Monday, 24 January 2011

Styles of Goth fashion: burlesque Goth

Elements of burlesque have inspired many areas of the Goth scene, from dark cabaret music to flirtatious burlesque Goth (or cabaret Goth) fashion. So what is burlesque?

Well, basically, burlesque could be described as Ye Olde Striptease. Yup, in the days when showing an ankle was considered the height of slutdom, young ladies of questionable reputation performed as burlesque dancers, showcasing their curves in tightly-laced corsets, stockings and suspenders - there may even have been the occasional glimpse of a thigh. *swoons*

Dead sexy...
Source: Tumblr
However, there has always been more to the art of burlesque (yes, it's known as an 'art') than simply the titillation of the gentlemen. A burlesque performance is designed to be humourous, laced with quick-witted puns or pointed satire. Some modern 'alternative' burlesque performers specialise in the shock factor; although both performers and enthusiasts often insist that a burlesque show should be classy rather than just sexy.

What about cabaret? The definition of cabaret is basically thus, 'a form of entertainment featuring comedy, song, dance and theatre'. In today's world, cabaret tends to be considered as cheesy as it is glamorous, featuring a large amount of spangles, sequins and feather fans, and a lot of high-kicking. Despite this (and the fact that your grandma probably watches cabaret shows on holiday), cabaret has long been associated with 'counter-culture' and all things alternative, and often covers dark or disturbing subject matter - such as the song 'Gloomy Sunday', written by Rezso Seress in 1933; or 'Mack the Knife' by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. 

And how does this all link in with Goth? Well, corsets, red lipstick, black suits and fishnet stockings have been fashion staples in the subculture for a good couple of decades. And of course, the term 'dark cabaret' has come to define a music genre that has reached quite a height of popularity within the Goth scene.

Dark cabaret music is the result of combining the visual aesthetics and 'feel' of burlesque and cabaret shows with the stylings of punk and/or Goth music. The term was popularised by a 2005 Projekt Records compilation entitled Projekt Presents: A Dark Cabaret, and the stagewear of many dark cabaret performers can be credited with inspiring burlesque/cabaret Goth fashion.

Believe it or not, burlesque is very elegant, and a lot of burlesque-inspired Goth fashion reflects this, incorporating skirts and dresses rather than trousers for the ladies; the ever-popular corsets and fishnets; feathered headdresses, capes or even boas; and retro-inspired finishing touches such as garters, lace or satin gloves, cigarette holders (for those who smoke, obviously) and high heels, preferably court shoes.

If the gentlemen are feeling a little left out, allow me to lift your spirits with the following quote from the rather excellent Black Waterfall website: "[Male cabaret Goths] often resemble a peculiar cross between Dracula, Charlie Chaplin and a mime: but they have a style and class that is all their own."
Source: Tumblr
Photographer: Danny Sotzny
Of course, I could hardly write a post on burlesque without mentioning Dita Von Teese, ex-wife of the Antichrist Superstar himself, the Mallgoth God Marilyn Manson. Dita Von Teese is a stunning burlesque performer, who is often credited with bringing the art back into the spotlight over recent years. Dita's lily-white skin, raven curls, retro 40s and 50s-inspired fashion and red lipstick have been inspirational to many a Goth girl seeking to add a touch of slightly saucy glamour to her apparel.

There is a wealth of music that may garner (or should that be 'garter'? Heh heh...) the interest of the cabaret Goth. The song 'Peek-A-Boo' by Siouxsie and the Banshees draws on circus and burlesque imagery, and Dream Home Heartache, the album that resulted from a collaboration between former Christian Death members Rozz Williams and Gitane Demone, was described in reviews as "cabaret noir".

The biggest name in dark cabaret is probably the Dresden Dolls, although singer Amanda Palmer (married to Goth-beloved author Neil Gaiman, might I add) describes the Dolls' music as 'Brechtian punk cabaret', allegedly to avoid being labelled 'Goth' by the media. Other bands and musicians which may appeal are: Tiger Lilies, Vermillion Lies, Jill Tracy, Voltaire, Stolen Babies, Revue Noir, The Tragic Tantrum, Katzenjammer Kabarett, Circus Contraption, Evelyn Evelyn, Hannah Fury and Harlequin Jones.


Becky said...

Great post! I've listened to some of these and like some of the stuff. I definitely, definitely like the look!

MissGracie said...

Circus Contraption is amazing!! I need to know about more dark cabaret performers so I can go and see them live!

Emily Lynn G. said...

I was going to say,"what about Amanda Palmer?", until I saw the bottom. Big Neil Gaiman fan:P excellent, quick but insightful post as always.

Angel of Darkness said...

Very interesting, I rather like the look. And man, there are a lot of different goth fashions!

P.S. Great post!

Maeam said...

Ahh, Katzenjammer Kabarett. MM! I love their songs!
Man, I'd love to dabble into all of these....!!

Tenebris In Lux said...

Interesting post ..

Aw, cut Marilyn some slack :-P

ultimategothguide said...

Don't get me wrong Tenebris, I love MM! ^^

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