Sep 5, 2008 - Feb 21, 2009

Gothic: Dark Glamour

The Museum at FIT

The Museum at FIT

Gothic Style
The exhibition begins by tracing the genealogy of gothic style. Beginning with the rise of the gothic novel in the eighteenth century, gothic style has been associated with sublime themes of terror and the supernatural. The perversely seductive image of the vampire evolved alongside the Satanic figure of the dandy. The Victorian cult of mourning mandated head-to-toe black, inspiring members of the goth subculture – and contributing to the image of the femme fatale and the vamp.
Night explores the symbolism of black. The gothic color par excellence, black has long been associated with death, danger, and evil, but also with mystery, elegance, and eroticism. "Obscurity is vertiginous. . . . When the eye sees black, the spirit sees trouble. . . . In the night, even the strong feel anxious."
 Victor Hugo, Les Miserables
The Ruined Castle
The Ruined Castle evokes the paradigmatic gothic setting, which is often symbolic of the human mind, “psychology in stone.” According to the scholar Chris Baldick, a gothic work “should combine a fearful sense of inheritance in time with a claustrophobic sense of enclosure in produce an impression of sickening descent into disintegration.” Some of the fashions on display allude to decay and destruction, while others suggest mental states, such as fear or passion.
The Haunted Palace
The Haunted Palace recalls Edgar Allan Poe's architectural metaphor for a disturbed mind. If fashion may be considered a type of "intimate architecture," then we might expect gothic fashions to manifest similar characteristics of imprisonment, ambiguity, and disintegration.
The Laboratory
Rubber curtains mark the boundaries of the Laboratory, where fashion “monsters” are created.
Strange Beauty
In Strange Beauty, the fashions are characterized by unconventional shapes and strange sources of imagery such as the image of blood in water from Japanese horror movies that inspired Rodarte’s gothic evening dress.
The Graveyard
The Graveyard, surrounded by a black fence, evokes a sense of claustrophobia through the use of veiling, masking, and corsetry.
The Bat Cave
The Bat Cave uses two-way mirrors to permit lightning glimpses of a range of goth subcultural styles, from old-school goth to cyber goth. Contemporary goths tend to be much "more dialectically engaged with the past than is typical of most youth subcultures." Not only do they draw inspiration from subcultural antecedents, such as punk and glam rock, they also draw on an eclectic historical canon of literary, aesthetic, and philosophical traditions; or they dig deeply into the history and associations of the gothic.
Cabinet of Curiosities
This Cabinet of Curiosities refers back to the wonder rooms or memory theatres of the Renaissance, collections of objects whose categorical boundaries were unclear: Natural history, religious relics, art objects – all were included in these princely collections. The human skull is the type of object once treasured as a memento mori (a reminder of death), later collected as a scientific specimen, and now ubiquitous as an inspiration for gothic accessories.Other objects on display include a death mask, Victorian mourning jewelry, a top hat tattooed with the image of a bat, and accessories that incorporate bird skulls, talons, and wings – alluding to themes such as death, time, and transcendence.
Credits: Story

Organized by MFIT Director and Chief Curator Valerie Steele
Art Director: Simon Costin
Exhibition Designer: Charles B. Froom
Exhibiton Manager: Fred Dennis

Support for this exhibition was provided by:
The Coby Foundation, Ltd.
Couture Council at the Museum at FIT

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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