November 1, 2020

Fall 21 ・ Victorian Gothic

Distressed textures and unsettling images partner with ornate old world elegance to create tension and intrigue.
November 1, 2020

Fall 21 ・ Victorian Gothic

Distressed textures and unsettling images partner with ornate old world elegance to create tension and intrigue.

While a return to rustic and understated design is celebrated with Folkloric Farm, recent years have also seen a resurgence of the polar opposite: dark Victorian Gothic fashion and emblems, in rich blacks and velvety textures.

This theme conjures images of an opulent era steeped in velveteen fabrics, brocade patterns, and delicate-while-dark lace. Artists and photographers like Tim Walker have long showcased these elements in their work, establishing a specific following in the dark and fantastical worlds via rich backgrounds with focuses on the obscure, the uncomfortable, and — ultimately — the beauty of the subjects.

Hints of this fashion shine through the darkness in the backgrounds and stage decorations of our media landscape, from the popularity of horror-themed shows like Penny Dreadful to the dark settings of films and television like Knives Out and The Great. They make us feel cozy if not stunted, serene while at-attention. The opposites of two worlds brought into one, bringing forth a balanced dualism in the fashionable armor we wear in our light and dark instances.

While the style is typically hinted at in relation to the weeks leading up to Halloween, writers like Heather Christle have written about translating the perceived spookiness of the trend into everyday wear. For Vogue in 2019, regarding the 2020 Resort season, Christle notes that designers have incorporated “a range of gothic tropes in a way that felt less Lydia Deetz and more adulting-appropriate.”  These styles include dark mourning attire, entropic effects, and spider-webbing accents.

For Fall 2020, designers went further, with Gucci showcasing its collection “An Unpredictable Ritual” for Milan Fashion Week and even low-cost retailer H&M partnering with The Vampire’s Wife in October.

Fall 2020 collections from Alexander McQueen, Khaite, Dries, Zimmerman, and Preen showcased these darker elements, playing into distressed textures with vintage effects. Designers aimed to showcase opulence in darker ways, whether that be through mystical elements, Edwardian or Victorian silhouettes, or even classic styles with inky and mossy pieces.

For Sullivan Street Studio’s Fall 2021 Victorian Gothic story, artists explored new ways to incorporate darkness, moodiness and gloom into the everyday. Not difficult considering art development happened during the first peak of a world-wide pandemic. Many people, fashion-lovers included, have leaned into this sense of disorientation, unsettling atmosphere and grandiose horror. It’s a twisted escape that can only be found on the dark side.

Sullivan Street’s library will be accessible to clients on December 1st. Email to be put on the list for access.

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