The fashion industry isn’t known for having taboos. In fact, it’s accused of the exact opposite and is probably second only ‘the media’ when it comes to receiving the blame for anything that goes wrong in society. What follows offers up little fashion, but highlights that words serve as taboos in fashion where
The last time slogan t-shirts truly caught our eye was 2007, the year of Fashionising.com’s launch. The designer was House of Holland and we sniggered, chortled and (admittedly) coveted notions of Wham Bam Thank You Stam and Give Us A Blow Daisy Lowe. These were slogans that were brash, but they were also genius. Henry Holland caught our attention with a mixture of limerick and celebrity by association. Married to the Mob’s spring 2012 collection caught our attention for two reasons. The first: that it made the House of Holland slogans seem positively tame. The second: because it’s trying too hard.
So the word that probably caught your eye in the photo above (even if it’s obscured) is itself an old one, some 800 years old in fact. But for 600 of those 800 years it’s been an near-on unmentionable one, used in low dulcet tones or in rage. Prior to that it was used on maps to help denote where one might find a lady of the night. When it is referred to (but not used) in the modern world, the expletive is replaced with “dropped the c-bomb” or, textually, c**t. The word is taboo. For most people, fuck has become a word woven into sentences with increasing liberalism, but with the c-bomb (I daren’t use it) we still have issue. C**t is the vocable equivalent of using a Ouija board while uttering “Bloody Mary” 14 times – something of a no no.
Which is probably why Married to the Mob have opted to use it. It’s there for the shock factor. It’s there to help Married to the Mob get their name around. And it’ll do that, but not all publicity is good publicity. Particularly when it feels so contrived. Sure, “Want Me, Hold Me, Fuck Me, Hate Me” is likely to raise the ire of parents’ groups everywhere, but a t-shirt whose only point of differentiation between it and a plain tee from American Apparel is the fact that it has “C**t, C**t, C**t” emblazoned across the front of it is only likely to get someone arrested (t-shirts with swear words on them can be deemed be a criminal offence in certain US states and across Britain). And that’s part of the point. In a world where it’s suggested “anything goes” society’s (and fashion’s) fringes reach for the last shock factors. The c-word is one of them.
It’s obviously not to our tastes. When we want the cheeky-come-rude factor we’d rather turn our attention to Locher’s. Like style itself, Locher’s approach the subject with subtlety. But when a nose is turned up at something because it’s “rude” all we’re doing is replicating our forebears. The same forebears who said that Elvis was lewd and the Beatles the work of Satan. Which might mean that the c**t is on a journey back 800 years to a point where it’ll once again be acceptable. Until then, though, we’ll continue to self-censor and to throw horrified looks at anyone who opts to wear Married to the Mob’s t-shirt emblazoned with the word.