Gothic: Dark Glamour On View at The Museum at FIT in New York September 5, 2008-February 21, 2009

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The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) presents Gothic: Dark Glamour, the first exhibition devoted to the gothic style in fashion.

The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) presents Gothic: Dark Glamour, the first exhibition devoted to the gothic style in fashion. Set in a dramatic mise-en-scene suggesting iconic gothic settings, such as the labyrinth, the ruined castle, and the laboratory, more than 75 ensembles will be on display. Fashion designers featured include Alexander McQueen, Ann Demeulemeester, Boudicca, Comme des Garçons, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel Haute Couture, John Galliano for Christian Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Hussein Chalayan, Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein, Christian Lacroix, Derek Lam, Gareth Pugh, Kei Kagami, Ricardo Tischi for Givenchy, Thierry Mugler, Rick Owens, Rodarte, Anna Sui, Olivier Theyskens, Jun Takahashi of Undercover, and Yohji Yamamoto.

Also on display will be a range of subcultural styles, such as “old-school goth” (associated with the heyday of the goth subculture, 1979-83), Victorian-style goth, industrial, steam punk, and cyber-goth, by designers such as Kambriel, Morphius and Plastik Wrap, as well as Japanese Elegant Gothic Lolitas by Tokyo-based brands Moi-Même-Moité and h.Naoto Blood.

“Although popularly identified with black-clad teenagers and rock musicians, the gothic has also been an important theme in contemporary fashion,” said Dr. Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at FIT and curator of this exhibition. “The imagery of death and decay, the power of horror, and the erotic macabre are perversely attractive to many designers. For example, John Galliano told me that he saw the ‘Gothic girl’ as ‘edgy and cool, vampy and mysterious,’ while the most recent Rodarte collection was inspired by Japanese horror films.”

An introductory gallery will trace the development of gothic style from its origins in the eighteenth-century gothic literature of terror to its contemporary manifestations in art, fashion, and film. The Victorian cult of mourning, for example, will be illustrated by actual mourning dresses, crepe veils, and momento mori jewelry. A Cabinet of Curiosities will feature objects such as a wax head and the death mask of a poet. The vampire vignette will include one of Eiko Ishioka’s costumes for the film Bram Stoker’s Dracula. A selection of photographs will also be on display.

Simon Costin, the British artist, jeweler, and set designer who has worked on many fashion shows, served as art director for Gothic: Dark Glamour. Costin worked closely with exhibition designer Charles B. Froom to create an appropriately gothic mise-en-scene. The main gallery space is designed as a labyrinth, divided into iconic spaces such as Night, with seductive black evening dresses; the Ruined Castle, which conveys a sense of the Dark Ages; and the Laboratory, where futuristic fashion “monsters” are created. Towering in the background is the Haunted Palace, which evokes Edgar Allan Poe’s architectural metaphor for a disturbed mind.

A lavishly illustrated book, also called Gothic: Dark Glamour, expands on the themes addressed in the exhibition. “There have been many studies of the gothic in art, architecture, literature, and cinema, but surprisingly little attention has been paid to the gothic influence on fashion,” says Valerie Steele, curator of the exhibition and co-author of the book with Jennifer Park, coordinator of special programs at The Museum at FIT. Steele, a renowned fashion historian, explores the significance of gothic fashion from its eighteenth-century origins in the work of the “original goth” Horace Walpole to its current manifestations in both street style and high fashion. Steele draws on a wide range of sources, including fascinating interviews with fashion designers, such as Rick Owens; photographers, such as Sean Ellis; and gothic rockers, such as Patricia Morrison of Sisters of Mercy. Jennifer Park contributes an essay, “Melancholy and the Macabre: Gothic Rock and Fashion.” Proceeds from the book, published by Yale University Press, go to the Fashion Institute of Technology.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a wide range of public programs, including a Tim Burton film series (featuring Sweeney Todd and Corpse Bride, among others), a Goth Talk panel discussion on October 30 (with speakers including Fred H. Berger, editor of Propaganda, Mistress McCutchan, and Evan Michelson of Obscura), gallery readings of Bram Stoker and Edgar Allan Poe gothic classics, exhibition tours, and more. The program series will culminate in the museum’s annual Fashion Symposium on February 13-14, 2009, which takes as its theme Subculture and Style. Internationally recognized scholars, curators, and designers will gather at the symposium to discuss the gothic influence on fashion and visual culture, as well as goth, punk, hip-hop, and other music-oriented youth styles. For a program of events, call 212-217-4585 or e-mail museuminfo(at)

The Museum at FIT is the only museum in New York City dedicated solely to the art of fashion. Best known for its innovative and award-winning exhibitions, which have been described by Roberta Smith in The New York Times as “ravishing,” the museum has a collection of more than 50,000 garments and accessories dating from the 18th century to the present. Like other fashion museums, such as the Musée de la Mode, the Mode Museum and the Museo de la Moda, the Museum at FIT collects, conserves, documents, exhibits, and interprets fashion. The museum’s mission is to advance knowledge of fashion through exhibitions, publications, and public programs. Visit

The Museum is part of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), a college of art and design, business and technology, that educates more than 10,000 students annually. FIT is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) and offers more than 45 majors leading to the AAS, BFA, BS, MA, and MPS degrees. Visit

The Couture Council is a membership group of fashion enthusiasts that helps support the exhibitions and programs of The Museum at FIT. The Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion is given to a selected designer at a benefit luncheon held in the Rainbow Room every September. For information on the Couture Council, call 212-217-4532 or e-mail Couturecouncil(at)


Tuesday - Friday – noon-8:00 pm
Saturday – 10:00 am-5:00 pm
Closed Sunday, Monday, and legal holidays

Admission is free and open to the public.

Gothic: Dark Glamour has been supported in part by The Coby Foundation, Ltd. Additional support has been provided by the Couture Council.

Cheri Fein
Acting Director of Media Relations
Cheryl_fein @
212 217.4700


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