Penny Dreadful – Impatience is my virtue

I cannot wait any longer for Season Three of Penny Dreadful, it plays on my mind relentlessly.

I really enjoyed the evolution of Penny Dreadful’s monsters last season, with the witches tying nicely to the vampires as evil cogs on the Devil’s wheel.  Bodies throughout the series are refreshingly unique, as is the extend to which all bodies in the show are presented as transformable, corruptible, and monstrous to varying extents.  Even human Sembene had striking ritual scarring on his face, his skin betraying his alleged history as a slave-trader, and thus signifying the permanence of a dark past.  No bodies are sacred, quite literally, in Penny Dreadful.

The vampires drew together a mutated, animalistic, vampire body that is vaguely recognisable (visually akin to films like Priest 2011) and yet distinctive in the way in which their skin is etched, scarred and hairless.  They are connected to a primal and much deeper mythology than European folktales, instead descending from the Egyptian undead, and therefore provide a distinct vampire body in contemporary television, than the glamourised humans in True Blood,  and The Vampire Diaries, as examples.  I particularly liked that Mina did not take on this body, although she too went through a transformation, instead her skin became a contagious surface- infecting her styling as her undead skin mirrored her spectral clothing to give her the appearance of a hybrid vampire-bride.

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Witches were introduced in season 2, and these two did not have one true ‘form’ but rather existed in various states of transformation, masquerade, and monstrosity.  Not only taking the form of ‘normal’ human women, they also have a body that asthetically seemed like an evil relation of the series’ vampires; a hairless, pale, atavistic form, except the witches blend into walls and seep through mirrors like liquid, not flesh.  The lucidity of their bodies is a topic I plan to go into more detail on in a later post – so much to say on the unstable, abject witch!

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Finally I’m excited to see how Lily and Dorian (the beautiful un-dead) far in the next season, and whether they once more test the limits of their immortal bodies.  As the apparent ‘big-bad’s’ of the next Season I’m interested to see just how their ‘undead-army’ will be birthed… We have never seen a backstory for Dorian in the series – although we are aware of his literary origins, and of course Lily was made by Victor, but something tells me he won’t be wanting to rush back to his scalpel anytime soon!

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So roll on 1st May and whatever the darkness has in-store for us this time…

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Gothic to Goth: Romantic Era Fashion and its Legacy

Just read about a recent exhibition in Connecticut which I SO wish I could get to but unfortunately I’ve not yet sprouted wings/invented a teleportation machine.  The accompanying book will have to suffice, sigh.

This exhibition fully explores the Romantic era fashion in detail and its relationship to costume history, and representations of Romantic fashions today.

In showing the garments alongside prints, literary works and art pieces, the exhibition really gives an impression of how fashion-as-art inspires a moment, and how that moment then visually resonates through the ages.

“Gothic to Goth illustrates how early nineteenth century costume—just like fine and decorative art, architecture, interior design, literature, and music—moved away from the order and rationality of the previous half-century to embrace imagination and emotion, originality and vision, and individuality and subjectivity as guiding principles”

The timing of this exhibitions really comes to life when you link it to my recent posts about Marc Jacob’s latest collection, and the sudden resurgence of witch-inspired styles.  The Romantics gave themselves over to nature, to the Sublime, and to art; as ever, fashions today are continuing to retread these themes and inspirations from the past, albeit embellished by new touches.  It becomes very poignant that yet again these themes have returned at this particular time, a time that is quickly becoming synonymous with terror, war, and cruelty.

The Romantics were incredibly skilled in their infusion of absolute beauty and terror and in contemporary fashions this conflict continues to thrive.  Alexander McQueen’s latest offering (read my review of this collection here) overtly clashes soft, feminine textiles and shapes with harsh accessories and embellishments.  The loud prints are threatening, yet transfixing- the details encouraging you to look closer…closer.  The silhouettes are defiant in their Victorian heritage, as many McQueen forms are, but the exposure and transparency  of the clothes still retain a distinctive twenty-first century touch, a perversion of their ancestral design.

