Skull as fashion icon

Yesterday's New York Times featured a Fashion & Style article about the mainstreaming of skulls, once an icon of the counterculture, pirates, a Catholic/Aztec holiday, and, er, paleontologists. I've always been delighted by skulls and I appreciate the fact that you can now find even more beautifully-designed items emblazoned with them. (Seen here, a Lucien Pella-Finet/Jacob Arabo watch with a pavé diamond face.) From the article:

 Images 2006 07 26 Fashion 27Skull.2.190
If it was not clear a year or two ago, when the skull motif cropped up on battered Herman-Melville-meets-Edgar-Allan-Poe T-shirts made by Rogues Gallery, on costly cashmere sweaters by Lucien Pellat-Finet, on the perforated uppers of the wingtips made by the men's wear line Barker Black, it is now. What only recently seemed clever and stylish – I'm wearing a skull! I'm baaaaad! – has shifted into overdrive, if not overkill.

Beyond the sea of skull wear – belts, T-shirts, ties – there are umbrellas, sneakers, swimsuits, packing tape, party lights, even a skull-branded line of hand tools. One company has made a skull toilet brush and caddy (with a molded-plastic femur bone for a handle). This summer Damien Hirst announced that he will make a life-size skull, cast in platinum and adorned with 8,000 diamonds.

If it seems harmless, well, there you have it. With the full force of the American consumer marketing establishment behind it, the skull has lost virtually all of its fearsome outsider meaning. It has become the Happy Face of the 2000's. When the mid-1980's proto-Goth group the Ministry sang "Every Day Is Halloween," this was not quite what they had in mind.