<bgsound src="Extract from CD 90 - Track 21.swf"> </bgsound> Gothic: Video Transcription

A Sneak Peek Video Transcript

Popularly associated with black-clad teenagers and gothic rock musicians, gothic style is actually an important influence on high fashion. Several years ago, Alexander McQueen did a collection called Voss, which was about beauty and horror. Voss was a collection set in a kind of glass box, where the models represented inmates in an insane asylum with bandaged heads and birds of prey. It was a collection that shocked fashion journalists because it was so extreme and frightening, and yet also so beautiful. If you look closely at this dress you can see that the bodice is made of many microscope slides dyed red, which is a brilliant way of evoking science and yet also the kind of imagery of vampirism of blood and disease.

John Galliano looks back at the French Revolution and particularly at what the Marquis de Sade said about the terror in the late stage of the Revolution when the guillotine was hard at work in Paris. Here on one panier of this skirt, he has a picture of the Marquis de Sade picked out in black. And on the other side, he has a quote by de Sade, “Was it not by murder that France became free?”

Ever since Frankenstein the idea of the laboratory as a place where new monstrous life was created has become a real part of our collective unconscious. The extraordinary dresses in back of me were made by a young designer called Kei Kagami, Japanese by birth who is based in London. They represent a kind of steam punk synthesis of Victorian ideas of machine civilization with a kind of quirky vision of the future. They are monstrous and extraordinarily beautiful.

The gothic is influential because it is such an important part of popular culture in general. I’ve been working on this exhibition and book for the past two years and it’s lucky for me that right now there are TV shows about vampires and new movies about vampires. In back of me you see a costume for the 1990’s film Bram Stoker’s Dracula, as well as a high-fashion ensemble by Thierry Mugler.

Gothic is a word with a strange history. It always does more than just describe something like a gothic cathedral. It always implies that something is gloomy and macabre.

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