AM F:W 2106

It certainly appears there is a call for this exhibition, so if you’re lucky enough to be able to visit please let me know what it was like!  I look forward to receiving the exhibition book and delving further into the continuing relationship between Goth and Gothic fashion…

Runway Gaga

I completely forgot to write about Gaga’s walk for Marc Jacobs A/W 2016 show- the last show of New York Fashion Week.

I liked that Lady Gaga made an understated appearance, and added to her building ‘Goth-Girl’ credentials- along with the news that Gaga has signed on to the next series of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story.

What kinds of ‘gothic’ were at work here?

  • anachronistic Victoriana fashions – giant skirts, overcoats, lace, ruffles, over the top feathers, long gloves that recalled a ‘haunted Downton Abbey’, delicate sequins and beading
  • ‘pop-goth’ – checkerboard design, an ‘eom-cat’ print, oversized tops, wide-leg trousers, spiderwebs, rats, dyed bright fur – blending Punk and Goth with sheer maxi dresses and clomping platform boots, the inclusion of Gaga herself (most recently starring in the very Gothic American Horror Story: Hotel)

It’s an eclectic mix of old and new forms of Goth fashions, forcing a convergence of past and further past fashions, into this new collection.  Despite all these nods to historical pieces; flares, mourning coats, stripes tights, this still felt very current.

Gothic today has shifted even since the fashions of the 1980, and further from the Victorian Gothic, of which Jacobs paid homage to.  The mash-up of both of these periods suggests something intrinsic to what Gothic more broadly has come to represent (also identifiable in fashions read as ‘Gothic’); that is to say that Gothic as a mode survives because of its inter-referential relationship with itself, constantly reviving images and styles and colliding them together to create something new.  Gothic doesn’t have to be haunting, but it seems always haunted– at least, by itself.  Now, Gothic can also be much lighter as a mode than previous incarnations of the Gothic, references to rats and cobwebs are camp signifiers of ‘traditional Gothic’ with creaking castles and fleeing maidens.

Regardless, Gothic is as captivating today as it ever was.

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The Walking Dead Attraction

Clear your schedule for Summer 2016 and start saving those pennies because you might just want to book a holiday to California and visit the new The Walking Dead interactive walkthrough attraction!

Sadly, I don’t think Norman Reedus will be a fixture at the exhibit, but wouldn’t that be amazing?

I’d love to visit if only to get up close to the amazing make-up effects – not close enough for a bite though…

Here’s a link which also features the promotional video:

http://www.insidethemagic.net/2016/03/video-the-walking-dead-walkthrough-attraction-coming-permanently-to-universal-studios/

Walking Dead Women

*spoilers ahead*

I thought this weeks’ episode of The Walking Dead showed how far away from a Zombie television series this show has gotten.  It’s more a series with zombies in it and I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.  I used to enjoy seeing what the zombies would add to the story, what the next gruesome walker would look like, or whether we’d ever find out more about the virus.  Now the series seems adamant to hammer home to far that this show is concerned about people. Living people specifically -although as this episode demonstrated- not always acting human, but surviving nonetheless. 

This episode ‘The Same Boat’ is entitled presumably from an exchange between Carol and one of her Saviour captors, Molly, who it turns out is dying, and to prove it she coughs up a rather unbelievable amount of blood.  Basically the point was that whether it be cancer, the virus, or simply the ‘way the world is’ now – both the women are, so to speak, dead-men-walking.  Maggie too was brought into this debate by another exchange in which she was told she was “choosing death” by bringing a child into this world; and it seems women have only one path to choose in this series; a killer, a captive, a mother, all are dead women, deadly choices. 

This usually female-centric episode introduced, and quickly dispatched, Paula, who I found to be one of the most interesting characters we’ve been introduced to this season.  She defiantly stands in the face of trauma and declares how she lost everything but now she is stronger, in the world of the walking dead: “I am alive”.

