I’m not going to pretend to be a fashion expert. I wear dress pants and cardigans to work, sweats and t-shirts to discus practice and jeans and jackets on the weekends. I learn from Stacey London and Clinton Kelly from What Not to Wear and build outfits from whatever I can find on the sales rack. I want to make a few observations about fashion, macabre and subculture and by no means claim expertise.
Macabre Fashion Subcultures
When we had cable, I used to watch America’s Next Top Model for the end of the episodes where the “best photo” from the week’s shoot was revealed for each contestant. To me, high fashion means photographers, high heels and extravagant hair and make-up. What makes high fashion special is the complicated and often inspirational concepts that go into the photo shoots. How does this relate to macabre?
High fashion with a touch of Gothic influence can look as elegant or grungy as you want. Haute Goth is a subculture that showcases the traditional black materials . One of the most noted fashion designers to take Gothic inspirations to the runway was Alexander McQueen. An article in the NY Times said,
The monstrous, sometimes sadistic, styling of his [Alexander McQueen’s] collections became a hallmark, as when he showed models wearing horns on their shoulders. A collection in 2000 was shown on models with their heads bandaged, stumbling inside a large glass-walled room with the audience on the outside as if its members were looking into a mental ward.
McQueen brought real world issues into fashion. Some people were shocked, some applauded his efforts, others took offense to his in-your-face antics, but the important thing is that people learned something new. Art isn’t always pretty. Sometimes it’s pain.
Another high fashion subculture borrowing from the Gothic style is Gothic Lolita. Lolita is a subculture that began in 1980s Japan and is influenced by the Victorian era. The subculture’s intent is to look elegant while wearing Victorian clothing to embrace the Rococo style. Gothic Lolita is differentiated by the black clothing, black accessories, and pale skin.
Scene kids are usually young individuals with big hair, bad attitudes and tight jeans. Their reputation says they’re lazy, unambitious teenagers who are anti-social and mean (to others outside their group). The lethargic attitude reflects in classroom performance, after-school clubs, and lack of hobbies.
Cyber goth fashion looks like a mix between steam punk, Japanese anime and goth styles. The phenomenon began in the UK club scene with its neon colors, masks and goggles. Cyber goths usually wear black with neon accents, high platform shoes, goggles or gas masks, and incorporate industrial materials, such as PVC pipe, into their attire.
We all look for ways to express who we are. We all want to belong somewhere, and fashion is a way to achieve both. The groups we feel connected with won’t always be accepted or understood by the majority, so it’s important that groups like Scene kids and Cyber goths exist for the people who don’t fit the norm. We should also remember that we all don’t fit into just one group, we participate in multiple groups. We can look at fashion to categorize subcultures and to determine if that community could be a good fit for us.