Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Victorian Gothic in Fashion: Why it Exists and Why it’s Awesome

In university I was an art history/history major. Naturally I have over the years learned to merge this quiet passion of mine with my louder passion for fashion. Often, this has led to me working with a lot of period clothing and historical costuming, which requires a lot of attention to detail and the patients for the research it sometimes takes to create these pieces. Today I’m going to talk about my most recent interest – Victorian Gothic.

The other name for this type of dress, with a more contemporary edge is “Gothic Lolita,” the Lolita style consisting of over the top Victorian style dresses and accessories. I don’t really like calling it "Lolita" though because it makes me think of an old man checking out a pre-teen in a slutty we’ll stick with Victorian Gothic. :D

Since the nineteenth century this style has come and gone through the eras of fashion consistently and always with a specific audience in mind. Remember the wallpaper of the 1960s? The little frilly design on that shit was inspired by the Victorian era. Not to mention any use of damask or ruffled stripes are all influenced by the period and have continued to be used for decades since. People who like Victorian Goth usually really like it. I mean, I don’t know anyone who pulls out their frilly black lace gown for a day when they normally dress in common fashions... either you love it or you don’t. One designer who loved it was the late great Lee McQueen who made his label Alexander McQueen famous for its dark, Gothic sensibilities. Occasionally at an award show you’ll see a star or two decked out in something totally Goth, but it’s usually someone like Rose McGowan or Helena Bonham Carter....

I kind of think our generation has a specific attraction to darkness. The bestselling novels and films of the past two decades have been about witches or vampires and the market continues to grow. Everybody wants to look like a sexy vampire chick, right?

Well I’m buying into it. Petey the Troll Apparel are currently working on the initial concept and outfits for our 2011 Petey Couture collection to be released this Spring at Alternative Fashion Week in Toronto. I started my dress without thinking of any concept. It began as an entirely white, highly structured piece that I made with canvas and white gesso. I started painting it, bit by bit and the colours I used were increasingly pure, rich and dark. I decided to use a black crinoline and I asked Meg about it. She said her work was mostly going to be black as well, and that we might have a concept brewing. I stared at the dress for quite a little while and soon the concept was decided. It would be utterly foolish for me to reveal the concept or any more details about the collection before release, but we’re very excited to say the least!!

If you like this stuff check out my treasury on Etsy and stop by our shop on the way!