<bgsound src="Saint_Peter-s_Greeting.swf"> </bgsound> Gothic: Strange Beauty

In Strange Beauty, the fashions are characterized by unconventional shapes and strange sources of imagery.

The Gothic has long attracted cultural outsiders, from the homosexual aesthete Horace Walpole, author of the first gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto, to the habitués of today’s Vampire Balls. Just as the "barbarian" Goths were perceived by the Romans as the antithesis of classical civilization, so did the medieval Gothic come to be seen as modernity’s Other, its "dark side." With the rise of the Enlightenment, the entire medieval period was retrospectively envisioned as the Dark Ages, characterized by superstition and sorcery.

As a genre, the Gothic is characterized by the themes of death, destruction and decay, haunting and imprisonment, the powers of horror and the erotic macabre. Gothic fashion has its own visual vocabulary which evolved from a set of narrative associations evoked by the gothic literature of terror, from its origin in the eighteenth century to its contemporary manifestations in vampire fiction.

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Image by by Frederik Ruysch (1638-1731), courtesy of the National Library of Medicine