According to you what does the word Gothic means? Maybe it means a style, a state of mind, a rank or a thought. I propose to explain it to you. The Gothic environment is all around us from its musical influence to its architecture, its furniture and obviously, the individuals.
To explain everything in details of what Gothic encompass, I will, in this article, bring you on a journey starting with what people inspire themselves with through fashion so I can then talk about its history throughout the years and finish with its influence in architecture, art and furniture.
Anyone can be Gothic, but we do not choose the Gothic life it chooses us. It is so that coming with a precise description is hard because every one of us is different and took a unique path. Every one of us has its own definition of the term and doesn’t see it the same way.
I consider myself Gothic, but if you would be to meet me, you would probably not know that I am because I do not wear it as others would. My style is very personal and differs from others while representing me as an individual. I have a passion for the supernatural that intrigues me and inspire me, but my taste for life is far from obscure or sinister. My passion is Gothic, but my soul is full of joy and happiness.
For decades people saw the Gothic style as a dark way of living filled with despair, aggression and Satanism, even. However, when we look into the genre a little closer we come to the conclusion that the heart of the Gothic world is somewhat calm and lonely.
That is because it pleases us and our artistic eye is more developed than most for what is historical and everything has to have a deeper meaning either it’s a painting, an illustration, a novel or even a sculpture, it has to have something deeper than its appearance alone.
It is obvious that clothing is an easy way to express ourselves. Some are more forward with what they wear and want the whole world to know they are Gothic and so wears platform shoes, tight jeans and long coats in the darkest shade of black they can find with spiked jewelery.
Those are commonly called: Traditional Goths inspired by the 70’s and 80’s mostly from bands such as Black Sabbath, The Cure and The Sisters of Mercy.
There are those who like to wear elegant clothing with neat details, either their hair are up or down, smooth or curly always well placed and their makeup are as perfect as could be like a doll.
Their styles are more romantic and inspired by the classic popular show: The Addams Family and are classified as Romantic Goths or Vampire Goths and their musical taste varies from opera to symphonic metal bands such as Exit Eden.
Corsets, little hats, hair up and well placed, Victorian dresses or adjusted suit. Add to that look reinvented goggles with a cybernetic eye and a robotic arm and you have the lovable style named: Steampunk. Inspired by the Victorian era and the steam machinery, Steampunk could also be considered a sub-genre to Gothic. Think: Sherlock Holmes, Wild Wild West, Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein and Dracula.
The Steampunk genre was born in the seventies, most think the inspiration came from the author Jules Verne for his masterpiece 20’000 Leagues Under The Sea and H.G. Wells, author of The Time Machine. Since then, the genre took more space and became a sub-genre common to the Gothic world. Their taste in music is inspired by the old music with newer lyrics such as The Cog is Dead.
But there’s not only the past from which we can inspire ourselves in the Gothic world. Artificial intelligence, space, post-apocalyptic world and what do we have? Cyberpunk. Many think the sub-genre was born in 1984 with the Neuromancer author, but many think it was invented by Blade Runner.
Cyberpunk, just as Steampunk, as a common ground : the battle between men and robots in a lawless world just as you could see in Mad Max, RoboCop, West World and Orphan Black, but again there is a debate out there if either or not Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus would be the start of the genre.
You can see these Goths wearing black pants with the symbol of radioactivity or biochemistry, a cloak much reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed and a gas mask with goggles. Their musical style varies with soundtracks from video games such as Halo, Deus and others.
And we must not forget those inspired by the futuristic styles who are excited about their passion for technology, science fiction and travel at the speed of light to escape a post-apocalyptic world: Cybergoth.
We see them mostly with a base of black hair garnished with big imposing dreads of flamboyant neon colors such as green, blue, pink, red and purple. They wear big makeup, but clean. Their clothes are a mix of present, but inspired by Steampunk with corsets.
Most of the time Cybergoths will wear an accessory that will make them stand out such as a gas mask. They are known to be inspired by “techno” music, but a darker version and the style itself is believed to be born in the nineties from raves.
It is obvious that we are our own work of art. Like I said, we are not all Gothic at the same degree: traditional, romantic, vampire, Victorian or futuristic. Everything depends on what we feel inside and to what point we want to share it with the outside world.
I must admit that there is always a common point that comes back : the dramatic side that is seen in each genre. The color of black doesn’t necessarily represent the bad, but instead calmness and discretion. The crows that are a sign of freedom, bats that live in the dark to see better. The Romanesque that shows our sensibility.
Either it is found in what we read, what we watch on television or what we wear, we are different, but we were all called by the same Gothic world.
