When I was in seventh grade, I used to sneak this 99-cent New York Color black lipstick to school, to be dutifully applied in the bathroom, and hastily swiped off before catching the bus home to my relatively conservative parents. Such were the earliest days of a love affair with all things goth-y . . . for a child whose tastes had admittedly already leaned toward the morbid from the age of 8 or so. If crushed black velvet, a consumptive red eye, or pallid skin is involved—I’m there.
My middle-school aesthetic was informed largely by what could be gleaned from clandestine trips to Hot Topic (still going strong all these years later!). I slipped into witchy striped stockings—of the very sort that Marc Jacobs proposed on his Fall runway—and even, by some miracle, was able to snag a pair of bondage-y black trousers laden with straps. Thanks to the Internet and sheer dedication, though, eventually my touchstones for all things inky black eventually multiplied and expanded beyond what the Berkshire Mall had to offer. I’m not a huge Sisters of Mercy or Christian Death fan; I’ve always gone in harder for those who prefigured what we think of as goth proper. To name a few: punk legend The Damned’s Dave Vanian as early as 1976, with his shoe polish–black hair, hollowed, silent movie star eyes, and penchant for capes; ’50s horror TV host Vampira (about whom I rhapsodized back in October; even Lou Reed circa Rock ’n’ Roll Animal and Transformer with his black lacquered nails and lipstick.
In honor of World Goth Day, which falls on May 22, here’s but a small sampling of a few of my favorite proto-goth style idols.
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