It seems ironic that a little over a year after I wrote my first ever article — Fashion Help For Recovering Goths — I’m now writing about goth as a high fashion trend. But before you go thinking I’m just switching my position willy-nilly, I should explain that there is a marked difference between that piece & this one. FHFRG was about changing old, staid habits & embracing a new you, while neogoth is about adopting a dark aesthetic but making it stylish & sophisticated. So you see, they’re both about positive change — just in different ways.
So, what’s neogoth about, anyway? First of all, it has nothing to do with The Matrix — perish the thought! Nor does it have anything to do with bright, neon colours. ‘Neo’ is meant here to mean recent or new. Combine that with ‘goth’ & you get a fresh, modern version of the goth aesthetic. & not a moment too soon!
I found out about neogoth recently by having a dig around on the Fashion Spot (best fashion forums ever). Someone started a thread about neogoth in 2005, but the look seems to have really exploded & started blossoming recently. My guess is that the trend-setters are feeling a bit fed up with pastels & fluoro colours, & are rebelling. The thread is fabulous eye candy, lots of editorial shots & runway ensembles, but I thought a DIY guide might be useful.
While it would be easy to just throw on a whole lot of black & feel like that was enough, that’s not quite it. The whole idea of neogoth is that it is a more grown-up, sophisticated look. All the usual components of the goth look — dyed black hair, facial piercings, corsets, striped stockings & combat boots — aren’t going to help you out if you want to dabble in this aesthetic.
Neogoth is about texture. Wool, silk, lace & leather. Wood, plastic & lacquer. Without texture there is no neogoth — just someone wearing lots of darkly-hued clothing. Some people wear black to hide themselves away, minimise themselves, appear invisible. Neogoth is about doing the opposite: making a statement, dressing it up, putting in an effort & looking fabulous.
I really feel that neogoth isn’t just about wearing black. You can go to the complete opposite end of the spectrum & wear all white & still rock the look. To me, it is mostly about attitude — & attitude can be conveyed in the smallest ways. An accessory, a style of make-up or even a hairstyle can say more about you, your mood or your aesthetic than an entire ‘neogoth-themed’ outfit from the latest collections.
Colleen of Panic Industry coined the phrase “poisoned femininity” to describe a lot of what she sees on the catwalk at the moment, & I think that is worth incorporating into the whole neogoth thing. It’s not just clothing, it’s about feelings & mood. It’s about playing up the elements of mystery, drama & intrigue. It’s about being delicate with a dark edge, being unexpected & a little sick around the edges. Kind of like that broken dolly thing from the 90’s, just more grown-up.
I know that the word ‘goth’ throws people sometimes, so to be clear: you don’t have to dress like you’re on your way to a Renaissance Fair! Nor is there any need to get all Trenchcoat Mafia on it! Neogoth should be über-modern. Skyscraper shoes, closely-tailored garments, futuristic sunglasses — architecture with clothing.
Think sharply-cut blazers, patterned stockings, patent leather belts around the waist, scarves, unconventional hair & layers. Think platform shoes, luxurious clutches & epic nailpolish.
Here are some outfits I put together using Polyvore which help illustrate my point!
For vampy man-catching drinks: Giles Kruger Razor dress, Tarina Tarantino earrings, Alexander McQueen silk chiffon skull scarf, Alexander McQueen skull clasp clutch & Christian Louboutin Architek leather slingbacks.
For vampire-slaying in small, dusty towns: Marchesa strapless embroidered dress, Celine skinny silk chiffon scarf, locket necklace, rosary, Miss Selfridge lace stockings, Urban Outfitters cowboy boots, OPI nailpolish & assorted bangles.
My general consensus is that neogoth is a fantastic new style for people who want to do something different, as well as for people for whom black is like comfort food. Just remember to push it a bit, & you’ll be right as rain.
Extra For Experts:
Looking to the 1980s – darkly: Giles Deacon, Gareth Pugh and Roksanda Ilincic by Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune.