Re imagining the Gothic Catalogue of Haut Couture20191002 72099 8uqy5o

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Re imagining the Gothic Catalogue of Haut Couture20191002 72099 8uqy5o
   G. V. Lorimer 1 An extract from  Re-imagining the Gothic , a display at Sheffield University’s interdisciplinary conference and exhibition, ‘monsters & monstrosities’ (2016). For many, the gothic draws on moments of pivot between power, restriction and uncertainty. Interestingly, it is these self-same themes that have formed such a strong presence within the worlds of fashion design throughout the centuries, whether that be through the indication of riding prowess found in a man’s heeled shoe, the liberty of a woman’s trouser, the constraint of corsetry, the dehumanisation of a prison uniform, or the impractical finery of a macaroni. The Catalogue of Haut Couture sonnet sequence, with its use of traditional balladic symbolism, re-imagines the manner in which clothing once served as an integral means for the discussion of taboos and for the demonstration of changing emotions and class statuses, combining manufactured garb with fragments of a constrained natural world. The uncertainty and defamiliarisation of the familiar so commonly found in gothic fiction has ever underpinned ‘style’, in which the individual makes choices that may reveal or disguise status, ability, personality et c. to thus categorise their self in their own eyes and in the eyes of others. As we see from the very real story of highwayman Edward Higgins, to clothe oneself as King is to create a king. To draw from the words of Halberstam: style is ‘a mode of being and becoming’. 1  This sequence is one of crossing; an exploration of trans . With each developing image we move from transgression to transformation to transmutation (transmigration even) as the natural becomes unnatural, and the body is stripped back to its barest form. Each of the sonnets is underpinned by the violence of destruction or of clashing human constraints against Romantic ideals of natural freedom, and through this the transient is frozen in time. Here we are drawn through revolutions where the horrific becomes beautiful and the  beautiful, in turn, horrific until we find that perhaps we are unbuttoning our own identities, and that which at first seemed monstrous is now merely vulnerable and alone. 1 Halberstam, Jack, in Queer Style , by Adam Geczy and Vicki Karaminas (London: Bloomsbury, 2013), p. iii.   G. V. Lorimer 2 Catalogue of Haut Couture – #1  fashion – a revelation of the internal through concealment of the external This pale ivory piece was harvested from seven hundred and sixty battle  burgeoned fingers, carefully cracked off dis- carded hands before the metacarpals thickened in. Each phalange stands proud from the  body like embossed fabric, each one stitched into living textured textiles, tactile. The ‘hang’ spirals strapless from their model’s  bust, shaping about her bodice to fall straight and svelte at that androgynous hip, cascading dry into a pooling train around the peeping toe of her bare feet. Black hair knot capped with a coronet cut from skull, only now you notice signet rings still circling bone.   G. V. Lorimer 3 Catalogue of Haut Couture – #2 Maybe this next pretty gown shall take your fancy with its soft drape sleeves, one side concealed, in an off-the-shoulder renaissance capelet of oil-sheened, intertwined, corvine black wings, bristling where feathers splay one against another. Don’t you like the play of panne-like moss in the exposed stay, embossed with swirled rosettes cut in hard cracked, fragile blue lichens? Beneath the wild corsage curl Gaultier-esque skirts, swept separate about the legs in the semblance of fawn and cobalt licked jays’ wings, flights and coverts unnatural in that outsized scale. And the waist  belted round with chains of grey, cross-lipped raven beaks. Someone once told me the entire dress was stitched with needles from the upper branches of a Scots pine, the beaks glued with sap.   G. V. Lorimer 4 Catalogue of Haut Couture – #3 Those shoes: Scaled in a mosaic of lepidopterae, flowing over the upper, around the platformed ball and toe to the stabbing spiralled five inch steel heel. Surely you recognise the names of these old European breeds, whose wings flutter still in the overhead stage fans, amongst the vivid aureolin, cobalt, chocolate, fulvous, fern, oblique black streaks, deep orange, carnelian, carmine, fawn, cinnabar, crimson flecks. You may know what they are by the tails trailing from wing tips, by the frilled fringes, by the velveteen touch. [CamberwellBeauty-PearlSkipper-ScarceSwallowtail-CharaxesJasius-HipocritaJacobææ]  And set for a centrepiece graellsia isabellae, grass green, speckled with dusky pupils bordered in reddish brown. Above that practice muscled ankle I barely noticed any other feature  but for simple sways of jade silk and a mantle, brooched by a swirl of petaled wings.   G. V. Lorimer 5 Catalogue of Haut Couture – #5 Fur fashions have l-o-n-g   been old news to those of you caught in the sense extorting industries, now cold for want of femininity, or masculinity, or touch,  but here, surely you feel the coars ssss e contrast of C urved shape to that much needed [cwtch] of pelt, remorseless in its lingering desire to live. The firm jaw bones y aw n upwards into a grim lupine crown, wired with a remembrance of discords. This is just a slip of skirted bodice through which one old man nuzzles kisses fur.
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