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

zombie 2

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 

pam

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 

the dead

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.

cropped-1.gif

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 

angela mason

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?

1

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. 

 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

The zombie is maintaining strength into 2016 with the awaited return of The Walking Dead in Spring also.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies appears to be following the trend of the grotesquely rotting corpse; as opposed to a pale and wide eyed animated body seen in the zombie’s easiest risings, or simply a bleeding viral victim as in 28 Days Later (2002).

I’m particularly intrigued by how skin will be treated in the film and to what extend the bodies ‘rot’- or as in Warm Bodies (who took a step back from the ‘rotting’ likely because it’s probably a step too far to fall for a guy with a weeping eye socket) the ‘zombification’ is more stylised when romance is also at stake.

So, really hoping that early reviews are correct and that the film is as good as I am hoping it will be- or at least interesting enough that I will have lots to say!

Vernon Lee

I’ve been re-reading Lee’s Hauntings and I REALLY recommend them. 

My favourite story in particular is ‘Oke of Okehurst’ about a painter commissioned by a couple to paint their portraits (shockingly!).  Once he arrives he is immediately stuck by the wife, Alice who always seems as if she is in a distant place and mercilessly teases her husband (who is also her cousin, of course) about a murder committed by their ancestors who also share their names.  Alice is enthralled by their family’s history and even dresses in her ancestor, Alice Oke’s clothing- much to the annoyance and concern of her young husband.  

I won’t spoil the end of the story but it is a ghost story, although it makes you consider whether the ghosts are that of the past, or of our own making. 

The use of clothing as masquerade, as costume, as heirloom and as haunted item is really interesting to me and it is one of things I’m looking at in my research.  

This is the version I’m reading from; I like this one because it has a fantastic introduction by Patricia Pulham and Catherine Maxwell (you should also read Pulham’s book on Art and the Transitional Object in Lee’s fiction – the chapter ‘Madonna Portraits and medusa Mirrors’ should draw you in alone!).  Also there are some interesting essay snippets at the back, one by Lee herself writing about the Supernatural in Art. 

If anyone else has any recommendation of stories/articles/books, gothic/ghost/creepy clothing or otherwise, I would love you to share them! 

— I’ve also not forgotten about Vampire Knight and I’m going to try and get a few more episodes in this weekend with a mid-season review! 

Fondest Creation – Farewell American Horror Story: Hotel

I decided very early with in this series to focus on the surface.  Did it loose it’s way with the many lovers of the Countess-maybe (but I enjoyed the flashbacks it afforded us).  Was John a loathsome character right up until he realised he was a sadistic killer? Of course, and it made me feel slightly shameful that he had to artistically spray a man’s insides across a wall for me to tolerate him but this series really was all about the LOOK. 


I didn’t really care what they were doing, or more who they were doing, I just wanted to get lost in a sea of historical costumes, glitzy make up and killer (literally) accessories.  The finale made me realise this is okay. 


Never before has Ryan Murphy, the show’s creator done anything more PopGoth than to give Hypodermic Sally a release through the internet.  I LOVED IT. I loved how accurate a reflection of contemporary society the ghost was, shouting out words to anyone and no-one , leaving footprints in a mass of void and noise, and yet we are all unnatural online (and the irony of me sat here writing this blog is not lost on me). 


Donovan’s beyond the grave revelation that his heaven consists of an eternal childhood Saturday morning with pancakes was tender not because he was reaching out to the Mother he scorned for a lifetime.  His ‘happiness’ was a memory.  It seems the truth of Gothic to remind us that although we look continually to the future with planners, diaries and holiday countdowns (both of which I have), it is the assured passage of time and the fact that everything becomes, past, that haunts and revives us. 


I don’t really want to end on such a sombre musing, so I want to thank Murphy for his ‘revamping’ theme, bringing together vampiric creatures, fashion, rebirth, trauma and death has resulted in the American Horror Story I’ve been waiting for.  


It truly was my fondest creation of his.