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An introduction to Gothic fashion

And yet I had a terror of her robes, And chiefly of the veils that from her brow Hung pale, and curtain’d her in mysteries (John Keats, ‘The Fall of Hyperion’, 1818) 1 At the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of

in Fashioning Gothic bodies
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The double and the single woman

female double has become increasingly predominant in the twentieth century, from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (1938), to Emma Tennant’s postmodern rewritings of earlier ‘male’ Gothic texts from a female perspective, The Bad Sister (1978) and Two Women of London (1989). The following chapter seeks, therefore, to provide a corrective to this trend, by offering some suggestions as to why the

in Fashioning Gothic bodies
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1990s style and the perennial return of Goth

. Refashioning the millennium: the future of Gothic criticism Towards the end of the twentieth century, the critical discourses surrounding Gothic demonstrated a marked shift away from psychoanalytical modes towards historicism, in doing so exhibiting a heightened self-consciousness about the processes of critical and textual production. In their essay ‘Gothic Criticism’ (2000), Chris

in Fashioning Gothic bodies
Dandies, cross-dressers and freaks in late-Victorian Gothic

after his death). For this reason the final section of this chapter departs from historical consistency to examine, beside the available historical accounts, David Lynch’s 1980 cinematic interpretation of Merrick’s story, The Elephant Man. This final section does not pretend to comment solely on the period in question, but rather aims to explore the twentieth-century understanding of the relationship

in Fashioning Gothic bodies

This book investigates the functioning of Gothic clothing as a discursive mechanism in the production of Gothic bodies. It presents the debates surrounding the fashion for decolletage during and immediately following the French Revolution, linking these discourses with the exposure of women's bodies in Gothic fiction. The popularisation of the chemise-dress by Marie Antoinette, and the subsequent revival of the classical shift by the women of the Directory, inflected the representation of female Gothic bodies in this period with political rhetoric. The book examines the function of clothing in early to mid-Victorian Gothic. It suggests that the Gothic trappings of veil and disguise take on new resonance in the literature of the period, acquiring a material specificity and an association with discourses of secrecy and madness. The book also investigates a nexus of connections between dandies, female-to-male crossdressing, and monstrosity. It then traces the development of the female doppelganger in the twentieth century, according to the ideologies of femininity implicated in contemporary women's magazines such as Cosmopolitan. In a world where women are encouraged to aspire towards an ideal version of themselves, articulated through fashion and lifestyle choices, the 'single' girl is represented as a problematically double entity in Gothic texts. The book examines the revival of Gothic style in the fashions of the 1990s. Gothic fashion is constantly revisited by the trope of the undead, and is continually undergoing a 'revival', despite the fact that according to popular perception it has never really died in the first place.

The Gothic body and the politics of décolletage

props. Few twentieth-century critics would now disagree with Paine and Wollstonecraft that Burke’s ‘pleasing illusions’ worked to reinforce extreme social inequality and the corrupt power of the ancien régime. However, in their nostalgic desire for a ‘naked’ state of truth and reason prior to the sartorial accoutrements of civilisation, they neglect to realise – as Burke does

in Fashioning Gothic bodies
Fashioning the self in Victorian Gothic

as a metaphor for worldly objects and customs in which spiritual truth is inscribed, in a similar manner to St Augustine’s representation of the world as God’s book. For Carlyle, in effect, the world is God’s wardrobe. Twentieth-century critics have tended to follow through Carlyle’s ‘intentional’ reading of the text in which philosophical truth is privileged over the form

in Fashioning Gothic bodies