I’m still mulling over what it means to live in Rick’s world, what women in this new world have come to reflect.

Carol started this series as an abused wife, a mother, and now we see her childless, a killer, an actress.  Of all the characters on the show, Carol is the most prolific trickster, she blends into walkers with blood and guts on her clothes, wears chinos and cardigans to fool a community into thinking she is merely a housewife, and steals dead man’s clothes to pass as a ‘Wolf’ and massacre attackers.  This week she hyperventilates over a crucifix and is chastised by her captors for her apparent weakness, of which Paula eventually deuces the depth of Carol’s act: “nervous little bird, you were her”.  The nervous little bird is the one disguise that really wounds Carol, because it is not an act but a past self, returning, reviving.  Paula asks why she was so afraid when she and Maggie have effectively killed their captors, and Carol simply replies she was “afraid of this”, and aims her gun.

 

 

I think I’m afraid too.

carol

 

 

 

Alice in Wonderland/ Ghosts required

Planning a trip into London next weekend and I’ve just realised that the British Library’s Alice in Wonderland Exhibition is still running until 17th April 2016.

http://www.bl.uk/events/alice-in-wonderland-exhibition

I have many fond memories as a result of this story; my Mum used to read it to me from her own childhood copy and I used to spend hours designing costumes for the characters. The 2010 Tim Burton film was the first 3D film I saw in the cinema (I still can’t balance the 3d glasses on top of my own pair), and I also submitted my first undergraduate essay on the two original novels.

So hopefully I get a chance to visit the exhibition and take a trip down the rabbit hole once more to see just how far Alice has travelled!


On a completely different note:

Has anyone got any suggestions for television series/recent films featuring ghosts?

Zombie Style

I recently finished watching the first season of iZombie (THAT season cliffhanger…) and it got me thinking about zombie style.  Liv – the ironically named protagonist- goes through such a style overhaul after she is bitten and I quickly found myself thinking that she looked so much better undead.

In honour of Liv then, here are my 5 best dressed zombies in television :

***spoilers may be ahead***

1) ‘Little Walker Girl’ – The Walking Dead

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I am nowhere if not at home in my pyjamas, and if teddy bears and bunny slippers were acceptable outside I would definitely rock it (I do actually have a panda rucksack which maybe bridges this gap?)  This walker made so much impact as she is the first walker to appear and be killed on The Walking Dead- and the fact she is mistaken for a survivor by Rick before she turns and reveals she is riddled, and walking, in bullets/ missing half her face, is a brilliantly shocking scene as Rick realises he’s going to kill a little girl.

10/10 for horror suspense and reducing men to tears with on-trend fluffy accessories

2) Pam Swynford de Beaufort- True Blood 

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This may be a cheat since Pam is a vampire who gets cursed by a witch:

“corrupt unsanctified corpse that walks, behold your true self”

Since humans mistake Pam for a zombie and she is essentially a rotting undead corpse, I think Pam, if only temporarily, earns her place within the lineup.

Pam takes her decayed look right back to Victorian mourning fashion, which is ironic that she fashioning her death around the styles of when she was ‘truly’ living as a human.  The horror of her face beneath her black veil was shot perfectly between the lines of Gothic and camp.  She then turns to horrific beauty treatment/curse and lounges for an episode swamped in pink satin, her skin entirely removed.  Her only concern is her beauty, who cares about being dead?

 

8/10 for ironic costumes and ‘glamourising’ the zombie

3) Madison Montgomery- American Horror Story: Coven 

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Oh Madison, this girl’s body goes through some serious stuff.  After having her throat slit by the Supreme, Madison winds up in a trunk belonging to the mute housekeeper who stays in the attic and uses her as ‘living’ doll at his tea parties.  It’s as bad as it sounds- hence all the lace.  Upon discovery, her fellow witches ‘push death out’ of her- cue her coughing up lots of nasty stuff on that dress.  No bippidy-boppidy-boo magic here but Madison comes back – she’s not the stereotypical rotting zombie, but she’s also definitely not human either.  Zombie Madison wears fabulously melancholy dresses to brood in, as she demonstrates that she can’t feel pain by burning her hand and concealing her scar beneath some truly nineties chokers.

