The Darkness

I've got a not-so-secret love for the gothic. Not the costume-y, Hot Topic, New Orleans scene kind of thing. Just a love of the darkness found in Victorian, Romantic, and Gothic styles: cameos, aubrey beardsley, touches of black, black and cream combos, oddity rooms, curiosity shops, ribbons, satin, pressed flowers, lace, gargoyles, and so forth. Once upon a time when I had wayyyy too many facebook apps (as opposed to the too many I have whittled them down to), The Real Steven dedicated "Gothic Girl" by International Pony to me for a reason. Ch ch check it out @ http://youtube.com/watch?v=nvOlpiw9OHI. This one is definitely a winner.

So for the past few seasons, I was pleased to see that the fashion scene has been flirting with death. Remember when normal celebs like Lindsay Lohan and Sienna Miller started sporting black nail polish (Chanel, of course)? I say "normal," but what I really mean is anyone besides the rock n roll wannabees you'd expect to see hyping a dark manicure --e.g. Ashlee Simpson, Avril Lavigne, and Pete Wentz --who have probably had numerous slumber parties painting each other's digits with the dark gloss (On a sidenote -am I the only one slightly uncomfortable with Wentz's foray into Guy-liner?). Certainly you recall the coveted Alexander McQueen scarf that stole the skull from the hardcore and handed it over to the mainstream. Oh yes, even I had a tone-on-tone red striped tee emblazoned with a skull. I bought it at Dillards on sale. Yeah, I really am that cool.

Last summer & fall hinted further at a turn to the dark side. The ultimate line for disposable clothing and trend saturation Forever 21 had a collection entitled "Midnight Fantasy." It was dark and moody: romantic and rich fabrics of deep purples, grays, and blacks . And I liked it, or at least where it was heading. I distinctly remember a Libertine for Target cream silk scarf and a knotted front tee from Delia's bearing the new sort of print that was beginning to crop up, prints reminiscent of Victorian style scrapbooks and sketches. All these little buds promising gothic blooms was enough to make my black heart go pitter patter.

But as spring collections were unveiled this year, the dark trend that had been rising seemed to have died. Instead, designers showcased collections that hinged upon big and bright florals, tribal prints, and pastels. Disappointment wasn't exactly my feeling, but it was pretty close.

And then, thank god, Style.com descended down from the heavens carrying the gothic in tow. If you haven't visited the site yet, you're missing out on the chance to view practically any designer's entire runway collection. There I managed to find the gothic girly elements I was dreaming of. Be sure to check out Anna Sui, Miu Miu, and Prada (Spring 2008) to get your fix.

Prada's models graced the runway looking like ethereal pressed fairies risen straight from the underworld. And the layers upon layers of textures and prints was enough to work me into an inspiration frenzy. My black heart loved it. Or loves it! as Paris would scream.

At Miu Miu, Miuccia Prada presented a cleaner look but still following the gothic trend. It was girly too, although more
coquette-ish than the pretty frocks shown at Prada, with hemlines rising up-to-there. Just when fashion starts to bore me to death, Miuccia's designs jump in to resuscitate. I guess I owe her my life.

I also adore this crochet swimsuit shown at Topshop Unique, proving that even boho girls can take a walk on the dark side. A similar and equally fabulous version made by BCBG is available here in the States.

As I was brainstorming this blog installation, the New York Times Thursday style file informed me that the darkness didn't die as I had previously thought. Apparently it just hibernates during the spring and summer months when love, sunshine, and rainbows prance about. NYT reported that designers' fall 2008 collections were definitely taking a turn towards the dark, perhaps due to the mediocrity borne out of globalization and fears of recession. So fashion does appear to be going to the dark side, albeit slowly and on its tip-toes. If you are already prepping your fall look, and you know I am, prepare to cross over.

Bonus: I think they promise baked goods.

Moral of the Story: No matter what your signature look, it's easy to incorporate a little of the gothic and the girly. A little black never hurt anyone. However, head-to-toe gothic will leave you looking like one of the costumed shoppers of Hot Topic. Fashion faux-pas be damned!

Photos from Prada, Miu Miu, and Topshop shows taken from style.com


  1. You've inspired me. I'm going goth tonight. Can I borrow your eyeliner? Carolyn won't let me use hers anymore.

  2. another insightful and witty look at the ever changing tides of trends

  3. Say girl, Its Paul Hebert in Japan. Do you enjoy japanese fashion? Let me know if I should get you something. BTW skulls are big here right now. Kids have skelton hand gloves and scarves with skulls and what not.

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