Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Military influence on Subculture - When is it bad?

Marilyn Manson screengrab from the fight song Filmclip. This is a Waffen SS Officer cap, with the TottenKopf(skulls) and German Eagle Insignia removed.

Metamaphose, and EGL (Elegant Goth Lolita) designer from Japan caused an uproar in the Lolita Fashion community, when they released this outfit, and some others. The uproar was based around the fact that they were supposed to resemble Nazi uniforms from WW2. In fact, they don't really resemble German uniforms at all, except for the German eagle insignia.

18th century military officers uniform influence in this gothic outfit. "Military Style Jacket" from Horrorshop.

Not so subtle SS Officer uniform with trenchcoat on a Japanese girl, including the SS cap.

I was at a alt fashion show, Circa Nocturna, and one of the designers had some military influence in her work. Most of it was German Wehrmacht, German Waffen SS and some Russian Military uniforms from the same era. Interestingly the designer herself was Russian.

An odd thing happenned. My older friends, in their early 40's and late 30's, were apparently quite unimpressed with the military references, mostly the Waffen SS (which I thought was prevalent in mainly one design) ones. I think some of them were going to walk out.

Howwever the majority of the crowd, who were generally younger, didn't seemed bothered by fact, they couldn't work out what the issue was. Obviously to us older types, who grew up in WW2's after affects, are more affected by it. But I wasn't actually sure if the younger people there (1) were unfamiliar with the war and the symbolism of the uniforms or (2) were familiar with it, but didn't think it was an issue.

I myself was going to buy one of the jackets, but my Girlfriend (older) threatened to disown me if I did.

In any event, Subcultural fashion, and subcultural fashion worn on stage by musicians, loves to shock, and if you can get some shock out of referencing some thing that annoys people, then you may get your mediabytes from it. And in some cases, the only bad publicity is no publicity. Sex Pistols used swastikas on T shirts to annoy the public - they (or Malcolm Mclaren at least) were masters of shock publicity, and it made them what they were. Certainly Marilyn Manson also benefits from the shock value of military fashion.... and it fits with his general modus operandi of wearing whatever he has to the looks cool, but stil shocks. Ahhhh Mazza....bless your fishnet socks!

Are military uniforms sinister, or just historical influence on fashion though? How far back do we have to go before something is benign. Are WW1 uniforms ok, but not WW2 uniforms? Are 19th Century British redcoat uniforms Ok?. Are the German Uniforms from WW2 not ok, but the Russians ones fine? Are the Wehrmacht uniforms ok, but Waffen SS no good?

I don't have the answers to these things, my answer is that what is good to wear or not to wear may often be contextual. I like military influence on fashion, but at the same time, care should be taken to not deliberately offend. Certain countries take more offense than others... certainly Nazi Fashion seems not to offend some in South East Asia.

Military influence, or in this case, Nazi influence in subcultural fashion can

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Gothic Ruth - The Ruff in Goth Subcultural Fashion

Goth Ruff as part of a Goth Elizabethan inspired outfit, from Gala Nocturna 2010.

2 Ruffs on Victorian Goth Outfits. Wave Gothic Treffen 2009. (c) Rachael Black
Goth Victorian Inspired outfit, with Ruff. WGT 2010 (c) Rachael Black
Ruffs at Wave Gothic Treffen. WGT 2010 (c) Rachael Black

Continental European goths have taken to the ruff to some degree, as part of their overall interest in historical fashion and acoutrement. The ruff can be seen in the goth subcultural context in two places, at Gala Nocturna a ball held yearly in Belgium, and also at the large Gothic Wave Treffen Goth festival. In particular, at WGT, the Victorian Picnic is the main event where historical fashion is flaunted.

Worldwide, these are probably the two main focal points for elaborate and the most exquisite fashion in the goth subculture. Certain German, Belgian and Bulgarian goths focus on the historical fashion and strive to make their outfits and makeup as elaborate as possible. Its within these groups you will see such a strong focus on historical style, within the general milieux of goth subcultural fashion.

Goth subcultural fashion in this form is rareley seen in Australia, the US or the UK, though it is not unlike some of the focus on elaborate historical clothing, in particular the Victorian era, amongst some Japanese subcultures.

Viona Ielegems has a strong focus on historical goth fashion, and ruffs are sometimes seen as part of her work. She makes her own outfits and photographs as well.

Gala Nocturna - held yearly in Antwerp, Belgium

Wave Gothik Treffen held yearly in Leipzeig, Germany

WGT pics courtesy of Rachael Black (her blog is Fade to Black - the Art of Makeup )