Way before Halloween and the ghoulish decorations took over the shops I’d noticed how ubiquitous skulls have become. Once the preserve of Goths, bikers and cults, skulls are now so mainstream that M&S and BabyGap have children’s clothing and shoes covered in them. It seems we just can’t get enough of skulls. Browsing the High Street, you’ll find a plethora of skull plastered products. I’ve seen everything from duvet covers to chocolate to telephones and umbrellas and undies.
Humans have been fascinated by skulls since time immemorial and skulls feature in the iconography of nearly all cultures.
In 2007, there was much controversy surrounding Damien Hirst’s ‘For The Love of God‘ which used an 18th century human skull cast in platinum and encrusted in 8,601 flawless diamonds. George Michael was interested in buying the £50m artwork apparently, which explains that belt he wore at the Olympics!
In Elizabethan England, bounders and prostitutes wore skull rings to advertise their services. The rings could be turned inwards to hide their dodgy dealings when in polite company.
So what specifically has made them so popular and innocuous of late? Pirates of the Caribbean? The High Street has been extremely enthusiastic
copycatty in paying homage to Alexander McQueen and his trademark skull-print scarf. I wonder if he would approve of his motif being so widely appropriated or if his skeleton is turning in the grave. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all and he was inspired by somebody else’s use of skulls I’m sure.
Here is just a teeny selection of the skulls I’ve spotted of late. The most expensive item is £9,500 (a bargain compared to the Hirst) and the cheapest 49p. See if you can pick out the original McQueen items.
Is the skull obsession just a London thing or are they also taking over where you are?