Fashion has been taking elements of culture and adapting them for the modern day consumers for decades. For example, you no longer need to go to EDC or Coachella to capture the free-spirited essence of a music festival, you can just go buy a flower crown. What about using clothing to mimic something more tangible, like tattoos? We've seen fashion designers pull inspiration from tattoo culture before, just look at how the brand Ed Hardy was able to sell the tattoos of Don Ed Hardy to the everyday man through clothing and accessories. And how can we forget the "hair tattoos" that Kylie Jenner endorsed, a product that gives the illusion of a metallic tattoo that can be temporarily stuck on to the wearer at their conveyance. Tattoos have become a fashion statement whether we like it or not and Cate Blanchett and her dress by French designer Yacine Aouadi are just the latest example of tattoo culture being appropriated by the fashion industry.
Cate Blanchett emerged onto the red carpet for the New York premiere of her movie Carol in a dress that gave the illusion that she had two sleeves of tattoos and a chest piece through the use of embroidered sheer fabric. Blanchett got mixed reviews on her dress, with E Network's fashion piece calling it "tacky"and the New York Post chiming in, "The surprisingly elegant ensemble came with a sheer tulle neckline and sleeves embroidered with illusionary ink: flowers, butterflies and the solid black arm bands exclusive to people who work in gyms."Vogue praised the French designer for his innovative creation. Aouadi stated in an interview with Vogue that the "tattoos" he created were inspired by his own tattoos. He states that like the dress he custom designed for Blanchett with help of his tattoo artist. Aouiadi states that he created these "tattoos" to symbolize luxury, because it is a luxury to have a unique design that you get to wear forever. It seems a bit ironic that Aouadi would say that he likes the fact that everyone's tattoos are uniquely original, yet by creating a fashion line inspired by them he is in fact marketing tattoos in a way that goes against tattoos being unique to the person. Although Aouadi states that he works one on one with his clients to give them "custom tattoos," he is still missing the point of tattoo originality. There is so much more that goes into a tattoo being original than the design, it is original because it is on your body forever and not "tattooed" onto a piece of fabric that you can take off at the end of the day. But Aouadi was far from the only designer this season who marketed the tattoo lifestyle in their couture. For their Spring 2016 collection, twins Dean and Dan Caten of DSQUARED2 took inspiration from Japanese body suit tattoos with spandex tattoo suits that look like the fake tattoo sleeves they sell in Halloween stores. Would it really have been hard to find tattooed models, who would have probably done an even better job at showing how badass being heavily tattooed can be? Probably not.
An issue that arises when you take an element of culture and try to make a fashion trend out of it is that it inherently looses a lot of the intended cool factor. Looking back on celebrities wearing Ed Hardy trucker hats, you inherently cringe a little bit because now the whole thing seems pretty tacky although at the time people though it was edgy and cool. A shirt with a tattoo design on it will never be as badass as the actual tattoo because eliminating the elements of a tattoo makes the design less badass. Tattoos are more than just the pretty pictures that we see on Instagram, they require hours of needles on skin and the design is on the wearer for the rest of their lives. So no, Aouadi, we at Inked are not impressed with your "tattoos" because they quite obviously are not tattoos.