Thursday, 22 March 2012

Fashion moment - Tattoos

Tattoos dubbed by many as ‘tramp stamps’ are commonly associated with those who insist on wearing clingy velour tracksuits in public or perhaps notorious gangs in South American prisons. Although these are negative connotations, at the Jean-Paul Gaultier Spring/Summer show there was a definite nod to tattoos. From neck-pieces to tights and even the model’s themselves showing off their own ink, it was definitely the focus of the new collection.

“Not one great country can be named, from the polar regions in the north to New Zealand in the south, in which the aborigines do not tattoo themselves,” the great Charles Darwin said this expressing how widespread the phenomenon of tattooing once was. Although it is believed that the first tattoos were probably created by accident, women in Ancient Greece soon became fascinated with tattoos and considered them as exotic beauty marks. Quite the contrast to the way we receive a tattoo peeking over someone’s exposed under-garments today.

Tattoos were still very much associated with ‘primitive natives’ in Britain until Captain Cook returned from his voyage to Polynesia. Tattooing then became tradition in the British Navy. This lead to the nautical trend in tattooing. Popular tattoos consisted of swallows or anchors and we see this echoed in Jean-Paul Gaultier’s designs. Anchors were printed on to white tights creating the illusion of the models having these images tattooed on their own skin.

Jean-Paul Gaultier isn’t the only one using tattooed models on his catwalk. After Nicola Formichetti used Rick Genest, also known as Zombie Boy, for his Autumn/Winter 2011 Thierry Mugler catwalk show, he is also now the face of Brazilian label Auslander for their Spring/Summer ad campaign alongside androgynous male model Andrej Pejic. Could this be a step towards tattoo’s being widely accepted as art or even fashion? Or is it just a technique to cause controversy to get campaigns and collections recognised? Either way, it’s working.

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