The New Gothic Revival
I’m just wondering…anyone else out there noticing a return to the 1980s? It’s about that time, twenty years down the road, where the fashions start making reference to, if not just boldly ripping off, what came before. I’m noticing shirt ruffles, layered textures, sweater dresses, and a return to wicked tight jeans. Designers are saying they’re taking cues from punk and Stephen King. I fear that
Which is all kinda freaky, because this is what I remember from high school. High school. I ain’t supposed to remember twenty years ago as an adult, am I? Not yet, surely. If it’s twenty years ago, I should have vague memories of toddling off to kindergarten, but what I remember in Technicolor clarity is toddling off to graduate school. (And twenty years ago this month, Mr. G and I tied the knot. May the next twenty years be as joyful, my love.)
And then there’s the media: it seems we’ve traded in doctor and cop shows for vampires, werewolves, ghosts (and the people who talk to them), time travelers, and people possessed of supernatural powers. Hello, Victorian Gothic? I’m excited about this trend, though. Supernatural fiction is still white hot: my friends Charlaine Harris and Toni Kelner just hit the NYT Bestseller list with their anthology, Many Bloody Returns, and they’ll be editing a werewolf anthology next year (and I’ll get to contribute to that book). In this same vein, science fiction seems to be making a comeback, too, at least on TV, and I will be in a state of nervous agitation until Battlestar Galactica comes back next year. I may die, swoon, at least—but I guess that’s pretty gothic, too.
What I like about this is that SF, supernatural fiction, romance, and fantasy, when they’re done right, let people discuss tricky social topics safely through metaphor, a wonderful and constructive and subversive thing. If the first Gothic Revival was a response to politics and technology, characterized by widespread nationalism, I think we can observe that now, too. We need those metaphors, right now.
One problem is, for years my closet resembled Johnny Cash’s. I’ve been trying desperately to add some color to my wardrobe, and frankly, it’s been a struggle even to make it into the jewel tones. Not that I’d go pastels and rainbows, mind you, but something less… “nighted,” as Gertrude called it. This year, my resolve firmer than ever, I promised: no black.
Except black is so in, it’s not even funny.
Okay, I’m happy to capitulate. Pass me my mascara, hand me the big black shirt with the French cuffs. Dig out the Doc Martens and we’ll show the hipsters the meaning of hair wax. Cue the music and make it Disintegration.