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12th March 2013

Attack of the Tack

Tack is the marmite of the fashion world, yet is becoming ever more prevalent. Joanna Dryden discusses our love/hate relationship

Tacky, trashy, kitsch, gaudy: call it whatever you want but there is not one of us who doesn’t have some kind of opinion on it. We have an ambivalent relationship with this phenomenon and over the past decade it is without a doubt a trend which has become firmly cemented within the fashion world. Gone are the times when we were clucking at such figures as Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie’s trailer trash/car crash style during their ‘The Simple Life’ phase, instead the majority of us are now, most likely unknowingly, embracing and normalising trash. 

With our fascination with bling abundant, shows like ‘Big Fat Gypsy Weddings’ reveal our hidden desire to embrace our inner trash-chic and we only need to look at trends over the past year to see how we no longer even regard many typically ‘trashy’ trends as such. Studded batty riders (you know, the ones where butt cheeks protrude), rainbow ombre hair, Jeffrey Campbell shoes, crazy phone cases/embellishment, and the revival of nail art- the list goes on. But what is it about tacky fashion that we just can’t get enough of? Take Jeffrey Campbell’s Litas for example.

These dramatic 5-inch platforms quickly became the ‘it shoe’ and it is exactly their theatre and outrageousness that we adore. To truly embrace fashion is to treat it like a game of dress up and this is what these trends allow us to do. Celebrities such as Rihanna aren’t labelled as tacky, instead they’re heralded the epitome of fashion and even given the opportunity to create their own fashion label.

The joy of fashion is that we can interpret it however we wish, whether this is the timeless chic of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany’s or P’Trique’s gaudy drag queen flair. With stars like P’Trique and Nicki Minaj becoming regulars on the front row at fashion week shows, it is time to rethink our view on tack. These characters may look a bit outlandish, but they are kooky and having fun with fashion. As the late highly-esteemed fashion editor and columnist Diana Vreeland once said, ‘never fear being vulgar, just boring’. Classy may be the safe, ’normal’ option, but trashy is fun, it’s classy’s naughty, tequila-shotting, blinged to the max, wild-child younger sister. We all have a bit of trash inside of us, so stop repressing it and embellish your life with diamanté and leopard print and lace those feet into a pair of Litas, because trash is here to stay and it’s the new normal.

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