Smells Like Teen Spirit: 2/8

Subculture style: Goths

How themes and motifs are expressed visually – identifying a visual language

  • Research into the past – taking inspiration
    • don’t copy, reference
    • recognisable that it belongs in the past; but change it – add your own meaning
    • e.g. Jean-Paul Gaultier – change meaning of corset
  • select from the past and recycle

Street style:

  • have to recreate it
  • no shops to buy the clothes
  • no inspiration [in catalogues/catwalks/…]
  • taken clothes from anywhere and put together

Goths: sourced from Victorian clothes

  • which features have they used? what bits belong in the past?

Screen Shot 2017-02-09 at 11.52.07.png

Victorian Mourning Dress

  • skin covered; wearing gloves
  • dress would be black with purple
  • presence of crucifix: jewellery
  • hats: features; lace
    • Goths recreated all these things – prove by researching Victorian mourning dress


  • makeup: does’t belong with victorian dress
  • foundations: contemporary foundation supposed to be match skin colour/look younger/healthy look/etc..
    • breaking rule of foundation: white face, look like a corpse, colour drained out of face; create the ‘undead’ look – like Dracula
  • black lipstick: breaking rules of mainstream makeup industry; doesn’t belong on lips – death, unhealthy look
  • not faithful to original victorian wear with makeup

My work: drawn on past for inspiration and recreate it: to change the rules you must know the rules

Death and decay:

  • clothes torn and ripped
    • like the body is decomposing
    • no hems, unravelling of clothes
      • breaking rule of how clothes should be
    • visible sticking; idea of falling apart
      • Frankenstein: stitched together

Suzy-sue: punk

Screen Shot 2017-02-09 at 11.54.47.png

  • white makeup: gothic style
    • plus: black eyeliner, blusher, lipstick: reinforced undead look
  • spikes studs: bondage wear; weapon jewellery
  • fishnet, fetish wear
  • NOT drawing on victorian wear but considered goth look

Columns analysis on Gothic wear:


What have we learned from the goths that can inform our practice?

  • goths have used the victorian mourning dress as inspiration for their clothing then added contemporary twists to reinforce the death and decay look
  • draw from the past and reinterpret materials
  • how designers have a technique; take that technique and add own twists
  • use a lot of styles in one piece of work
    • hybrid of materials
    • reference style from all periods – style is anything visual
  • modifications of creative references from the past
  • know history on your discipline and beyond
    • become aware of each part of the past you’re selecting
  • symbolism – e.g. symbolising death and decay in different motifs
  • form/function/texture: all have meanings
  • visual language

Further notes:


Author: ellenreiddesign

First year Graphic Communication student at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

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