When the costume historian Lynne Bassett was bouncing around ideas for a show on early 19th-century clothing, she realised that the best place for it to end was the present, “with a look at how Romanticism and the Romantic aesthetic keep on cycling around again in fashion”. The result is Gothic to Goth: Romantic Era Fashion and Its Legacy, now on view at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut (until 10 July).
Vampire suit (1998) designed by
Jean Paul Gaultier. Collection of Richard Patrick Anderson; Ensemble styled by Richard Patrick Anderson
Woman’s mourning dress (1857-60) and bonnet (1860), Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Gift of Miss Harriet S. Smith
Dress, 2007, design by Alexander McQueen. Photo: Walter Silver © 2012 Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA
The show first looks at examples of clothing from 1810-60, which borrow heavily from the past—contextualised through art, furniture, decorative objects and literature—and then at contemporary Goth and Steampunk fashions. Jean-Paul Gaultier’s 1998 Vampire suit exudes a Romantic aesthetic, while the era’s preoccupation with the haunted past is expressed in Alexander McQueen’s Autumn/Winter 2007 collection, named for his ancestor killed in the Salem Witch Trials and represented here by a beaded velvet and satin dress from the Wadsworth’s own collection—fitting for a New England show. The main supporters of the show are The Coby Foundation, Ltd, The Costume & Textile Society of the Wadsworth Atheneum and the Stockman Family Foundation.