Constellation Essay Gothic Style

How can a subcultural style offer a range of different looks? With reference to goth developments over time

In this essay will be looking in a range of different looks and how the goth fashion has developed over time. I will look into how the gothic subculture style started and how it has changed overtime. I will be exploring the subculture and explain how it has changed overtime and modified with the times.

The word goth or gothic today is now associated with black clothed teenagers with heavy makeup and into rock bands. Where did this style come from? The style developed in the late 1970s with having a new style of music and a different style of dress. The goth style started developing more in 1980 starting to come from bands these were early sign that the scene was emerging punk and goth. The characteristics of this style mainly comes from bands like Bauhaus and Siousie, the presentation of this music involved elements of theatrical performance, most notably pale make-up, black clothes. This was the goths traditional look that started in the 1980s. This image below is by photographer courtesy Julia Borden the image “death rock” this was the traditional goth style in the 80s its a combination of punk with the mohawk and goth with the black clothing and the white makeup.  This style was a goth punk era coming from the punk style but emerging into a new subculture.  Hebdige (1993) writes “invariably ends with the simultaneous diffusion and delusion of the subcultural style”. Which is where two subcultures are bouncing back and commodifying the original subculture.

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 12.12.26The goth style emerged from the punk subculture traditional punk look was black leather and spike hair giving a aggressive look. They took from the punk style and used a more dressy extravagant style. Whereas punk used colour with in there look goths dyes their hair black and had entirely black clothing.  The goth style would use existing garments such as fishnets and safety pins given object a whole new meaning. The safety pin was originally for properly fastening the pin to whatever it is applied to, and to cover the end of the pin to protect the user from the sharp point. Safety pins are commonly used to fasten pieces of fabric or clothing together. These weren’t use correctly as many item in the goth style. Safety pins were seen as jewellery and accessories for the goth style. They would use the as earrings and necklaces. This would happen to many item making them have a whole new purpose.  This had again come from the punks with there DIY approach to fashion. The pale makeup that goths wear is very different to how you would normally wear makeup the point of foundation is to give a healthy glow. This white makeup however made them look dead, the black clothes also added to this with the link to black clothes being wore at funerals. Valerie Steele suggests that the rise of “the gothic style death is the central of gothic imagination”. This proves that the makeup and clothing wore is to look dead.

The man above is wearing a lot of jewellery which was common amongst the subculture wearing a crucifix, this is an object of gothic subculture adopted within its style. This crucifix is a sign of christ . The crucifix has a connotation of the of that showing the object to be a vampire which would then kill them. As the gothic style has the visualisation of the vampire style and look and the sense of being undead. The object adds to the supernatural look. Janic Odom has written a academic text in the journal of the fantastic arts states within the vampire Mythology it is suggested that vampire are affected by the crucifix. The crucifix has that idea of power this encourages the gothic subculture into the vampire lure. The Gothic Crosses what we know as the crucifix which is one of the many symbols of Gothic culture. They are much different to the Christian cross in that the imagery used represents all that is dark and mysterious. Many like to wear a Gothic style cross to show that they are part of the Gothic lifestyle, and to show that they believe of the undead.

The victorian style was very important in the goth fashion and partially within the goth subculture. Elements of the victorian fashion was developed in the late twentieth century such as the morning dress and corset which was incorporated into the goth style. These dresses are connotations of typical victorian Morning Dress, the academic study by (V.Steele)  suggest the element of the Victorian decade fashion such as the morning dress and corset became incorporated in the gothic subculture. This style has been known throughout the subculture, you could argue that the goth style came from the victorians and that this subculture has change what is seen as traditional victorian dress and completely changed it. This has happened because traditional victorian dress is to wear a corset to looks skinny to be seen as pretty. The way goth use it is not for its purpose it is a fashion statement and wore with many other piece of clothing that have no relation to the victorian style.

In the late 1990s a new style of goth emerged at first if offended the goth with its new hint of colour. Cyber goths used aspect of colour in the traditional style. There clothes are made of reflective materials and PVC and were known for platform boots. They used colourful hair extensions and multiple piercing. Cyber goths amongst many goths style was very much DIY (Do it yourself) the attention to detail was key to make you stand out from the crowd. This was considered a goth style because of the corset and other element that related to the traditional goth style, although the goths were always seen in black this new style hinted at colour but still keeping the black the overall colour seen.

