Customer Review

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pretty, But Not Much Else, 22 Jan 2009
This review is from: Gothic: Dark Glamour (Hardcover)
This is a beautifully-produced, deliciously-illustrated, glossy piece of work; but does it do anything but add to the gaiety of nations? The authors both work at the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, but the book doesn't appear to have arisen out of an exhibition, or anything definite. It's divided in two: the first section includes an account of the development of the Gothic imagination, and a slightly shorter second half looking at Gothic manifestations within the world of high fashion. The second section claims to examine 'Gothic Rock and Fashion'.
Now, there are some very laudable things here. Medieval Gothic - ladies in horned headgear and long-sleeved dresses, and the Danse Macabre - gets a look in, which it too rarely does, and there are some attempts made to relate Gothic imagery across the decades to street styles. But the authors don't seem to know as much about their subject as they need to. They make some remarkably contentious statements about various Gothic subcultural styles, and seem to rely for their information on a couple of photographer contacts and a Goth clothing designer. The high fashion section free-floats above the narrative: we move from a Gothic-themed McQueen outfit to a Gothic-themed Galliano one, acknowledging the strange beauty but wondering what it's all supposed to mean. The only lesson we learn is that some fashion designers have a liking for darkness and disturbance. As for the rock-and-fashion section, there's precious little relating of music to street style, and (in stark contrast to the first part of the book), the text dismisses Goth after 1983 in five paragraphs. It's as though one bit was written in complete isolation from the others.
The pictures are beautiful, and deserve four stars. But overall the signs of imaginative analysis one finds in the book are outweighed by the sense that the authors' interest in the Gothic tradition, and Goth culture, as such is enthusiastic but superficial. I don't know whether to congratulate Yale U.P. for joint-publishing this or not!
It will, however, look very good on a bookshelf.
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