I ran into FIT’s fashion exhibit Gothic: Dark Glamour on a whim. No one would ever accuse me of being fashionable. Ever. But, I was passing by, so why not? As it happens, I’m glad I did. I can’t tell Gaultier from my ass but like any good Goth event, it was dripping with enough pomp and atmosphere that anyone who enjoys a certain amount of theatricality would love it.
The exhibit starts on the ground floor with a stunning lone Victorian mourning dress leading you to a stairway to the (appropriately) basement level gallery. The first chamber is set up like a haunted house display. The walls are painted black and the only light comes from glassed-in dioramas of, among other things, Coppola’s Dracula costumes. Also on display were a few photographs and a jewelery case that included an awesome crow’s wing broach.
When you enter the main gallery, again all is black and low lights, with tall mirrors reflecting more blackness. Much of the work is seen through some kind of barriera graveyard fence, black scrim, two-way mirrors. I’m sure its main purpose is to keep people from touching the clothing but it also adds to the goth dichotomy of seduction and danger. It compels you to lean forward to view the work while simultaneously “protecting” you from it. (And, if you are like me, it gets you yelled at by museum guards.)
The clothing itself is a wonderful mix of decay and high elegance using the usual Victorian, steam punk, horror, punk rock, and religious references. Even a little scifiI could easily see a Dune costume or two coming from the exhibit.
All in all, I think the exhibit did its job, as it left me feeling that life would be richer if the average person walking down the street could look so haunted+alluring+grandas long as I still get to wear jeans and a t-shirt.
If you have some time to explore, FIT created an extensive website for the exhibit. It includes an online Gothic punk mix tapenow that’s cool. And videos that will give you a decidedly more fashion related view of the show.