In a recent post Australia Vogue’s goth cowboy article created quite a stir. Here it is, written by Gladys Lai: There’s been a youthful rebellion of sorts taking place at Virginie Viard’s Chanel. Over the course of her tenure so far as the maisons’ artistic director and Karl Lagerfeld’s successor, we’ve glimpsed Viard’s witty self-referentiality at work. She respects the canonical codes of Coco—the tweed, the craftsmanship, the epicene bent—but isn’t afraid to rough it up, or give it some edge. Plentiful were the nods to punk and the tattooist graphics of Jean Cocteau in Viard’s resort 2022 presentation, counterculture laid bare in monogrammed lip piercings, studded collars and fishnets under fringe. Even Viard’s impressionism-inspired couture in June this year had a whiff of rock ‘n’ roll, models storming the Palais Galliera in braided faux-hawks and anarchic slashes of eyeliner.
For Chanel’s latest collection, their métiers d’art show at the house’s newly built Le19M, Viard turned up the alternative volume. There was an anchoring in heritage, of course, in the speckled cardigans and dimensional knitting (courtesy of the artisans at houses like Lesage, Montex, and Lemarie). But from the crowd of floral appliquéd ingenues emerged a totally unexpected pair of muses: hatted, kohl-lined women, dripping in pearls and Western swagger. Their trousers were loose, their knits thrown insouciantly over the shoulder; the stampede strings on their black stetsons swung, pendulum-like, under the chin. Only one delightful phrase came to mind as they strolled hand-in-pocket down the runway.
Welcome, welcome: to the era of the goth cowboy.
The desert ranger turned occult, or wranglers who moonlight as tarot clairvoyants. A strange series of visuals for some, perhaps, but those versed in the vocabulary of the 2010s will certainly not be strangers to matters of Western gothic. In cinema and literature, this movement manifests itself in the supernatural Wild West—Westworld, Penny Dreadful, Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian or Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. Think American frontier, ft. monsters and aliens. Similarly, in the world of fashion, the goth cowboy is not as new a phenomenon as you might believe. Take Hedi Slimane’s signatures during his reign at Saint Laurent, which saw him play with wide-brimmed fedoras and voluminous bishop sleeves. In the maison’s spring/summer ’13 presentation, Slimane’s goth cowboy—or more accurately, cowgirl—appeared in droves on the runway, donning low-slung pants, pussybow blouses and hammered silver curio. Present were all the hallmarks of the aesthetic movement, from burnout velvet piano shawls to chiffons and fetish harnesses. Leather too was fringed and abundant, a true staple of the Western goth disciple.
Now, with Viard’s tick of approval, it seems like the goth cowboy is staging a renaissance. New data from Pinterest’s eighth annual trend report confirms its second coming, with searches for goth cowboy increasing by 70 per cent over the last few months. In fact, goth in general was up across the board, with an 185 per cent increase in queries for goth pyjamas, and an impressive 90 per cent increase for goth business casual.
When it comes to goth cowboy, however, we can’t help but be excited. As far as trends go in our ever-compressing fashion cycle, dressing dark and Western is about as original as it gets. Sure, you can arrive at your New Year’s party in a mini dress—but what could scream ‘I’m here to have fun’ more than wearing a plunging black maxi with a stetson, slightly askew.
Well then, folks, time to saddle up. It’s going to be a wild ride.
Image credits: GoRunway