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The great return of goth in (not only) beauty

Let's get ready to embrace our dark side

The great return of goth in (not only) beauty  Let's get ready to embrace our dark side

It's time to stock up on black eyeliner, hide under a parasol umbrella, blast The Birthday Party's Release the Bats in our headphones, reread Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, and embrace our dark feminine energy because the goths are back. Riding the wave of success of Wednesday, gothic aesthetics have begun to infiltrate fashion and especially beauty, inspiring brands and trends. On TikTok, hashtags like #gothgirl, #gothfashion, and #gothmakeup collect billions of views, while on the runways black is once again the star, accompanied by beauty looks referencing trends like succubus chic, dark mermaid, witchy beauty, and New Romantics. Dior, Junya Watanabe, Jason Wu, Burberry, Valentino, Edward Crutchley, and many other brands have showcased witch-inspired makeup for the SS24 shows, anticipating a passion for gothic makeup that will last all year.

The origins of goth and the 1980s

To paraphrase Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York, gothic is an epithet with a strange history: it evokes images of death, destruction, and decay. It's a dark romanticism that from its origins (in the terror literature of the 18th century) to its contemporary manifestations (in vampire fiction, cinema, and art) has embraced the powers of horror and erotic macabre. It's more of a sensibility than a defined style. The sense we know today is an evolution of the London gothic subculture of the '70s and '80s, of those black-clad youths who frequented the Batcave club, went crazy for Siouxsie and the Banshees, Sisters of Mercy, Joy Division, and The Cure, danced to the tunes of Bela Lugosi's Dead by Bauhaus, wore ripped fishnet stockings and Victorian corsets, flaunted tousled voluminous hair, paired with a bold makeup focusing mainly on the eyes with impactful graphic effects.

Goth today: just another trend?

Over the years, goth has become increasingly diluted, branching out into derivatives like chola goth, gothic lolita, dark academia, or soft goth. Forget about the goth girls of the '80s: their 2020s version looks like a corpse bride wearing Versace and would die for a wardrobe consisting only of Ann Demeulemeester or Rick Owens pieces. There remains a certain fascination with melancholic melodies, classic novels like Frankenstein and Dracula, Victorian iconography, paganism, occultism, sinister labyrinthine castles, cemeteries, vampires, ghosts, and witches as well as a mood of memento mori, mixed with imagery from Tim Burton, punk, and metal. On the runway, even in recent seasons, John Galliano, Rick Owens, Olivier Theyskens, and Yohji Yamamoto continue to present its codes, and unforgettable are Thom Browne's FW24 show inspired by Poe's Raven and Rodarte's FW23 show. In any case, goth in 2024 is a trend just like any other that, in a soft version, is flaunted from the office to a night out with friends. Just look at a photo of Gabriette, Alexa Demie, Megan Fox, Julia Fox, or Jenna Ortega. The secret? Opt for a burgundy lipstick, plum, or black, a smokey eye in black tones, bold and graphic eyeliner, and a vampire skin.

Will 2024 be the year of goth metal?

Even celebrities prefer soft goth to the original. This new incarnation of gothic aesthetics is made up of purplish, grayish, and dark eyeshadows, paired with bold lips, but there are those who push for a more extreme drift inspired by goth metal. An example is e.l.f. Cosmetics which collaborated with Liquid Death for the Corpse Paint Vault, a limited edition kit (already sold out) of five products: setting spray, lipstick, cream eyeshadow, eyeliner, and makeup brush, all contained in a coffin-shaped packaging. It's everything you need to recreate a Kiss-inspired makeup, featuring Julia Fox as the face, photographed with expertise painted corpse paint.

Who knows if this extreme style will catch on. Meanwhile, on TikTok and Instagram, girls have fun using eyeshadows and lipsticks as Jojo Siwa has also done. And if even the masked finnish metalheads Lordi are featured in an editorial in Vogue Scandinavia holding Prada bags, it seems that the goths are truly back from beyond.

Not just beauty, goth in cinema

The next inspirations for gothic makeup will come from upcoming cinematic projects, remakes of genre classics. Bill Skarsgärd will step into the shoes of The Crow, a '90s cult classic starring Brandon Lee. Also in the works are Beetlejuice 2 with Winona Ryder and Jenna Ortega, and not one but two Frankensteins: one titled The Bride, directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal featuring Christian Bale and Jessie Buckley, and one by Guillermo Del Toro with Mia Goth and Jacob Elordi.