Style Police: Monsters of goth

Irony goes into overdrive with the latest wheeze: the shock horror T-shirt, says JAMES SHERWOOD in his best Alice Cooper voice

Fashion hacks can be too cool for their own good. Style Police knows fashion editors who wouldn't even spill their drink should Tom Ford streak naked down the Gucci catwalk. Mind you, these gals would rather sacrifice the blood of their first-born than spill a vodka. But when Madonna pitched up at the last Versace couture show in Paris and - sharp intake of breath - danced with the masses, she was greeted like the second coming. And quite right too.

Music has always influenced fashion. No, Celine Dion in Dior at the Oscars isn't particularly interesting. But some rock stars appropriate fashion and twist it into something unique. Take Catatonia's Cerys. A couple of weeks ago, on Top of the Pops, the first lady of British trash glamour slapped a fake gold and diamante crown on her barnet. Just in case you missed the piss-take of Posh Spice's wedding, Cerys wore the coronet with a tacky Tee. Surrounded by a pink heart were the T-shirt logo'd initials VD - Victoria and David Beckham to the innocents and horrendous STD to the more debauched. Love it.

The trash glam T-shirt is so spot on this season. Cerys got it right with an ironic, in-joke print. i-D magazine stylist Jamie Huckbody is on a roll in the August issue with his Rock On! portfolio. He shot monsters of rock T-shirts on LA skate kids and surfer dudes. But it's the monster Style Police is interested in rather than the rock. Think Edgar Allen Poe rather than Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The i-D prints are loud, cheap and terminally ironic: death's head skulls and graphic, gothic prints. You get extra points if it looks as if Alice Cooper's worn it in a coffin.

"The scary Tee is emerging from the trend for customising," says Later fashion editor Nikki Black. "We're already seeing guys - and women - wearing the nasty print Tee with the sleeves cut off and roll-up jeans. It is anticipating the glam rock movement for autumn/winter. Dolce & Gabbana did diamante belts for a/w which guys are already anticipating with old studded leather belts from Carnaby Street." And, as we all know, mock horror is deeply ironic and a bit of a giggle.

How to wear it

The trashy Tee is unisex. Girls have already been broken into tacky prints by Chloe's (and high street rip-offs) palm tree Tees. Boys got the hang of loud print with the summer Hawaiian shirt. So you've all sussed that vulgar prints work with crop pants or boot-cut denims.

But customising is key. The Tees you get in tatty gift shops and Carnaby Street goth shops are invariably one size fits all - roughly translated as marquee-sized. Baggy doesn't work this season unless you can carry off the surfer dude baggy pants and knackered trainers look. Go instead for the children's size so the Tee hugs your torso like an anaconda. Feel free to hack off the sleeves. Frayed edges are cool for a/w. For girls it's fine to flash a bit of navel. For boys a bare midriff looks too East 17.

The chilled way to wear vulgar print is under the super-sharp Yves St Laurent Rive Gauche a/w black suit. Finish it off with trainers and you've got it. For girls it works with a gothic maxi skirt and a vintage Wrangler crop jacket. But now we're getting ahead of ourselves. It's still summer, for Christ's sake. So wear the sleeveless Tee with three quarter length crop pants.

Where to buy it

i-D's Jamie Huckbody went to the two killer London stores for original rocky horror Tees: Kensington Market and Heaven on Carnaby Street. They are tatty and under pounds 10. Style Police guarantees that there will be at least one grungy goth store in any major UK city. But bear in mind these are the baggy numbers and you have to hack off those sleeves.

If you're not interested in vintage then you've got to think a little laterally. Brazilian designer Alexandre Herchcovitch peppered his a/w collection with goth-inspired print Tees. They are unisex, they fit like hand in black leather glove and the prints are designer dark and moody rather than just plain gruesome. Style Police adores Herchcovitch's white skull and red roses on black Tee for pounds 27. And, worry not, they're out this week.

Adam Entwisle is a true Style Police find. He's fresh out of St Martin's and his graduate collection included "Monster print" Tees (pounds 55) currently on sale in too-conceptual-for-its-own-good boutique The Pineal Eye. The prints are inspired by cheesy Seventies Hammer monster flicks and Kiss doll action figures. Entwisle and Herchcovitch's are the connoisseur's print Tees of the season.

Address book

Adam Entwisle at The Pineal Eye: 0171 434 2567.

Alexandre Herchcovitch at The Dispensary: 0171 734 4095.

Heaven: 0171 434 4249.

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