The goth subculture wasn’t a fashion you could buy in the shop it was very different to today where every style is available as a high street fashion. This subculture was to be different and stand out from the crowd the fashion wasn’t something you could buy they would normally create there style there self using charity shop clothing. This image below (Masayuki Yoshinaga’s portrait of rie, published by Phaidon Press courtesy Masayuki Yoshinaga )this shows the later goth style in the 90s with elements of the goth style using the book Frankenstein to incorporate into the look. The style has used sloth of things like spiderwebs and bats to make the look frightening. The use of the stud on the jacket has been use to show danger and the traditional tutu has been worn in a different way to what we normally consider a tutu to be worn like. The use of books and supernatural creature to influence there style using english literature books of romance and the undead to incorporate into there look.

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 12.12.34 It is a fact that in the early times of goth fashion the dress was traditional goth chic mainly black clothing with fabric such as velvet lace or leather and style from the victorian era such as corsets. Corset are a traditional goth style and are found among most styles of goth. The corset originated from victorian times. The corset was worn by women as and element of fashion for over 400 years the corset was known for the victorian era and women wore it tight laced crushing the women rips so they appeared skinner.  There hair was long, black-dyed hair, thick black eye make-up with white grounding, and lots of silver jewellery such as crosses and bats. The key to goth style is drawing from horror and various images in fiction such as crucifixes, bat and vampires. These are seen throughout the goth history. the image also visualises the original jewellery which was tight fitted, a choker the jewellery by adding elements of creatures such as bats which link to vampires the undead. The spider tights is being associated with creatures of the ground being linked to where dead bodies lay to rest, in the ground. This has connotation as if the wearer of the goth style had been risen from the dead. Stewart suggest that the victorian style has made a contribution to the gothic style through accessories such as jewellery, bags and tights. The gothic style also includes checkers and colours of velvet and leather which is traditionally worn by the victorian style (Stewart, 2002). The link to the undead is a running theme through the goth style this idea of looking dead linking in with the supernatural such as vampires. This idea of dressing pale with make up and adding jewellery that link to the undead is to look as if that person has come back from the dead.

A new style emerged in the 1980s to the late 1990s which was the most contemporary manifestation of the gothic is the goth subculture this was a mix of new style of music which was dark and a new style of dress. The gothic fashion was not always black. This shows that the gothic style has changed overtime from the early 1980s where the goth scene was all black.  This shows that the goth subculture offers a range of different looks. It has had to fit in with the times.  The cyber goth look is 20th century fashion the link to technology and the rising of the future with robots, this look is moving away from the dead and looking at the future of technology.

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Later the goth fashion cam from character such as vampire and films with goth women the identity came away from the early street style. Goth style was long lived persisting through the 1990s and into the 20th century although the fashion of goth remained the style changed as the time went on. In the 20th century the start of the cyber goth which was a more modern style. The image of steam punk ensemble with vintage army pieces worn by Lisette and photograph courtesy Kat Bret, this shows the change in style from the original traditional goth. The goggles on the head gave impression of army look which was seen as the steam punk. The hair colour has changed from black to coloured using hair colour when mixed with black gothic elements said by braguintage. The long laced corset is what show the goth look the most showing that all goth looks use the corset. The steam punk look is the gothic steam punk look which originated in Seattle and Poland. This steam punk look has come from the rise in technology and the antique goggle worn on the top of her head is a victorian style of clothing which uses heavy black canvas and leather. The cyber goth came with the British scene of goth a style that was characterised by bright colour which made it different to the usually goth look. They would have brightly coloured hair extensions in dreadlock shapes this relates to the image above where the women has green hair and green corset  it isn’t brightly coloured but it different from black. This cyber goth came from Britain and started arriving in other countries such as Germany.

The goth style emerged in the 80s from the punk style and has slowly changed overtime modifying with the times the latest goth style is the steam punk and cyber goth look. This is a 20th century style all has changed since the 80s where there were subculture. In the 20th century people styles has emerged from subcultures especially the band tops. In the 80s the goths would make there own band tops using material they own at home. Today every fashion is available to pick up in the shops as a street fashion. The band tops link a lot to my course graphic communication with the goth using typography on there top. Graphic design is about design and using design that are already out there to influence our own design this is very similar to the goth style. The goth style is about expressing yourself and being different from everyone else but taken all things and creating something new. This is the same in Graphic communication where your design is to express yourself but you use design already out there to influence your work but make it different from anything people have seen. You want to make people remember your designs and this is what the goth subculture has done as people remember it now and still today people use it as a fashion look.

