An old school friend forwarded me the Sophie Lancaster video made by French director Fursy Teyssier. It’s an animated piece about her last moments as she tries to save her boyfriend Robert’s life and instead dies herself at the hands of some rotten thugs. She died because she looked different, I guess what would be considered ‘goth’. It happened three years ago in a town near to where I live. In the North West we’re no strangers to sub-cultures which is why I was all the more shocked by the senselessness of the gang’s behaviour towards Sophie and Robert.
I, like many teenagers, went through some identity changes on the way to adulthood but probably my favourite was the vague combination of goth/grunge which around 1994 wasn’t hard to pull off. I remember Saturday afternoons spent at the Oasis centre in Birmingham and at the rag market picking up old leather trench coats, black hippy tops and a black velvet corset dress, the latter I still wear today, fifteen years later.
When we moved to Manchester it was the veritable utopia for alternative dressing and music. I earnt very little as an office junior but it didn’t stop me skipping off to a gothic clothing shop in the then still dodgy Northern Quarter to blow half my monthly salary on a blood red satin Vollers corset and what I call the ‘dripping in lace’ dress, slightly see-through with lots of front ruffles, long bell shaped sleeves and ribbons trailing behind it. I loved them both and wore them with great pleasure to Jilly’s Rockworld (RIP) on a Friday all-nighter with a pair of thigh length stiletto boots. I sported long dyed blue/black hair (it took years to grow out) and bagloads of Yves Saint Laurent black eyeshadow, for the first time I felt like I belonged somewhere.
I think of Sophie and wonder why the 90’s are so different from the 00’s? What enabled me to wear what I pleased around first the little town I lived in and later this great Northern city? No one ever bothered about challenging what I wore; maybe it was safety in numbers, being part of a small band of more-or-less drop outs. I don’t know.
All I do know is there’s is malevolent viciousness prevalent today and Sophie’s death, amongst others, is the outcome. Don’t let it be, dare to be different and challenge their ignorance.