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7/10 for the many dead/undead transformations and for fashioning the ‘millennial Goth’ element in the modern zombie.

4) Liv- iZombie

Brother, Can You Spare A Brain?

Liv was a preppy summer dress, cardigan matching, brunette pre-bite, then she turns into an ultra pale, ultra white, dark eyed, hoody donning zombie.  I like how the stereotype of the pale zombie has stayed, but Liv still looks fairly ‘normal’.  She isn’t as brightly dressed, or hyper feminine as she was as a human but she’s grieving for her humanity so I think some comfort dressing is allowed?  There is also something deeply satisfying about a zombie in a lab coat- it’s like Frankenstein’s monster taking the power back.

7/10 for undead power dressing and flying the flag for the fair-skinned girls

5) Angela Mason – Supernatural 

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Sometimes I just like to see the gothic girl in a white dress still going strong- Angela’s also a zombie.

7/10 for keeping the gothic tradition of the white dress alive

McQueen; ‘She is a night creature inhabiting a charmed and Surreal world’

There are three things I thought when I watched Alexander McQueen’s Fall 2016 show:

  • feminine
  • mystical
  • transformation

 

I actually really liked this collection although it doesn’t scream ‘dark’ McQueen, it still captures a particular strand of Gothic feeling, albeit in a lighter, almost hopeful tone.

 

Sarah Burton was notably expecting her third child as this collection walked, and I think the themes of birth-rebirth-transformation are really evident here.  The coat (first image below)literally cocoons the model as she walks, and although the texture of her outer-garment drowns her frame, the cascading ‘tail’ of a more much form-fitting dress reveals a glimpse of underneath.  The coat then becomes an enactment of a much darker prompt, not look at, but rather look beneath…

 

Above are just a handful of my favourite looks from this collection- in case you wanted to have a look yourselves!

I enjoyed how the skin felt like it had been manipulated throughout this collection.  From the wholly sheer looks that overlay the skin with intricate designs and use the model as it’s canvas; the many cut away lines then expose and conceal the skin in deliberate patterns.  The models are literally spliced and transformed by their garments.

The collection also featured embellishments of unicorns, moths, owls, swans, eyes and mirrors.  Darkly feminine, it is not a stretch to feel the ‘witchy’ nature possessing these clothes.  There women are adorned and embodied by symbols of nature and beauty.  These images are at times set upon ‘powerful’ cuts of impeccably tailors suits, corsets and even bondage trousers – providing a softer contrast to the lingerie and ‘bed-time’ looks- whilst also notably nodding to McQueen’s most infamous designs.

Personally if witches, darkness, transformation and the visual battle between inside/outside (surface/depth) isn’t Gothic enough, then this collection may miss your mark.  Gothic for me, in terms of fashion, doesn’t have to be overtly threatening or uneasy – rather I think this collection is more ‘Gothicised’ by its consumption of itself.  This collection draws the eye continually to the surface, to the excessive embellishment (which itself is an overt parody of the ‘dark night’) whilst revealing LOTS underneath.  Unease is hinted at from the shape of the fabric; swallowing, draping, cutting, consuming the model.

***

I found it coincidental that last week I received a copy of the latest ASOS magazines with ‘Making Magic’ upon the front cover.  Upon closer inspection this edition also provides an article on ‘Modern Magic’ which details how the mystical is becoming more mainstream and ‘crystals are cool’.  Furthermore you could read on how to ‘max your moon power’ and discover the benefits of making a vision board (I really liked this idea, being a massive Pinterest fan and serial mood-boarder).

