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A Touch of Goth : The Look of Subversive Couture

By Cynthia Sliwa

Posted on April 30, 2012

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Perhaps you prefer to refer to the style as punk or rock 'n' roll, but there is no doubt that the Gothic look simmers as an undercurrent amidst all the bright lollipop colors and wild prints of the season.

Consider actress Rooney Mara, who played Lisbeth Salander in the film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. She consistently takes the red carpet by storm with her pale skin and stark black fashion choices, to rave reviews. As Derek Blasberg writes in his best dressed column in the May 2012 issue of Harper's Bazaar: "[A]fter this award season, when [Mara] marched miles of red carpets in her unique brand of subversive couture, I too succumbed to her edgy elegance. Judging from the collections of Calvin Klein's Francisco Costa and Donatella Versace, I wasn't alone." Blunt bangs and black leather shown on the fall 2012 fashion runways are deemed part of the "Rooney effect."

While Mara herself tends to go minimalist when it comes to jewelry (although she is wearing a right-hand ring in the photo above from the May Harper's Bazaar), designers have embraced more embellishment and accessorization.

At the front of the pack is Dolce & Gabbana, which introduced its first line of jewelry, one that appears to be inspired by, if not literally consisting of, rosaries with large crosses. Elle magazine took note of the "decadent" new line back in December 2011, finding that it takes its cues from the design pair's "oft-referenced Catholic roots, specifically the religious paraphernalia of Sicily. Made in Italy, the 80-piece collection includes crosses, exquisite ceramic Madonna icons, and rosaries decorated with black jade, rubies, pearls, and sapphires--for girls both naughty and nice." The other new collections noted on the page are Harry Winston's "Ultimate Adornments" collection, including the diamond and platinum earrings shown that appear to be topped by sparkling diamond crosses; and Ralph Lauren's "Modern Art Deco" fine jewelry collection, including the cuff bracelet pictured.

In the April 2012 issue of Harper's Bazaar, model Eva Herzigova is pictured wearing Dolce & Gabbana, including a rosary-style necklace, at a party with Stefano Gabbana of the design duo.  

The May 2012 issue of Elle again features the Dolce & Gabbana rosary, this version in black sapphire and black jade.

The March 2012 issue of Marie Claire highlighted other designers that are embracing Goth style: "In pearls, paillettes, or pave crystals, dark religious references reign on high." Along with runway looks from Lanvin pictured upper right, the article features a cross pendant necklace from Lanvin and cross-embellished drop earrings from Lydia Courteille.

Subversive couture with less of a direct religious reference also appears in current fashion editorial. In the March 2012 issue of Glamour, model Chelsea Tyler wears a top and skirt from the Calvin Klein Collection with a brass and leather choker from Fallon. Her shoes are from Gianvito Rossi for Altuzarra.

Actress Zooey Deschanel is profiled in the May 2012 issue of Marie Claire and is pictured wearing ensembles much darker than the sunny personality she portrays on TV. In the photo above, she wears a diamond bracelet from Sydney Evan and a black crystal bracelet from Tom Binns Design, both worn as necklaces and stacked one on top of the other. Her dress is from Herve Leger, her tights from Wolford, and shoes from Valentino Garavani.

The May 2012 issue of Marie Claire looks to the upcoming Olympics for inspiration for a feature on high-performance gear that includes a black structured collar necklace from Emporio Armani and a cuff (mostly obscured) from Mitchel Primrose. The model also wears a black bustier from Alexander Wang, a nude top from Diesel Black Gold, and goggles from Speedo. It's impossible to know what influenced the Armani design, but is it subversive? Without a doubt.

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