rints and patterns are to fashion like seasoning is to food. Or some people say. The truth is that they give life to clothing and allows designers to express themselves in ways shapes and proportions cannot. Some of the designers who created an ever-lasting impact on the fashion world with their prints were:
Thierry Hermès, while he wasn’t a fashion designer, he created a brand that would later become known for creating symbols of status and luxury. Hermès (the brand, not the man) is mostly known for their insanely famous and insanely expensive purses, the Kelly and the Birkin, but also for their scarves. Back then in the 30s, when they were first produced, the scarves were printed and stitched by hand. The accessory was later immortalized in pop culture references, such as The Devil wears Prada where the unforgettable character Miranda Priestly has to wear one everyday of her life.
Sophia Delaunay and her husband Robert Delaunay were American artists who created a movement called “Orphism”. The movement consisted of using bright colours and abstract figures to arise emotions. With the shadow of World War I looming over her, Sophia decided to turn away from her painting and work on the more profitable textile business instead. Her designs quickly became a must have among the social elite.
Elsa Schiaparelli. Sadly people often forget her because of her competitor Coco Chanel’s crushing fame, but Elsa’s contributions to fashion are as important, if not more, than Ms. Coco’s. Schiaparelli used to mingle with surrealists such as Dalí. The by-product of such union was high fashion like it had never seen before. The designer used prints and embroidery to recreate surrealist (and sometimes fun and silly) concepts on garments. Her collaborations with Dalí resulted in the Skeleton dress and the Hat shoe.
Emilio Pucci was an Italian designer who created a style of his own. Bold colours and abstract designs are the standard for the Pucci house. Sophia Loren and Jacqueline Kennedy were among the celebrities who wore Emilio’s creations, and Marilyn Monroe was buried wearing one of his dresses. The Pucci label is still very relevant today. Peter Dundas, a Norwegian designer, has been at the head of the helm since 2008 and before him Christian Lacroix, another print lover, was in charge.
While Yves Saint Laurent is not known for his prints, he did make history with his Mondrian dress, which is a clothing version of one of Piet Mondrian’s paintings. His critics say it was a down right copy of the artist’s work, while his supporters say he made a statement, “Clothes can be a wearable art piece”.
Kenzo Takada, the reunion between east and west never looked better. Kenzo was the first Japanese designer to “make it” on the other side of the pond, way back in the 70’s, clearing the way for many more. He became successful by mixing typical Japanese prints with Parisian high fashion.
Gianni Versace’s inspiration came from varied places such as ancient Rome, the baroque period and Andy Warhol’s pop art. After Gianni’s death, his sister Donatella carried on the tradition of the bold prints and designed some herself. The jungle print has been one of her most important additions to the Versace archive. Recently the distinctive baroque print could be acquired, at a way more affordable price, thanks to the collection Versace did for H&M.
Vivienne Westwood. A lot of people don’t know that she was the wife of Malcolm McLaren, and a lot of people don’t know that he was the manager of The Sex Pistols, and even lesser people know that they were responsible for the band’s look which means that Vivienne is in part responsible for the punk movement. She later became a fashion designer in her own right by creating a brand. As she evolved, Vivienne incorporated elements of the Victorian era and typical Scottish garments into her collections, but till this day her punk roots are a constant.
Alexander McQueen. Tears are still bitter after his parting. McQueen created hundreds of unforgettable fashion moments, but the one we’re mentioning today was his Spring/Summer 1999 runway show. A model wearing a white dress poses on a rolling platform while two robotic arms spray paint on her. McQueen took fashion to the next level and created clothes in front of our very eyes, he was literally printing on stage!
- Written by Harald Meyer-Delius