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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

, and any titillation it provides must be understood within this framework. It is also a product of the fashions of the age. In the last decade of the eighteenth century, women’s clothing underwent a series of radical changes that costume historians often describe as comparably revolutionary to fashion as the French Revolution was to politics. Indeed the two were frequently connected in contemporary

in Fashioning Gothic bodies
An introduction to Gothic fashion

Cunnington’s thesis is suggestive, but should not be mapped back directly onto the clothing found in Gothic literature. The Gothic Revival in architecture frequently diverged from Gothic fiction in outlook and politics, tending to be more nostalgic and conservative in its relationship with religion and British history. The dichotomy between naturalism and artifice is also problematic, as contemporary fashion

in Fashioning Gothic bodies
An anti-conclusion

narratives of Radcliffe and Lewis, but also definitively makes a case for a new Gothic. The new Gothic heroine has a more sophisticated understanding of gender politics, but she also possesses a more complex relationship with her clothes. Buffy obviously loves clothes, as she is never seen wearing the same outfit twice, but she is not defined by them. She can, in fact, slay vampires while wearing a halter

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

constructs dandyism as a spiritual quality or condition. However, it is also decisively a social phenomenon, the product of particular cultural and political systems. In France, for this reason, ‘dandies are becoming rarer and rarer’, the victims of democracy, while in decadent England they flourish. It is important to recognise, particularly in the context of Gothic fiction, that the emulation of aristocracy

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

and the gothic imagination of Edgar Allen [ sic ] Poe’, ‘Veiled Threats’ offers a more complex relationship with the past that contains a ‘veiled’ criticism of contemporary politics. As Jobling continues: the rhetoric of ‘Veiled Threats’ paradoxically appears to be concerned with customising past

in Fashioning Gothic bodies
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The double and the single woman

mechanisms. For women, this bears an added significance in that the formation of femininity has always been bound up with the mechanics of appearance. In contemporary Gothic texts the doppelgänger trope can be interpreted through the prescriptive femininity and politics of individual fulfilment expressed in women’s fashion magazines. Although women’s journals have existed since the

in Fashioning Gothic bodies
Fashioning the self in Victorian Gothic

implicitly a supreme example of Thorstein Veblen’s contention that female fashion in capitalist culture is a means of displaying the male’s wealth and status: her excessive and wasteful consumption of fabric signals her position as sexual and aesthetic commodity. Nevertheless, the anxiety the painting evokes in Lucy is more subtle than a single-handed rejection of sexual politics under capitalism, and has

in Fashioning Gothic bodies