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Gothic: Dark Glamour Hardcover – October 21, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Valerie Steele dispels the myth that Gothicism is only for rebels as she tells of how designers such as Alexander McQueen, John Galliano of Christian Dior, Rick Owens, Olivier Theyskens, and Yohji Yamamoto incorporate Gothic looks into their designs; thus, giving light to cultural outsiders."—Dujour Magazine
(Dujour Magazine 2009-01-02)

". . . Fashionistas will relish the chance to see famous creations by . . . avant-garde designers. Readers of . . . Romantic literature will enjoy seeing gothic characters and settings come to life. . . . [T]he eager consumers of adolescent vampire fantasies . . . will thrill to the clothes' sex-and-death subtext."—Karen Rosenberg, New York Times
(Karen Rosenberg New York Times)

About the Author

Valerie Steele is director and chief curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), where Jennifer Park is coordinator of special projects. Steele is also editor-in-chief of “Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture.”


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (October 21, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300136943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300136944
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 9.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,548,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By T. Zimkus on February 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book arrived from Amazon, appropriately enough, in the depths of Autumn. Deliciously thick with lustrous photographic illustrations and visual references that are gilded frame-worthy, if it weren't such blasphemy to pull it apart, I'd do just that (I want some of these images on my walls, dammit). Not surprisingly, the book often reads more like an academic textbook than a style guide, and thank heaven and hell below it for that. As it is, there are enough "Like, OMG, Cheerleader-to-Gothgirl" how-to manuals out there already. The primary author of this book, Valerie Steele, has written numerous fashion-related books, many of which deal with how popular, as well not-so-mainstream and otherwise underground fashion, relate to both individual and cultural identity. She also happens to have her Ph.D. from Yale University and is currently Director and Chief Curator at The Museum at The Fashion Institute of Technology. In other words, she understands not only the Art of Fashion but the Theory behind it.

Steele references everything from the etymology of the word "gothic" to the early, cultural influences (everything from art, music, theatre and film to literature and architecture) that have shaped what we consider Gothic today. I'd like to think I'm an unofficial expert on this subculture (or, at the very least, an Old-School Goth turned Glamourous Eccentric...who also happens to be a costume history & fashion nerd), but Steele cites so many obscure and influences that I started to question whether or not I was a novice myself. Or a clueless, like, OMG!...cheerleader. I never would have considered, for example, Horace Walpole's part--which pre-dates Byron, The Shelleys, Poe, Stoker, Wilde and Baudelaire--as being so significant in the influence of literature on the Gothic aesthetic.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I own several of Valerie Steele's books and they never disappoint. This one is no different. Reading like a coffee table book, it provides an extensive history on Gothic literature, architecture, art, etc. and how it inspired fashion, from Victorian mourning dresses to the raw, experimental clothing of the first Gothic scene sprung out of the punk movement in the late 70's, the New Romantics, and the more recent Cybergoth and "Graver" trends. The book is filled with gorgeous photography, from street fashion shots of DIY outfits, to club kid photos, to high-fashion and couture runway and editorial shoots, featuring such designers as John Galliano, Hussein Chalayan, Rodarte, Elsa Schiaparelli, Thierry Mugler, Alexander McQueen, Comme de Garcons, and Yohji Yamamoto. There are also some beautiful drawings and paintings included. There is also a music section, entitled "Melancholy and the Macabre: Gothic Rock and Fashion" by Jennifer Park, which explores such artists as Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, The Cure, Nick Cave, The Sisters of Mercy, etc. and their fashion, both onstage and off.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A beautifully put together and produced book, it fell short of what I was expecting/hoping for. Valerie Steele's essay on the roots of the Gothic movement was informative and interesting without straying into being pedantic or simplistic. I really enjoyed that part of the book and felt that illustrations were generally well-related to the text, though there were references to designers or specific outfits that I would have liked to have had illustrated. The second essay, by Jennifer Park, was also well done, but I would have preferred to have more pictures from the actual museum exhibition this book was associated with, rather than a history of Goth music.
Simply put, I was expecting a lot more pictures of amazing and creative fashion to to amaze and inspire. What this book, it did well. I just wish there had been fewer words and more illustrations.
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Format: Hardcover
I had high hopes for "Gothic: Dark Glamour". Valerie Steele has written some insightful books about some of the darker corners of fashion, including the very intelligent "Fetish" and that beauty of a book "The Corset".

I was really hoping for either a) a gorgeous compendium of historical and contemporary fashion items that would be considered "Gothic" (ie having a dark sensibility, with a subtext of death, mourning, religion, blasphemy with subversive references to the dominant culture, with some camp thrown in) or b) a bright intellectual exploration of the topic. I was left wanting in both departments.

There was a small smattering of some actual victorian gowns with nice details like cobweb buttons, or a beautiful thorny looking cross made from ivory to commemorate a baby's death. These made the book worthwhile, but made the parts that were missing feel very acutely absent.

The book completely sidestepped many sinister details and horror and film noir style influences that were especially prevalent in the 50's and 60's from style icons like Vampira , and the dark mistresses of underground fetish publications like Exotique to things like men's casual shirts covered in giant tarantulas to that spiderweb mesh that found its way onto women's lingerie and shoes of the 1950's. There was very little reference to trashy comic book monsters/vampires/werewolves/gore that certainly planted some seeds for bands like the Cramps to grow out of - who were not gothic, exactly, but who also weren't NOT gothic if you get my drift. No references to of the Munsters either. And no photos of Grandpa Munster's Dragula car, either, which is more goth than even the Batmobile.

Even Frederick's of Hollywood produced kitschy lingerie, nighties, etc.
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