So, you can take this post as a celebration of the apparent cosmic alignment of all things Witchy this Spring.  Go forth and wear beautiful clothes and make happy visions- maybe even buy a cat?

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Gothenburg

I’ve recently returned from a trip to Gothenburg, Sweden (a place I fell in love with) and I’ve got many more posts on the way now I’m home! 

First I just wanted to share some of the cool things we stumbled across, and prove that traces of the Gothic unexpectedly everywhere…  

*evil villain laugh* 

First up is some ‘cliff art’ of Death and the Maiden (because that’s totally a thing over there) because romance is not dead.  Speaking of romance, there are many vintage clothes stores in Gothenburg, one of which I found a rail of lace and satin ballgowns which looked like Sleeping Beauty’s wardrobe.  I died and went to Disney heaven. 

 

We also found a Steampunk bar which was full of old brass trinkets, clocks and cogs, weird sepia photographs, and victoriana armchairs.  There was a big iron spiral staircase in the centre which was horrible to try and manoeuvre whilst carrying cocktails.  The cocktails themselves had THE best names: ‘elixir of mystery’ and ‘the dark forest’ were our favourites.  I’ve never had a steaming, frothing drink before but I’m now left with bitter disappointment that all my beverages aren’t as sassy.  

 

Slottsskogen is a giant Park just south of the centre that was so vast that we were pretty surprised when we turned a corner and discovered seals, moose and baby deer.  Whilst not overtly Gothic I think just the sheer size of this place with its dark watery ponds, partially frozen and eerily glassy, meant we did feel quite in the wilderness at times and very far from the city.  We felt the same visiting the Southern archipelago.  Some of the islands had no inhabitants at all so you’re just wandering around a ghost town with little wooden fishing shacks.  It was incredibly quiet and unlike anywhere we’ve been before.  We looked out over the water and you can see fish rising and splashing in the distance- which did nothing for my fear of the water, knowing I’d be getting a boat back with the sea monsters beneath me! 

 

Basically, I loved Gothenburg.  It was beautiful and quirky and not at all what I expected, I even found a Kawaii shop!  

Sweden, till next time…

” Nothing about her is human except that she is not a wolf”

 

 

At the Libertine’s New York Fashion Week show, the nails of the models ruffled more feathers than the clothes.  

 

This ‘trend’ has certainly got people talking and it did get me thinking about the relationships between skin and fur and the implications of ‘fashioning fur’. 

 

The title quote is from Angela Carter’s ‘Wolf Alice’ tale from her Bloody Chamber collection, and I feel this unusual trend somewhat visualises the essence of Carter’s re-writing of Little Red Riding Hood.  The fur has caused such a sensation online and amongst beauty bloggers, a large majority of which have a singular response: EWW.  I find this fascinating because fur has become such a glamorous adornment (don’t get me wrong it is not without controversy regarding how it is procured) – but, in the fashion world at least, it is beautiful.  

 

Why then the horror over its presence on this particular catwalk?  

 

It is the placement of the fur that incites such disgust; upon the skin fur easily takes on the property of our own skin as boundary.  When we step into the wolf we are strong, we are fierce, yet we can also be beautiful- even superior as fur is often an indicator of class, wealth, or status – even outside of Western Culture.  Nail’s are essentially claws, albeit our ‘claws’ have been evolutionarily watered down as we have no need for them.  Now nails can be a site of beauty and there are numerous ways to decorate them, but this practise is almost exclusively a feminine act.  If you walked into Boots you would find polishes, false nails, files, buffers, tints, tips, stickers, decals, gems, overcoats and undercoats and all are marketed at women.  

 

(I am not in any way saying guys do not/should not wear nail polish, just that they are often not the target audience!) #rockitjohnny

 

In placing the fur on the nails a site of beauty has been aligned with the beast.  The nails have no vulnerability, unlike the skin, they have one purpose and even in masquerade they still evoke their one function: violence, survival, predator. 

 

The She-Wolf has left her closet and regained her claws.