“Don’t get one, you’ll regret it!“, have angrily muttered most mothers, at some point of their lifetime. As we step into 2015, could it be time to reconsider the tattoo’s status in the contemporary milieu of fashion?
Tattoos have been around for centuries, with the earliest record found on Ötzi, a Copper Age Iceman who lived around 3,300 BCE. Around the world, tattoo designs have always been heavily dependent on cultures and contextual subcultures. Most history, however, will show you that this art has always somewhat provided a means for identification. Whether it’s to show one’s affiliation to a criminal gang or to preserve a souvenir from a distant land the way sailors used to, humans have consistently been using bodies as a form of passport. In a globalised world where branding has become a way of communicating, the need for assertion is more relevant than ever: this is me, this is who I am.
The ever-growing number of inked celebrities, be they players in the music, fashion or film industry, has effectively helped tattoo art to become more socially accepted. There is a visible increase of runway models, such as Cara Delevingne or Freja Beha Erichsen, adorning subtle tattoos; but within the culture of aesthetics that is fashion, the debate seems to be very much based on opinions. The ex-Louis Vuitton creative director Marc Jacobs, pictured above, is an excellent example of a pro-tattoo ethos: with designs ranging from Spongebob Squarepants to Elizabeth Taylor wearing 3D glasses, Jacobs sees these drawings as a diary of spontaneous thoughts. He has even dared to apply the art of temporary tattooing during some of his shows in the past (namely the LV spring ’11 menswear).
The man’s eccentricity and thought-process isn’t an industry standard though: some tattoos may not be in line with the art-direction of a campaign and designers are naturally in their right to deny tattooed models. With new tattoo-covering techniques (such as Rick Genest’s infamous advert for Dermablend’s product), the return to a stage of blank canvas is nevertheless now entirely possible.
Due to the permanent nature of tattooing – both across history and under one’s skin – all we can hope is that the remaining taboos regarding ink will one day come to disappear completely, leaving tattoo art to become just another acceptable way to express oneself freely.