga Rani at Local Fashion which is a fascinating read on the history of the garment and a visual feast of images of the cheongsam through the ages.  Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Also linking up to Monday Bloom at DC in Style and Visible Monday at Not Yet Dead Style.

Embroidered Leather Dress and Shoes: Christopher Kane; Black Lace Coat with Fur collar: Oasis Earrings: a gift


  1. That dress! I die. Seriously, wow, what an amazing dress - and you look killer in it. Like you, I dressed somewhat Goth-y all through the 80s and 90s and, sometimes, even though I am over 45, lol. Never considered myself to be Goth, though, although who doesn't like the Cure?? I call it "soft Goth" now - a less harsh version, but with all the love of the aesthetic. You are killing this look!

  2. Beautiful outfit! The coat is especially wonderful but I love everything. I think your teenage look was probably more inventive than a true Goth. I always found the look unimaginative: black hair, black combats, black clothing, black eyeliner, black blah blah. I went to an artsy high school and was indeed an artsy fartsy type. All the Goths I knew never smiled. It was part of the look, I suppose.

  3. Ahh, those poor Goths, so bound by their tribal uniform. Oh well, each to their own. You look amazing in that wonderful dress, it fits you to absolute perfection, and the floral detail on the shoes is a lovely touch. xxx

  4. lol @ your "kindred spirit" encounter. That dress, amazing!! I love the cheongsam shape too. Perfect with the shoes.

  5. Qué honor tenerte entre nosotras, biennnnnnnnnnnnnn

  6. That is one heck of a dress and far lovelier than the nylon & PVC confections the goffs round here wore in the 1980s, you wouldn't want to spill a pint of Snakebite down that beauty! xxx

  7. Wow - what a stunning outfit - the dress is just stunning, and the shoes are just heart-skip-a-beat gorgeous !! love the flowers on them

  8. First of all...I LOVE YOUR OUTFIT!!!!! OMG. Gorgeous, the perfect combination of black and floral, and the shoes are incredible. I'm also laughing because just this week, when I was flying home from visiting my parents, I stopped short in the airplane bathroom. The thought that went through my head was, "People must think you have Goth tendencies". I was in all drapey-black with a rather weird (I love it!!) necklace made from a bit of bone. I felt wonderful but was stunned when I saw it through other travelers' eyes. Glad I'm not the only one. No wonder I think you're perfect. :-)

  9. Regional Goth! It's still everywhere, amazingly, and in evolving guises. You look delicious and quite perfect. Dramatic, not-quite-costume suits you perfectly, and this Nouveau Cheongsam is serious fashion and brilliant on you. Of course.
    I really think this bit of style anarchy can work really well for even some of us older Romantics, so you young ones can rock it as effortlessly as you show us here!
    And it's just beautiful on you. What a contrast from the recent beautiful mintox leather and little sandals! You have no limits, I swear.

  10. I think Goth in the 90s/2000s (when I was immersed in the subculture) was perhaps a more creative, more merry, more social period than it was in the harsher 80s (or deeper into the 2000s when trendy younglings took up black eye makeup, black angular hair, black suits, and angry music and people started mixing up emo and goth). The internet had rolled out in the 90s. Goths were finding each other and sharing ideas and making big gatherings and club events, and it was awesome to come up with your own dark-edged style. Businesslike, or romantic, or historically accurate, or kinky, or cybernetic, or vintage, or spooky.

    White face makeup, messy lipstick, and big black hair was old school, and even laughable unless you were being ironic, or if you really were a "dino" -- someone who'd been doing it in the 80s.

    Some goths were/are unimaginative, as the above poster said -- thinking they had to conform to certain expectations that they'd perceived as "goth." Black tulip dress or black t-shirt and jeans, black boots. But it's been really creatively and gorgeously done, too, and in a rainbow of hues.

    For some of us, it seems to be genetic -- I loved the style, especially the creatively and gorgeously done examples in fashion, art, and decor, even before I knew that "goth" and the Cure and Siouxsie and Bauhaus existed.

    I'm glad you've lost your fear and come to see the shared appreciation for the dark, dramatic, and romantic!

  11. Fabulous outfit! I love everything!

  12. Those shoes are mightily gorgeous, as is the dress. I think the only reason I knew or liked goth-esque things was because of my sister. We both went through heavy punk, goth, and edgy teen style syndrome in our adolescence. I must say, you are wearing that dress ... I always appreciate stunning embroidery! :-) x

  13. That dress is INSANE! It's like S&M and Spring had sex.


    I don't wear much black and have absolutely nothing that would fit into the Gothic theme. When I lived in London years ago I wore loads of black and white. There was a market I think it was Kensington Market where I would find lots of stuff. That is so very long ago now. I do remember I had a t-shirt that said " I Want Your Sex" LOL

    This black is great with your hair.


  14. Wow you may not be a goth but you look to-die-for in that incredible Kane cheongsam! I love the drama and the beautiful detailing of the whole outfit. It's all far too classy and gorgeous to be goth of course, but black does bring such drama and sexy rebellion to an outfit doesn't it, and maybe that's what those teens with their white faces and black robes are trying to channel. But you win hands down! And those shoes ahhh those shoes! Exquisite, as are you.

    Thanks so much for your kind congratulations about my news!

  15. I have warm memories of my goth days (more of a weekend goth really … and always way too cheerful to really fit in).

  16. Great outfit! I love all the contrasting textures.

  17. I would never take this beautiful cheongsam as goth.. they are too feminine and delicate and gorgeous too!

    Mrs Jack Of All Trades
    Dubai, UAE

  18. Your lovely story made me smile. Thx for sharing V. I want your shoes!!!! They are to die for!!

  19. Stunning. Gothy, Sexy. EEEEEEEE. Beauty. EEEEEE. You look very much like you feel great- and that makes the whole Spanish dancer vibe turned goth all the more alluring. Thank you for sharing and joining the shoe party at #shoeshine. You are a star.


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