1990’s revival: Tribal tattoos make a comeback on Dior catwalk

It is quite likely that Kris Van Assche, artistic director at Dior, is actually Doctor Who, as he took us back to a plethora of decades in the Dior Homme A/W 18 show. Okay, okay… I am overexaggerating, but Van Assche treated us to some serious nostalgia. Not only did he go back to the archives and bring back the infamous aesthetic of Christian Dior’s 1947 New Look but he drew inspiration from his own memories. Whilst the classic bar suit, with its tiny waist, was a prominent feature of the collection the artistic director sprinkled in references to the 80s and 90s. He said, of the collection, “It’s looking back with a lot of love and sweet memories to when I myself was a teenager”.




The Dior Menswear A/W 18 show was sprinkled with references to the 1980’s including the tribal tattoo, shown here

The soundtrack to the show was full of 80’s hits from the likes of Technotronic and Aha! reflecting Vab Assche’s love of that decade (something he has in common with my mum). However, it was 90’s references that were littered amongst Dior’s original classic look with striped knitwear, baggy jeans and trainers all making an appearance. One look that managed to find itself back in the limelight was tribal tattoos. Back in the 90’s they were spotted on everyone from George Clooney, in the 1996 film Dusk Till Dawn, to Angelina Jolie, who got herself some tribal designs in 1997. If you can’t remember these (I can’t, seeing as I wasn’t even a twinkle in my father’s eye at this point…) then take a look at Mike Tyson’s tribal facial tattoo. Yep…no missing that one is there!?


Mike Tyson sports a tribal design tattoo on the side of his face.

Whilst the tribal tattoo should probably go back to the 90’s (and stay there) after it’s enjoyed its holiday to the modern day, Van Assche couldn’t have really picked a better time to feature tattoos in his collection. Statistics show that one in five of the population has a tattoo and one in three young adults are sporting an inking. This raises the question of how tattoos made their way from being associated with criminals and the lower classes to being seen on such a vast amount of the population.

Unfortunately, for the humble tattoo, it doesn’t technically have a birthday. But there’s no need to get emotional because it does have a very rich history (I’m talking richer than I feel when my student loan comes in). The first ‘tattoos’ were actually found when the world’s oldest mummy died and loads of vertical and horizontal lines were found all over its body but it wasn’t really until the 1990’s that everybody started jumping on the tattoo bandwagon. In the (immensely huge) gap between these two dates, James Cook visited the south pacific and bought tattoos to western culture, Samuel O’Reilly created the first tattoo gun and sailors got inked with symbolic tattoos to represent where they had travelled.

But that’s enough looking into the past. What you really want to know is what the tattoo trends are today.


Now this is slightly awkward because this first tattoo trend is very much a blast from the past. Old School tattoos, such as the ones sported by sailors in the early 1900’s. For this trend, you want to think of themes such as patriotic, pin up girls and ships with anchors, which Norman Collins, perhaps better known as Sailor Jerry, was inking on sailors back in WW2.


The Old School tattoo design as seen in this design by Lauren Spoors

If this isn’t your kind of thing then perhaps go for the Trash Polka trend which is essentially a crazy ensemble of images and fonts that looks like it’s been photoshopped.


The trash polka dot trend combines random images and text such as in this design by Christian Marek


Stick and poke tattoos sound like the scariest thing on earth but fear not. This is a new sophisticated take on the teenage tattoos carried out at parties using safety pins (ouch.. no thank you) where a  needle is used instead of a machine.


The hand poked tattoo design


White tattoos are also a big trend right now. If you want to check this out take a look at Cara Delevigne who is sporting a number of white tattoos including a white dove on her finger five white dots and the words ‘Breathe Deep’. Kendall Jenner is also an ambassador of this trend matching tattoo of a single white dot on her middle finger, which matches with her two friends. If you want to follow in these models footsteps take note as white tattoos can easily lose colour or change colour leaving you with a lovely yellow or brown tattoo instead.


Kendall Jenner got a single white dot as a friendship tattoo

Minimalist tattoos such as getting a dot, a line or letter in black are also on trend. Lea Michele has two minimalistic inking’s, which are both tributes of those she has lost; one a in tribute to her grandma and one to co-star Cory Monteith. Louis Tomlinson also had the letter E etched on his hand to recognise his girlfriend whilst Sophia Ritchie opted for a tiny cross tattoo on her finger.



Lea Michele chose minimalistic designs to honour her late mother and co-star


Louis Tomlinson sporting the minimalistic ink he had tattooed for his girlfriend whilst Sophia Ritchie wears the tiny cross on her finger

Probably the main celeb proponent of this trend is Cara Delevigne as she has several animal inspired inking’s. Her first tattoo was a lion on her finger and since then she’s also sported a serpent, wasp and most recently an elephant on her arm. Also, cause I’m an absolute mega fan, I’m also going to have to mention Ed Sheeran’s massive lion tattoo. Yeah man! You work it!



Who could forget Ed Sheeran’s massive lion tattoo


One really cool invention is ‘regret free ink’ which has been developed by scientists at some top American universities. Shows such as ‘Tattoo fixers’ and the fact that celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Kaley Cuoco have had to cover or remove their tattoos is clear evidence that we can end up with something we really don’t want permanently drawn on our bodies. This new ink magically encases dye in microscopic capsules to as Cuoco herself said easily ‘right [your] wrongs]’ If only there was a creation that could erase all our regrets this easily.


Shows like Tattoo Fixers show how tattoos can go disastrously wrong

Going even more technical is the invention of tattoos that can monitor and collect information about your health and fitness. As well as this Nokia are working on tattoos that use special ink which vibrate when someone calls you… umm, great.. sounds… interesting?

Do any of these tattoos tempt you? Are you up for a terrifying tiger or is a minimalistic miniature tattoo more your scene? Maybe you want to dedicate your arm to the 1990’s and get yourself a tribal sleeve. Whatever tickles your fancy remember that, despite new inventions such as ‘regret free ink’ and tattoo artist’s ability to cover bad inking’s up’ it’s much better to get a tattoo you like in the first place. Now I’m off to get ‘I love Ed Sheeran’ tattooed on my forehead.. don’t think I could ever possibly regret that…

Text: Chaz Pond

Images: Yannis Vlamos, Sailor Jerry, Christian Marek, Ruffenough, Doctor Woo Tattoo, Cara Delavigne, Sophia Ritchie, Lea Michele, Louist91, John Boy Tattoo, Ed Sheeran, The Today News, Bang Bang Images

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2018 Irina Gorskaia

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