When asked whether fashion is a form of art, the acclaimed designer Zandra Rhodes and the director of the Design Museum answered with a definitive yes. “You might call it decorative or applied art as opposed to fine art, but what’s the distinction? “ What speaks in favour of this claim is the fact that a great number of fashion designers have been influenced by some of the most prominent artists of the past century. One great example of art’s undeniable imprint in fashion are the very famous abstract paintings of Mondrian whose influence was most visible with Hermès, which during the life of the artist presented a collection of bags and suitcases with a characteristic pattern.
If we can agree that fashion, indeed, is a form of art, bold and unique prints can safely be classified as a superior form of that art, and designers who embrace them and execute them in a manner that continues to surpass our expectations, true and undeniable artists of their trade. Certain prints experience a peak followed by a decline in presence on the runways, but the best ones always seem to find their way back, and today we are diving into the mystical universe of bold prints that have made a huge comeback.
Floral, now and forever
The floral print may have been disregarded and even looked down on, but this year’s collections made it very clear that florals are back, and they are better than ever as the season’s offerings are far from the traditional buds. Instead of celebrating the all-too-familiar femininity and subtleness, florals bloomed with a strong, wild feel—and a slightly abstract vibe. The colour palettes have shifted from the frilly and soft to moody and powerful, with the implementation of navy, burgundy, and orange, the fabrics are boldly sheer in all the right places and the blooms are over-sized for an additional wow effect.
A print that knows no limits
Whether they are sworn minimalists, casual chic lovers or eclectic print-mixers, who do not absolutely adore stripes. The fact that only a handful of true fashion history connoisseurs are aware of is that this particular print has a longstanding and prominent history. In 1846, Queen Victoria dressed her four-year-old son, Albert Edward in a sailor suit to board the Royal Yacht. Still, it is the one and only Coco Chanel that made the print iconic and mainstream.
And although they have always been present to a certain extent over the years, it is this season that stripes experienced an almost over-the-top, highly deserved comeback. What is more, the comeback was not fostered only by well-known brands such as Valentino, Banana Republic and Marc Jacobs, but also recognized by those lesser-known such as Faithfull clothing. This brand is rising in popularity and demand due to its high-quality and lightweight fabrics that not only celebrate femininity but practicality as well. Of course, it would be unforgivable to be oblivious of the new fashion forces that you are soon to be intoxicated with, such as the New York-based PH5 which is about to make its way into the closets of cool girls everywhere.
The air of subtlety
Another print many vow to love and stay faithful to for years to come is the polka dot. America’s love affair with the polka dot began, perhaps, in 1926. After a wartime period of shifting gender roles, Christian Dior himself told Vogue that his collection sought “to make women extravagantly, romantically, eyelash-battingly female” again. Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe were only a few of the polka dot’s chief exponents.
This year, we have been witness to the return of the print, seen on a ballerina-style dress by Dior, full-on retro by Dolce & Gabbana, and the more avant-garde interpretation by Comme des Garçons. Let us not forget about the up-and-coming brand that is not only celebrating the polka dot, but is becoming an obsession of Bella Hadid, – Réalisation Par; a brand that is not only highly promising, but fairly affordable too.
Pop culture all around
The final prints being acknowledged and celebrated is definitely not suitable those faint of heart. We are talking about no other than the optical illusion patterns that are just zero cool to wear and throw people into psychological imbalance. This is the most extravagant pattern that trumps both the jungle and animal print, one that has probably caused dizziness to even those sitting in the back rows of fashion shows of Emilio Pucci and Mary Katrantzou.
What is so alluring about the current optical illusion moment is that designers have pushed their research as much as their aesthetics in order to cleverly contrast textures, lines, and curves. The final effect might be refreshingly minimalist, but behind the visual impact is a combination of painstakingly handcrafted techniques, high-tech fabrics, and ultra-precise tailoring. The movement came to international attention in the mid-1960’s, an era of global social and technological change, and it is safe to say that it is still alive and influential, although its wearability is still a debatable issue.
The world of prints is truly an astonishing one. There is more to fashion, its philosophy and art behind it than meets the eye. Great creations and the prints incorporated in them draw inspiration and a rich deeply rooted history. Decades change, so do trends, but it is undeniable that certain prints are far too precious not to experience great revivals over and over again. Hopefully, these, and many more iconic ones will always find their way back to us, all thanks to visionaries and artists that great designers most definitely are.