Can we expect a revival in the gothic trend for 2010? Judging by last month's British Fashion Awards and the new Big Brother series starting this Sunday, macabre decorations are the "in" thing for the New Year. Last month, both Victoria Beckham and Kate Moss wore gothic black dresses with dramatic long trains to the British Fashion Awards. Meanwhile, the interiors industry is coming over all gothic; Channel Four producers have this year spent more money decorating the house in a gothic fervour than ever before. Expect flame frescoes, padded walls and antique animal skulls.
"As well as Dante, we have been hugely influenced by Sartre's line 'Hell is other people' and the house reflects this," explains the Big Brother executive producer Shirley Jones. "Whilst the flames and dark colours might look a bit hellish to some, sometimes your actual hell is the people you’re with so we have removed some of the doors to make everything more open plan. There are very few areas to go to if someone needs to grab five minutes of peace and quiet." Charming.
The interior design of the Big Brother house adapts for each series prompting speculation as to how environment affects behaviour. Even those who despise the reality show are often curious by the outlandish room designs – and their effect on the contestants. Previously, we've seen a claustrophobic cacophony of harsh colours to emulate the "Evil" theme in the fifth series. The "Inside out" theme of the eighth series meant the kitchen appliances, dining areas and washing facilities were located in the "wrong" areas of the house. The interiors of the Big Brother Nine house were blinding with lime green sofas, fluorescent orange chairs and dark blue walls.
This series is all about creating a chilling space intended to make contestants feel uncomfortable. The kitchen has been stripped out to look like an autopsy room, all very morbid – and gothic in a minimal sense. Clinical stainless steel fittings, Damien Hirst-style pickling jars encasing outsized insects and walls painted an eery hospital green create a morgue-like feel. It really is rather horrible.
While the kitchen is hell-like in its cold morgue-like state, the sitting room is the exact reverse. The fur rugs, red and black padded walls, ornate lamps, gilded panels and flame frescoes are gothic in their decadence. The plush velvet sofas, antique furniture and animal head trophies hint to a London's gentleman’s club. Yet the cushions emblazoned with diamante skulls are more rock n' roll than "pass the Port". "Some people will like the animal skulls and padded walls and velvet furniture and some people will be like, 'that's awful and not very pleasant'," says Jones.
As is always the way with trends, the gothic look flitters between fashion and interiors. Style icon Pearl Lowe, who last year got married in black lace, runs a gothic design company selling vintage black lace curtains. Comedian, TV presenter and – according to some – trendsetter, Russell Brand is a gothic ambassador; his former London home sported black and silver flock wallpaper, golden carpet and diamante studded antlers.
If truth be told, Brand was a little scared of his gothic décor; "I am slightly intimidated by that room." He once said, "I tend not to go in there much. You shouldn't have a room you’re intimidated by." Trend or not, take heed of Brand’s warnings – gothic isn’t for the faint of heart