It is as reliable as the appearance of the first crocuses: every spring, fashion embraces colour.
The couture shows on the runways of Paris last month have made it clear that consumers are being invited to face up to a riot of layered, clashing, bright digital prints like nothing seen before.
The harbingers were seen on designer runways filled with an assortment of color blocking, bird prints, African-inspired textures, flapper-style florals and bright pinks, greens and yellows.
While fashion pages have already warned cautious British women to prepare for a palette of cheery pastels this Easter, it turns out that striking patterns and bold floral photographic images on fabrics are just as likely to mark out the look of 2012, both in home furnishings and on the rails of dress shops.
The sudden flurry of colour and rapid spread of busy prints is largely the result of the new ease of computer printing in fabric design.
The fashion houses collection was witnessed with an outburst of vibrant prints and dazzling colours.
Five years ago London-based Turkish designer Erdem was one of the first to set the trend rolling, with his distinctive blurred photographic fabric designs, many digitally printed.
As the technology has become more and more affordable, the hyper-real digital look has spread not just to the famous design houses known for their vibrant patterns â such as Italy’s Missoni and London’s Liberty â but even to more restrained fashion houses such as Chanel and Armani, where customers are being urged to consider wearing contrasting prints in a rainbow of hues.
While GlamOnYous inspiration transcends time and distinct cultural styles; colours inspired by nature are a recurring theme and the collection it presented on Thursday night seemed to be in search of an immersion of the senses that lure to an array of the fashion houses dazzling prints and a rainbow spectrum from dusky organic hues to bold brilliant bights.
.”It has become easier to manipulate these images, particularly to do the sort of layering of images that is popular,” said Devon-based international fabric designer and painter Kate Rowley.
You have always been able to create bright colours, but the photographic look and this kind of layering of images has become much easier.
.”Vanessa Gounden, the South African designer of celebrity clothes behind the label Vanessa G, sees the new techniques as essential to her style. “Digital prints allow for a higher level of creativity, with enhanced flexibility and versatility,” she told the Observer.She also argues that she works on the border between fashion and visual art, where bright colours and digital printing have also had a strong influence. David Hockney’s exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art is the latest and most powerful testament to the impact of the iPad in creating works of art.”.
Technology allows us to translate pieces of artwork into print in the most realistic manner and our signature is ‘art’outure’, the merging of art and fashion,” said Gounden, adding that both commercial and artistic creativity have to reflect the digital age.”.
.”Digital fabric printing was developed by the British/Brazilian designers Basso and Brooke in 2004, and had picked up a wide following by the end of the decade. The late Alexander McQueen’s 2010 spring/summer collection was hailed for its use of computer graphic design.”.
Print- and color-loving Jonathan Saunders has sewn up the 2012 British Fashion Council/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund, the across-the-pond version of Anna Wintour and co.s wildly successful initiative to boost young design talent.
Digital printing has levelled the playing field,” Philip Delamore, director of the Digital Studio at the London College of Fashion, has said. “Emerging designers can compete with large, established houses without having to have the huge investment required with other techniques.
Studio space: It’s been long suspected, and now confirmed: snow sports apparel designers are also artists who wield their design tools as freely as artists creating watercolors, oil paintings, abstract masterpieces, digital and graphic works.5.
Printing digitally means the cost of printing one or 1,000 colours in an image is no different.
.”Other fans of the technique are designers William Tempest and Peter Pilotto. Pilotto’s spring 2012 collection was applauded in Vogue for using “images of mercury to digitally enhance the kaleidoscopic line of their prints”. “That slight cyber distortion,” the magazine went on, “made for an otherworldly, Avatar-like brilliance.
.”The new prints are also a reaction to the grim economic climate. Designers planning fabrics for 2012 have been able to calculate for some months on a new appetite for colour. “In a recession people want to be cheered up,” said Rowley. “They want colour and they want recognisable images.
It spoke of a savvy brand, which is equally wearable by all ages and traditions, and characterised by beautifully flowing fabrics, colourful prints and elegant draping, essentially making this 30-piece collection an amazing welcome to Spring/Summer 2012.
We are a furnishings designer who pays attention to fashion and in furnishing you want designs you can recognise in a time of recession.
.” But for the British consumer making such a date with vibrant colour is perhaps a bigger ask than in other international markets. “The English people are quite afraid of colour,” said Rowley. “There is a lower-middle-class timidity about attitudes to it.
There have been times when wearing sombre colours was a way to seem like a serious and intellectual person.
.”In America, Rowley has noticed a steady demand for colour in a fabric category known as “tropical”. “It is a constant.
In furnishings, where we mainly work, it might be a bit less bright and colourful than in clothes, because there is only a very small percentage of people who are going to want a psychedelic sofa, but if you think of Hawaiian shirts that kind of thing always sells in America.
.”Our tentative love affair with colour came in, Rowley says, as part of the fashion for 60s and 70s looks: “On one hand you had smart shift dresses, reminiscent of Mary Quant, but you also had the swirly colours of psychedelia from nostalgia for the hippy look.
.”Working women who need a smarter, business look tend to use bold prints by going for the “block colour” look, much favoured by television newsreaders.Rowley sounds a final note of caution: “National taste, of course, does take account of skin colour, as it should.
Phaedon George is a fashion journalist based in Hobart, Australia. Phaedon has a passion for fashion stories and loves writing about fashion news and fashion opinions that matters most to its audience. Phaedon spends a lot of time discovering and researching latest fashion industry news stories in order to make sure the latest and greatest stories are brought to you first on Stylerchic.com.