Letter: What is good taste?

Trends, style, taste: what do they mean? I’ve been pondering this a lot lately. For how can one thing, or look, be defined as ‘good’ or ‘in’ and another therefore be deemed ‘bad’ or ‘out’? Do magazines and trend forecasters just make them up?* And who has the right to dictate them anyway? However, it’s true that certain things just feel right, in the same way that when you’re house hunting, the perfect new pad feels like home the moment you walk through the front door. And undoubtedly there is an ELLE Decoration ‘je ne sais quoi’ that things (whether we’re talking houses, products or looks) must possess to pass the ‘let’s publish it’ test. In short, the essence of rightness is mysteriously intangible, but definitely present.

We find it’s the same with trends. We scope a year’s worth of trade fairs showcasing new lines and gradually themes emerge. We take our time to distinguish the transient, fun, fashion minutes from the moments that truly capture the mood at large – these inevitably reflecting evolutions of what came before. But still, what makes us right?

Well, I believe that true trends are not born in a vacuum; they are the visual manifestation of cultural conclusions. In other words, what’s going on in the world around us eventually finds physical form as we seek to surround ourselves with things that make sense. Which is also why trends, and therefore tastes, change. And therein lies our answer. We report only on the things that speak to us of now, of heritage or longevity, of authenticity or joy. These are the qualities at the bedrock of a sane society – on this we can all agree. Throw a little curve ball in from time to time, thus genius is born, morality tested and evolution occurs. So while subjectively our tastes may differ, the principles behind change can be said to be universal.


First published as my Editor’s Letter in the September 2012 issue of ELLE Decoration

ELLE Decoration cover September 2012

ELLE Decoration cover September 2012


Categories: Editor's Letters

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