YouTube Resident Goth Expert on Race and Rebellion
Depending on your generation, the word “goth” may trigger memories of Bauhaus albums and lipstick smeared by Robert Smith or a Rick Owens wearing Wesley Eisold from Cold Cave. The aesthetic is instantly recognizable and the movement’s pop culture presence means movies and records are familiar, but there’s more to it than the media. The intricacies of goth history are best understood by those embracing the lifestyle, and anyone looking for a primer need only look Rose Nocturnalia, aka Chelsea Lovelace. The 28-year-old content creator Youtube videos range from the classic YouTuber “What’s in my Bag” to the “Gothic Club Tips and Etiquette” niche. Its platforms offer a crash course in all things Western Gothic and Gothic Lolitas of Japan. For the uninitiated, these are two separate entities, each with a long history. Lovelace breaks everything down in great detail, allowing its 16K subscribers to understand the origins and evolution of the subculture while dispelling myths. “There is a bit of a popular misconception that Lolitas are in a strange state of arrested development, obsessed with childhood or we refuse to join the adult world,” she shared via email from Toronto. . “In reality, most of us are adults, working people between the ages of 20 and 40 – you need a good job to pay for all of that – we just like to dress up and have fun.”
First introduced to the concept by neighbors in her Toronto suburb, Lovelace quickly found herself captivated. “[They] were your stereotypical ’90s goths – think big platform shoes, lots of crushed velvet dresses and too much eyeliner, ”she says. “I thought they were the coolest people I had ever seen.” Armed with an internet connection and a willingness to explore, she dabbled in goth music at age 11, immersing herself in Strawberry Switchblade’s Siouxsie Sioux, Patricia Morrison, and Rose McDowall. Time spent on forums and Livejournal communities led her to Gothic Lolita, the Japanese subset that fuses Victorian classicism, kawaii cuteness, and obscurity. Although she experimented with countless styles as a teenager, Lovelace, now 28, entered her own college. “I didn’t really feel comfortable expressing myself through my clothes until I was an adult,” she says. “I guess I was a little late in blooming.”
She chooses her looks based on essential accessories and her favorite pieces – extra wide hats with a wide brim, ballet flats by Vivienne Westwood – with dramatic babydoll dresses or monochromatic pieces. “One of the perks of having a wardrobe that is almost entirely black and white is that it all fits together,” she says. “I like layering and mixing textures so it doesn’t look like a uniform drop of black, and I break it up with a lot of accessories like belts and necklaces.” A former runway addict, she now pays attention to avant-garde designers like Rick Owens, Yohji Yamamoto and Iris van Herpen, whose original creations appeal to her sensibility. But now, she’s engaged in anti-consumerism and scours the forums to find second-hand Gothic and Gothic Lolita clothing.
Growing up, she had to deal with stereotypes due to her unorthodox style. “Since I was never a social butterfly to start with and didn’t dress normally or listen to the right music, I was an easy target,” she explains. “I had more than a few ‘school shooter’ and ‘Trenchcoat Mafia’ remarks. The dust had barely settled from the Columbine Massacre by then, and the popular image of goths and alternative children was very negative. People thought we were violent, depressed, drugged, or all three. Teens may be ignorant, but several of the authority figures in her community have proven to be equally uninformed. “Two of my teachers contacted me, worried that I was using drugs, although in reality I was too afraid to try them. Adults, in general, treated me with a lot of suspicion, ”she says. “I couldn’t even walk into a store without being followed closely by staff when my friends were completely ignored. I had even been arrested by the police a few times, although I can’t imagine how anyone would have thought that a skinny teenager could be a big threat.