Indelible Ink: The Tattoo Trend

Indelible Ink

by Georgina Colquhoun

Ask anyone what they think of tattoos and they will give you a different opinion ranging from sheer hatred to unbridled obsession and somewhere in between. Rewind fifteen years and tattoos were something of a taboo in the fashion world with models being airbrushed to rid them of their ink. Nowadays though, it’s a very different story. Catwalks are covered with tattoo -inspired prints, temporary tatts and models inked up to their eyeballs.

Of late, fashion has had an odd fascination with body art, but why? There are those that cover their bodies in ink, and those that get a few dainty inscriptions. Some would say that the latter is more ‘fashion’ but let’s not forget ‘zombie boy’ Rick Genest, the model favoured by Gaga and Thierry Mugler.

That said, tattoos of the dainty variety are more common among models and fashion types alike. These vary from meaningful words and phrases to frivolous depictions of stars to which the bearer has attributed some (tenuous) meaning. Not forgetting of course the cliché : ‘YOLO.’  Inscribing such a permanent motto on your body is neither cool nor meaningful and yet it seems to be en mode. Anchors, and the word ‘shhh’ etched enigmatically along the side of an index finger are a few other examples of our pet hates. This would suggest that tattoos are more of a fashion statement in themselves, an idea which many a sleeved man would viciously reject. 

Most would argue that tattoos are an art form, which in many ways is true regardless of your personal opinion. This is, I’m sure, the reason why they are so adored by designers. 

This year alone has seen designers use tattoo-like images in their collections. Jean-Paul Gaultier used elaborate designs on footwear and tights in his Spring/Summer 2012 show, whilst Narciso Rodriguez mused over tattoos in a slightly subtler manner.

And let's not forget those Chanel temporary tattoos circa 2010 which every stylista drooled over. 

The conundrum is distinctly ‘what came first, chicken-or-egg’ when it comes to whether tattoos are fashionable or driving fashion, but the most potent question is ‘why the change?’ Tatts have become more acceptable in this generation regardless of the fashion element, the question ‘but what will it look like when you’re old?!’ is no longer relevant because by that point, the aged tattooed will be out in force (and at this moment I’d like to add that Helen Mirren’s tattoo still looks remarkably chic regardless of her age). 

The young are embracing indelible ink in every form, from full body coverage to drunken mistakes, the tattoo taboo has been lifted and they may well have gone from cool to, well, normal. 

The new challenge for the hipsters of the world is deciding where to put their <insert-meaningless-image-here> because, let’s face it, the wrist is just so last year.

 Hence the emergence of the lip tattoo and even the eye…yes, the eye. And for those who don’t want a visible tattoo aged 80, then there is always the white tattoo, which seems, to me, entirely pointless. If you’re determined to hide your permanent design, it seems more logical to go down this route…

So, whether tattoos conform to or set fashion is certainly still up for debate but when it comes down to it, as with all style, the only thing that matters  is personal opinion, be that revulsion, indifference or, -like Mr Lagerfeld, - sheer fascination.

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