I have to say it : Gothic people are not Satanists! People have prejudices against Gothic people thinking that they worship demons, well they don’t. The Gothic genre is not depressing either.
We have friends, not all of us are antisocial while many are introverts. We have a dramatic side more developed than most, but that doesn’t mean we are too sensitive. After all, there are those who have learned to control their emotion quite well and are thought to have a heart of stone when they don’t.
We are not all clothed in black from head to toe and we do not profane tombstones in cemeteries. To us it is a place of peace and quiet. Although some of us will walk away from them because it reminds them of a world that is still unknown to us. That doesn’t mean we are Satanists, it means we are different.
Prejudices don’t have a place in the Gothic world. Because we prefer the moon over the sun doesn’t mean we worship vampires either. It only means that loneliness make us stronger. Batman dresses himself as a man-bat and defends the people of Gotham, does he worship Satan?
After much research I was able to come to the conclusion that the Gothic movement started at the end of the sixties in the United Kingdom. The Gothic movement also, believe it or not, started the punk evolution therefore, maybe it is for that reason that the sub-categories of Steampunk and Cyberpunk falls under the Gothic genre.
In England the movement took a fad with artists such as Marc Bilan and David Bowie, but won’t last as the punk genre quickly will call them back.
However, Black Sabbath was far from fading and was called pioneers of the genre itself with their very unique musical style with the amazing unforgettable singer: Ozzy Osbourne.
Later on, in 1981 a magazine named Sound will then give a signification to the word Gothic and its first article was named: The Face Of Punk Gothic.
It was in 1983 after being qualified as a music genre to then differentiate musical bands not to have them all qualified as punk that people were then able to name those who were Gothic by their clothing choices. We can then understand that it all began with a simple musical genre.
ARCHITECTURE AND FURNITURE
It is very hard to talk about Gothic architecture without mentioning cathedrals and basilicas. After all, they were what most people from the Dark Ages lived on.
The Gothic infrastructures give much personality and incredible appearance to its buildings and homes. For religious domains, it gives a powerful representation and overwhelming beauty.
The cathedrals and basilicas are often build in thin triangles pointing to the sky, tall and high inspiring rightness and a desire to touch the heavens. However, when it comes down to the Gothic style all is hidden in the details. French curves and angel sculptures, wings and fantasy carvings reminiscent of French lace.
And it goes on…
The tinted glass windows depicting biblical sceneries skirting the religious building. It brings the visitors to the heavy wood double front doors. It opens to its interior just as detailed with much meticulous work. After all, the Gothic style is about everything that the eye can miss the first time, but sees the second or third time.
Even the birth of gargoyles that had two specific functions: they were perfect to act as gutters to keep the rain water away from the buildings preventing corrosion forming on stones. Nonetheless, it also with their grotesque appearance, were used to keep evil spirits at bay.
When it comes to the decor, Gothic is just as detailed as its architecture and once again we are brought back to the lace-like sculptures. Its real name being folded towels. Rosettes of four-leaves, sculptures of various trees and leaves and fleur-de-lis. One can even come to the conclusion that nature is at the base of its inspiration.
The furniture are often hard to find because of the time it was build. People often needed to burn them in hope to get through harsh winters. Other times it was because of robbery in times of wars and quest. Moreover, the work it took to keep them from rotting was too much to do for the owners.
Let’s not forget the old and vintage cemeteries that share its history. Noble people of the time often had great tombstones representing their rank in society. Most of the time garnished with elongated silhouette sculptures. We often see angels or weeping beings, supported by carved leaves on each side of those incredible sculptures. Sometimes in shapes of rosettes even. Some even had locks with the head of a lion or wolf, but those were rare and almost non-existent.
Until the XII and XIII century the genre and appearance were very primitive because of the choice of wood that was heavy and held by heavily forged hinges and nails. Furniture was pricey, voluminous and hard to move.
The changing in temperature through the seasons was hard on the lifespan of a piece of furniture and the mistreating of it harmed it to the point of being tossed away.
In the XIII century a more radiant style was born in the fabrication of trunks and became more accessible. Because of the furniture’s feet that were strengthened it could hold solid panels without the need of forgery.
At the end of the XIV century the beginning of the Flamboyant Gothic style was born. Panels were then lighter and adjusted by means of grooves and tongues held between a frame of posts and crosspieces.
The materials were cheaper and lighter making the furniture more resistant to the weather and humidity. Flowered mistresses with pointed arches make their first appearance.
So, the Gothic world is a big one and encompass many styles and stories. One might be Gothic and not realize it. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride along the history of the Gothic world and that you’ve learned a few little things here and there!
That is it for me and until next time,