To conclude the goth style has developed overtime there subculture has started from one look and has been changed and modified to keep in with the times. The start of the goth style originated for the punk style which when looking at my picture again I could see the link to punk throughout all three. The goth goth subculture has come from the gothic style of music the start of it came from the love of the new gothic bands in the 80s. The link to punk and goth is from the music and also the way they create there style using the DIY approach using household objects in a different way to create jewellery and a fashion statement. The goth style has changed a lot overtime but there is thing that show the style is goth. The corset and colour black is obvious relation to the goth style. The style has been modified using the change of time with technology and incorporated it into the goth subculture. After analysing the images Masayuki Yoshinaga’s portrait of rie, published by Phaidon Press courtesy Masayuki Yoshinaga, Lisette and photograph courtesy Kat Bret and Photographer courtesy Julia Borden the image “death rock”, I felt I have discovered the gothic style overtime the gothic style is very literal and make a statement. The gothic scene is mysterious and explores a lot of different themes. I have come to the conclusion that whilst writing this essay that themes can be expressed visually.

I feel that this style has made me think about my own practice and how it all links. Graphic communication is the way we encourage and express ourselves to convey a message that will be forever lasting and something everyone will remember using symbolism as a mark. This links to the gothic style because it makes a statement by exploring  theme such as the undead and the supernatural, this is expressed visually through there clothing.  The gothic style also represent symbolism through the use of the crucifix and element such as spiders.  Graphic design is about design and using design that are already out there to influence our own design this is very similar to the goth style the one style can be varied to create something new to create a modern twist. This has helped me within my practice that ideas can come from else where and rules can be broken and are there to be broken.


Identity, Style and Subculture- eBook by Paul Hodkinson (2002)

Gothic dark glamour by Valerie Steele and Jennifer parks (2008)

Goth Culture Gender, Sexuality and Style- eBook by Dunja Brill Gender, Sexuality and Style -(01 Nov 2008) | English

The Corset: A Cultural History, Volume 5 By Valerie Steele (2003)

Goth: Undead Subculture by Michael Bibby, Lauren M. E. Goodlad (11 Apr 2007)

Masayuki Yoshinaga’s portrait of rie, published by Phaidon Press courtesy Masayuki Yoshinaga

Lisette and photograph courtesy Kat Bret

Photographer courtesy Julia Borden the image “death rock”

Constellation- Reflection

What this study group has illustrated about visual/materials culture and contexts of meanings?

This part of my course has made me think about how other visual materials and culture can link to my practice and have context of meaning. The first study group I didn’t get along with and felt i didn’t understand how constellation linked in with graphics and was confused how it would help at all. I feel the talk we had about understanding constellation made me think about it in a different way. I also feel my new study group smells like teen spirt is a lot more enjoyable and I feel i have more links to my practice with the link in fashion and typography.

This study group has been more clear to me as I am a very visual learner and don’t learn well with to much information. This study group has allowed me to use images to make a sense of what is being shown to us. I feel I have understood everyone of the subculture we have learnt about with images making it easier to link.

This part of my course made me scared as I haven’t wrote many essay in my previous experience and if I have I didn’t really know how to approach it. I feel my first study group was overwhelming being a practice run I felt the approach of it didn’t really work and the essay wasn’t probably explain to me. I also feel that the referencing wasn’t explain to me which wasn’t helpful because I didn’t know how to approach this.

I think Uni experience has changed the way I think and learn. I have changed a lot from A-level. I now realise that a lot more things link to Graphic in a way that I never seen before, I just thought graphics was graphic but there a lot more that goes into it. There is a lot of things in the world that can link to our practice that you would normally think about I feel constellation makes you aware of this a lot more.

I think this new study group and the Kath’s column has given me a new approach to essay writing and it has worked well for me because I’m a  visual learner. It has helped me break things down and get fact in different ways. Before I used to just try and find information from anywhere to get the essay together. I now know that a picture can be broken up and used to find the theory part of my essay. I didn’t think you could use images in that way before.

This study group I have really enjoy looking into subcultures and fashion has really interested me. Looking into Goths,Punks,Zoot suits,Teddy boys and a lot more. It has shown me that images can link to theory and shown me there a lot of things that go into sub-cultures and that all sub-culture come from one another. It has also made me aware that our style today has come from those subcultures.

The subcultures that interested me most was goths and punks. The band t-shirt show the link to typography and how font was used back then to make a statement. The use of font in those subcultures were bold to get the point across make it look more aggressive.

Punks and goths gave object that already had a purpose a new meaning and a new function: safety pins using them as jewellery and to wear on the outfit but not the cover up the rips so it was almost flipping it originally meanings. Punk broke rule in music and in graphic in posters and used there hair become a weapon. I’ve learnt that they used typography to change the look of something.

