There’s no doubt that fashion and all its namesakes are a true form of art. From conception to drawing, draping to drafting and all the construction techniques from haute couture to art-to-wear, it takes a special skillset to create beautiful clothes. But when it comes to fashion and visual art, nothing brings more meaning to “wearable art” than print.
In the world of fashion, print is important. Print is typically what can set the basics from one designer apart from another. Without good print, often times a signature identity can be lost in the competition. Whether it’s Juun. J’s alien baby heads or the always iconic Moschino label, prints really make clothing walking canvases that showcase the colour sense, spatial sense, and unique visual identity every designer has. Not only that, but choosing the right print can say the same things about an individual’s style sense.
Let’s take a look a few runway looks:
(From left to right: Issey Miyake, Études Studio, Yohji Yamamoto, Icosae, Au Jour Le Jour)
Starting off with Issey Miyake, we see a play of sugary hues and an interlacing loop tie-dye print in primary colours. The yellow finish of the print not only subdues the brightness of the pink shorts but accents the subtle hint of a yellow spatter on the shirt underneath while the collars open attention to the face. The long coat and matching shirt stabilize the bright socks and shoes and play off the short length and width to create a psychedelic balance of colour and movement. Études Studio’s stoic trench is monumental and architectural in its build and rough patchwork print adds a minimalist quality that takes the look to a new level. The look almost matches the architecture in the back and the contrast of the blocks of neutral colour create a Zen environment the look carries along. Yohji Yamamoto’s spontaneous print makes elegant odes to action painting and Baroque florals. The mix of red, black, yellow and white is intense yet calming and the baggy silhouette carries over the amorphous forms and shapes of the print itself. Icosae’s look features a sweater with a work of art that is subtle and mysterious. The smile of the questionable figure is somewhat friendly yet reads almost sinister matching the contrast of the look’s casual overtone in a dark setting. The print gives a typically comfortable garment and atmosphere a nuanced sense of uneasiness. Lastly, we see the best of a conversational print in Au Jour Le Jour’s matching set of..well…glue sticks. In fact the entire collection featured a range of prints of elementary school toys and supplies. But, besides that, the verticality of the print creates a very slimming silhouette while adding extreme interest. The pop of the blue shoe is enough to give the look an entirely fresh demeanour despite it’s unexpected inspiration.
Now for a few ways print can be as artsy as the runway, or a few print hints shall we say. Cue the cutesy samples!
Basically there are three types of print; geometric, floral and conversational. Geometric prints are usually quite simple and easy to wear. They are great avenues for colour blocking and create interesting contrasts, movement and rhythm across the surface of the body. Geometrics can also be taken to bold, and expressive extremes which means they have excellent potential to run into avant-garde territory and create bold statements.
Florals are as classic as it gets when it comes to print. Whether it’s penny-sized swirling flowers on a short sleeve button up or the grand bouquets of glazed chintz curtains and brocade gowns, there is always something that says elegant and beautiful about flowers. Florals are a great way to add brightness and natural flavour to an outfit. They come in all shapes and sizes and pack a serious punch of colour.
Finally the print that really gets people talking…(*cricket noises*) conversationals! Conversational prints are by far the most interesting types of prints because they create a story. Any motif or combination of motifs that make up a conversational print can be extreme or subdued, absurd or intelligent or friendly or scary. They can contain scenes, symbols, maps or even writing that pose some historical, social or even religious significance. From glue sticks to fish, oriental scenes to road maps, or even hearts, lips and cowboys pool balls, conversationals add some serious interest. When carefully picked they can add unique personal touches to your style.
For every creative mind, there’s a print to match. There are so many more to explore, but we’ll just have to wait until next time.
Until then, happy fashioning and remember, life’s a runway so put your best foot forward!
Here’s a little print-worthy inspiration to keep you preoccupied!
(From left to right: Hansje van Halem, elo, Stephanie Peek, Tyler Spangler, Francis Pienaar.)