Review Article: Glamorising the Gothic

By Spooner, Catherine | Gothic Studies, May 2011 | Go to article overview

Review Article: Glamorising the Gothic


Spooner, Catherine, Gothic Studies


Gothic: Dark Glamour, The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, 5 September 2008 - 21 February 2009.

Valerie Steele and Jennifer Park, Gothic: Dark Glamour (New Haven and London: Yale University Press 2008), 160 pp. ISBN: 978-0-300-13694-4

The link between fashion and Gothic is self-evident to most of us, visible everywhere in contemporary culture from magazines and music videos to the clothes worn by our students (and perhaps colleagues), but is explored in an academic context only rarely. New York's Fashion Institute of Technology has rectified this with the first major exhibition devoted to Gothic fashion. Gothic: Dark Glamour has received international press attention, and will almost certainly be regarded as a landmark event by future generations of Gothic scholars.

There is something peculiarly timely about the exhibition. On the catwalks, the Pre-Fall and Autumn/Winter 2008 shows included Gothic-influenced collections by Chanel, Givenchy, Alexander McQueen, Luella Bartley and Gareth Pugh among others. Even Prada, the Italian label renowned for its minimalist, intellectual approach to style, themed a collection around black lace. In the UK, the high street was flooded with little black dresses tricked out with high lace collars and faux-jet beading, and celebrity stylist Gok Wan provided his own version of the trend on Channel 4's Fashion Fix. Meanwhile a rash of publications on Goth subculture have focused academic interest on Goth subcultural style.1 Curator Valerie Steele, one of the world's leading fashion historians, has captured a moment perfectly.

The exhibition is spectacular, an extraordinary synthesis of subcultural style, designer fashion and historical costume displayed with remarkable sensitivity not only to the clothes themselves but also to the underlying themes and imagery of Gothic. On the two separate occasions I visited at the beginning of February 2009, groups of American teens sporting black eyeliner and multiple piercings were gathering beside the exhibition logo ('Gothic' in a suitably spooky font) to have their photos taken, and a group of students sketched a life model in a black taffeta and tulle ball gown posing under a projected full moon. This is not merely an exhibition; it has the feeling of an event.

The exhibition is divided into eleven themed spaces spread across two rooms. The first of these, 'Origins of Gothic Terror' opens with a tableau juxtaposing a Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy dress with a reproduction of Fuseli's iconic painting The Nightmare (fig. 1). The draped folds of silk gauze netting clearly echo the diaphanous nightgown of the painting, but the champagne colour of the Givenchy gown makes the fabric look aged, like dusty cobwebs or a disinterred shroud. The purity of the original is sullied, the distance between the eighteenth century and the present subtly inferred. Gothic style is figured as revenant, as something returning, dishevelled, from a buried past. The leather rope belt round the waist suggests capture, imprisonment, its tight coils working against the loose, ethereal swathes of fabric of which the dress is composed. This tension - between imprisonment and escape, the material or earthly and the spiritual or ghostly, animates the exhibition.

Overall, Dark Glamour is extraordinarily attuned to the nuances of the Gothic mode. The explanatory text states that the exhibition is constructed in the form of a labyrinth, and while this may be suggested rather than literal (the two rooms are not large enough or intricately enough arranged to provoke genuine disori- entation), in general the exhibition space is employed creatively to evoke Chris Baldick's mandate that the Gothic 'should combine a fearful sense of inheritance in time with a claustrophobic sense of enclosure in space . . . to produce an impression of sickening descent into disintegration.' Individual sections of the display stage typically Gothic settings. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Review Article: Glamorising the Gothic
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.