It only is but a natural human instinct to yearn forever for such things that elude us. From the Biblical lores of Adam and Eve that featured a certain Forbidden Fruit to manifestations in everyday life and happenings, there always has resided a charm in the seeking. Whether it is the lure of some promise dwelling in the horizon or a mere fancying of the senses, nobody knows. And it is perhaps in the mystery of the unknown that this eternal search will live a glorious life till the time we exist as humans on the face of the earth.
What is somewhat ironic however in such quest for ‘the better life’ is that very often it involves a reverting to such doctrines or dictums from which we have visibly ‘advanced’ and evolved through history. And one particular fad that has been currently doing the round around the world is a phenomenon that has come to be known as Cottagecore.
In its very name, cottagecore gives away what it likely is. It is an exploration of the way of life that would perhaps be most likely to characterise someone who resides in a cottage. And it is exactly this basis that makes cottagecore the dreamy aesthetic rendition that it is. To believe that this brush with the romantic sounding, quaint phenomenon is your first encounter with what is essentially a visual and lifestyle movement would not be too appropriate. For, cottagecore has been existing silently for at least a couple of years now, proliferating your life through such mediums and expressions that ironically stands at the opposite spectrum of what it chooses to perpetuate.
Specifically in context to 2020 however, the cottagecore terminology is yet another flamboyant addition to our lexicon, that has been quite the year for sophisticated spellings and vibrant verbosity. While cottagecore is not the newest of waves to be the in thing currently, it indeed is the decadal teaching- read experience, of quarantining that has perhaps lent this movement greater credibility outside of its aesthetics. And once again it is the play of something elusive that returns to stick to our human pursuits with a trend that harbours infinite fetish for one particular world that has been taboo to the world all this year- the free charm of the pastoral outdoors.
Envision a countryside where the streams flow sparkly clear, where every whiff of air brings to you the sweet fragrance of the blooming jasmines and the blossoming pansies, where your dwelling is a cosy brown hamlet of wood set pretty laidback in a vibrant open meadow. Add on to these equally charming elements and relaxing experiences like baking a home made bread at leisure, the rise of the bread filling the air with its aroma and giving you a sense of contentment not easily decipherable. Throw in also other old world ruminations of knitting and embroidery or farming and gardening or other such pleasurable whiling away of time, be it basking in the soft rays of the sun, reading outdoors, playfully chasing birds and animals- or frogs, that form so much essential a component in cottagecore. In its vivid imagery that while is spartan is somewhat redolent of the carefree existence of simpler times in the past when life was indeed beautifully in sync with the world, cottagecore indeed comes across a plethora of the most heartwarming visuals. Catering therefore to the weary souls of the modern times trapped in the web of the digital life, cottagecore is feeding the fancies of millions of such wanderlust profiles on social media through platforms like Instagram and Pinterest and Tumblr- that reside as much in the essence of the aesthetics to get the thousands of likes and loves that are all what matters.
But inspite of propagating a return to the minimalist way of life as was the norm in times gone by or even in rural, countryside settings of the present times, cottagecore still dwells mainly on the aesthetics to deliver what it intends to. It is essentially in the picturesque allure of the outdoorsy that this trend that seemingly so celebrates the pastoral life is rooted in. It is about all things pretty and sunny and vivid, yet in mellow touches so that the beauty reinstates itself in a certain softness. Hardly would you come across such instances of the cottagecore show that resides in a lot of perky, zesty feels. It’s mostly about peaches and pastels and scarcely about fiery passion and enthusiasm. And therein lies perhaps what shapes cottagecore as its core value- the nursing of the soul, even if it means selectively assuaging such cravings emerging from the heart that caters only to the aesthetic essence of it.
In its aesthetic basis therefore, cottagecore has also faced criticism for overlooking the other side of the dynamics of a rustic life or even in painting too rosy a picture of it. With idyllic pastures and a view of the greens and the blues besotted in a bevy of beauties, the trend significantly touches upon the other nature of life. Whether that be physical elements like the dirt and dust, bugs and crawlies commonly occurring in the countryside or more pivotal realisations that relate to unduly romanticising such pursuits as arduous as farming, cottagecore has had its share of backlash. And believe it or not, even as a trend that is a basically a way to an alternative lifestyle, cottagecore also suppossedly pursues political values according to some interpretations that which relate mostly to an apparent disapproval of capitalism in choosing to return to a world dictated not by money but rather by simplistic pleasures.
View it however as an escape from the vices of a cramped modernity and cottagecore can truly appease the senses with its luxurious flirtation with nature. The very mention of cottagecore conjures up clippings of cosy conveniences, radiant in a soft charm, often old school, often traditionalist but comforting nonetheless. It is no less than any fairy tale replete with pixies and goblins, with the twinkles and the stars, and of course the shy charm of fantasy. In its idealistic trance, it is very evident that cottagecore does not even come close to being an alternate reality. It is a world misfit for practicality but perfectly endearing in the rosy frames of the gram with a ton of exquisite filters further wanding its magic. It’s like music for the soul, one you know well enough to hum but not as well enough to sing along to. In its splendor, cotagecore is but a shared aspiration of life but never in totality. You can wade in its cool waters, feel its crisp breeze in your face and even bask in its surreality. But there’s perhaps no way you can translate this existence for the digital world to something that can spell life in reality. It’s an existence in contivity- connecting the virtual and the real with just a touch, nothing more or nothing less than that. It is but just a brush with imagination, a lair you return to every now and then for such dreamy experiences you covet. But try extracting anything more than that from it and you will painfully realise how hollow it all is. That’s perhaps because cottagecore represents more of an yearning rather than being the end of one.
All said and done however, cottagecore is indeed a pretty haven to seek refuge in for some while. Especially in these times of corona, this is a trend that lets us heal, at least momentarily, from the drag worries of the world. And even in its far fetched vision, cottagecore can indeed be instrumental in promoting a few virtues. Going about growing your own food in happy spirit, carefree and jubilant is perhaps what we can all do in these days of being restricted to a singular campus. Flimsically even, cottagecore allows you to build up your own aesthetic farm for the sake of the pics you want to put up on social media. That itself promotes a happy vibe, not to speak of creating a different kind of market. Because cottagecore, like all other trends and fads is indeed but a commercialised passion. With even its own stance in fashion, cottagecore permeates the layer of the aesthetics to create its own space and identity. Straw hatted lasses sitting pretty in that fade hued dress, dreamily sipping away on a cup of herbal tea, with a cornucopia of scones and pies and breads and cakes in the midst of a wild but manicured garden, cosy socks on her feet, butterflies fluttering around, the wind gently sweeping a strand of hair onto her face- sounds so much like a vintage scene we all want to live in. And admittedly, scrolling through your newsfeed after yet another day of making it through alive and unscathed, chancing upon such ‘oh so pretty’ pictures is some sort of catharsis too. In encompassing the hazy aura of all such stuff that dreams would be made of, and that comes so much alive in books of yore, cottagecore can even be a penchant for the occult endowings of life itself. Immersing oneself into the stunning escapades that cottagecore presents as a way of life itself, particularly as a means to embrace the drudgery of life in the present state that finds us all basking not rather joyfully in the till now forever desired premises of idle nothingness, that perhaps can help us find more solace in this whole quarantine, we are better off embarking the Taylor Swift way who spun on a whole new wave of this pretty pretty fad. Cottagecore might not be the most life changing of ‘movements’, but it for sure is an indulgent one of the times.