the fashion world has always had its fair share of romantics. from the fertile imaginations of dior and saint laurent, fashion was never short of those who used fantasy to make what women dream of become a reality. in the era of dior and saint laurent, fashion was utilized as a tool to provide people with a certain sense of optimism. following a horrific experience as a result of the second world war, the world was in a desperate need for beauty and perfection. and the fashion of those times, with its strict conduct of propriety, reflected all of that. fast forward seven decades later and the escapist function of fashion has fallen out of favor in modern times with its obsessive need for reality. this however doesn't mean that the great romantics are gone, only this time around a darker, more confrontational, and more anti-establishment sensibility has taken its place to react with the a more pessimistic world view. and this time around these neo-romantics, just like everything that influences fashion nowadays have taken inspiration from street culture. more specifically the goths.
an offshoot of the punk movement, the only thing goths actually took from punk aesthetically was its anti-establishment philosophy. heavily influenced by the gothic and horror literature of victorian england and the melancholic side of existential philosophy, goths re-interpreted the dark romance found in those books and used them as "costumes" to unify their tribe.
there is a mix of dandyism (which according to baudelaire is "one who elevates aesthetic into a living religion" - which is goth to some of its members), victoriana, a hint of s&m, elaborate make-up, and body modification just to name a few. there is also an interesting tension that is so pronounced in the gothic attire. the contrast of soft fabrics worn with rigid tailored pieces, the darkness of the black against the palest of skin, and victorian inspired pieces worn with futuristic materials like pvc or rubber. it all adds up into an interesting and provocative picture.
such a defined aesthetic and the secretive nature of goths have made them an intriguing influence to designers like olivier theyskens who brought his gothic sensibility first to the lamented house of rochas and now to nina ricci. ricardo tisci who brought the dark allure of goths to the rarefied world of haute couture. the young upstart from london gareth pugh who combines gothic elements with experimentation with shapes and a flair for the theatric. and perhaps the most famous goth designer of them all, rick owens. the american designer who initially brought the gothic element to fashion.
of all the sub-cultures, the goths are one that have changed very little over the years. although the genre has been divided to smaller sub-genres, perhaps the secretive nature of the culture has preserved its integrity. as influential as the movement is to certain fashion designers, i think its safe to say that the typical goth have no idea that their look inspires clothes that people spend thousands of dollars on. and maybe its that disregard for things outside their world and the clash of the traditional and the modern that designers find so fascinating.
anne demeulemeester-fall/winter 2006, cerruti-spring/summer 2008, rick owens-fall/winter 2008, cloak-fall/winter 2005
givenchy haute couture-fall/winter 2007, rochas-fall/winter 2005, dior homme-fall/winter 2008, gareth pugh-spring/summer 2008