Dreams Fly on the Wings of (Temporary) Tattoos

I’ve always loved tattoos, because I think they can be amazing works of art. Unfortunately, many people get (most of the time, horrible) ink-works just because they want to follow the herd, not because they are really aware of what permanent tattoos mean. In any case, tattoos are becoming more and more mainstream, and you can say it from the several tattoed models who walk the runway. In the Nineties, only the gorgeous Eleonora Bosè, Carre Otis and Jenny Shimizu, plus a few others, didn’t hide their tattoos while strutting the catwalk or posing in front of the camera; nowadays, not only models show the drawings on their skin, but designers have jumped the bandwagon, decorating the bodies of their models with temporary tattoos or body paint.

Chanel spring/summer 2010 collection was all about rolls in the hay, country life and seduction, themes seen through the ever glamourous lens of the Parisian maison. Karl Lagerfeld decided to add a touch of exoticism to some of his models with some wonderful temporary drawings [1] on their legs, neck and cleavage.

Dorothea Barth Jorgensen

Dorothea Barth Jorgensen got several drawings on her: a beaded double C on her biceps and two sparrows holding a pearl thread in their beaks across her neck and cleavage. I think this is a brilliant way to re-work the classic theme of pearls.

Denisa Dvorakova

Denisa Dvorakova got two temporary tattoos on the back of her legs. In this case, the drawings are cherry blossom branches and pearl threads hanging from them. The longest thread ends with a double C. I love the way in which a Japanese-inspired image is connected to a Chanel leitmotiv.

Kasia Struss

Kasia Struss cracked a smile for the cameras, while standing on a stool and getting her decorations done before the fashion show. The make-up artists drew a lovely temporary tattoo on her thigh, just above her knee.


Chains and pearls have always been among the most famous symbols of Chanel, so it’s no wonder Kasia got a chain and pearl tattoo done. It’s strange but this decoration remind me of the cilice, a torture implement used in some religious traditions as a sign of repentance and atonement.


This beautiful shot by Tommy Ton shows a model after the show and her chain and pearl tattoo around her wrist.

Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the genius minds behind Rodarte, made a very different choice for their spring/summer 2010 fashion show. Their style is powerful without being overtly sexy or trashy, and is full of references to gothic, primitivism, futurism and the post-atomic age envisioned by Japanese cartoon artists [2]. When I first saw the pics below, I first thought of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome meeting Maori tattoos.

Mirte Maas

Mirte Maas was seen backstage while getting her decorations done all over the arms. MAC senior artist Chantel Miller designed the motifs, collaborating with the Mulleavys and James Kaliardos (who did the make-up for the show): the result is absolutely amazing, I totally love it. I really like the graphics and the technique which they were made with. Chanel artists used fine-tip brushes or pens, while MAC artists at Rodarte used thick-tip drawing pens, so as to give the temporary drawings a rough and uneven quality.

Dorothea Barth Jorgensen

Dorothea Barth Jorgensen posed for the cameras while a make-up artist was just starting to sketch the decorations on her arm.

Ranya Mordanova and Sasha Pivovarova + Jules Mordovets and Madisyn Ritland

These tribal/futuristic drawings were seen on all the models’ arms and necks, and beautifully completed the gorgeous clothes they wore. Do Ranya Mordanova and Sasha Pivovarova, Jules Mordovets and Madisyn Ritland look like fierce inhabitants of a future Earth, don’t they?

Viktoriya Sasonkina

The make-up somehow echoes the tribal tattooes – see the lips lined with a hue which is darker than the lipstick.

These are just two examples of tattooes in the world of fashion. Speaking of designers, apart from Marc Jacobs (I hate his tattoos), the only one who comes to my mind is the one and only Stefano Pilati. Ok, I’ve got a crush for him since he became creative director of Yves Saint Laurent, and his lovely tattoos are one of the reasons why I think he’s so charming.


This beautiful shot by Olivier Zahm portrays Pilati hugging one of his muses, Chloe Sevingny. One of his tattoos is visible – an American Indian eagle, very similar to the one seen on John Frusciante’s left upper arm.


He also has a simple star on his upper back. I am so in love with this tattoo that I’m planning to have it done.


The latest ink-work seen on him is an amazing arm sleeve tattoo. Unfortunately this pic – shot by Olivier Zahm – is the only one I could find, because it would be very interesting to see the complete drawing. From what I can see, it is inspired to Japanese culture, because of the blue and purple chrysanthemums.


