Attending the recent Vogue Festival on London’s Southbank, we caught up with a fascinating debate on what is good taste? The conversation, chaired by Vogue‘s features editor Jo Ellison focussed on the question ‘what is taste and does it matter?’. We were enthralled by the comments of the invited guest panellists, including ceramic artist Grayson Perry [pictured], singer Lily Allen, and clothes designer Jasper Conran. What a line-up of strong characters, in particular Perry. Dressed as his alter ego ‘Claire’, he arrived in full dress, hat and platform shoes regalia – certainly not afraid of shocking or standing out he drew plenty of attention.
Good taste is overrated Perry believes; after all, who wants to look safe? “People are much more likely to say what bad taste is, but when you say something is good taste you’re putting yourself on the line,” he commented. True. Once you’ve put yourself out there with a viewpoint, you risk inviting comment, being knocked down. Taste is about what’s appropriate, stated Lily Allen, who argues she cares little what people think of her but chooses her dresses often for the sake of irony. “Taste is an individual thing, your appreciation of an aesthetic.” And about behaviour, too. How you behave can be in good taste or poor taste just as much as looks. “Good taste is that which does not alienate your peers, that’s the nature of taste,” responded Perry.
Jasper Conran agreed: “It’s about expressing yourself. What’s really interesting is how your own taste changes, and how you can be mugged by newness.”
In the age of the selfie, instant celebrity and access all media, self promotion has arguably taken over from self discovery. We are obsessed with notion of being ourselves, being independent, yet thoroughly swayed by the trends and fashions we see around us, afraid of getting it wrong and so more likely to adopt a ‘uniform’ of conventional clothing. Safe, chic, all in good taste… but anonymous after all. Shame.