As you may already be aware, if you’ve spent any amount of time perusing Dazed’s fashion section in recent days, Halloween weekend saw an enormous bunch of gloomy seaside-goers descend on Whitby.
Not only is the unassuming fishing town in North Yorkshire the place where Bram Stoker traipsed up to the crumbling, clifftop abbey to find inspiration for infamous bloodsucker Dracula, it’s also the home of the Whitby Goth Festival, which takes place twice a year – once, around the time of All Hallow’s Eve (because spooky!) and the second, close to Easter (I mean it does involve a ghost, but maybe not quite so).
Dripping in black lace and velvet, custom looks as well as ones cobbled together from whatever could be found on the shelves of their nearest fancy dress costume store, goths old and young congregated on the town’s cobbled streets, windy promenade, and blustering cliffs to chat, drink, and eat fish and chips. According to one, it was “just a normal day at the seaside, only a bit more goth”, and capturing exactly that – alongside local photographer George Hutton – was Lydia Mcdonnell.
“The sea front was like a goth red carpet,” Mcdonnell explains of the scene. “There was a gothic woman drinking a really ridiculous cocktail, and a man dressed as a cyber dog, barking at everyone who went past him and even scratching himself like a dog. It’s not so much about goths making a good subject [in this instance] but goths being taken out of their stereotypical hangouts and placed into relatively un-goth-y locations. [At one point] I found a load of costumed people just drinking and watching football.”
Mcdonnell’s deliberately oversaturated images capture these unique characters in a bolshy fashion, with the series calling to mind work by the likes of Dougie Wallace – a creative known for his candid, no-holds-barred photography of frazzled shoppers buzzing about Harrods or descending on horse racing events around the country. For those who can’t get enough of goths taken way out of context, click through the gallery above, and revisit George Hutton’s take on the event here.