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The Goth subculture is a contemporary subculture found in many countries. It began in England during the early 1980s in the gothic rock scene, an offshoot of the Postpunk genre. The Goth subculture has survived much longer than others of the same era, and has continued to diversify. Its imagery and cultural proclivities indicate influences from the 19th century Gothic literature along with horror films. The Goth subculture has associated tastes in music, aesthetics, and fashion. Gothic music encompasses a number of different styles including Gothic rock, Dark wave, Deathrock, Ethereal, Neo-Medieval and Neoclassical. Styles of dress within the subculture range from death rock, punk and Victorian style attire, or combinations of the above, most often with dark attire, makeup and hair.

NME and Sounds reputedly took the term Gothic from Siouxsie Sioux (of the Banshees) who used it to describe the new direction for her band. However the earliest significant usage of the term (as applied to music) was by Anthony H. Wilson on a 1978 BBC TV program when he described Joy Division as Gothic compared to the pop mainstream. Bauhaus was labeled as Gothic as early as 1979 when they released Bela Lugosi's Dead.

Goth fashion is stereotyped as a dark, sometimes morbid, eroticized fashion and style of dress. Typical gothic fashion includes dyed black hair, dark eyeliner, black fingernails, black period-styled clothing; goths may or may not have piercings. Styles are often borrowed from the Elizabethan, Victorian or medieval period and often express pagan, occult or other religious imagery such as pentacles or ankhs. The extent to which goths hold to this style varies amongst individuals as well as geographical locality, though virtually all Goths wear some of these elements. Fashion designers, such as Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, have also been described as practicing "Haute Goth. Goth fashion is often confused with Heavy Metal fashion and Emo fashion: outsiders often mistake fans of heavy metal for goth, particularly those who wear black trench coats or wear "corpse paint" (a term associated with the black metal music scene).

Goth fashion can be recognized by its stark black clothing (or hair or makeup) The style initially emerged alongside the early 1980s Gothic rock scene. Simon Reynolds identifies the usual appearance as:

of deathly pallor, backcombed or ratted black hair,

ruffled Regency shirts,

stovepipe hats, leather garments, spiked dog collars, the ensemble accessorized with religious, magical or macabre jewellery (bone earrings, rosaries, pentacles, ankhs, skulls), typically made from silver, And also, fishnet stockings, black leather thigh boots, witchy eye make-up, etc.

In part because of public misunderstanding and ignorance surrounding gothic aesthetics, goths sometimes suffer prejudice, discrimination, and intolerance. As is the case with members of various other controversial subcultures and alternative lifestyles, outsiders sometimes marginalize goths, either by intention or by accident. Goths, like any other alternative sub-culture sometimes suffer intimidation, humiliation, and, in many cases, physical violence for their involvement with the subculture. Though Goths are said to be masochists, a study published on the British Medical Journal concluded that "identification as belonging to the Goth sub culture [at some point on their lives] was the best predictor of self harm and attempted suicide among young teens. The authors held that most self-harm by teens was done before joining the subculture, and that joining the subculture would actually protect them and help them deal with distress in their lives.

Ted Polhemus described goth fashion as a profusion of black velvets, lace, fishnets and leather tinged with scarlet or purple, accessorized with tightly laced corsets, gloves, precarious stilettos and silver jewellery depicting religious or occult themes. Researcher Maxim W. Furek noted, Goth is a revolt against the slick fashions of the 1970s disco era and a protest against the colourful pastels and extravagance of the 1980s. Black hair, dark clothing and pale complexions provide the basic look of the Goth Dresser. One can paradoxically argue that the Goth look is one of deliberate overstatem -ent as just a casual look at the heavy emphasis on dark flowing capes, ruffled cuffs, pale makeup and dyed hair demonstrate a modern-day version of late Victorian excess.

One female role model is Theda Bara, the 1910s femme fatale known for her dark eyeshadow, Musidora, Bela Lugosi, Bettie Page, Morticia Addams,Nico, David Bowie, Lux Interior, Dave Vanian, Robert Smith are also style icons. Siouxsie Sioux was particularly influential on the dress style of the Gothic rock scene; Paul Morley of NME described Siouxsie and the Banshees's 1980 gig at Futurama: modeling her newest outfit, the one that will influence how all the girls dress over the next few months. About half the girls at Leeds had used Sioux as a basis for their appearance, hair to ankle.

Some New-Age Goth fashion icons, who inspire the current generation of the subculture with their clothing style and look are: Marilyn Manson Jeffree Star Peter Steele Amy Lee

John Lee Compt

In 1977, Karl Lagerfeld hosted the Soire Moratoire Noire party, specifying "tragique exige absolument noire" (totally black tragic dress required). The event included elements associated with leatherman style. Goth fashion has a reciprocal relationship with the fashion world. In the later part of the first decade of the 21st century, many fashion designers took into goth fashion, Such as: Alexander McQueen Rick Owens

Gareth Pugh
John Galliano

In recent times, Fashion designers from all over the world have taken the Goth culture out of the street and into the ramp.This was described as "Haute Goth" by Cintra Wilson in the New York Times. Thierry Mugler, Claude Montana, Jean-Paul Gaultier, and Christian Lacroix have also been associated with a gothic style. In Spring 2004, Riccardo Tisci, Jean Paul Gaultier, Marc Jacobsand Stefano Pilati dressed their models as "glamorous ghouls dressed in form-fitting suits and coal-tinted cocktail dresses. Swedish designer Helena Horstedt and jewelry artist Hanna Hedman also practice a goth aesthetic.