Ready To Wear: There are tattoos – and then there are fashion tattoos

 

Are tattoos ubiquitous to the point where they are no longer desirable? That is the question.

It's certainly not one that Marc Jacobs is losing any sleep over and given that he is probably the most fashionable man in the world – ever – it's safe to assume that this one will run and run.

Still, there are tattoos and tattoos. Mr Jacobs' own – SpongeBob SquarePants on one arm, the Simpsons character of himself on another, stars and, brilliantly, a sofa on his belly and Carol Anne Freeling (from Poltergeist) slap bang in the middle of his back – are executed by one Scott Campbell who not only designs Jacobs' body ink but has also, for spring/summer 2011, been enlisted at Louis Vuitton menswear to tattoo monogrammed scarves and bags with suitably elaborate designs inspired by Chinese astrology. Perfect for those who prefer to wear their art on their sleeve, then, if not their skin. Or why not do both?

Three months after these were first shown, at the women's spring/summer collections, tattoo prints once again loomed large. They've long been a fascination – some of Jean-Paul Gaultier's most lovely prints were inspired by body art as so too were at least a few early John Galliano designs and, later, his work at Dior. Now, Marios Schwab's current collection is given a less than demure edge with rose and pentangle tattoo-printed bodysuits worn under fragile slip dresses. At Christopher Kane, tattoos favoured by Japanese gangsters (yakuza) are given a suitably twisted (in this case, ladylike) makeover, gracing twin-sets, Princess Margaret-style. No pearls required.

Tattoos are unlikely ever to top the most wanted list chez Windsor. They are, though, a time-honoured staple of the rock/pop aesthetic as looked at by everyone from Miuccia Prada to Richard Nicoll this season. It's small wonder that tattoos made it on to models' clothes this time around, and not just their skin. The faint-hearted might think of tattoo prints as making quite a style statement, then – only with none of the mess.

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