Tastemaker. It's a role that sounds as enigmatic and unattainable as a shaman or Willy Wonka to most people, but can inevitably be found in every walk of life and time period. It takes a special sort of vision, or maybe it’s closer to divination, to encapsulate a distinct style, attitude or perspective that eventually represents the particular zeitgeist of a time, place or even generation. But it all starts with one person.
In 1903, German sociologist Georg Simmel wrote an essay, entitled “The Metropolis and Mental Health,” about the difficulties in asserting individual personality and expression within the dimensions of metropolitan life. One solution, according to Simmel, was to adopt certain mannerisms (of dress, speech and general interests), “tendentious peculiarities” and other creative extravagances to bolster self worth and eventually carve a distinct space within the rapidly urban areas of Berlin, rather than be leveled out by the juggernaut of urban life. The drive of these pioneering individuals influenced other burgeoning creative individuals and subsequent subcultures.