Gothic Fashion: Human Ambivalence towards Life

When the disco culture was in full swing, people reveled in the bright lights, colorful clothes and a noisy display of joy, youth, warmth and freshness. However, the flip side existed too. Parallel to this grew the Goth scene, which in a way rebelled against the “shallowness” of the disco culture and brought back the grandeur and moroseness of the medieval times and the class of the Victorians. Goth music as everyone knows was and is inspired by classical music, metal, and melancholy. Goth music also became part of the Goth subculture and thus encouraged a whole new couture.

Defying the bright colours of the Disco culture, Goths began to wear clothes that were markedly dark, melancholic and gloomy. Black being the dominant colour, silver jewelry in forms of occult symbols, skulls, crosses added glamour to the stark black clothes. Wearing black nail polish or eyeliner was not limited to just women but also men wore black. While the clothing could range from being funereal to business, gothic fashion became increasingly popular and mainstream.

Famous fashion designers like Alexander McQueen and John Galliano have been associated with Goth fashion. With haute couture taking notice of the Goth, it no more remained a sub culture but become part of the mainstream, just like Disco was earlier. However, due to the dark imagery, melancholy, and the occult involved in Gothic fashion, it did not appeal to the general masses and to this day, it has remained part of the alternative fashion scene.

However, it is really hard to describe what Gothic fashion really is. It is one of the most vibrant and versatile ways of dressing oneself. Sometimes, it is easy to confuse Goth fashion with either punk, emo, metal or some other style. Certainly Goth fashion isn’t dead nor is it going back to the graveyard very soon. There are many reason for its popularity. One of the most important and interesting is the so-called “wannabe-goths”. The wannabe-goths usually are found changing their appearance to suit the stereotypical Goth, in order to either appear dark and brooding or because it seems something different to do.

What is surprising is this fascination with Goth because it represents the darker self within. Whether a person tries hard to appear Goth, or is inherently gothic is not really important. It is the fascination and revulsion of the gothic aesthetics that is more important and that which needs to be pondered over. The ambivalence towards Goth fashion among people could be attributed to humans’ ambivalence towards life, death and darkness. It is this ambivalence towards light and darkness that persists within the gothic realm.

No one could possibly claim to love darkness completely, nor could one claim to like brightness, joy and peace always. In fact, the ones that prefer darkness genuinely do so, for they know joy and peace are not something to be desperate about, but something that is transient and that it just needs to be appreciated when experienced. Once that phase is over, the gloom and the darkness is always there to welcome the self. Thus, this darkness and gloom becomes homely, and a natural habitat for the human soul.

Those who understand this continue to express themselves in various ways, one of which could be termed Goth. Gothic fashion thus becomes a way to feel at home in the infinite sadness and darkness that beckons each human being, every minute, every second. However, the ones that either try too hard to appear Goth or the ones that hate Gothic culture represent the other side of human nature which consciously or unconsciously denies the existence of pain and sadness, as it is too unpleasant for the ego to accept. Nevertheless, the fascination or revulsion towards the gothic fashion is a sign of acknowledgement of the dark forces that exist in life.


Sources: Gothic Portal, Paul Hodkinson, Dark Fashion Links, Arts & Sciences

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