Over the years there have been occasions when I have found myself teetering on the edge of goth. I was never genuinely drawn to it as a subculture – always far too mainstream for that – it’s more an appreciation of an aesthetic, one which seems to have loitered in my shadows. There is a plethora of references to early 90s gothy grunginess going on right now, so it feels like a good time to celebrate the aspects which have always appealed to me.
Having worked for a book retailer where I was required to wear black for the best part of a decade, I had little choice in looking as though I was fond of the dark side. Boredom led me to experiment with the elements we generally can when faced with a uniform; tights turned fishnet, jewellery became statement, hair went darker, eyeliner…well, there was just more eyeliner. Though never quite committing to all those things at once, the black was an all-consuming presence at that time making for an incredibly ‘consistent’ wardrobe. Shunning it for the next six years would be the real rebellion. So after a long break, I’m all about the black again, only this time in more of a minimalist guise. Give me all of the Saint Laurent now.
Ah, velvet. The decadence! The glamour! Those teenage chokers. We all did it, the goth look gone nice and mainstream. In my case they were infinitely more preferable to the cheap plastic ones which looked like someone had inked a bad homemade Spirograph tattoo around your throat, but each to their own. Back then it had been my dream to own a velvet Peter Pan collar dress (more on this later), but I fear that ship has sailed. Ok, that ship has definitely sailed. Right now you can’t move for this luxurious fabric. In fact, the choice is almost endless. In my infinite sartorial wisdom (ahem) I have just purchased a ‘brave’ pair of pleated velvet trousers which scream either 30s goddess or misplaced granny curtains, depending on your viewpoint. They may be the most difficult thing I’ve ever tried to style, but I’m now of the opinion that when it comes to velvet: go hard or go home.
I first discovered The Cure when I was 11 years-old after I’d stayed put watching The ITV Chart Show when the ‘Indie Chart’ segment came on (you had to get up to change the channel in those days). This was a girl whose foetal cassette collection was 90% Stock Aitken Waterman – obsessed with every perfect move Kylie made. As far as I was concerned ‘indie’ music wasn’t for the likes of me. Suddenly, The Cure emerged onto my screen with Friday I’m in Love – all goth stylings and smeared clown-like make up. Boys! In make up! So far so alternative, but most importantly, it was catchy as fuck. By the time I was heading to school on the Monday I still had that song as a persistent and joyous earworm, yet I was conflicted in my love of it. “But I’m not a weirdo!” I insisted to myself, confused properly for the first time over such things. I already wasn’t that popular so it’s not like I ran around telling the other kids my discovery. It was my secret and it felt brilliantly subversive. But at their core, The Cure are essentially pop. Goth-pop, if you will. So like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, in reality I’d not travelled far at all.
Ok, so I’m relatively new to the whole lipstick world, but who didn’t own Rimmel’s Heather Shimmer as basically the standard entry point to any lipstick wearing back in the day? The suit-all berry lip was in schools up and down the country, defining the look of an era. After that though, as confessed in my post on MAC’s Ruby Woo, nothing went near my lips in The Eyeliner Years. I’m definitely on the lipstick bandwagon now though, and this time it’s dark. The day after I returned from holiday in September, my nail varnish required a change. As I made the ceremonious move to sweep off the fresh orange/red of Chanel’s literally named ‘Holiday’ and replaced it with their infamous ‘Rouge Noir’ (with its representation of a healthy, vampire-friendly, strong blood flow), my lips demanded the same. Matching now in deep, matte wines and plums, and with the addition of the black and velvet, I’m dangerously close to full goth.
In the words of her father, Charles Addams:
‘Child of woe is wan and delicate…sensitive and on the quiet side, she loves the picnics and outings to the underground caverns…a solemn child, prim in dress and, on the whole, pretty lost…secretive and imaginative, poetic, seems underprivileged and given to occasional tantrums…has six toes on one foot…’
Cannot relate, at all.
What a screen style icon. Christina Ricci in The Addams Family (1991) and The Addams Family Values (1993) kicks ass, all while looking cute as a vintage goth button. It’s a look which spawned a million Halloween costumes at the time across the US. All hope is not lost for us though, since Halloween has become a ‘thing’ here and while the kids are busy channelling Eleven from Stranger Things, perhaps there’s chance yet for the velvet, collared dress to make an appearance…
Mwah ha haa.