In 2023, gothic chic is dominating runways once again. The high-fashion take on dark, haunted glamour has gained popularity in recent months.
The term “gothic chic” was coined in the fashion industry to describe dark, sensual, romantic silhouettes. There’s a sense of theatricality, rebellion, and glamour associated with these looks. These garments exude power and otherworldliness. Gothic chic styles are often blended with Victorian-era silhouettes, as a callback to haunted, historical glamour. These styles evoke the dark horror of classic novels like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.
Gothic chic was a popular look in the 2009 runway season, with designers like Chanel and Jean Paul Gaultier providing fresh takes on the macabre attire. These clothes achieved popularity in 2009 partially because of the entertainment industry’s obsession with the vampires in the Twilight series, The Vampire Diaries, and True Blood.
There’s a seductiveness to eschewing convention and embracing the unknown. Hit horror franchises, like Netflix’s Wednesday and Stranger Things, have consumers clamouring for Gothic attire. Fans of the trend enthusiastically share tips and advice for creating gothic chic looks on social media platforms like TikTok. New York Fashion Week’s presentation of Fall/Winter 2023/2024 collections gave fans what they were looking for.
Rodarte set the stage for the trend on February 10, 2023 with his high-fantasy take on gothic horror at the Williamsburg Savings Bank. Rodarte’s show heavily featured black dresses with long, slinky, silhouettes. Billowing bell sleeves and cape-like drapery counterbalanced these tapered silhouettes. Rodarte’s designs prominently featured deep V-necks and high necklines.
Other designers, like Jason Wu, Dior, and Adeam followed suit. Jason Wu’s show featured models wearing sheer black attire, for a more romantic, boudoir-inspired look. Dior integrated black leather coats, gloves, and belts into runway looks. Adeam played with uneven silhouettes and hemlines, and layered different black fabrics to create a more avant-garde perspective of gothic horror in design.
Many collections at New York Fashion Week 2023 featured black lace and tulle. These delicate textiles added contrast to some of the sturdier fabrics, highlighting the designers’ creativity and artistry in design.
While most retailers are showcasing their summer collections, gothic chic influence is already visible in current designs. In the United States, brands like H&M and Likely are leaning into the gothic chic trend by embracing high necklines, long, tapered dresses, and experimenting with leather and feathers.
Fashion and apparel stores in the United Kingdom, like Marks & Spencer and Selfridges, are showcasing Victorian-style dresses with balloon and blouson sleeves that hint at a gothic chic influence. Their dresses feature the high necklines, black lace, and silver accents present on the runways at New York Fashion Week 2023.
Gothic chic may prove to be an enduring trend if designers continue to find innovations and consumers lean into the allure by donning the designs.
Words by Danielle Cappolla