In this black and white shot by Zahm, the floral tattoo peeps from the sleeve of his blouson, sexy!

As for me, I only have one tattoo, but I hope I can add more in the near future – a star just like Pilati’s and one inspired to Audrey Kawasaki‘s works.  I had this done in 2006: at first I wanted to get it on my waist-line, but then I changed my mind and opted for the left inner leg. The quotation is taken from Frank Herbert’s Dune (1965):  it is a line from Bene Gesserit litany against fear [3].


It took me several years before deciding to have a tattoo done, because I wanted to have something really meaningful on me. One of my favourite science-fictions novels came to the rescue.

What about you? Do you have tattoos or do you plan to get one?

[1] I’m updating the post with this note to let you know that Chanel has released Les Trompe L’œil de Chanel, a set of 55 temporary tattoos inspired to those seen on the runway. Each set will cost 75 dollars, but expect them to sell out everywhere in a blink of an eye.

[2] I’m sure they got their inspiration for the fall/winter 2008 collection from Katsuhiro Otomo’s masterpiece, Akira.

[3] The complete litany is: “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain”.

Source, source, source and source.




  1. This is a very exciting subject! I also love tattoos and, like you, I don’t like many I see around as they are just of bad taste or badly executed.

    I have one tattoo (a tribal on the lower part of my back) but I want to expand it, or have a new one. I was thinking of a LOTUS, as it is very meaningful to me as a yogini. Plus, being a flower it is also decorative.

    I love Audrey Kawasaki’s work! Thanks for posting it. I am sure it will inspire my lotus!

    The back of the neck is a very strategic spot – both fashion and chakra-wise. ; )

    Check my blog in the next days. I have a post about tattoos in draft… Will post it soon.

    1. I will surely check your entry about tattoos 🙂

      I like the idea of the lotus, because it’s a symbolic and beautiful flower. If I were you, I’d get another tattoo, because it’s not easy to expand or to cover an old tattoo up.

      Audrey Kawasaki is an amazing artist!!! I love this painting (Hitokiri Jyouzu) so much, it could really become one of my future tattoos!

  2. I agree with you on the fact that nowadays having a tattoo seems the most mundane thing ever- sadly, because I think a tattoo should still be a statement made thoughtfully rather just embracing a fashion trend like liquid leggins and so on (ok I’m a bit cynical).
    Having said that, I have a star on my left wrist (only traced, not filled), which I had done four years ago, on November 5th 2005 if I rememeber correctly!!! It’s quite discreet because I wanted it to be a reminder to myself (following a big ‘philosophical’ reflection that I won’t bore you with) rather than something to show to others- most people don’t notice or think I drew it myself! It might be time for me to retrace it!
    I am also planning another tattoo but I am not really sure if it will ever get done- it is a sentence and even if it means a lot to me I’m a but wary of words- after all they’ll have to stay with me for my whole life!!
    And also, I have always liked the fleur de lys as a symbol, and floral tats in general, but I think I’ll leave that one for someone else (at least for the time being)

    1. You’re not cynical because you’re just telling the truth. I wonder what will happen when the tattoo trend finishes. What will all the people with ugly tattoos do??? Will they get them erased???

      I like the idea of the traced tattoo, quite peculiar!

  3. I’m in love with the chrysanthemums tattoo of Mr Pilati: I’m actually planning to have one like him, but just in the upper part of the arm. Now I have 3 tattoos: Einstürzende Neubauten logo and a burning heart, both from my lovely “dark years”. On my back a chrysanthemums tattoo in black and gray done here in Japan. It’s quite big but I’m planning to add a couple of flowers, probably next month.

    1. I didn’t know you have three tattoos! I think I’ve seen the Einstürzende Neubauten one in some pics of you, but I’ve never seen the other two. I’d love to see the one you have on the back because I love tattoos inspired to Japanese culture and chrysanthemums.

  4. your leg tat is dope. I have none. I just never know what I want…forever. and am i too old to have a butterfly on my shoulder or something? Likey your blog:)

    1. Well, I don’t think there’s a proper age for getting a tattoo. Of course it depends on the subject and dimensions, but even if I’m 35, I’d love to get some more!

      I’m glad you like it here 🙂

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