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