Death Becomes Her


You may have heard the news by now: Goth is in for fall. It’s so huge, in fact, that even perpetually cheery teen magazines are trying to embrace morbidity. According to Teen Vogue, “Goth style—with a romantic twist—is creeping into the mainstream, and designers didn’t have to interview a vampire to fall under its spell.”

Well, we did interview a vampire or two, to find out how they felt about this Goth Renaissance. After all, fashion may have rediscovered Goth, but for lots of teenagers who have worshipped at the altar of Goth-clothing chain Hot Topic for years, it’s not a trend that comes and goes, but a way of life. Therefore, we expected the members of (a community message board for real vampires), to be self-righteously incensed over the news that their lifestyle was being appropriated for the runways by the likes of Marc Jacobs. Surprisingly, and somewhat depressingly, they seemed excited to be recognized by the mainstream. It seems no subculture is pure anymore. The site is actually cluttered with advertisements for Goth clothes, gifts, and dating services.

“Lady Slinky” was hopeful that this might mean she will have an easier time finding decent corsets now, and offered a larger analysis: ” ‘Goth’ entering the high fashion world means that it has become influential and most likely that Goths themselves have become successful.” “NightDove2004” responded by saying, “Oh great! Now everyone will dress like Edward Scissorhands!” (this message was followed by an emoticon rolling its eyes).

But to the delight of many of us who are old enough to remember the ’80s, NightDove’s prediction seems more accurate. Rather than the chunky boots and revealing corsets of the Manic Panic hair dye days, this time around the Goth trend is delicate and demure, Victorian and melancholy. Like Edward, we’re thinking high waistlines and necklines, as well as lots of volume, especially in sleeves and skirts.

Marc by Marc Jacobs has a black mini dress with a high ruffly neck and gigantic poufy sleeves. On the runway, it was paired with ripped black stockings on a pigeon-toed model for a sad, wounded outcast effect. In her fall collection, Ann Demeulemeester used a decadent amount of fabric to create a black-on-black-on-black-on-black orgy of textures and rumples. Or, more simply put, her model (Gemma Ward) looked like the saddest, deadest court jester ever.

Rather than a revival of the Goth look from those not-so-distant Peter Murphy days, designers appear to be going back further in time to the romanticism of Mary Shelley novels. The best example of how to make this work off the runway can be seen on the streets of Japan, where the Gothic Lolita look is elegant and ladylike with its crinolines, parasols, and lace. As the days get shorter and grayer, we’re loading up on black velvet, donning our capes, and feeling luxuriously somber.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 27, 2005

Archive Highlights