Tattoos have always provoked opinion. The Egyptians embraced them artistically, while Samoans became defined by the marks that identified their very being. In 19th Century London, they were widely speculated as 'the prevalence of the custom among soldiers, sailors, criminals and prostitutes.' Ironically the French opposed this theory, due to a regulation which saw the removal of tattoos from within all army and navy ranks. Perhaps the implication as to why tattoos continue to persist today, is quite simply because they are permanent.
This was certainly evident from the 1970's, where interest began to grow around the old sailor staple. Previously favoured by former seadogs for their ability to convey nautical ideologies, the once evocative sparrows, stars and pin-up girls had become nothing more than a declaration of one's individuality.
The 80s soon followed with the unveiling of John Richmond's 'Destroy' collection. Tattoo illustrated sleeves teamed with biker tops and jackets encouraged many to appear rebellious, whilst any permeant threats were avoided. Richmond's snake, heart and skull designs paved the way for many of the rock'n'roll bandits that went on to represent this decade.
Gaultier additionally payed homage when he featured marked models within his 1994 spring/summer show. Amongst a delightful cocktail of previously mentioned styles mixed with other unique designs, Celtic patterns became evident. They would later go on to symbolise the defiant young women who exploited this era of self-expression.
In keeping with this need to project one's individuality, Rick 'zombie boy' Genest provoked opinion when he exploited the limitations of this trend. With 'eery postmortem' tattoos that enwrap his body, Genest was every inch the walking corpse and he traipse down Nicola Formichetti's first show at Mugler. When questioned about his choice of model, Formichetti simply replied, 'It's all about different characters and collaborations.'
In more recent years admiration has been demonstrated in many different forms. From Sang Bleu magazine to the temporary designs launched by Karl Lagerfeld. With dedications like this and in an age where Ford Focus has it's own line of 'wrap tattoos,' maybe it's time for the rest of us to consider revelling in the rebellion.