Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Styles of Goth fashion: carnival Goth

This was a reader request from a while back, and since Lilly Peppermint professed her own affection for this style in my recent interview, I figured that now was the time. :-)

Carnival Goth's closest relations are dark cabaret, burlesque and neo-Victorian; but obviously this style takes its inspiration from a variety of ideas and images including sinister circuses (it's also known as Circus Goth), the dramatic make-up of sideshow performers and trapeze artists, and creepy, abandoned funfairs.

Goths plus carnival/circus themes might bring up clown images for some. Whilst there are some carnival and circus Goths who do in fact use clown-esque make-up and imagery, for example make-up inspired by pierrots and harlequins, we're not talking sloppy or badly-applied, and the look is not generally played for humour. Usually the make-up could be described as charming, cute, but a little bit sinister, dark or macabre. (Here's an example of a Victorian Gothic Circus make-up tutorial on YouTube.)

Carnival Goth fashion tends to involve ruffles, stripes, chequered patterns (usually in black and white or black and red), lots of red, white, cream and off-white accents and can look very Tim Burton-inspired. The clothing styles can often be reminiscent of Neo-Victorian or casual steampunk fashion (the look I have linked to here could easily work for a carnival Goth look with a few extra touches such as make-up and ripped fishnets.

For the ladies, wardrobe staples are likely to include bloomers, a bustle skirt (not necessarily full length), vertically striped or chequered tights or stockings, top hats or mini top hats, Victorian-esque blouses and waistcoats and Victorian-style boots.

The gentlemen are likely to be clad in Victorian-styled shirts and waistcoats, a top hat or bowler hat, jabots, trousers of some description (tight trousers with chains or straps could actually work well with this look; with a frock coat, big boots and top hat for a surreal ringmaster look), big chunky boots and possibly a cane.

The look is often designed to be very surreal; there may also be some more macabre touches such as ripped, tattered or decayed clothing or even some fake blood here and there.

The musicians who are associated with this style have a visual or musical aesthetic that matches closely the themes and images tied in with carnival Goth, such as Voltaire, Stolen Babies, Vermilion Lies and Emilie Autumn.

Dominique of the band Stolen Babies
Image by Pixie Vision Productions
Image source: Steampunk Girls
As an interesting note, many Goth events and entertainments do involve a lot of circus and carnival based mayhem, from the L.A. Goth night Circus Disco to the performances of Cirque Berzerk and Circus of Horrors (who I've seen, by the way, and they are amazing).


LucretiaLevi said...

I love your Gothic Style posts!
There are just so many substyles, its incredible. Carnival Goth is, I think, also related with Burlesque.
(random note: I love your new haircolour, its so vibrant!)

Miss Eva Morgan Reeve said...

Samuel Sullivan is my Carvinal goth idol.

~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~ said...

oh i know =D it is like Dresden Doll - The Kill fan made music video

Mira said...

I'm a big fan of this sort of music, so I'll probably have to try this style of dress at some point!

Rora Monroe said...

I feel horrid that I havent been able to comment on any of your posts in such a long time (my computer has its shitty moments) but now that I have it fixed I can comment my little head off ^_^.
Keep up the wonderful blog girly!

Anonymous said...

Dear Amy,

First of all, I'd like to say that I love Your blog! As a twenty-something "goth in training" who has recently decided to go for it I find it most helpful, and Your perseverance in updating is truly amazing.
Could You please write a word or two about how You see the question of wearing voluptuous, extravagant, eye-catching fashions when one is a plus-size Goth? Being a British size 12, I am not a plus-size myself yet, but I'm also very far from being a twig. I have a noticeable bosom, big butt and large thighs. I have to admit that I struggle with many insecurities on that account. Someone that I used to know would say that "the fat girls put on all that black and "gawth" only to look more edible, which doesn't help anyway."(a charming chap, now wasn't he?) Many other people I've encountered claim that "ruffles, lace and fuss are only for the petite."
I tend to believe that there is a grain of truth in those unkind remarks. After all, most of the staples of my beloved neo-Victorian style (bustle skirts or striped overknees, for example) look rather awkward on a heavy build person. Alas, that person is me. I'd love to be slim and waifish, as is Emilie Autumn; next life, maybe.
On the other hand, this whole policy of shuffling the largely built people into the corner(and thus making them take as little public space as possible) irks me. I don't want to wear optically slimming, but demure clothes just to improve my body proportions.(No Trinny and Susannah, thank You.) But I don't want to look like a sad, overweight girl, desperately trying to make herself interesting either. I believe there may be more Goths-in-progress out there, who open their closets in the morning and face the same dilemma.
I'd love to hear Your opinion on that matter.

Lots of love,
Nina, Poland.

Anonymous said...

Nina, I'm a size 14 and I wear stripe over knees and I've attempted to dd bustles to my gypsy skirt, I also happen to love lace. I don't think its the material but the correct sizing that matters :)

I stopped wearing many of my goth clothes due to my weight gain, but I'm passed caring at this point, as I feel I should be able to express myself for who I am without the Media and pseudo-goth notion of thinness. If we were all meant to be one size we would.

I think curvier goths are incredibly beautiful,I think some skinny goths are beautiful too, as are the normalish sized ones. We are all beautiful.

I look at my wardrobe and see that I have maybe 6 things in my size, I alter the rest, and I think and my boyfriend thinks it looks darn good and sexy.

I believe we can wear the same types of things save for tutu's (big butt and tutu makes for irksome experience)and tight leather.

I happily wear lace, attempt to bustle my skirts, wear stripey stocking and tops, layer clothes and I believe it looks good, so do many other people that have commented on my style.

Amy has a post on Goths and Body image here

ultimategothguide said...

Nina - I'd be more than happy to, in fact I am researching just such a post at the moment. ^^

Thepurplebroom - thanks for linking me :-)

Hayley said...

I love carnival and circus inspired gothic outfits! I just got some checkered tights and vertical striped thigh-highs last month! :)

Scyrith said...

It'd be interesting to see how pirate goth fashion would work out- it can follow both steampunk tracks (for an airship pirate) or a more neo-Victorian/ medieval/ carnival hybrid with stripes and red accents.

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