Becoming ‘Vulgar’

“The Vulgar Exposes the Scandal of Good Taste” — Adam Phillips

The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined @ The Barbican, 2016

I’ve always been attracted to bold things. Whether they be musical, fashion-related, personalities or theories. It has an almost ‘magpie’ effect over me and I’m instantly drawn to them.

My favourite artists are those who break ideological chains. The best fashion designers IMO are outlandish. Even tacky little kitsch motifs and trinkets catch my eye purely because of how vulgar they are.

And that’s just it. I love vulgar things. Not vulgarity in its most literal sense that it would cause real harm to someone else. But vulgar in the sense that it might make your nan shudder. It’s not strictly PC, but equally, it’s not being grossly offensive or brutal.

I recently realised that there was this pattern to my interests. And it made me question why they affected me in this way.

Is it because I enjoy a pastiche? Is it simply easier to like things just because they’re distinctive? Because it’s eye-catching and arrests my attentions?

Yes…and no. It’s mainly because it’s the thing I’m missing in my own life and it’s something I want to possess.

The extreme clarity of perplexity. The kind of thought that is so often abandoned by others because they don’t immediately understand it.

Take abstract expressionism for example. You might dismiss it as art that a 5 year old could do because, from a superficial perspective, it really is just a load of shapes, drips and splodges on a canvas. But it’s when you start to question ‘why’ that the art really comes to life. There’s a level of complexity within it that becomes so clear when you actually start looking.

And vulgarity is much like that. You might not initially understand why someone would wear metallic purple hot pants in December, and it might cause you to point and laugh. That’s the nature of vulgarity. It assaults your superficial receptors and incites a type of reaction that is so instinctive, it almost feels cathartic to release.

But start to ask ‘why’, and you unearth another kind of human truth.

It makes us feel uncomfortable because it’s uncontrollable. Non-conforming.

It’s seductive and maybe a bit crude. Erotic and twisted but morbidly fascinating. It embraces sensuality.

It breaks out of the cage that society has penned us all into.

It’s the riot that’s been waiting to happen.

And so I’ve resolved to do something about it and try to unearth for others what makes these things so delightful to behold. I’m starting my own business. (It was actually quite hard to write that sentence).

And, as a big believer in practicing what you preach, I first need to embody what I’m trying to achieve. I need to become Vulgar.

So this is a written contract to myself that from today I’m going to make steps towards this mentality. Not caring what other people think. Not holding back thoughts that might be slightly left field. Not saying ‘sorry’ at the beginning of every sentence. Not constantly trying to be ‘accepted’.

I’m going to dare to bare my true self and stand apart from the masses.

I’m going to be Vulgar.