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…


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