So, I wouldn’t class myself as a ‘follower of fashion’ (whatever that means) – generally I find that ‘bright’ and ‘quirky’ are tags I get most about my wardrobe – much more high-tops than high heels and rarely out without a flower in my hair.
But I do like tattoos and I’ve had my face pierced twice (not including my ears!) So when I saw that the Horniman Museum in Dulwich, South East London, had a temporary exhibition called The Body Adorned (part of London fashion week) I thought I’d pop along…
I really enjoyed the exhibition and came out thinking much more about how and why we chose to wear what we wear.
Looking at London, the exhibit looks at modern street styles to show how the city’s population uses fashion to establish their place in society. (Who knew fashion was so psychological) It was a multi media exhibition using film, photography and clothes as exhibits and was curated by young people to show how fashion reflects personality.
It also showed how historically- the exploration of the globe and the movement of people, objects and ideas have all helped to shape fashion, for example tattooists, nail bars and piercing shops are all a visible, everyday part our cityscape but originated overseas.
Now logically, I know that tattooing has come from pacific islands and other cultures – in fact, one of my tattoos was done using bamboo in Thailand (to fulfill the cliché I was also quite intoxicated, sssh don’t tell my mother) but seeing centuries old tattooing equipment brought home to me how much our culture is made up of borrowed ideas which we incorporate into our own.
The exhibition also featured a film installation by The Light Surgeons looking at the judgments people make on clothing and appearance, and a photography exhibit which had asked ‘is there a London look?’ Each photo was so different that it made me appreciate the diversity of the population. There is no single ‘London look’ and that is the brilliance of living here.
I feel so fortunate that I am not confined to dress myself according to my sex, cultural or religious customs. I love my tattoo’s – which I also feel are an expression of myself. And despite my Mum crying every time – I have total freedom to look exactly how I want to look. I could walk down the street in a crocodile onesie or shave my head and rock a ballet tutu if I wanted.
I am not making a huge political statement about other cultures and dress, only that grateful that I’m not made to conform to anything… now where did I put that onesie?
Ladies and gentlemen – be thankful for your freedom of expression.