This all linked to my practice, mixing two things together to create a new meaning and having the history and heritage can influence style of others. Anything can be appropriated into any style and styles can constantly change.

Overall I think constellation has helped me improve my learning to think outside the box, it has also taught me how to write a essay and that just because previously I had no experience of essay writing doesn’t mean I’m not capable of writing to a good standard. I also feel I know what part of academic text I need where as before I would read something and take none of it in and search for ages to find no new information. This has helped me in my essay writing finding the right text by knowing how to search for it on Met search and where in the liberty to look.

Constellation has allowed me to think about things differently and link my course to things around me, also to think about a task in a different manner. I feel my essay on gothic style t made me think about my own practice and how it all links. Graphic communication is the way we encourage and express ourselves to convey a message that will be forever lasting and something everyone will remember using symbolism as a mark. This links to the gothic style because it makes a statement by exploring  theme such as the undead and the supernatural, this is expressed visually through there clothing.  The gothic style also represent symbolism through the use of the crucifix and element such as spiders.  Graphic design is about design and using design that are already out there to influence our own design this is very similar to the goth style the one style can be varied to create something new to create a modern twist. This has helped me within my practice that ideas can come from else where and rules can be broken and are there to be broken. This essay has showed me a lot about the style of goth and how it can be link subtle and obviously to my own practice. I think I know understand that anything can link to our own practice.




Keynote: ‘Sex Sells’ Objectification in the Media

Thursday 30th March

Objectification- Degrading something to the status of an object treating a person with no rights or respect and simply boing then down to their raw physical appearance.

Men our the people with the most power our culture has been of kings,presidents and Dictators. These have all been males, gender in the modern age has become moe that biological it is a label that dictates what you can and can’t do. Sexual objectification is more specific form which make a person an object of appetite. Once a women has been photographed she is forever objectified by anyone who views that photographer.

The only real way to not objectify someone sexually is to be with them in a relationship or within marriage. The philosopher Kant stated that by giving up yourself to somebody else, you only truly have them in a way that isn’t just as an object, you have their emotions, feelings and humanity as well as their body. He called it a unity of will. 

There was an “wrong turn” advertisement created by Calvin Klein Jeans that essentially glamorises gang rape, objectifying all the models and making force and masculine dominance something fashionable. Which frankly is a rather backwards view for advertisers to hold in a 21rst century society.

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(Calvin Klein’s rape promoting advertisement. With clear ideals of sexism and objectification.)

 The power of media is mentally very damaging to the human mindset it creates self esteem issues, sexual repression and even anxiety. By preventing objectification in the media, arguably we could stop people from thinking its okay to act in certain ways towards the opposite sex. (I.E. if people see gang rape in a poster, this could subconsciously ingrain the idea that its okay to act in this way).

Overall this keynote has made me think about how my designs could be more equal and having ethics and morals have constructed to makes us above other animals in terms of our intelligence and thought processes. Whilst yes, we will judge attractiveness when looking for a mate, we can prevent it happening in such an explicit way in things like advertising and also society in general. Overall, This keynote taught me a great deal about the importance of both ethics and equality in my practice as well as life in general.

Posted on

Smell like Teen Spirit- 8/8

Thursday 23rd March 


Bricolage and Contemporary – Japanese Subcultural scenes 

Your practice can draw on other people practices and other people create inspiration. Draw from the past to create something new. Learn from the past.

Harajuku Street Style 

  1. Characteristics of the style and influences
  • The image is based on teens
  • Over the top exaggerated look
  • They take signs out of there original contexts and make it chaotic.
  • Creative do it your self mixing traditional Japanese dress with western retro style, avant-grande Japanese couture, futuristic cyber style with new trans and handmade second hand thing.
  • It combines novelty and traditional. East and west and the old world and the modern.
  • They wanted to stand out
  • Was influenced by TV programs
  • Acting a different identity how they imagine themselves to be
  • Present themselves out of the normal taste whats is consider the normally look.
  1. The relationship between this ‘scene’ and its social/cultural context
  • There culture is discrete but there way of dress in this style is to be scene
  • Pushing out against conservative society

Meaning in the work and the social meanings that they produce

Recycling of punks style and goth

Used childlike item what you would of wore when you were little. Clash of colour and pattern.

Using kids jewels for different purpose – hair slide hasn’t been used to keep hair out of the face its there to be seen has no function its just decorative.

