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Les gothiques et la mode

Goths and fashion

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Emerging in the wake of punk in the 1980s, the contemporary goth scene has existed for over two decades, as a visually spectacular form of youth culture, whose members are most immediately identified by the dark forms of glamor displayed in their appearance.

1- Gothic or neo-Gothic?

Extensive connections are sometimes made between the Gothic style and various "Gothic" movements and individuals throughout history, associated with themes such as elegance, decadence, and death.

Gavin Baddeley has described a linear progression of goth culture that ends with today's goths, having passed through 20th century horror genres in television and film, then various examples of literature and fashion of the last two hundred years, finally returning to the "grotesque" art and sculpture attributed to the Goths of the 4th century.


The idea that what became known as gothic fashion in the early 2000s is just the latest revival of a cohesive, centuries-old tradition has undeniable appeal and convenience, even for some enthusiasts of this sub-culture . culture. In reality, goths are more indebted to developments in popular music culture after the 1960s than to literary, artistic, or cinematic traditions.

2- Origins

A selection of British bands that appeared before, during and after the punk era of the late 1970s set the tone for the goth subculture that would emerge. Crucial ingredients were provided by the deep-voiced feminine glamor of David Bowie , the eerie intensity and eclecticism of Iggy Pop in the late 1970s, and the dark , anguished despair of Joy Division .

The primary direct founders of goth, however, were early punks Siouxsie and the Banshees , whose style began to take on a decidedly sinister tone in the early 1980s, and Bauhaus, whose emphasis on funereal, macabre sounds and images was epitomized by the now legendary record “ Bela Lugosi’s Dead ”.

As the dark , feminine appearance and imagery associated with these groups began to be adopted by their fans, the new "scene" was widely covered by the music press. By the mid-1980s, the Sisters of Mercy 's deep vocals, clashing guitars, and dark baselines, coupled with black clothing , long coats , and sunglasses, established them as the archetypal “ gothic rock ” group.

A period of chart success for the Sisters, alongside The Mission, Fields of the Nephilim, The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees, saw goth gain significant international exposure in the late 1980s .

Throughout the 1990s, however, the subculture existed in a more underground form, with occasional moments of mass exposure provided by high-profile artists such as Marilyn Manson and through the borrowing of gothic style by emerging metal genres and, intermittently, by major fashion brands.

3- Horror fiction

In line with this emphasis on sounds and looks emerging from the music industry, the goth scene has always focused, first and foremost, on a mix of music , fashion , pubs and nightclubs .

As such, it would be more useful to consider it in the context of punk, glam, skateboarding and other contemporary subcultures than in that of ancient tribes or 19th century poets. It should not be inferred, however, that earlier “Gothic” movements are irrelevant here.

In particular, it is clear that goth musicians and fans have drawn inspiration—sometimes “ironically,” sometimes not—from the imagery associated with horror fiction in its literary and cinematic forms. Beyond the general emphasis on black hair and clothing , this manifested itself, for both men and women, in the form of ghostly white faces offset by thick dark eyeliner and lipstick.

As if the connection to vampires wasn't obvious enough, some display even more obvious signs, like crosses , bats , or plastic fangs . For others, there has been a tendency to adapt elements of traditional bourgeois fashion associated with vampire fiction, often resulting in the wardrobes of blockbuster films such as Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) and Interview with the Vampire (1994) .

Corsets , bodices, dresses , and tops made from lace or velvet are obvious examples. Additionally, although it is rarely considered an essential part of participating in the subculture , many goths enjoy directly consuming and discussing horror fiction in its literary and cinematic forms.

gothic dress

4- Contemporary influences

But gothic fashion doesn't stop there. This subculture 's emphasis on the dark and macabre has been accompanied by other themes that do not fit as well with the notion of a long-term, linear history of the Gothic. For example, the emphasis on particular forms of femininity , for both sexes, goes well beyond the macabre angst and romanticism associated with vampire fiction.

Notably, in recent years, PVC skirts , tops , corsets , and collars have been among the most popular clothing styles among goths of both sexes , borrowing more from the contemporary fetish scene than traditional gothic fiction. .

gothic skirt

Connections to fetishism , punk, and rock culture in general can also be demonstrated by the fact that goths regularly sport facial piercings , tattoos , dyed hair, and combat pants . Indeed, one of the most popular types of clothing among goths has always been T-shirts displaying band logos, which is distinctive to the goth scene in artist name and design, but comparable to other musical cultures.

gothic pants

During the 1990s, another contemporary influence in musical culture emerged as a central element in the evolution of the Gothic style, particularly in Europe. Seeking new directions for a well-established set of looks and sounds , groups and their fans began appropriating and adapting elements of dance culture to the sound and look of goth.

Besides the incorporation of mechanical dance rhythms and electronic sequences into otherwise lugubrious and sinister forms of music, " cybergoth " involves the juxtaposition of more established elements of gothic fashion with reflective or ultraviolet-sensitive clothing , makeup fluorescent and braided hair extensions.

5- Distinction and identity

Despite the diversity of its influences, gothic fashion is a contemporary style in its own right, which has retained significant levels of consistency and distinction for over two decades.

In other words, since the mid-1980s, goths have always been easily recognizable as such, both among themselves and to many outsiders of their subculture. Attempts to interpret their distinctive appearance as the manifestation of a morbid state of mind or disturbed psychology are generally misplaced.

What is symbolized, instead, is a challenging sense of collective identity, based on the celebration of shared aesthetic tastes relating primarily to music, fashion and nightlife (Hodkinson 2002).

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