Thursday, 3 May 2018

Not So Nu Goth

Cylene recently bought a new coat, nice, warm and stylish, but with the one drawback that its massive hood kept flopping over her head. I thought it might be from some avant-garde clothing label: 'it's just some mass-produced Gothy coat', Cylene told me, and in fact it came from Restyle, a not-especially-obscure company based in Poland. Its silhouette (see how I can speak the jargon) and the detailing appealed to me and I intended to look it up, an intention I've only just carried out. Here it is. They call it the Future Goth coat.

It's not their only piece with a massive hood. Look at the size of this, a hoodie called Sigillum Dei:

I'll come back to the Sigillum Dei business in a minute. The look reminded me of the videos Liisa Ladouceur produced last year called '40 Years of Goth Style', one for women and one, generously, for chaps, showing a pair of reluctant-looking models being dolled up in a variety of Goth outfits, although I hope nobody really imagines they'll get a clear idea of the evolution of Goth fashion from these short films. Ms Ladouceur's subcultural credentials are impeccable but none of her outfits very closely resemble the sub-styles they're supposed to epitomise: they seem strangely more like an outsider's view. Goths hate the videos, and if you want you can check out plenty of condemnatory replies on Youtube. The problem is less with the clothes themselves - something like all this schmutter must surely have been worn by Goths at some stage - but with the labels she puts on them. Anyway, the last segment of the distaff-side video is labelled 'Nu Goth' and leaves the young woman model looking like this: 

- tights and a vast hood. Describing anything as 'Nu' Goth when Goth isn't a single coherent style to be renewed seems unhelpful to me, but it turns out the label has been out there for years: Megan Balanck included it in her exhaustive list of Goth stereotypes as long ago as 2014. She links it to the musical subgenre Witch House, which we talked about here a couple of weeks ago, and you may note the vaguely occultic decorative elements. The Sigillum Dei is a medieval magical device made use of by Dr Dee among other experimenters - basically Christian, of course, though everything in the Middle Ages was. Ms Balanck and others link Nu Goth to hipster styles but I can't see this, myself, associating hipsterism as I do with skinny trousers, objectionable facial hair, and tweed jackets with elbow patches, none of which I can see reflected in Nu Goth. This young man, for instance, who seems to come from the US, is hard to define as hipster in any way. What he does have is the big hat that many of the Restyle models wear. Restyle label it the 'WITCH' but it looks more like a 17th-century Puritan's hat to me; some of them were indeed witches, of course. 

What I like about this style, whatever you want to call it, is that it draws into the swirling and ever-deepening maelstrom of Gothic a different range of referents and widens the scope of the community's creative energies. I particularly appreciate astronomical references, as illustrated here on the Restyle phases-of-the-Moon hoodie. 

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