Thursday, 13 January 2011

Styles of Goth fashion: Neo-Victorian Goth

Whilst there are some similarities to the traditional Victorian Goth, Neo-Victorian Goth fashion is defined by the fantastical or futuristic twists given to the wearer's attire and appearance.

Neo-Victorianism is actually an aesthetic movement in its own right, described by Wikipedia as 'combining Victorian and Edwardian asthetic sensibilities with modern principles and technologies'. However this form of Neo-Victorianism, which often involves imitating Victorian behaviours or even re-enacting Victorian life, such as writing letters in formal prose with a fountain pen and exhanging calling cards, has no particular connection with the Goth scene, although I'm sure that many Goths (unsurprisingly, probably mainly Victorian Goths and Neo-Victorian Goths) do indulge or would like to indulge in such a lifestyle.

Source: Tumblr
Neo-Victorian Goth, however, is based upon aesthetics more than behaviours or affectations, like other subsets of Goth. It is often closely linked with the steampunk subculture (more on steampunk later) because, like steampunk, it combines historical elements with a modern or futuristic twist. It may also be linked with Lolita due to certain commonalities such as parasols and bloomers.

Unlike both Lolita and Victorian Goth, neo-Victorian Goth is generally unconcerned with either a childlike appearance or historical accuracy. Victorian-style underwear such as corsets and bloomers are often worn as outerwear; top hats (or tricorns, even) may be mini and probably perched at a jaunty angle; striped tights, socks or stockings are common; and make-up (or maquillage, as I should probably say on this occasion) is generally whimsical and a little wild, as opposed to the possibly more demure and subtle touch of the Victorian Goth.

For the ladies, hair is usually either impeccably coiffed or quite the opposite - a tumbling mass of wayward, slightly backcombed ringlets complete with striped bloomers, ripped fishnets and stompy boots creates quite an effective neo-Victorian Goth look. Of course, one doesn't have to look semi-unhinged a la the famous Miss Autumn to create this look - Jillian Venters from Gothic Charm School (can anyone guess my two Gothy icons?) wears a charming neo-Victorian Goth look, which involves top hats, poofy skirts and petticoats, 'whimsically mismatched' stockings, and her trademark accent of baby pink. And probably something with bats on.

The key with neo-Victorian Goth is to take traditional Victorian aesthetics and give it a personal, unexpected twist - be it layers of ripped bustles and petticoats, impeccable Victorian-themed attire in black and hot pink with lashings of glitter, or even a fake blood-splattered sepia-toned ensemble. If you can add a cupcake or heart motif, or candy stripes, so much the better - or you could of course incorporate steampunk elements such as cogs or keys.
Emilie Autumn (front) and her Bloody Crumpets
Source: Google Images
The music of choice for these Goths is often dark cabaret and/or steampunk, such as Emilie Autumn, Hannah Fury, the Dresden Dolls, Rasputina, Abney Park and Vernian Process. Many of these musicians have a very neo-Victorian flair in their stage attire.


Lady Euphoria Deathwatch said...

As a Victorian Mourning clothed Goth I'm glad you let others know the difference.

Because I like to go a bit wild and do the Neo thing once in a while and I get a 'You did something wrong with your clothing.' comment when I do. That or 'You didn't finish getting dressed.'

Narrow minds!

Hugs, Euphoria

Serifina said...

Once I was in my library in my full neo-victorian dress, and an old woman said quite loudly "I like your socks" (Black and white stripes). Everyone looked at me with huge expressions of "what IS she wearing?"
The joys of wearing stripey socks, stompy boots and a half-ripped skirt.

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