Having just run the gauntlet of fake designer goods that is Canal Street in New York City, I was struck at how the skull motif on scarves has really held on as a fashion item. Since it was over ten years ago that Alexander McQueen released his wildly popular skull scarves, I just sort of thought that whole thing was over.
Not only can you still get your skull fix in Chinatown, you can also still buy them in McQueen boutiques. The ones above were at Saks Fifth Avenue, and were priced at $295. They were made of silk and were, motif aside, quite nice.
The fakes (top photo) were made of a rayon-type fabric and were priced at under $20. It occurred to me that the potential buyer of the $20 scarf might not even realize that the item is a rip-off of the McQueen scarf. The buyer might want the cheap scarf merely because he or she thinks skulls are “cool.”
How did a symbol that was once reserved for gravestones and poison bottles become so commonplace that it now decorates everything from expensive designer clothing to inexpensive trinkets at the dollar store? How did a motif that was once so edgy that only goth kids would wear it become as common as the bird or flower?
I don’t have the answers, but the longevity of the skull motif puzzles me. I don’t understand how something can remain cool after the over-exposure the skull has received. It isn’t scary any longer, and it certainly isn’t edgy.
I know I’m always going on about fakes and the theft of design, but this really does not bother me. It’s not like McQueen invented the skull motif, no more than he was the first to put it on clothes. I’m guessing that honor went to a maker of punk rock tee shirts.
I’ll leave you with one last skull image. This sneaker collage is on the wall of a Converse sneaker store in New York. The former ultimate symbol of death is now a marketing tool. Welcome to the 21st century.