x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Drop dead gorgeous?

Sharpen that eyeliner and dust off your Rouge Noir nail varnish - the goth look is raising its morbid head this autumn.

Heavy eyeliner, dark shadow and big, false lashes are the hallmarks of this season's goth look.
Heavy eyeliner, dark shadow and big, false lashes are the hallmarks of this season's goth look.

Sharpen that eyeliner and dust off your Rouge Noir nail varnish - the goth look is raising its morbid head this autumn. Have a quick scan of recent magazine covers and you'll spot it. Kate Moss on the cover of US Vogue last month with thick black, winged eyeliner; Lindsay Lohan on the front of Elle kitted out in black leather; the vamp queen Ashley Olsen staring from the cover of Marie Claire. Prada's autumn/winter 2009 show was packed with sombre, woollen suits, black dresses with velvet detailing and leather boots. Gareth Pugh models wore black theatrical costume as if in Victorian mourning. At the Christian Dior show, models sashayed down the catwalk with dark eyes and deep purple lips. It seems the Twilight books and film, along with HBO's smash hit television series True Blood, have awakened bloodlust in many of us.

So in demand is the look that Chanel has brought out a new gothic range of make-up, Noirs Obscurs. The eyeliner is called Demoniac, the deep shades of lipstick named Hysteria, Maniac and Obscure, and the deep maroon nail varnish called Diabolic. After the range landed on our desks last week, we became a divided team. Some reminisced enthusiastically about our teen-goth years ("My dad said I looked like I had angina"), some were more dubious. Was this really a wearable look? For a mature, responsible adult?

A scientific test was called for, so I stepped up only to fall at the first hurdle. How does one apply goth make-up? Surely, gloomy teenagers across the world didn't just one day wake up, decide to throw on a trench coat and know how to violate their faces with a kohl pencil. How did they learn? Enter YouTube. First up on the site popped a video called "Adora's goth make-up tutorial #1", viewed nearly 750,000 times and with thousands of comments below it. Adora is a Scandinavian goth with pink hair and a nose ring; her video was six minutes long. I clicked on it. "Achtung achtung alarm!" screamed the accompanying musical lyrics.

First, as predicted, Adora slapped on black lines of eyeliner, then black eyeshadow before whacking on a bit more eyeliner and false eyelashes. Then came "stargazer" white powder for her skin, which Adora explained is for that "pale, dead look". Queen Elizabeth I would approve. But what next, Adora? A bit more eyeliner, and then she revealed that this much-loved pencil can also be used as a lip liner. Then lipstick. The colour? Black and, just to be on the safe side, a bit more eyeliner. Her eyelids valiantly fight to stay open under all that weight.

When it comes to my turn, it's trickier. Do my eyes look goth or like I've just gone a few rounds in a boxing ring? I try to pale down my skin with concealer, but it goes a bit blotchy where the pink of my cheeks stubbornly peeps through. The lipstick, however (I go for Hysteria, a purple so deep it is almost black), is surprising. Yes, one cannot avoid feeling a bit Morticia Addams, but it's a striking look rather than downright ugly.

Caked up, I venture into the Mall of the Emirates. I'm a centaur-like being, goth from the head up but wearing a blue Banana Republic skirt, grey Gap top and flip-flops. One cannot imagine Marilyn Manson ever wearing flip-flops. Still, the looks are curious. People do double-takes and slyly peer at me from the corner of their eyes as I drift past. A small girl stares. First stop is the heavy metal section of Virgin Megastore, where the bands stocked include Gorefest, Fear Factory and Harbinger. Sadly, however, the aisles were bare of fellow goths. "Would you ever wear this lipstick?" I ask a saleswoman called Candy. "No," she says, appalled, as if I'd asked whether she'd ever kicked a beggar.

Perhaps the nice man at the customer services desk has seen a few goths floating about the mall? "No," says Ahmed. "Never, to be very frank." I decide to run my look past the customers browsing in Harvey Nichols. There I find Sam, an Australian on holiday in Dubai. Would he appreciate a woman wearing make-up like this, I ask. He looks aghast. "No way. That's much too dark," he laughs. Downstairs in the cosmetics department, I find Sirja, a MAC artist who tells me that MAC also has a new goth make-up range coming out this autumn called Bat Black, again comprising dark eyeshadows, lipsticks and big fake lashes. "The staff will have to try it and wear it too," she says. A spasm of fear crosses her face.

I confront a Finnish Dubai resident named Laura, who is fingering her way through MAC eyeshadows. She scrutinises my face for a while and then says that she might be persuaded. But Laura has curly blonde hair and rosy cheeks. Would the tones be hard to pull off? "Maybe without the eyes and just the lipstick," she muses. Muted praise, but my corpse-like face has at least found some approval. Now all I need is Robert Pattinson to go with it.

Chanel's Noirs Obscurs line will be available from September 15.