I’ll admit, the term “western gothic” isn’t really one that I see a lot and may even be one that I came up with on my own before coming across it every once in a blue moon. It’s one of those things that no one seems to have considered, despite my seeing it a lot, especially in fashion and literature, mostly as a subgenre of the subgenre “weird westerns”. Western gothic, as I see it, is a lot like southern gothic, only, well, western. It takes the American western atmosphere and aesthetic then applies gothic overtones (or undertones, whatever feels right to you).
With literature, this means taking a standard western but focusing on death, isolation, deterioration, and a bit of spiritualism, or even the lack of spiritualism. The only thing missing are the giant empty homesteads (read: castle for basic gothic & plantations for southern gothic), but, when you think about it, the desert is essentially one giant empty homestead, so, those are present, as well.
As far as music goes, this isn’t really an established genre, but you’d be surprised how prevalent the concept is despite the fact. There’s Johnny Cash (because, of course), Tom Waits, Nick Cave, &, to a degree, Leonard Cohen. On the more modern side of things, there’s The White Buffalo, Emily Jane White, & Neko Case (especially the album Furnace Room Lullaby). Though, Neko Case could also be argued to be more southern gothic, but that’s kind of the risk with these two genres: it’s very easy for the line to blur.
In fashion, it means embodying the bandito or the bank robber rather than the cowboy who rides in to save the day, which is to say take western wear and make it black.
I’m sure some will be wondering: Isn’t this just Bohemian or Dark Bohemian? Well, yes and no. As I brought up briefly in my Bohemian Style Notebook post, bohemian and the American west are a fairly new coupling. In decades past, bohemian tended to simply be what was easily available to the voluntary poor. Even now though, I would argue that Bohemian and Dark Bohemian are more of a mix-n’-match assortment of new age, eastern, and the American west, where as, western gothic is more heavily western.
– Western Gambler Hat
– Bolo Ties
– Cowboy boots
– Turquoise Jewelry
– The Desert
– American Western
– Leather/Faux Leather