Harajuku street style is a more modern style and from looking at the style I seen the mix of a lot of other style within the street style. This style is to stand out from the rest in the there culture.

Keynote: Critical Thinking

Thursday 16th March

This keynote was about critical thinking the way we both make and break an idea down:

‘The objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement’.

This means that to be a critical thinker one must evaluate the problem or idea in order to find the answers they were looking for.

We were shown a Picture of the critical thinking in Plato’s cave

The picture is of the philosophers view of the world. A philosopher however, isn’t oppressed by society’s imposed opinions and therefore isn’t stuck in the cave and is outside of it, able to see the world for what it really is, rather than what we’re told it is. As creatives we are encouraged to also not accept things at face value and like philosophers, step outside the cave when we analyse things.
This reading of life was then applied to our Constellation practice. When reading texts we should think critically, asking ourselves 3 questions:

What was the purpose of the text?

What was it written against?

What is the author trying to say within the text?

If we asked ourselves these questions when reading a piece of text we will be able to think crucially about whats in front of us, as we aren’t accepting the authors opinion. Critical thinking is something that is created by beliefs we challenge everything. We shouldn’t take offence when someone is critical of us as they are just trying to give there own opinion. Things like voting we are allowed out own opinions everyone is allowed to think differently and have there own perspective on things. Philosophy is also an example, as people can think outside the box o think about certain meanings behind things. Science is another important example of critical thinking, as it explains things in the world through reasoning and evaluation.

In todays day and age people are afraid to be critical. Things like conformity forces that average person and not to challenge what they say. People often follow the crowd because they are scared to be different, giving them security as they know they wont upset anyone.

Critical thinking can be applied to almost anything to create an interesting argument. For example, in the early 20th century, the aesthetic of minimalism was more popular than in western architecture, it was praised for being void of decoration all culture was removed from an object to create a safe outcome.
Overall, critical thinking is something we can all use in both Constellation and within Graphic Communication. By challenging norms and applying ideas in a variety of different contexts. Through design work and essay it will make it say a lot more for itself and by doing this you can stand out and break the rule and be a more successful designer. This has helped me to think about being more critical in mu own course and within constellation to get the best outcome in my own work and others.



Smells like Teen Spirit- 7/8

Thursday 16th March 

Acceptable in the Eighties 

Postmodernism and Post-subcultural style 



  • Bought more fluid and dynamic forms of subcultural style
  • Supermarket of style suggesting a mashup of all subcultures – Polhemus
  • Lack of clearly defined boundaries to any form of style – mashup
  • Relationship between young people and contemporary media
  • Neo-tribe indicated the way individuals expressed collective identity trough rituals
  • The groups were not formed through class gender and religion but through diverse dynamics
  • It allowed them to have there own identity as style was not linked to fashion history not bound to subculture or structure
  • They were less questioned about belonging to a gang or family or a community
  • No specific music taste like a variety
  • Subculture continued to exist as a liminal sensibility
  • Simpsons is based on a mashup
  • Not a clear fixed identity

Popular style came about in subculture and not as a collective. It focused less on accessories and clothing and instead focused on overall this new popular movement differ to those subculture that were individual and separating themselves from each other. It allowed them to become individual not categorised  into a group.

  • Polhemus
  • Bennet
  • Muggleton
  • Hodkinson
  • Thornton

Recycling the past 

Academic can be wrong prove it with examples

Quote freely from multiple sources

  • Travellers stay with one style
  • Tourist plays around with multiple options using the dressing up box of the past

Smells like Teen Spirit 6/8

Thursday 9th March 

Children of the revolution 

Punk, gender ans subcultural ideology 

Where gender ideology was challenged

Changing the function of an object and the look of jewellery and where it is normally placed this was challenged

1) Paraphrase (put into your own words) the relationship between punk and its social context according to these observations.

In the 1980s the gender map begun to alter during the ‘sex wars’. Women felt they could express themselves.  Where before the 1970s they were seen as misfits. they contravened the norm of mainstream femininity.  It reacted against and redefined 60s feminism. The women punk cant be forgotten it was what shaped us. (o’brein and LeBlanc).

2) What was the ideological stance on gender that punk promoted according to O’Brien and LeBlanc?

Women were changing the way they were seen in society. This happened through the rebellion of the punk fashion. Punk emerged because of the restrictions.

3) What was the “questioning rigour” offered by punk generally and how does this concept relate to Hebdige’s account of Punk that we’ve previously studied?

The way they take something and give it a new meaning is pushing the norms of society. Women were defined by there bodies expected to be thin and attractive.