ANDI HARRIMAN / MARLOES BONTJE
'Some Wear Leather, Some Wear Lace: The Worldwide Compendium of Postpunk and Goth in the 1980s'
INTELLECT / CHICAGO UNIVERSITY PRESS
There have been plenty of books dedicated to the roots and evolution of goth published over the years. Notable contributions from the likes of Gavin Baddeley, Mick Mercer, Natasha Sharf and Nacy Kilpatrick have made the gothic subculture and its related off-shoots an integral part of modern cultural studies.
Funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign, the new book from Andi Harriman and Marloes Bontje, 'Some Wear Leather, Some Wear Lace...', follows suit to a degree, looking at how post-punk and the new romantics coalesced into what became known as goth, as well as a look at how the styles and aesthetics of the scene flourished throughout the 1980s. But one of the biggest selling points of this particular look at the subculture has to be in its extensive pictorial collection. It encompasses everything from flyers, album art, and promo shots of the famous bands of the scene, through to the personal photos of the people who went to the gigs and bought the albums.
Andi Harriman (a writer, DJ, artist and fashion theory and goth enthusiast) and Marloe Bontje (a student of language, culture studies, and history) have crafted a journalistic tone to the book rather than academic one, which engages the reader in a light and informal manner. The large number of quotes and excerpts from interviews from bands, promoters and fans as well as the short length of the various chapters make this read like less of an in-depth and dry dissertation, but rather more like a magazine special edition.
There is a heavy dose of nostalgia present throughout, which is aimed primarily at the people who were there at the time and would want to relive the glory years of the scene. But it is also open enough in it's objectivity to warrant it as a serious look at the subject.
The book raises some particularly interesting points; such as how the scenes in different countries were established at similar times with similar themes and motifs running through the music and fashion, but without much of the kind of initial cross-pollination that today would necessitate access to the internet in order to grow so rapidly and so far apart. But due to the short chapter lengths it doesn't really try to answer these questions, but rather leaves them open to interpretation.
'Some Wear Leather, Some Wear Lace...' is an interesting look at the goth scene which emphasises an element of oral history and photographic evidence instead of rummaging through old articles and interviews for its source material. It is a photo album made up just as much of words as it is pictures and creates its own snapshots of the evolution of a subculture.
At 220 pages in length – with over half of those given over to photograph space – it is not a dense or challenging read. But it's unique collection of first-hand source material nonetheless makes this a useful resource for anyone with a serious interest in the development of youth culture in the 20th century... or even those who just want to relive their youth in The Batcave.